In a minor trade in the grand scheme of the 2014-15 offseason, the Texas Rangers added to their depth as they traded for catcher Carlos Corporan to back up their starter, Robinson Chirinos. In order to do this, they had to part with their second round pick from the 2013 draft and last remaining Bostick in the organization, right handed starter Akeem Bostick. While Chirinos has already established himself as a capable back up behind the dish, Bostick is still in the low minors, but oozes projection and has youth firmly on his side. Let's take a look at "Akeem the Dream" and see what the Astros added to their already stacked farm system.
Photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt
When you're listed at 6'4 and 180 pounds coming out of high school, lettered in three sports, and can throw 90 mph, teams will be all over you come draft time. Considered an extremely raw talent, Akeem Bostick was taken in the second round of the 2013 draft by the Texas Rangers, 62nd overall, from West Florence High School in South Carolina. It took a $520.6K signing bonus to pry him away from playing at Georgia Southern, coming in $378K under slot, and the Rangers sent Bostick to the rookie level Arizona League after getting him into the organization.
While with the Rangers AZL affiliate, Bostick made six starts and eight relief appearances, getting 41.1 innings under his belt in his first professional season. He posted an impressive 2.83 ERA and 3.35 FIP with 33 strike outs (19%), 12 walks (6.9%), 42 hits allowed and no home runs. Despite a .328 BABIP, Bostick limited opposing hitters to a .264/.318/.340 line with 11 extra base knocks and a 70.9% strand rate. The lanky right hander showed a sharp platoon split, handling right handed hitters much better (.232/.290/.303 over 107 plate appearances) than their left handed counterparts (.317/.364/.400 through 67 PA's). The batted ball profile includes a 52.3% ground ball rate, a 1.61 GO:AO ratio and 10.9% line drive rate.
Looking to challenge Bostick in the 2014 campaign, the Rangers had him break camp with Low A Hickory to make his full season debut as a 19 year old. The going was much tougher than the previous year as Akeem struggled with a 5.17 ERA and 4.65 FIP through 92.1 innings of work. He struck out just 64 (16%) while issuing 28 free passes (7%), 98 hits, and 10 long balls. His batting average on balls put in play was near league average at .300, but a 61.2% strand rate did some damage to his overall line. South Atlantic League hitters posted a .271/.327/.407 triple slash on Bostick with left handed hitters continuing to do more damage (.283/.350/.411 in 200 PA's) than right handers with their .260/.305/.403 line in 199 plate appearances. His ground ball rate plummeted nearly 10 full points to 42.9% and his line drive rate jumped almost seven points to 17.5% which is more in line with the league average but still better than the average.
The scouting report for Akeem Bostick looks something like this - low 90's cheese with the potential for a good curve that is in its infant stages, a very blah change up, and good control. His four seamer has touched as high as 96 mph with a two seam fastball that registers in the low 90's with some sink and tail to it. He's still quite raw in most aspects of his game, but the athleticism shows when he has to field his position. Back in high school he barely threw a change up so he's basically starting from scratch with that pitch. It comes in around 80 mph with some good drop to it when he rips off a good one. The hook can look vicious at 74-76 mph with 11-5 break when he does everything right and all the moving parts are in sync. When he's out of whack he loses his release point and struggles to stay on top and get that sharp break on it and he hangs it. The delivery is simple and features some crossfire which adds to his deception. Like most cross-body deliveries, he has trouble commanding the ball despite the relatively low walk totals. The idea is that when Bostick fully grows into his body, he'll be able to sit in the mid 90's as opposed to hitting them every once in awhile, which will in turn make the offspeed pitches play up a bit. We're looking at a potential #3 if it all breaks right and he can maintain a higher velo after maturation, his curve becomes more dependable, and the change develops. A more conservative take would have him as a late innings reliever with the fastball/curve combo. If you want to get downright pessimistic, we're looking at a high minors washout that doesn't have a reliable second pitch.
Houston could go one of two ways with Bostick next year. They could run him back out in Low A, this time in the Midwest League with Quad Cities, or continue to challenge him like the Rangers did by sending him to Lancaster in the California League. I'd say he repeats Low A to begin the year but is one of the first ones called up to A+.
Video courtesy of Christopher Blessing
Carlos Corporan has proven himself to be a decent reserve behind the plate over the course of the last three years with Houston. He's a career .226/.286/.350 hitter through 659 plate appearances, and is coming off a season where he parked six in the seats with six doubles, 14 walks (7.4%) and 37 strike outs (19.5%) with a .235/.302/.376 triple slash. He was worth 0.7 fWAR, 0.6 rWAR, put up a 93 wRC+, a 91 OPS+, and .303 wOBA. He provides about league average defense behind the dish with a -1 DRS, just one passed ball, and three errors last year while throwing out 22% of attempted base thieves. The 6'2, 245 pound Puerto Rican native is entering his age 31 season where he is set to make $975,000 in 2015, avoiding arbitration his first run through it. He will serve Texas in the back up role to Robinson Chirinos.
While Bostick wasn't highly rated in the Rangers system, he's a great return for a back up catcher that's already in his 30's. I'd take the upside and potential of him over Corporan any day of the week and twice on Sunday's. To be honest, anytime you can get a piece you can dream on a little for an aging reserve at any position, its a win.