A Shot of Borbon

In this day and age of Internet coverage, it is hard for a player like Julio Borbon to get under-hyped. But that is exactly what has happened… and the deep minor league system in Texas is no doubt partially to blame. This speedy outfielder was selected 35th overall by the Texas Rangers in the 2007 draft. The former University of Tennessee star had a very nice college career and he actually slid a bit in the draft because of his adviser, Mr. Scott Boras.

Borbon held out after being drafted – of course – and appeared in just eight minor league games in his draft year. As a result, he entered 2008 with little pro experience. Undeterred, the now-23-year-old prospect hit .306/.346/.395 in 291 high-A at-bats and moved up to double-A where his numbers improved to .337/.380/.459 in 255 at-bats. Overall, Borbon stole 53 bases, but was caught 18 times. Unfortunately, his walk rate sat right around 5%, which is not really acceptable for a speedy/leadoff-type hitter. He did, though, keep his strikeout rate down around 11%.

This season in triple-A, Borbon got the ol’ walk rate up to 7.5% and really trimmed the strikeout rate at just 9.8%. Whether that is sustainable or not remains to be seen. It is impressive, nonetheless, given that it was done over 96 games. Borbon also posted a line of .307/.367/.386 in 407 at-bats. He stole 25 bases in 32 attempts.

Upon hitting the big time in Texas, Borbon has been on fire. Through 10 games, he’s currently hitting .485/.528/.636 in 33 at-bats. He’s also shown better instincts on the base paths with eight steals in as many attempts. Borbon’s small-sample-size numbers at the plate are clearly aided by the .652 BABIP but at least he’s taking a few more walks.

Clearly, Borbon is not this good. However, he certainly has the potential to be an above-average contributor to the Texas Rangers for quite some time. With limited power, Borbon has shown the ability to hit .300 and he has the speed to steal 40-50 bases in the Majors, especially if he cuts down on the caught-stealing rate. On the downside, he probably needs to show a little more patience at the plate to take full advantage of the offensive package that he offers. The club will certainly benefit by giving him playing time, as Borbon offers skills that are lacking on the club (plus outfield defense, blazing speed). His base-running antics could be especially valuable in the playoffs.

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Adam D
14 years ago

plus outfield defense? Rangers fans know that even though he is blazing fast, he typically doesn’t get a good first read on fly balls (although he makes up for that with speed), and does not have a plus arm. that’s why you’ll continue to see Hamilton, Byrd, Cruz, and Murphy get the lion’s share of outfield playing time. ask me again next year as Borbon could be a very good center fielder with more experience and at least an average arm.

14 years ago
Reply to  Adam D

He’s like the Shane Victorino of..Being Shane Victorino.

14 years ago
Reply to  Adam D

Murphy’s nothing special on either side of the ball so hopefully Borbon does get a shot next year.

14 years ago
Reply to  Adam D

lol @ rangers fans knowing this after 11 games