When most people think of the cliché that a person is “two-faced,” they immediately get a negative connotation. They think of someone who is one way when they are face-to-face with a person, but a total different way when that person has their back turned. This is the kind of person that most people try to avoid because of the feeling that they are back-stabbers.
Alex Boshers is a two-faced person, but he is quickly changing the way many people view idiom. It is not that Alex is a guy who is some kind of back-stabber. In fact, quite the opposite. What makes the Wichita Wingnuts right-hander “two-faced” is that outside of the lines he is one of the nicest, friendliest persons that anyone will ever meet. The smile he gives is one that makes you feel incredibly welcome, and he is the first guy to congratulate a teammate when they get a huge hit or a big out, or pat them on the back and encourage them when things have not gone their way. He is truly the kind of man that the vast majority of people would be honored to be called his friend.
However, once he steps between the lines and heads to the mound, Alex Boshers is a bulldog of sorts. The friendly demeanor is replaced by one that is all business. He is out there on the diamond to get outs and opposing hitters are obstacles to his team winning. It is the two-faces of Alex Boshers that are making him a success in the American Association and a huge hit with his Wingnuts teammates.
The Peaks and Valleys to Reach the Pros
Baseball was a sport that was introduced to Alex Boshers at an early age. His parents wanted their son to experiment to find out what he liked best, and it did not take long for him to find that baseball was his true passion.
“It was one of those things. You’re four, five years old and your parents want you to try everything. So I tried some different things, but from T-Ball on it (baseball) was just my better sport. I liked it so much more and enjoyed playing baseball above everything else.”
Alex starred in high school for Donelson Christian Academy. In 2006-2007 he was named the Super Sophomore by the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association and earned All-District 8-AA honors in back-to-back seasons. His success earned him a lot of looks by college scouts, but Alex decided that the University of Tennessee-Martin was the place he wanted to go, especially considering that his mother had starred there as a basketball player.
It seemed like everything was on track for the right-hander to make a real splash in college, but things did not go at all as he had planned. Boshers struggled his first three seasons for UT-Martin, and it only got worse in 2013when he needed Tommy John surgery after just two starts. He returned in 2014, but struggled in 19-appearances, going 1-4 with a 6.15 ERA. Overall, he posted a 7-21 record with a 6.78 ERA in 82-appearances.
Pushing to Get a Chance
For most, such statistics would have made them think that it may be time to hang up their cleats. By his own admission, things did not go well at Tennessee-Martin at all, and he did not perform in a way that was going to get him a lot of looks from affiliate clubs, however, he never faltered in his belief that he had what it took to play professional baseball.
“I know I had struggled a lot, but I was feeling really good after the surgery. It took a couple of years, but I knew my arm was recovered and I was feeling better than ever.”
Following graduation, Alex sought to find an independent club that would give him a chance. He was not having much success at first, but eventually former Wichita Wingnuts Manager Kevin Hooper gave him a call. It was his chance to show what he had, but it still didn’t come easy.
“I was just looking for a chance. Reached out to a lot of managers across the leagues, but didn’t really hear back. Kevin told me that if I was willing to come out here he would take a look at me and give me a chance. Packed my bags and two days later drove twelve and a half hours from Nashville looking to get a chance. I threw a couple of times but it didn’t really work out for me, but he called me up later and told me that they had a spot for me. I couldn’t have been any happier.”
At the time that Alex arrived, the Wingnuts were in sort of a funk. The team’s offense was really struggling and the bullpen was not the force they had been in 2014. Hooper needed an arm that he could depend upon and Boshers became that guy.
“He is a guy that can get guys out in any situation,” the former manager explained last season. “We have no concerns about using him at any time in the game because he can handle the pressure.”
All Alex Boshers wanted was an opportunity and he would prove that he belonged. That is exactly what he did. In 28-appearances for Wichita, the righty went 4-2 with an impressive 1.86 ERA. In 48.1 innings pitched he allowed just 14-walks to go along with 43-hits. The success that Alex had did not go unnoticed by the team as he was named the team’s Unsung Hero for 2015.
It was an impressive debut for the rookie, but it occurred because he was given an entirely new focus by Pitching Coach Luke Robertson. To that point, Alex had sought to blow everyone away with his plus-fastball, but the Wingnuts pitching coach showed him that he would have a great deal more success with a different approach to getting people out.
“I think I was that guy that tried to blow everything by everyone. I came here last year and Luke showed me that I need to keep things down. I don’t need to be up in the zone attacking guys all the time, and that really worked out for me. Luke told me he needed me to get ground balls and that is my M.O. these days.”
Called to Fill a New Role
For the 2016 American Association season, Alex was going to once again be a key piece to the team’s bullpen. With five outstanding starters, it was going to be his job to bridge the gap between the rotation and closer Frankie Reed. It was a role he had excelled at in 2015 and it seemed clear that the Wingnuts pitching staff was all-set and ready to take this team back to the playoffs.
