Sean Bouchard Takes His Walks
He’s the prospect no one saw coming.
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“I think there’s something there with Sean Bouchard” — Ryan Spilborghs
Lost in all the fanfare of calling up Michael Toglia and Ezequiel Tovar was the Rockies’ decision to add outfielder Sean Bouchard, 26, to their MLB roster. Bouchard has not been one of the Rockies’ more-celebrated prospects like Zac Veen, Drew Romo, and Adael Amador, but his contributions thus far point to some intriguing possibilities.
Remind Me: Who Is He?
The native of San Diego graduated from Cathedral Catholic High School before attending UCLA for, as Bouchard put it, the “incredible academics, athletics and geographic location.” According to the UCLA Baseball website, Bouchard admires Derek Jeter and enjoys surfing and music.
At UCLA, he primarily played first base. (Sound familiar?) In 2017, he made the All-PAC-12 team after batting .306 with 39 homers (the most on the team) and 43 RBI. He also led the Bruins in extra-base hits (27) and home runs (9). He was drafted by the Rockies in the ninth round of the 2017 MLB draft, making him the 266th pick overall. Michael Toglia’s first year at UCLA was 2017, so the two overlapped one year.
How Was Bouchard in the Minors?
Even though Sean Bouchard was not a prospect Rockies fans paid much attention, he’s been good, hitting well at every level as he climbed through the Rockies’ farm system. The Rockies moved him from first to the outfield where he thrived. Here are his numbers according to FanGraphs:
Notice that every years he’s had a wRC+ of more than 100 with his time in Albuquerque being exceptional. It’s also worth pointing to his increased BB%, which almost doubled since 2021 as his hitting numbers have steadily increased.
“I always feel like I’ve been a king of Jack-of-all-trades player,” Bouchard told KRQE, “so it’s nice to be able to put up the kind of numbers I have so far. At the end of the day, I’m just trying to keep it as simple as possible and just take nice, easy swings.” Clearly, his approach has worked.
When Did He Get Called Up and How Has It Gone?
He made his debut on June 19, going 0-3 with a walk. However, Bouchard soon suffered an oblique injury after going hit-less in three games and was sent back to Albuquerque. In 69 (nice!) games with the Isotopes, he hit 15 doubles, 6 triples, and 20 home runs for an OPS of 1.039, the highest on the team.
He knows that taking quality at-bats matters. “Whether or not you’re a guy that hits homers, a guy that moves the ball around the field or takes walks, whatever it is the goal is to have good at-bats, know what the pitchers are trying to do to you and almost use that to your advantage,” Bouchard told Thomas Harding.
Consider the results. Bouchard has started the last eight games and walked at least once each game for a total of 11 walks. Only Todd Helton has a longer streak. Actually, he’s walked 18 times and struck out 16 times, which impressive. He’s only had 72 plate appearances in 21 games, but he also has a 26.4% walk rate with a slashline of .288/.472/.423 for a wRC+ of 149. As Luke Hall has pointed out:
He also has two home runs and nine RBI, with the most recent last night:
Granted, this is all small-sample-size territory, but he currently leads the Rockies in wRC+ (149), BB% (26.4%), and OBP (.472). We’ve not yet seen the speed (12 stolen bases) and power (20 home runs) that Bouchard showed in Albuquerque, but both are clearly there.
Here’s how he compares to other Rockie outfielders:
After appearing in only 21 games, he’s tied for the Rockies’ second most-valuable outfielder as measured by fWAR. Again, small sample size, so at this point, it’s risky to make any sweeping generalizations, except to note that the numbers support Ryan Spilborghs’ assessment of Bouchard’s skill so far.
After the starting rotation, the Rockies’ outfield is probably the biggest question for 2023. This year’s outfield has not been good, and I expect to see significant changes there over the offseason. Bouchard is making a case for himself to be one of those changes.
Down on the Farm
Some accolades for catcher Drew Romo:
Brenton Doyle is mashing some baseballs since being promoted to Albuquerque — and I appreciated the very personal perspective of this video:
The Cardinals are officially headed to the postseason. I thought this Jesse Rogers piece captured the interesting dynamic between Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt.
RIP Isotopes Hill.
What I’m Reading
Mario DeGenz’s “Crafting a Gameplan for Antonio Senzatela” (Purple Row) — DeGenz writes some of my favorite pitching analysis, and this article is no exception.
Thomas Harding’s “Trejo Experiences Growing Pains in Loss to San Francisco” (MLB.com) — Alan Trejo has become an unexpected bright spot of this season.
Tyler Kepner’s “The Remaking of the Seattle Mariners” (New York Times) — Who’s not excited to see the Mariners finally headed to the postseason?
Speaking of Alan Trejo, let’s take a moment to appreciate that impressive homer he hit in San Francisco on Wednesday:
The Rockies’ plans for Trejo are one of the storylines I’m most interested in following.
Thanks for reading —