It’s common knowledge that being a successful baseball team takes more than productive seasons from one or two players. You need contributions up and down the roster, you need new faces to immediately take on roles, you need to get production from some places you perhaps didn’t expect, and you also need a little luck along the way.
But with that being said, if 2018 is the season when Wichita State breaks through and gets back into a regional, it’s probably safe to assume that the budding superstar duo of Greyson Jenista and Alec Bohm completely fulfilled their promise and put up huge seasons.
That pair might have as much buzz surrounding them as any pair of teammates in the country, based not only what they’ve done for WSU to this point, but also thanks to their summer spent on the Cape, where they broke out as big-time MLB prospects.
Both were immediate contributors upon arrival in Wichita. Jenista hit .326/.431/.471 with five home runs and 32 RBI. Bohm did much the same as a freshman, hitting .303/.346/.489 with 13 doubles, six home runs, and 30 RBI.
Then, they both took big steps forward as sophomores. Jenista had a .320/.413/.509 slash line with 14 doubles, nine home runs, and 41 RBI, showing increased power compared to the season prior. Bohm improved to .305/.385/.519 with 13 doubles, 11 homers, and 40 RBI, showing not only increased power, but far better plate discipline, as his walk total jumped from just nine as a freshman to 29 as a sophomore.
That alone would have made their junior seasons much anticipated in Wichita, but then each went out and made fantastic impressions on the Cape.
Bohm, playing for Falmouth, was second on the Cape in batting average at .351, was third in doubles with ten, third in RBI with 28, and clubbed five home runs for good measure. Along the way, he was named a Cape Cod League All-Star.
As a member of the Cotuit Kettleers, Jenista hit .310 with four doubles, three home runs, 16 RBI, and nine stolen bases, a stolen base total higher than any he’s had so far with Wichita State. That’s a pretty big turnaround from hitting just .229 on the Cape in the summer of 2016. At the end of the season, he was named the Cape Cod League MVP. That might seem like an odd choice given that other players, Bohm included, had more impressive stats, but according to those around him on the Cape, it was more of the intangible things that earned him praise and respect.
“The attrition up here can be great,” Falmouth manager Jeff Trundy told Paul Suellentrop, then of the Wichita Eagle, over the summer. “People see his energy and enthusiasm. He plays the game with a smile on his face and there’s a lot to be said for that.”
Suellentrop’s story in the Eagle, which is a highly-recommended read, is full of anecdotes describing why he was such a hit on the Cape. There is Wareham manager Don Sneddon simply saying he would love to have him on his team. Sneddon also shared a story of Jenista running out a routine ground ball, causing a rushed error that sent him all the way to third base. Then there’s the story about how Jenista put in four weeks of work at children’s baseball clinics over the summer when only three weeks were required of each Cotuit player. Jenista himself admits that he really soaked in the experience this time around and appreciated, as he put them in the article, the “little things.”
Cotuit manager Mike Roberts also talks about how Jenista came to him and said that he wanted to play center field over the summer, after having played right field and first base for the Shockers.
“He’s played a very good center field in the Cape,” Roberts told Suellentrop in the piece. “You take a really great athlete like Greyson and you see what can happen. You believe in an athlete and see what he can do.”
At a bare minimum, his ability to handle center field gives Wichita State head coach Todd Butler some flexibility with his defensive alignments, but it could also mean that Jenista has quickly become one of the most dynamic players in college baseball if he can ably man center field and continue to develop as an offensive threat.
Coming out of the summer, Jenista and Bohm saw their prospect stock really take off. On D1Baseball.com’s list of the top 100 prospects ahead of the 2018 draft, Bohm is ranked 30th, with Jenista one spot behind him at 31.
So, sure, two players, no matter how good, can’t be expected to carry an entire team in the postseason after having not been for five years. But as far as building blocks go, it’s tough to do better than two veteran players with a track record of success at the college level and on the Cape who also both happen to be potential first-round picks.
The Shockers were picked to finish sixth in the American in the preseason coaches poll, but with Jenista and Bohm in tow, it’s easy to see a scenario where Wichita State is playing postseason baseball once again in 2018.