Alec Bohm has the makings of an elite third baseman. The 6-foot-5 slugger showed why he was a top-five pick in 2018 (#3 overall) as he had a breakout 2019 season. The former Wichita State star showed sensational power hitting 21 home runs (55 extra base hits) and 80 RBIs, all while batting an extremely impressive .305, topping it off with an .896 OPS. Bohm started the season with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws; he experienced a rapid rise, finishing as one of the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils standout players.
Bohm participated in the Phillies Major League Spring Training camp in March, but wasn’t expected to make an immediate impact. For as long as service time has existed, ball clubs have manipulated its loopholes to maintain control over a player’s rights for an extra season (the Kris Bryant fiasco is a prime example). Presumably, this is something the Phillies would have done with Bohm, despite the Top 30 prospect having one of the best bats in the minor leagues. But with the Coronavirus delaying the season, the Phillies are now faced with a tough decision during the newly agreed upon 60-game season. Do they bring up Bohm?
Normal procedure would call for Bohm to get his feet wet in Triple-A; then in a month or two, call him up to the majors and have him equipped for a playoff push. But with a modified season, that isn’t a possibility and the Phillies must weigh their options.
There’s a natural reason to be concerned with calling Bohm up to the majors, considering he has yet to appear in a Triple-A game. But this season gives the Phillies the perfect time to test run Bohm in a low risk-high reward scenario.
The MLB has made many modifications to its structure to compensate for the irregular circumstances it is facing. But Commissioner Rob Manfred made especially significant changes to the way the league structures its rosters. For the 2020 season, a team will have 30 roster spots available on Opening Day, then on the 15th day of the season it will be reduced to 28. On the 29th day of the season rosters will be reduced to 26 players per team, where it will stay for the remainder of the season.
This idea benefits the Phillies more than Bohm. Having designated cutdown days gives the Phillies clear outage points to remove Bohm for the roster. If Bohm comes out of the gates slumping or doesn’t prove to be MLB ready, the Phillies don’t have to add insult to injury and find a good time to get rid of him, they can demote him on the 15th or 29th day of the season without any hurt. Worst case scenario is Bohm works out his kinks in the minors in the 2021 season and hopefully contributes in the future.
The most important point of calling up any prospect is fit and playing time, as these are crucial to nurturing a young player’s development. For Bohm, the Phillies are a perfect fit right now. Philadelphia’s most obvious hole is at Bohm’s natural position: third base.
Scott Kingery is currently projected to occupy that spot, but he’s best known as a valuable utility player for Philadelphia. Kingery has at least one career game at every position besides catcher and first base. Sliding Bohm into a third base role would be a seamless fit for the team and would allow new manager Joe Girardi to get the best use out of both Kingery and Bohm.
If the new skipper is worried about Bohm’s glove, then the highly controversial implementation of a designated hitter would suit Bohm’s skillset well. Bohm’s aforementioned elite bat projects to be productive from day one. The newly available DH option offers Girardi a chance to ease the third baseman into the highest level. This can potentially camouflage his weakness in the field with production at the plate.
The 2020 season is set to be something unrepeated. But with unique and dire circumstances comes a silver lining for the Phillies and Bohm. The added precautions from the coronavirus has given the Phillies a golden chance to give Bohm an extended trial in the majors. Bohm has the power and patience to become a revelation for a Phillies side desperate to be a contender for the first time since Roy Halladay sported their jersey. If he struggles, Bohm could follow in the footsteps of other stars like David Ortiz and Mike Moustakas who needed an extra minor league stint before discovering their true potential.