Run, Don’t Walk: Projecting Julio Borbon

The first thing you must keep in mind about Julio Borbon is that this is a guy who was drafted
JulioBorbon 010.JPGone year and ten days ago.   And he’s tearing up a high-A league with a .312 / .351 / .397 line while succeeding on 31 of 38 stolen base attempts, while delivering exceptional defense in center field.   Phenomenal stuff.

But his statistical profile worries me.

Since June 1, Borbon has posted multi-hit performances in seven of 12 games.  And his OBP is under .300 for the month.  Over his last 26 games — a month’s worth of work — he has drawn two bases on balls.  

His BB/PA ratio this year is 0.045 and his BB/K ratio is 0.43.   

In both categories, these numbers would place Borbon among the worst Major League Baseball regulars (bottom 15 in BB/PA and bottom 40 in BB/K).

When I see things like that, I’m always inclined to bury the kid a little bit– jump to the conclusion that he’ll never make it because of a lack of plate discipline.   Guys who never walk — especially those who don’t have plus power — just aren’t going to cut it in the big leagues.     

When you look at Major Leaguers with BB/PA and BB/K ratios like Borbon’s, you find some good players, but most are hacking power hitters like Jeff Kent and Ryan Braun.  More often, you find weak middle-infield hackers like Yuni Betancourt and Cristian Guzman.    You don’t project Borbon as either a Braun or a Guzman.   He’s got good pop, but not a ton, and elite speed while providing plus defense in the outfield. 

But there are a few who have  BB/PA and BB/K ratios roughly similar to Borbon’s and  whose scouting reports as minor leaguers were similar to Borbon’s  —  speedy, toolsy outfielders who don’t draw as many walks as you might like:  Carl Crawford, Corey Patterson, Adam Jones and Delmon Young

 

Player                                BB/PA         BB/K         AB/K         BA/OBP/SLG/OPS 

Player

BB / PA

BB / K

AB / K

BA / OBP / SLG / OPS

Borbon

0.045

0.43

8.82

.312 / .351 / .397 / .748

Crawford (Minors)

0.054

0.33

5.56

.295 / .336 / .400 / .736

Crawford (MLB – Career)

0.048

0.34

6.66

.294 / .330 / .434 / .764

Patterson (Minors)

0.069

0.37

4.84

.284 / .340 / .499 / .839

Patterson (MLB – Career)

0.046

0.22

4.46

.259 / .295 / .411 / .706

Jones (Minors)

0.071

0.35

4.37

.291 / .354 / .476 / .830

Jones (MLB – Rookie)

0.048

0.22

3.76

.244 / .282 / .368 / .650

Young (Minors)

0.062

0.34

4.96

.317 / .363 / .517 / .880

Young (MLB)

0.063

0.34

5.27

.287 / .318 / .404 / .722

 

Young, of course, projects to be much more of a power threat than Borbon will ever be and Jones really isn’t a candidate to steal 50 bases, like Borbon is.   Borbon’s power hasn’t shown up in games yet, but for those who saw him this spring — not only in minor league camp, but in a few big league spring games — it is generally agreed that he’s got plenty of pop and it’s going to show up eventually.

While Borbon’s BB/PA is extremely low,  his contact rate is much better than any of these players, with Crawford’s being most similar.    Borbon goes almost nine at-bats between strikeouts.   Moreover, Borbon’s baseline numbers — batting average, OBP, slugging percentage and OPS — most closely resemble Crawford’s.   And, of course, Borbon has Crawford’s speed and baserunning skills.

There’s nothing to guarantee that Borbon doesn’t become more like Patterson than Crawford, and yes the sample is small, but based on the early returns, I think it’s not out of the question to think that Borbon will become a player much like Crawford while providing the Rangers with plus-plus defense in center field for many many years.  

4 Comments

Excellent stuff Mike.

-JP

Thanks Jason; I’m getting too old for this stuff…. It’s all about you now. Go get ‘em.

Nah. I just finished writing 1500 words comparing the Spokane rotation to Barton Fink. I’ve already peaked.

Which begs the question:

Why the heck is he still at Bakersfield??

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