Bret Boswell is a left-handed hitting shortstop for Rockwall-Heath High School in Texas. The senior, eligible for the 2013 MLB draft, has committed to the University of Texas. I saw Boswell last year when watching Rockwall-Heath, but seeing a left-handed hitting shortstop committed to a major program was worth the drive through traffic and the price of admission.
Perfect Game lists Boswell at 6-0 175, but he is a little bigger than that now (I believe that measurement was taken in 2011). Perhaps this opinion is colored by watching two NCAA teams run out 5-4 and 5-5 shortstops in a game I attended last weekend, but I was somewhat taken aback by his size, as he was tall looking and had broad shoulders. With that said, I don’t think he will get that much thicker, which is usually one of the reasons that shortstops get moved off of shortstop. He is probably not a plus runner, but he had a controlled stride, good form, and wasn’t slow.
You notice that he has an open stance before the pitch is thrown, but he closes it. You see this a lot in lefties, and it usually just functions as a device to see the ball a little better. At least from I saw, Boswell has excellent plate discipline. He was extremely patient, and never chased. This was important because he was sort of pitched around, and the opposing pitchers weren’t throwing a lot of strikes (it is high school baseball after all). While this helped show his plate discipline, it was also a little unfortunate, as I didn’t get to see him actually swing as much as I wanted him to. In one at-bat, he was walked on 4 pitches, with nothing close to the plate, and I saw a scout angrily put his notebook away and shake his head.
He also has a little wiggle in the bat, holding it down behind his back, but again, he gets rid of this before the pitch gets there. So talking about it is just more descriptive than predictive in any way. The swing in the video isn’t that impressive, as he seemed to get jammed a little bit, and fought off the pitch the other way. He had a better at-bat later in the game, pulling a ball just foul, missing a homer by just a couple of feet. He would later strikeout looking to end the at-bat, on a very bad call.
Defensively, I took this not very helpful video of him warming up:
In the actual game, he made what looked like a big league play, coming in on a softly chopped ball. He used soft hands to gobble it up, and made an okay throw on the run. He got in on another ball later in the game as well, though this play wasn’t as difficult. One concern, that may just be small sample size or a limited look than anything else, he never showed a plus arm or even an average arm. I would have liked to see him let loose on a couple of throws.
So just like when I saw him last year, though this time in more detail, he showed some pop in his bat and some nice range defensively. Because my look of him wasn’t great and sort of limited, I wanted to gather a little more data on Boswell. When looking at some scouting notes on Boswell available elsewhere on the internet, the theme seemed consistent. He is a good athlete, and has good bat speed. It is somewhat simplistic and cliche, but the two things that usually make players standout to me in college and high school is foot speed and bat speed. They are usually somewhat easy to identify, especially the former, and important, as bat speed allows hitters to hit the good velocity they will face as they get further along with their baseball careers, and general speed and athleticism not only helps defensively, but in other aspects of the game as well. This is less helpful the further you move up the chain, as you look for more refinement, but it is a basic starting tool that I use. Boswell has these two basic tools and you don’t have to take my word for it. Evidently, Boswell (or at least someone calling themselves Bret Boswell) has his own YouTube channel, with a lot of videos of him and his teammates playing. Here is one that gives us another look at him at the plate and in the field:
I still wonder about the arm, but he clearly knows how to hit, able to use the opposite field and pull the ball for power. If he does end up going to Texas, I doubt he will play really any shortstop the first two years with C.J. Hinojosa looking like he has shortstop locked down in Austin. Where he fits in the draft is not clear, but he has positional value and at least 3 solid tools, which makes him pretty interesting to me.