With practically the identical swing Justin Bour had at Westfield High School and George Mason University, he’s putting up prodigious power numbers in the high-Class A Florida State League with the Daytona Cubs.
Bour, who turns 23 on Saturday, leads the 12-team FSL in slugging percentage (.634), on-base plus slugging (1.029) and total bases (116). He’s also tied for first with 41 RBI, one off the home run lead with 13, tied for fourth with 14 doubles and tied for sixth in batting at .333. Those are impressive statistics for anyone, especially a 25th-round pick playing in a pitchers’ league.
In a telephone interview Wednesday, the third-year minor league first baseman said the only tweaks he has made at the plate came in instructional league the offseason before last, with help from Cubs minor league hitting coordinator Dave Keller.
“Overall it’s pretty much the same as I had in high school,” Bour said. ”I just dropped my hands a little bit, learned how to use my lower half.”
The 6-foot-4, 250 pound Bour has an older brother, Jason, who also is in high Class A and played at Westfield and GMU. Jason, primarily a catcher, plays for Winston-Salem in the White Sox system.
“We work out at George Mason in the offseason and stay with our parents in Centreville when we’re back home,” Justin Bour said. “We stay close to the coaches and players at Mason and around there. It’s a nice resource to have, and it’s good to be able to work out inside. The Virginia weather isn’t always forgiving.”
For Justin, it helped having a brother less than two years older than him show him the way in baseball.
“I was really, really fortunate to have a brother around the same age,” he said. “Being able to play at a high level and have someone there to help me with my game, play catch and push me — that made a difference. He’s probably my biggest fan and my biggest critic.”
With the Daytona Cubs off to a 36-12 start and leading their division by six games, it’s an exciting time for the left-handed hitting Bour. The D-Cubs play at Jackie Robinson Ballpark, the only stadium in the league that doesn’t house a major league team for spring training. Therefore, the franchise is run more like a traditional minor league club and the dimensions are more friendly (315 and 325 feet down the lines, 400 feet to center field).
The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Bour has hit 11 of his 13 homers at home, but his road numbers are solid, too, at .299 with a .349 on-base percentage and .474 slugging percentage. Nine of his 14 doubles have come on the road.
“This is such a fun place to play,” Bour said. “It’s a little bit smaller and doesn’t hold as many fans as the other parks in the league, which is nice because it sounds a lot more full — and we have a great old-fashioned scoreboard.
“Going into it, they tell you it’s a pitchers’ league, but I’m just trying to take what the pitchers give me.”