Ever since he hit a home run in his first at-bat at Wichita State, it was apparent Alec Bohm was a special player.
Three years later, Bohm has become one of college baseball's best and is now poised to become a professional, as the Philadelphia Phillies selected the Wichita State junior third baseman with the No. 3 overall pick in Monday's MLB Draft.
Bohm is the 15th Shocker to be drafted in the first round and the sixth positional player.
"Growing up, I always wanted to be a big-leaguer," Bohm said before the draft. "Sitting by yourself in the backyard, you picture yourself playing in a big-league stadium. That's been my goal ever since I can remember."
Monday was a testament to Bohm's work ethic, as he went from not being selected in the 2015 MLB Draft as a high school senior to one of the most sought-after prospects three years later.
Bohm exploded last summer with a breakout performance in the Cape Cod Summer League, then followed it up with a dominant junior season at WSU: He hit .339 and led the team with 57 runs, 55 RBIs, 14 doubles and 16 home runs. Bohm was chosen as a second-team All-American by Baseball America and is a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy and Golden Spikes Award.
"This guy is on a different level when it comes to work ethic," WSU coach Todd Butler said. "He really is the complete player, and you don't get to coach very many of those guys. I honestly don't think he got enough recognition (at Wichita State)."
Perhaps Bohm's greatest strength is his discipline at the plate. He drew 39 walks and struck out just 28 times in 224 at-bats, or once every eight at-bats. That combined with his power (he had a .625 slugging percentage) gave Bohm a case for the best hitter available in the draft.
Bohm credited his patience at the plate to a game he would play as a kid growing up in Omaha, where he would strike airsoft BB pellets with a stick out of the air.
"The ball seems a little bit bigger after awhile," Bohm said. "But a lot of it is just repetitions and a lot of at-bats. I feel like I have a pretty good feel for it."
"He just has a knack for putting the ball on the sweet spot of the barrel," Butler said. "He does things with the bat that you don't get to see very often. And then his strike zone discipline is just exceptional."
The question mark facing Bohm is whether he has the defense to remain at third base. He committed 14 errors for WSU this season with a .899 fielding percentage. Consider it a work-in-progress, one Bohm is dead set on improving.
But that minor hole isn't enough to take the shine away from his bat, his discipline and his size (6-foot-5, 220 pounds).
"Alec is a special, special player, and he's going to get to play this game for a very long time," said teammate Greyson Jenista. "The best part about him is that even if he gets two strikes, you know he's getting on or hitting something hard at least. That was a huge confidence boost for our whole offense. When he gets it going, he's hard to stop."