Astros’ Alex Bregman: The SEC Shortstop Rivalry Continues

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Jul 10, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; USA infielder Alex Bregman (middle) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a run during the All Star Game futures baseball game at PetCo Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 10, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; USA infielder Alex Bregman (middle) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a run during the All Star Game futures baseball game at PetCo Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /
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So far in their careers, Alex Bregman, of the Astros has gotten the better of his growing shortstop rivalry with Dansby Swanson of the Braves.

Eight of the 36 picks in the first round of the 2015 draft were drafted as shortstops, including the first three overall picks. Alex Bregman was selected second overall in the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft by the Houston Astros. The only player selected before him that year was Dansby Swanson, by the Arizona Diamondbacks, who has since been traded to the Atlanta Braves.

You could say that this rivalry has been going on for four years now. Both Swanson and Bregman were drafted as junior shortstops in the Southeastern Conference, along with 20th overall pick Richie Martin of the Oakland A’s.

Bregman played three years at Louisiana State University, while Swanson was at Vanderbilt University and Martin was at the University of Florida. In their three years competing against each other for SEC titles, it was Bregman that tended to come out on top. LSU won the SEC regular-season championship in 2014 and 2015 and won the SEC tournament in 2013 and 2014. Vandy won just one regular-season championship in 2013, while Martin and the Gators won a tournament championship in 2015.

All three men also appeared in the College World Series in Omaha at least once. Bregman and the Tigers appeared in the CWS twice in his three years there: in ’13 and ’15. Swanson and the Commodores made it to the dance in ’14 and ’15 and won the NCAA National Championship in 2014. Martin and Florida appeared in Omaha in ’15.  So, all three of these players have experience playing in high-pressure situations and big games on big stages.

However, the stats and awards have favored Bregman at every level to this point. Here is a list of the year-by-year stats and awards for Bregman and Swanson from their college years:

Bregman has kept up the trend since beginning professional baseball. In two years in the Astros’ farm system, he is hitting .301/.391/.509 with 23 HR and 94 RBI in 136 games and has also gotten better with every call-up he has received. At low-A Quad Cities he had a .669 OPS; at High-A Lancaster, it went up to .839. He hit a total of .294/.366/.415 with 4 HR and 34 RBI through Single-A.

Then, in double-A Corpus Christi his OPS leaped to .975. He was able to slash .297/.415/.559 with 14 HR and 46 RBI in AA. His eight games in triple-A have been the real eye-opener for Bregman thus far. Since being called up to AAA Fresno, his OPS has grown to 1.310 and his slash line to .389/.421/.889 with five HR and 14 RBI.

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Swanson has not had quite as much success in his two professional years. He made his way to double-A in April of this year and is hitting .268/.350/.409 with five HR and 29 RBI since arriving in AA Mississippi. In his two years in the minors, he is hitting .285/.378/.447 with seven HR and 50 RBI in 102 games.

Bregman is the closest to the major league level right now. There have been rumors that he would be called up as early as this weekend after his impressive showing in the MLB Futures Game, coming up a home run shy of the cycle. It also seems that the Astros could use a good young bat like his in this years playoff race. Although it appears he will need to transition to third base, as Carlos Correa has the SS position pretty well locked down.

Next: Astros: First Half Thoughts

As of right now, it looks as though Bregman could come out on top of the rivalry that dates back to 2013 in the SEC. But, judging by how good both of these young players are, this rivalry could be around for years to come.

**Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and TheBaseballCube.com**

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