However, things did not go according to plans at all. The starting rotation stumbled coming out of the gate, and the bullpen was fairing no better. That included Alex, who posted a 5.91 ERA through his first his first seven appearances of the season.
With injuries and inconsistency in the rotation, new Wingnuts Manager Pete Rose, Jr. decided following Alex’s next relief appearance that he would give the right-hander a shot in the rotation. The team needed an emergency starter and Boshers was more than willing to step up and take the hill. The results were beyond what anyone could have expected.
Alex made his first professional start against the Texas AirHogs and was outstanding. He went 6-innnings, allowing just one earned run, while striking out 5 in the 10-2 victory. That led the Wichita Skipper to leave him in the rotation ever since and he has delivered.
The Wingnuts right-hander has now made seven starts, posting a 4-1 record, which includes his first complete game, which occurred on July 5 against the Laredo Lemurs. In that game, he scattered 7-hits and 2-runs while striking out 5. It was another step in the development of the righty and has earned him a great deal of respect from his manager.
“Alex has been unbelievable for us,” Pete Rose, Jr. explained following the Laredo victory. “He is as competitive as it gets when he takes the ball and he has earned a great deal of respect from the league, I will tell you that.”
A Straight “A” Student off the Field
When Alex Boshers crosses the lines and takes the mound he is completely lost in the moment. The rookie fully acknowledges that he tries to avoid thinking while he pitches, choosing to rely on the skills and abilities that led him to this point in his career.
“When I’m on the mound I’m one of the dumber people you will meet. I am just trusting my body and not really thinking much about it. I just go out there and trust that what I have been doing leading up to that situation is going to work. When I start overthinking things then I know I am going to get into trouble.”
Despite this attitude, no one should accuse Alex of being some ignorant pitcher who is only relying on his pure skill to get outs. The truth of the matter is that this is a guy who has learned well from the teachings he has been provided. He understands that if he is going to succeed on the mound then he has to improve the skills he has daily and that only comes from becoming a true student of the game.
“There are so many guys here with a lot of experience, who have also had a lot of success. I am constantly asking them how I can get better, what is a good pitch to throw in certain situations, and how can I read hitters better. Luke is also such a great teacher. I am going to do what I can to get better, and when you have so much knowledge here you can’t but help to grow.”
It is not just because of the other pitchers and his pitching coach that he has improved his knowledge of the game. Anyone who has insights that can improve his game he is open to listening to their words of wisdom. This is especially true of the one positon that probably has the greatest impact on his performance – his catchers.
“From the first day that I throw to someone, especially in a game when they are calling pitches for you, I like to try and trust that person. I trust them until they lead me astray. I don’t like to call my own pitches a lot. Obviously, if I have an idea and I think it can work I may shake them off, but I am not a guy that likes to shake them off. They have been out there and, especially when I come out of the bullpen, they may already have been out there for eight innings, and so they are more in tune with these guys than I have been. They have a much better idea and so I usually trust them.”
It is that quest for knowledge and the push to improve his skills that allows him to just put his mind on cruise control when he takes the mound. He knows that he has worked hard, studied well, and developed a plan of action every time he takes the hill, and this has enabled him to become one of the rising stars of the league.
“I trust myself when I go on the mound. You have to. If you don’t you are going to fail, and I don’t want to let these guys down. I know I have been prepared well by Luke for each time I go out, my catcher is going to call a great game, and the guys behind me are as solid as they come. I just have to focus on what I need to do and I know it will work out well.”
Turning on and off the Competitive Spirit
It is the two-faces of Alex Boshers that has enamored his teammates with him. The smile tells the story of a young man who is happy to be alive. This a man who makes all feel welcome, and truly appreciates the fact that he is getting to play the game he loves for a living. Between the lines he is a bulldog, who fears no hitter and who wants to be enamored by his teammates not just because of his friendly country demeanor, but because he is getting outs and helping his team win games.
While starring on the field and earning the respect of his teammates and opponents alike are important to the Wingnuts starter, he is quick to point out that it is two people that really helped to develop the two-faces of Alex Boshers – his parents.
“My mom and dad (Rene and Marty Boshers) have been so amazing. Always so supportive in everything I have ever wanted to do. Even when I was struggling in Tennessee, they really made sure that I didn’t get down and kept my spirits up. It was hard at times, but they never doubted me, and when you have that kind of support you can’t help but succeed.”
There has been a lot of success for Alex Boshers these days. The right-hander has been asked to fill two different roles for this team in two different seasons and he has excelled in each year, proving to be a real difference maker. On the field, he is rapidly becoming one of the toughest guys in the league for hitters to face. Off the field, he is one of the most well liked guys on the team. Maybe being two-faced really isn’t that bad after all.
By Robert Pannier
Member of the IBWAA