Bosiokovic leading Boise Hawks offense two years after Tommy John surgery

Struggling as a sophomore at the plate, Jacob Bosiokovic offered to help his Ohio State team any way he could.

Injuries depleted the Buckeyes’ bullpen in 2014, so the slugging first baseman moved down to the bullpen to eat up innings. But before he could throw an official pitch, he felt a pop in his right elbow throwing between series.

The diagnosis — he needed Tommy John surgery.

The surgery has become so common it’s nearly a prerequisite for any major league pitcher. But Bosiokovic said it was still frightening.

“You get a pit in your stomach because it’s a major reconstructive surgery,” he said. “But our trainers were great. They’ve dealt with the rehab, and a couple guys on the team were going through it at the same time, so it was nice to have those guys to rely on.”

The surgery forced him to take a medical redshirt his junior year and back to the infield. But he bounced back to club 11 home runs for the Buckeyes this spring, and he hasn’t slowed down since the Rockies selected him in the 19th round in June.

He went 0-for-3 with two walks Saturday in a 4-2 loss to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, extending his on-base streak to 20 games. He’s reached base in every game as a professional.

“He’s a smart, smart kid,” Boise manager Andy Gonzalez said. “He has a good approach and understands what he needs to do to be a good offensive threat.”

Bosiokovic has done it all for the Hawks through the first three weeks. Entering Saturday, he led the Northwest League in slugging percentage (.565), ranked second in on-base percentage (.451), third in batting average (.348) and tied for fourth in home runs (three).

The power comes as no surprise from his 6-5, 240-pound frame. But he’s also flashed surprising speed, leading the Hawks in stolen bases and tying for fifth in the league with six steals.

“When he gets on base, people see he’s that big,” Gonzalez said. “But for a big guy, he can run. … He’s a very smart base runner, and he’s a very smart ballplayer.”

Bosiokovic has run into his off days during his first year, including an 0-for-5 night Wednesday in Spokane that included four strikeouts. But he legged it out to first on a passed ball in the seventh inning to keep his on-base streak alive.

“I don’t even think they threw it to first,” Bosiokovic joked. “It was probably a bad pitch, but I was lucky enough to make my way on.”

Facing professional pitchers every day of the week, Bosiokovic knows his run won’t continue forever. He’s not following his streak and counting the days, instead trying to focus on the bigger picture.

“You’re not always going to get a real good pitch to hit,” he said. “It’s all about how your at-bat and your process plays out over time. That’s what I try to think about. Even if I don’t get my hit here, what is my approach and what are my swings?”

Michael Lycklama: 208-377-6424, @MichaelLycklama