Sluggers Alec Bohm and Greyson Jenista are roommates at Wichita State and two of the best hitters in college baseball. That leads to some shows when the Shockers are taking batting practice and, of course, a friendly game of one-upmanship.
"There's always a little friendly competition, whether one of us knows it or not," Jenista said. "The other one's going to say something or make a joke. It's always a lot fun to be around him."
This summer, that competition moved to the Cape Cod League. But with the Shockers on different teams on the Cape—Bohm playing first and third base for Falmouth and Jenista patrolling the outfield for Cotuit—the batting practice shows are not as frequent.
Bohm and Jenista reunited at the league's all-star game last Saturday, both starting for the West Division, and treated observers to a power show. Bohm, listed at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, showed off his powerful righthanded swing, while Jenista, listed at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, let it fly from the left side of the plate. As they have been all summer on the Cape, they were two of the biggest standouts at the plate.
Bohm is hitting .358/.400/.507 this summer, while Jenista is hitting .325/.403/.421. Both have established themselves among the best position players in the league.
Bohm is hopeful that the summer portends more success next spring back on campus.
"We have two guys up here and we both made (the all-star game)," Bohm said. "I think it shows how we can hang in there, our program has just about as much talent as anyone else has. If we put it together, we can have a good year."
Coach Todd Butler believes Bohm and Jenista can lead the Shockers to success next spring in what will be a pivotal season. Wichita State went 28-30 this spring and is now moving from the Missouri Valley Conference to the American Athletic Conference, which finished the season ranked fourth in conference RPI. In addition to moving to a tougher league, Wichita State is trying to make it back to regionals for the first time since 2013 (an appearance that was later vacated following an NCAA investigation).
It won't be easy for the Shockers, but Bohm and Jenista give them a strong core to build around.
"We have good players here, we have two of the better hitters in college baseball," Butler said. "I'm excited for them. I'm excited they're Shockers."
Bohm and Jenista were a part of Wichita State's 2015 recruiting class, which ranked No. 25. Neither was drafted out of high school, but both showed the kind of offensive potential they are now starting to reach. They have both been .300 hitters in each of their first two seasons and shown improving power. Bohm hit .305/.385/.519 with 11 home runs this spring, while Jenista hit .320/.413/.509 with nine homers.
"The thing with Bohm that sticks out is his vision," Butler said. "His vision is really good. I probably have about 10 guys that I’ve coached that their vision out of the hand is exceptional. He has exceptional vision. And then Jenista has exceptional strike zone awareness. He's really good in the zone."
Now, they are testing themselves against some of the best players in the country this summer. While Bohm played in the Coastal Plains League last summer, ranking as the circuit's top prospect, Jenista is in his second summer on the Cape. He said the experience has taught him patience.
"Not every day you're going to come out here and go 2-for-3 or 3-fo-r4 or 2-for-4," he said. "There are going to be some days that are rough days. You've just got to move on from it, you can't think too much into it. This game will humble you, especially up here."
As good as the pair has been, both still have some rough spots in their game to work on, especially defensively. Bohm has split his time between third base and first base this summer for Falmouth, and still needs to convince scouts that he can stay at the hot corner. Jenista has mostly played first base at Wichita State, but is playing the outfield this summer, even starting the all-star game in center field. He is an above-average runner and will stay in the outfield this spring, but will need more work at his new position.
If Bohm and Jenista can convince scouts that they will be able to play higher on the defensive spectrum, they won't have to wait long to hear their names on draft day next year.
Their performance this summer is just the start of a critical year leading up to the draft.
"What they're doing up in the Cape is kind of catapulting them to their junior season, which is exactly the plan for them," Butler said. "Both of these guys need to keep growing, keep maturing, be able to handle the game whether they have success or failure and being ready for the next day or the next at bat."
Before they head back to campus, Bohm and Jenista are going to enjoy the stretch run on the Cape. Bourne, Cotuit and Falmouth are tightly packed at the top of the West Division, and the Shockers will play an integral role in the playoff race before going back to Kansas.
"Finish strong, have fun, get better and head into the fall strong so we can have a good season in the spring," Bohm said.