Photo: Nebraska Communications Office

Boldt ready to fulfill dream

Blake Dowson

Published: Friday, June 03, 2016

Perfect Game 2016 MLB Draft Preview Index

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Ryan Boldt knew he would be a first or second round selection in the MLB Draft. His lefthanded swing that generates easy gap power while playing plus defense in center field, along with an attitude to get better every single day, assured that.

It’s just taken him three more years than what he had originally planned on.

Coming out of Red Wing, Minnesota, Boldt was one of the most highly touted prospects in the country during his high school days. Perfect Game had him ranked as the No. 15 prospect in his class, and the third-highest ranked outfielder. At one point leading up to the 2013 MLB Draft, Perfect Game had him pegged as the No. 20 overall prospect.

It’s easy to see why. Standing at 6-foot-2 and 185-pounds, Boldt excelled against every level of competition he played against. In his junior year at Red Wing, Boldt slashed .423/.516/.756 and helped his team reach the Minnesota State Baseball Tournament for the first time since 1977. He was named a Perfect Game All-American after his junior year and was the MVP of the Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego in 2012.

“[Perfect Game] was awesome for me,” Boldt said from the Big Ten Tournament in Omaha, Neb. “The first thing I went to was the National Showcase and then after that I was invited to the All-American game and that’s where everyone saw me, so it kind of kick-started me as far as being seen by colleges and pro teams.”

Boldt was selected to play on the USA 18u team in 2012 as well, leading off and hitting .273 for a team that won a world championship.

With all of the talent and accolades surrounding Boldt, he was a sure-fire first round pick when he headed into the spring season of his senior year. Until he awkwardly slid into third base during the first week of the cold Minnesota spring, tearing his meniscus and losing the rest of his season.

The injury not only hurt his team, as losing anybody that hits .423 naturally would, but it also took a major blow on Boldt’s draft stock.

Boldt fell out of the first round, and then out of day one, and then day two, before finally being drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 22nd round of the 2013 draft.

The Red Sox flew the Red Wing native out to Boston to take a tour of Fenway Park to try to sway him into signing, but Boldt knew he wasn’t a 22nd round talent, and didn’t want to sign a contract that would financially say he was.

“It was obviously tough, to be able to get drafted [in the first round] after my senior year would have been great,” Boldt said. “But at that point I was just working to get my health back and getting back on the field. At that point, it kind of made the decision [to go to school] easier.”

The talented outfielder decided to honor his commitment to Nebraska and head coach Darin Erstad, who he had pledged to in high school, and started the rehab process.

Unfortunately, Boldt was no stranger to baseball injuries. When he was just 10 years old he injured his left elbow throwing, and doctors told him he would never be able to throw a baseball again. So he switched his glove over to his left hand and taught himself how to throw righthanded. He loved baseball too much to just give up.

Countless hours of catch re-learning how to throw a baseball with his right arm at age 10 helped turn Boldt into a first round prospect by his senior year of high school. Now three years later, the countless hours he put into rehabbing his knee has him back in the same position.

Boldt didn’t miss a beat his freshman year at Nebraska, slashing .311/.382/.437, with 20 extra-base hits and 31 RBI. After doubts on what kind of player he would be after the injury to his knee, Boldt proved he was the same player that earned MVP honors at the PG All-American Classic.

But a change in philosophy at the plate for the Huskers slumped his sophomore campaign, and Boldt’s power numbers plummeted, making a number of scouts wary once again. Although Boldt had raised his average to .344, the opposite way approach he implemented added up to only 10 extra-base hits on the year.

Before the 2016 season, Erstad overhauled the approach his hitters were taking up to the plate, and Boldt’s power stats came back in a big way. In his first draft-eligible season at Nebraska, Boldt has hit 14 doubles, a pair of triples and five home runs. He has also added 30 RBI out of the leadoff spot and 20 stolen bases, a career high.

With his game coming full circle in his junior year – Boldt has shown he can go the other way with success and has now flashed his power – Erstad has compared his center fielder to another Minnesota native and current major leaguer, Joe Mauer. The comparison was fun for Boldt, who looked up to Mauer as a kid.

“Being from Minnesota, I always watched Joe Mauer play,” Boldt said. “He’s got a pretty swing and I’ve always watched him play. Obviously we don’t play the same position but he’s a Minnesota guy too so it’s kind of fun to watch him play and watch him swing the bat.”

Boldt’s head coach at Nebraska has also been a big influence on him, with Erstad himself playing outfield for the Cornhuskers and moving on to a 14-year major league career.

To have a guy in your dugout everyday that has experience at the highest level is invaluable, Boldt said, and he often takes the opportunity to ask questions on what to expect at the next level.

“He’s always kind of given me little pointers and stuff,” Boldt said. “To be an everyday player, you have to be out there every day even if you’re hurt a little bit. If you find one way to help your team win, it’s a successful day. It’s just little stuff like that I try to pick his brain about as much as I can.”

The Cornhusker star, whose team is getting ready for an NCAA Tournament run as part of the Regional in Clemson, S.C., said he hasn’t allowed himself to think about the draft much because it is out of his control.

One thing is almost certain, however. Boldt will, by all projections, hear his name called on the first day of the MLB Draft, finally realizing a dream that started more than three years ago.


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