Missoula Osprey third baseman Bobby Borchering has been compared to Atlanta Braves great Chipper Jones.
Not bad for a kid just a few months removed from high school.
Borchering, the Arizona Diamondbacks' top pick in the June draft and the 16th selection overall, was signed for a reported $1.8 million on Aug. 13. After taking batting practice with the Diamondbacks the next day, Borchering was shipped to Missoula to begin his professional baseball career.
The 18-year-old Florida native got off to a decent start, going 4-for-14 in the Osprey's Utah road trip, but was 0-for-Missoula in the Birds' three-game homestand against Great Falls.
The Missoulian caught up with the rising star before the Osprey departed for a weekend road swing through Billings.
Q. Tell me about Alva, Fla., where you grew up.
A. It's a little inland of Fort Myers. It's a small town. I went to school in Fort Myers.
Q. What did you do besides playing baseball as a kid in Alva?
A. Just fishing and hanging out.
Q. What was your baseball team while growing up?
A. I liked the Reds because my parents grew up in Cincinnati.
Q. Did you have a player you followed?
A. When I was younger, I liked Rafael Palmeiro.
Q. Did you try to mold yourself after him?
A. Not really.
Q. Is there a player you emulated?
A. I didn't try to mold myself after anyone, but a lot of people compare me to Chipper Jones, because I'm a switch-hitting third baseman.
Q. How do you feel about the comparisons to Chipper?
A. I'm honored by them. He's definitely a great player.
Q. How did you start switch-hitting?
A. I actually started when I first started playing ball. My dad was a Pete Rose fan so he had me switch hitting when I was young.
Q. How young?
A. When I started playing, like all the way from T-ball on up.
Q. Was it a tense time, trying to weigh your offer to play at the University of Florida against the offer to play pro ball?
A. It was a hard decision, because I really like the University of Florida and the program is one of the best in the business. At the end of the day, the opportunity the Diamondbacks were giving me was too much to pass up.
Q. What have you splurged on?
A. Nothing. I haven't thought about that just yet. I'm just thinking about my future and getting to the majors as fast as I can.
Q. Tell me about the experience of taking batting practice with the Diamondbacks.
A. It was great, just being out there with the team. It was really cool, something I'll never forget.
Q. What did you think when you heard you'd be assigned to Missoula?
A. I was just excited to get my professional career started. I'd never been anywhere in Montana, so I was interested in what it would be like.
Q. What do you think of it now that you've been here for a few days?
A. I really like it. It's nice and slow-paced, kind of like my hometown. I like nature a lot. I went river rafting the other day, so that was pretty cool.
Q. As soon as you got here, the team departed on an eight-hour bus ride to Utah. Did you wonder what you'd gotten into?
A. I enjoyed it. It's part of being in the minors and there's nothing better than playing ball for a living.
Q. Which side do you hit better from?
A. I think it's pretty even. Sometimes I get in grooves one way, but it's usually pretty even.
Q. Would you like to stay at third base throughout your career?
A. I really like third base. I've been working hard on it with our coach, Audo (Vicente). I think I can be a good third baseman.
Q. What is it you like about third base?
A. It's a quick reactionary position. It's really exciting being over there. I just feel like a third baseman.
Q. You're off to a slow start at home in Missoula. What do you need to do to get on track?
A. Everybody goes through this once in a while, getting in a little slump. I just have to remember to stick with it, go out there and get in a rhythm and feel comfortable.
Q. Is it fun being in the thick of a race for a playoff spot?
A. Yeah, definitely. The team's been great, real welcoming. It's a really good team environment and we're clicking pretty good. We're going to make a playoff run.
Q. What's in store after the Pioneer League season?
A. I think the Instructional League down in Tucson.