It only took three years for Stephen Bougher to rewrite the South Dakota State history books. The righty left South Dakota State 2nd All-Time in career wins with 22, and his 191 strikeout rank 3rd in Jackrabbit history. While in Brookings, his coaches provided him with knowledge that has allowed him succeed at the next level.
“I learned an exorbitant amount of information about pitching in that time. I learned what to do, what not to do, and how players react to certain situations,” said Bougher.
Bougher is now pitching in Gary, Indiana as a member of the Independent Railcats. His goal is the major leagues, but the reality is that becoming a big league player is extremely rare. Hundreds of affiliated teams, and unaffiliated independent teams, are scattered across the county and stacked with young men all trying to make it to the show. Stephen Bougher is no different.
“Any player in Indy (independent) ball, except for some of the older guys maybe, has their goal of getting to the next level. You want to get signed to an affiliated team, go play double A. Everyone is playing baseball because they want to make it to bigs,” said Bougher.
The 6 foot 2 right-hander is in his second professional season, and is doing fairly well. He is 3 and 3 on the season, has pitched to a respectable ERA of 3.90, but will be the first one to tell you that there are still a few key areas that he needs to improve in before he can take that next step.
“Pitching to spots. If it’s outside, I’ve gotten good enough to where I can hit it outside, but I want to make sure it’s outside on the knees now. So that’s been my craft, hitting spots and changing speeds.”
Bougher believes all the hard work will eventually pay off. All it takes is one Big League scout to see his stuff and offer him a chance to play. Although the ultimate goal remains the same, being signed with an affiliated team would certainly be a major step in the right direction.
“It would be a lot. It would mean that my hard work is starting to pay off. That’s not the end goal, but that’s the start of a new set of goals. It would mean a heck of a lot.”
For now, all Bougher can do is stay focused and pitch his best every five days.