PHILADELPHIA -- Alec Bohm is one of the most exciting position players to come through the Phillies’ system in a long time. He should see his first big league action in 2020.
Bohm should see quite a few at-bats as the team’s designated hitter, too. Or at the least, the DH should provide him more opportunities to play. Before the COVID-19 pandemic affected the baseball world, Bohm figured to make his big league debut at some point this season. But his options seemed to be limited to third base and possibly first base.
The Phillies have Jean Segura at third and Rhys Hoskins at first. But now, Bohm can get some at-bats at DH and occasionally give Segura and Hoskins time off their feet.
Of course, this does not mean Bohm will open the season in the Majors. There are service-time considerations for Bohm, who is MLB Pipeline’s No. 30 overall prospect. (The same holds true for right-hander Spencer Howard, who is ranked 34th.) But because there may not be a Minor League season, it would only make sense for the Phillies to get Bohm playing time in the big leagues. It is either that or he sits around and wastes a year.
In the meantime, the Phillies have other options at DH. Jay Bruce should benefit from the 2020 rule change. Bruce’s playing time this season figured to be uneven before the pandemic hit. Everybody knew that Bryce Harper would play almost every day in right field. Andrew McCutchen figured to get plenty of time in left field, if he is ready to go following ACL surgery on his left knee last summer. Roman Quinn and Adam Haseley figured to play most of the innings in center field.
That left Bruce potentially playing only a few times a week. But with the DH, Bruce could slide somewhere in the middle of the lineup against right-handed pitchers. A Bohm-Bruce combo could be a big boost for the Phillies’ offense.
Bruce batted .221 with 12 home runs, 31 RBIs and a .510 slugging percentage in 51 games last season with the Phillies. He has mashed 312 home runs in his 12-year career. Bohm, 23, hit a combined .305 with 21 home runs, 80 RBIs and an .896 OPS last season with Class A Lakewood, Class A Advanced Clearwater and Double-A Reading. Bohm hit .361 with two homers, nine RBIs and a .925 OPS in the Arizona Fall League. He hit .409 with an .849 OPS in 25 plate appearances in Grapefruit League games this spring in Florida.
Because of the Bohm-Bruce possibilities, the Phillies are unlikely to find themselves in a Red Sox-David Ortiz situation, where they anoint one player as the DH. They also could have Harper, Hoskins, McCutchen and J.T. Realmuto serve as the DH from time to time. It would be a way for the Phils to keep their bats in the lineup, but get them off their feet for a game as they maneuver through this unprecedented 60-game regular season.