Bobby Borchering – First Round – No. 16 overall
Photo courtesy South Bend Silver Hawks
By Dan Strittmatter
A year ago, Bobby Borchering was a new graduate of Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Meyers, Fla. It’s a safe bet, though, to say that Borchering was alone among his classmates in being compared to Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, 1999 NL MVP and six-time All-Star.
Borchering’s power-laden swing from both sides of the plate drew the awe of scouts, many of whom considered Borchering to be the best high school bat on the board in the 2009 draft.
The D-backs took notice, and selected him with their first pick, 16th overall. He showed off his immense power right away for the Rookie-level Missoula Osprey, with eight doubles, a triple and two home runs amongst his 21 hits. But he had some struggles getting on base, hitting .241 and drawing five walks in 93 plate appearances in the regular-season.
However, Borchering had a great postseason for the Osprey, hitting .321 with two home runs and 10 RBI in six postseason games.
The organization assigned Borchering to Single-A South Bend to begin 2010 on a roster filled with other top draft picks from the 2009 draft.
With his first full-season of professional baseball also came some heavy expectations of the 19-year-old first-round pick.
“I try not to worry about that,” Borchering said. “You’ve just got to take it one day at a time and go out there and play your game.”
He got off to a rough start, though, going 1-for-17 in his first five games.
“The biggest adjustment to make is getting used to the environment, especially in South Bend,” Silver Hawks Manager Mark Haley said. “It’s cold, it’s a new environment, you’re going to see some major college kids coming right out of the chute — college guys and older than that, guys with four years in pro ball already.
“He’s not used to that cold weather and making adjustments and seeing that stuff every night, but he’s able to do that. He’s just going to get better and better.”
Since those first five games, Borchering has done just that, posting above-league-average offensive numbers, hitting .267 with eleven doubles and five home runs for a .734 OPS (the 2010 MWL average OPS is .688). This is all the more impressive when you take into consideration that Borchering’s age in a league where the average age of pitchers is more than 21, and that Borchering is in the midst of the longest season of baseball in his career.
“I think the big thing is taking care of your body and making sure you watch what you eat,” Borchering said on how he has dealt with adjusting to the grind of the full-season schedule. “Making sure you cool down after games and go back to normal and get ready to suit up the next day.”
These numbers he has posted since his early-season slump are reminiscent of Justin Upton’s first full season of professional baseball in 2006 for South Bend, also under Haley, when Upton was 18 years old.
Haley said you can indeed draw some comparison between 2006 Upton and 2010 Borchering.
“There are a lot of similarities,” Haley said, “and anytime you get a guy who’s had a lot of success coming up and then is being challenged, how they handle it emotionally is a huge transition.
“That’s why I was very confident that Justin Upton was going to be what he is, and I feel very confident that Bobby Borchering will be (successful).”