INDIANAPOLIS — He walked into the dugout prior to a game for a meet-and-greet with a group of fans, which included a couple of young children.
Christopher Bostick received a reaction that made his time feel well spent.
“They were just completely out of their minds with excitement about getting to meet a player,” Bostick said.
Those kids probably didn’t even know who he was, Bostick jokes, but he was wearing a uniform and talking to them, which was good enough to make a memory.
But Bostick has a secret to share: “I’d be lying if it doesn’t make me feel good, too.”
The International League announced Bostick’s selection as a Triple-A All-Star last week, along with Indianapolis teammates and starting pitchers Steven Brault and Drew Hutchison.
Bostick leads the IL with 23 doubles and has a slash line of .292/.348/.451, while playing both corner outfield positions, second base and shortstop.
He’s also been pretty good off the field.
The organization requires all players to complete ten hours of community service every season. Bostick has already completed nearly double that amount, just barely past the halfway point of the season. Bostick has participated in youth clinics and played games with children at local hospitals, part of unveiling events for special jersey nights.
“I’ve participated in a few events and he’s always there,” Indianapolis manager Andy Barkett said.
Several other players have also already gone beyond the expectations set out for them, such as Steven Brault, Tyler Eppler and Clay Holmes.
But Bostick plays everyday, switching positions almost each time on the field. One day he might be in the infield, the next in the outfield. It would be easy for Bostick to get by on doing the minimum away from the field.
Actually, that would be too easy.
“I figure the platform I’ve been given is not really worth anything if I’m not doing something with it,” Bostick said. “It’s just something I’ve liked to do. I like to get myself out there to see people, meet people – just kind of help out as much as I can. I understand I’m very fortunate with the things that I have and there are other people that are not as fortunate.”
The team requires ten hours of community service, but in reality, there’s no specific penalties for those that don’t follow through. A player the caliber of Bostick — or really anyone — wouldn’t be benched or fined for not fulfilling that requirement.
“Whether all of them do it — I do remind them of it — they’re grown men,” Barkett said. “If they choose not to give back to the community — they have to answer to their maker when they get older, not me.”
Bostick, though, doesn’t skimp on his individual work in exchange for attending community service events. Walk down a tunnel, about a hundred feet from the Indianapolis clubhouse, and you’ll run into the indoor batting cage. Take a peek inside. Good chance you’ll come across Bostick.
“Every day,” Indianapolis hitting coach Butch Wynegar said.
Bostick spends extra time in the cage during good times, such as when he hit .337 in April and had a brief, three-game stint making his major league debut with the Pirates; or in rough times, such as the past month when he hit .226.
“Things haven’t been going as great lately, so I’m just trying to work on small, little things,” Bostick said. “Not so much take a ton of swings, but just work on getting good, quality work in and getting something done every single day. It might be a little bit more than some people, but it’s nothing that’s taxing.”
The recent dip in offensive production is based on two factors: pitchers are changing the way they’re attacking him, Barkett said; while he has also slipped into a few, minor bad habits mechanically, Wynegar said.
During the first few months of the season, Bostick was seeing more pitches on the outer-third of the plate, whereas he’s now getting more pitches inside and more off-speed offerings.
“I think a lot of pitchers, regardless of what’s going on, at the beginning of the year they feel more comfortable going out over the plate and pitching away,” Bostick said. “They start feeling good and it starts to warm up, they start coming in more. They’re making adjustments and I’m doing my best to make adjustments back.”
Drastic changes to his swing, weren’t needed, rather more of a tuneup. As the batting average started to drop, Wynegar thinks Bostick started to press at the plate.
“In this game, when you start trying to do something, it’s tough,” Wynegar said. “When players struggle, they tend to speed up instead of slow down. I think over time he got kind of frustrated and started speeding up a little bit, coming off his legs a little bit.”
Bostick has raised his hands slightly, putting them closer to his body to maintain a stronger path to the ball. Also, his stance was widened out a little but, giving Bostick more lower-half leverage that keeps his body stabilized better.
“We’ve just made some adjustments recently, getting back to where he was,” Wynegar said.
There’s no expectation that Bostick should be hitting .350 or higher for an entire season, but he’s capable of producing more than he did in June. So far in July, those adjustments have paid off. He has a .345/.441/.517 slash line, albeit in a small sample size.
Bostick is a legitimate candidate for a late-season call-up, at the latest, due to his versatility off the bench and being an intelligent player coaches don’t have to worry about.
Ideally, those small mechanical adjustments will continue to bring some more life back to Bostick’s offensive production. Then, he’ll more closely resemble the player that dominated the International League earlier this season.
Off the field, Bostick won’t change anything and that’s going to work just fine.