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Rick Ankiel and Brian Bogusevic: Fair Comparison?

I was perusing this article from Baseball America, which details NL Central teams' minor league affiliates. Their player to watch for the Round Rock Express this season is Brian Bogusevic. The pitcher turned outfielder has a good chance to get a call up to the majors at some point this season, especially if Michael Bourn struggles at the plate.

An easy to make comparison is to look at St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel as an example of what  Bogusevic could become. Ankiel was once a pitcher with a great deal of promise whose career took a turn an unexpected turn when he no longer was succeeding on the mound. Is this a fair comparison to make though?

For starters, Ankiel became a full time outfielder at age 25, while Bogusevic made the switch at age 25. That is where the similarities really stop for these two. Their minor league numbers do not make for a simple comparison:

Starts IP ERA K/9 WHIP
Brian Bogusevic 64 329.2 5.05 6.1 1.50
Rick Ankiel 85 469 2.80 12.8 1.07


Immediately, one can tell that Ankiel had major league type stuff while he was coming up in the minor leagues. Assumedly had Ankiel's control issues not arisen, he would still be a pitcher. Bogusevic on the other hand, was forced to turn to the outfield full time.

Offensively, we do not have that much data to compare since Bogusevic first started hitting full time in the middle of last season. In 2005, Ankiel played on the A and AA levels (like Bogusevic), his first season as a non pitcher:

Brian Bogusevic 2008 147 .347 .969 4 20/25
Rick Ankiel 2005 321 .259 .853 21 37/66


The big difference offensively is that Ankiel is much more of a power threat, and will swing and miss much more than Bogusevic as a result. To justify being a major league outfielder, however, power is almost a requirement unless you're able to get on base, steal bases or play unbelieveable defense to compensate. I'm not sure that Bogusevic can do any of those things, which is why this season in Round Rock is extremely important to his development. If he can develop into more of a doubles hitter, his chances of being a viable major leaguer will increase dramatically. As it stands, Brian may already be a better hitter than Michael Bourn, but until he can show the ability to hit for a higher slugging percentage, his value will be muted. His defense is improving in centerfield, as was noted by Baseball Prospectus.

I'm encouraged by what his PECOTA projections have in store for him this season. His 75th percentile projection has this line for him in 2009:

Brian Bogusevic 480 .293 .364 .490 15 3.5


Playing above his projected line by 25% would render those statistics this season, so says PECOTA. Of course, it's unlikely that he will get that many at bats on this level, but I'm optimistic that even in our wildest dreams he could conceivably produce that kind of season.

Entering into his age 25 season, it's getting to be make or break time for Bogusevic. While he probably will not become a hitter in the mold of Ankiel, Brian Bogusevic does have the ability to hit for a decent average, run the bases well and play nice defense for the Astros. Developing upon that potential, and getting a chance to show what he can do is all that stands in Bogusevic's way at this point.