Scouting Mets Prospect #13: Matt Bouchard

The Mets love Bouchard's makeup

Injury prevented expected movement up the system for Matt Bouchard, the Mets' 11th round selection in the 2007 draft. Though the numbers have yet to come together, Bouchard skills and athleticism make him one of the favored shortstops within the organization. Now it is a matter of him staying on the field for an entire season.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Matt Bouchard
DOB: December 12, 1986
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 185
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Status: 11th Round Pick (2007) – Georgetown University

If there is one prospect the Mets player development officials want to see more of on the diamond it is shortstop Matt Bouchard. The club felt it scored extremely good value when it selected Bouchard in the 11th round of the 2007 draft out of Georgetown, and viewed him as the best shortstop in the New York-Penn League during his first season.

But Bouchard's season was knocked off course right out of Spring Training when he was assigned to Savannah. Geared up for a strong season, he suffered from a sports hernia but did his best to play through it. He managed to log 62 games with Savannah, but hit just .215 with three home runs with 20 RBI.

"They say a sports hernia is a common injury now, but I had a big tear in my abdomen and had some muscles in my hip and upper quad that were injured as well. It progressively got worse. I tried a few treatments during the season, but playing on never gave me a chance to really get better or get healthy," he explained.

He returned to Brooklyn to start the New York-Penn League season, but after just 13 games had to shut it down for the remainder of the season. It was a very disappointing proposition for Bouchard, yet even though he could not swing the bat like he was used to, he made the most out of his situation.

"It was really tough to swing the bat with the injury I had and I didn't really feel like myself throughout the year. I had to make adjustments from my own game because of the injury," he recalled.

"All I could do was try different things and do the best I could," he continued. When I was playing, I was making a lot of adjustments. I was trying a lot different things, seeing what worked or what didn't and that's how I learned about myself."

"When I was out there, I learned this year about the mental side of the game. I still had to learn even though I didn't spend as much time as I'd like playing. I learned a lot about myself and the approach I'm taking to both sides of the ball."

As it pertains to his approach at the plate, Bouchard got some help from a source that in hindsight, by his own success in 2008, could pay big dividends once he gets back on to the field.

"During the season, I spent a few nights with Daniel Murphy in Brooklyn and I talked to him about hitting and the intelligence just seeps through him. He is one of the most knowledgeable guys about hitting that I've ever talked to."

"Talking with him made me see things differently. He really made me want to become a mentally strong hitter just like him," he explained. "Using that intelligence as part of my game is big. I hadn't done that nearly enough and talking to him and some of the older players and they told me how it brings them success."

Following surgery in late August Bouchard will have the opportunity to work on that success while the organization waits with bated breath for the shortstop to break through in year three.

"I can't wait to play next year and put it all to work. I feel like my tools are there, but to use my mind with my tools I think will put me over the top," he closed.

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2008

Brooklyn

.294

51

15

0

3

5

2

5

13

.368

.353

2008

Savannah

.215

223

48

3

20

34

5

15

51

.271

.341

2007

Brooklyn

.267

225

60

2

27

32

8

22

51

.336

.356



Batting and Power: Bouchard displays excellent balance at the plate with a very good hand path and bat acceleration through the strike zone. He has a rock solid middle of the field approach, can spray line-to-line and go to the opposite field when he needs to. His strikeout ratio was a tad high last season, but he still puts enough balls in play that his amount of strikeouts has not raised any red flags in the organization. He boasts solid, average raw power and has shown flashes of it during his time in the system, but his total power has yet to fully translate to game action. Left-handers have so far got the best of Bouchard, but that hole should close up with further in-game experience.

Base Running and Speed: Bouchard has very good raw speed and was clocked at 6.6 seconds in the 60-yard dash, but plays a little slower in game action as sometimes his swing gets long which causes him to get out of the box at a slower step. However, he is an above average base runner with the potential to steal 20-plus bases in a season once he gains more confidence and better instincts.

Defense: Bouchard's glove is the most developed and consistent part of his game. He has a plus arm (he threw 95-96 MPH off the mound), good hands and very quick feet. That combination of tools will allow him to stay at shortstop through the big league level which puts him into a unique category among other infielders in the organization.

Projection: Despite the time missed during the 2008 and the notion that it was a "wasted" year for Bouchard, he will still only be 22 years old in Spring Training and ahead in experience at the same age as many other prospects. He has a strong, compact frame—typical for an infielder—but what separates him is his excellent athleticism. His mixture of strength, speed, body composition and endurance ranked among the organization's top three in a system-wide contest, but his excellent make up is the kicker. Bouchard's combination of aptitude and attitude for the game, as well as his excellent off the field attitude, gains the admiration of Mets player development officials and the rovers.

If Bouchard were to stay as is, he would still grow into an average big league shortstop in the worst case scenario, but as the trending of his tools continues upwards, Bouchard will grow into an everyday shortstop and if his athleticism continues to improve, he could be an above average shortstop. Over time, he will likely get his chances at second and third base and possibly move off shortstop, opening a role as a utility man in the future. Returning from his sports hernia and staving off future injuries are imperative, but he remains very high on the organization's list of priorities.

ETA: 2010. Prior to his injury, the plan was for Bouchard to begin the 2008 season in Savannah, move up to Binghamton in the latter half of the summer and return to Double-A to start the 2009 season before a possible big league promotion. The injury likely set those plans back one year, and though there is a shot for him to go straight to Double-A this spring, chances are he will begin in St. Lucie before moving on to Double-A and resuming the course the Mets originally laid out.

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