LSU freshman Alex Bregman having season for the ages

Alex Bregman high-fives teammates at home plate.
Alex Bregman has led second-ranked LSU to a 32-2 record.

There are hitting streaks, and then there is what LSU freshman shortstop Alex Bregman is doing. Over his last 22 games, the 6’-1” right-hander has recorded a hit in every one of them. Actually, he has only recorded a hit in five of them. In the other 17, he has had at least two hits and, in seven of those games, he has had at least three. He also had a streak of nine straight multi-hit games. His offensive production during the streak is ridiculous:

.505 AVG. (47-for-93) 31 R, 9 2B, 5 3B, 2 HR, 23 RBI, 5 SB, 8 BB, .553 OBP/.774 SLG

Overall, he is hitting .444 (63-for-142) over 34 games with 10 doubles, six triples, three home runs, 35 RBI and is a perfect 9-for-9 in stolen base attempts. He has also drawn 14 walks to just nine strikeouts for a .497 OBP/.662 SLG. He leads the nation in hits, is second in triples, fourth in batting average and his 17 AB/K ratio ranks in the top 20. He is a freshman, remember, playing in the SEC. The question that I have seen asked the most lately is, “How did this kid end up going to college?”

The answer is simple: He wanted to.

After a heralded career at Albuquerque Academy in New Mexico that included setting a state record for home runs (19) while also hitting .678 as a junior, Bregman missed all of his senior season with a broken middle finger. He broke the finger fielding a ground ball in pre-game practice and had season-ending surgery just one game into the season. He did play in that game, however, and went 2-for-4. “Impressive” is a word often accompanied with Alex Bregman.

Aside from his exploits at Albuquerque Academy, Alex Bregman was also a star for Team USA Baseball. As a member of U16 Team USA in 2010, he paced the team, hitting .564 (22-for-39) over nine games with a double, two triples and two home runs. He also led the team with 17 RBI and five stolen bases as the US won the gold, defeating host Mexico 11-4 in the title game at the COPABE Pan Am Championships held in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico.

He was also a key member of the gold-medal winning 2011 U18 Team USA club that may go down as one of the best teams ever assembled one day. The team had eight players selected in the top-60 picks of the 2012 MLB draft, including five in the top-14 in Albert Almora (Cubs-6), David Dahl (Rockies-10), Addison Russell (Athletics-11), Gavin Cecchini (Mets-12) and Nick Travieso (Reds-14). Alex Bregman hit .378 over 14 games with three doubles, nine RBI, stole six bases and drew eight walks for a .500 OBP.

On April 10 this year, he was named to the 2013 Team USA National Team that will tour the summer for 33 games starting in June, including a stop in Japan, as well as facing the Cuban National team. Said LSU coach Paul Mainieri:

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“USA Baseball could not have selected a better person to represent our country than Alex Bregman. He is a great player, but he also is a young man of impeccable character who exemplifies the values of dedication and a strong work ethic.”

Alex Bregman didn’t hear his name called until the 29th round of the 2012 MLB draft. By no means was it a knock on his abilities as he was considered a first-round talent. Everyone knew he was serious about LSU, and teams didn’t want to “waste” a pick on a player who wasn’t going to sign. The Boston Red Sox took a flier on him — as most teams do with late picks in the draft on players with signability concerns — but with the odds, knew they were basically holding a lottery ticket.

MLB’s short-term loss was LSU’s gain as Bregman has led the Tigers to a 32-2 overall record (11-1 in SEC) and a number-two ranking in the nation behind North Carolina (31-2, 12-2 in ACC). A shoo-in for Freshman All-American honors, he has also positioned himself in talks for the Golden Spikes award, given to the top amateur baseball player.

Alex Bregman looks to extend his hitting streak this weekend in a tough matchup with eighth-ranked Arkansas (24-10, 8-4 in SEC). On Friday, he will face Razorbacks ace Ryne Stanek. The 6’-4” right-hander is considered a top-10 draft pick this year and has been dealing lately, giving up just one run over his last 21 innings, striking out 18 to three walks and allowing 10 hits.

Whether the streak continues until the end of the season, or it ends in his next game, Alex Bregman is putting together one of the most impressive seasons by a freshman in history and, in the process, has shown that college is a pretty good option.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter @DanMKirby for draft updates, prospect news and Chicago Cubs ramblings.

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