By Erik Hahmann
Much has been written on this site about finding cheap steals in your draft. We’ve profiled players such as Drew Stubbs
, Cliff Pennington
, Cameron Maybin
, and Everth Cabrera
. Another player to consider adding for that list is the Texas Rangers’ young center fielder, Julio Borbon
After being selected in the first round of the 2007 draft, the speedy outfielder began his first full season of professional ball with the Rangers’ High-A team in 2008. He hit .306/.346/.395 (AVG/OBP/SLG) and stole 36 bases in 314 plate appearances, confirming his profile as a speedy, high-average hitter with little power. Promoted to Double-A, Borbon hit a robust .337/.380/.459, with 17 more steals in 217 plate appearances – giving him 53 stolen bases between the two levels that year.
Those numbers prompted the Rangers to promote the then-23-year-old to Triple-A at the start of the 2009 season. Facing his toughest competition to date, Borbon continued to put up strong numbers, hitting .307 and getting on base at a .367 clip. Although Borbon stole only 25 bases at Triple-A, his patience at the plate showed improvement; his walk percentage climbed to 7.2%, the highest of his three minor league stops.
The Rangers gave Borbon an extended look in the majors in August, rotating him between center field, left field and DH. In 179 major league plate appearances, Borbon produced another impressive stat line: .312/.376/.414, with 19 steals in 23 attempts. Using Bloomberg Sports’ Batting Speed graph, we can see how Borbon compared to all MLB center fielders last season in terms of AB, H, R, SB, CS, and OBP:
The low ranking in AB, H, and R is expected due to his late call-up. But given a full season, Borbon projects for strong numbers in these categories. You can see Borbon compares favorably when you look at his SB (19, compared to the average of 21), CS (4, 7) and OBP (.376, .344) – again, in just 179 PA. Bloomberg Sports projects Borbon to post a .300 AVG, .357 OBP, 39 steals and 81 runs scored in 2010.
The Rangers are giving Borbon every opportunity to win the center field job this spring, not wanting to run Josh Hamilton
out there for a third season and risk him getting injured once more. If Borbon wins the center field job, he’ll likely lead off, which would give him an opportunity to beat Bloomberg Sports’ already optimistic projection: Getting on base in front of hitters like Hamilton, Ian Kinsler
, Michael Young
, and Nelson Cruz
should provide Borbon ample opportunity to showcase his excellent speed and potentially even approach 100 runs scored.
Bloomberg Sports’ B-Rank projects Borbon as the 14th-best center fielder in MLB in 2010, ahead of better-known players like Nyjer Morgan, Vernon Wells, and Carlos Beltran to name a few. Those players, and others of the same ilk, might get picked ahead of Borbon in many leagues based on name recognition alone. That’s a perfect formula for landing one of the best sleeper names in fantasy baseball this season.
For more information on Julio Borbon and other draft day sleepers, check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy kit