Height 6-0, Weight 185, B/T: R/R, DOB: 09/30/1987
2008 Redlegs Baseball Prospect Ranking: Not Ranked
Alex Buchholz seems to continue the Reds trend of drafting players who have the baseball IQ and work ethic to make their tools play up a notch. It seems to be the exact opposite of the Jim Bowden school of thought, which permeated the organization until just recently. Jimbo collected toolsy outfielders who never performed up to their tools. The new Reds draft philosophy focuses on players who overachieve, rather than those who may have higher ceilings, but are unlikely to ever reach them.
COLLEGIATE CAREER AND DRAFT SLOT
The Reds selected Buchholz with #179th overall pick in the 2008 draft. Buchholz attended the University of Delaware, where he was an offense first type player. During his three years at Deleware, he posted slash lines of the following:
Oddly enough, his performance got progressively worse from the high-water mark of his freshman year. Even so, his production as a junior was still impressive. And, he demonstrated an advanced approach at plate, as evidenced by his slash line of .364/.441/.527 with runners in scoring position.
At Delaware, Buchholz spent time at second base, third base, shortstop, and even did some pitching. His versatility is intriguing, but could also be a sign that his glove just doesn't profile well at any one position. That said, he made a concerted effort to improve his defensive skills in college to avoid the "offense only" label and also has the work ethic to improve. Not to mention, his willingness to move around the diamond demonstrated his selflessness and desire to put what's best for the team first. Delaware head coach Jim Sherman compared Buchholz to Jeff Kent, which is lofty praise indeed, though Buchholz has a long way to go to justify that comparison.
In 2008, Buchholz started 41 games, missing time after suffering a leg injury late in the year. Despite the injury, he had 14 multiple hit games and at least 2 RBI in nine contests. On his career, he has a .366 batting average (14th best in school history), 34 homeruns (8th in school history), and 161 RBI (10th in school history).
At the plate, Buchholz hits from an upright stance and can drive the ball to all fields. He does a pretty good job of controlling the strikezone, but he could stand to improve his plate discipline, as his walk rate needs improvement. He handles both lefties and righties well, so he doesn't suffer from much of a platoon split.
The Reds sent Buchholz to the Rookie Pioneer League to begin his professional career. Buchholz didn't take long to "announce his presence with authority." He posted a slash line of .396/.471/.604/1.075 with 3 homeruns and a 25/16 K/BB ratio in 134 ABs.
Continuing the trend from his college performance, Buchholz actually performed better with runners in scoring position, which is an attribute currently lacking from the MLB Reds. For Billings, he hit .415/.520/.780/1.300 with runners in scoring position. While, admittedly, it is a small sample size, it does seem to be more evidence of the effectivenss of his polished approach at the plate.
Unfortunately, Billings was the one and only professional stop for Buchholz in 2008, as he was hit on the hand by a pitch. He suffered a "boxer's break" when he fractured a bone in his hand, which put an end to a promising rookie season.
While injury shortened his season, Buchholz had a fantastic debut for the Reds. Buchholz adds both needed middle infield depth and a potential impact bat to the farm system. That said, he'll need to show more with the glove to climb up the rankings. His bat plays well at second, but if he doesn't have the defensive ability to stay there, then his prospect status takes a significant hit. Fortunately, Buchholz has the type of work ethic and baseball smarts to continue to improve as he climbs the ladder.
For now, Buchholz checks in at #16 on the list. He could climb up the list in the future, as he does have some projection in him, but he could also slide down the list if he doesn't prove capable with the glove. For now, the professional sample size is just too small to say which direction he'll head.