A Shot of Borbon

Player agent Scott Boras has been in the news a lot lately, with controversy surrounding the legitimacy of the signings of 2008 first round draft picks Pedro Alvarez and Eric Hosmer. You may be asking yourself, for the 15th or 16th time, why teams even bother to deal with Boras clients. Simply put, he represents some of the best talent in professional baseball, including soon-to-be pros.

On of those amateur clients, Julio Borbon, flew under the radar a little bit before the 2007 draft, thanks in part to his allegiance to Boras, as well as a poorly-timed ankle injury that ruined a good portion of his junior season. Despite that, the Texas Rangers still made Borbon a supplemental first round selection (35th overall) out of the University of Tennessee and signed the Dominican Republic native to Major League contract, complete with an $800,000 signing bonus. Only Boras could finagle a Major League contract for a player drafted outside the first round after coming off a poor season.

Borbon signed late in the 2007 season and managed to appear in just nine regular season games. In 37 at-bats, the speedy outfielder hit .189/.250/.216 with just one extra base hit and three stolen bases. Well, the real Borbon stood up this year. He was advanced to High-A ball to begin the season and hit .306/.346/.395 with two homers and 36 stolen bases in 291 at-bats. Borbon was then promoted to Double-A where he proceeded to hit .332/.371/.457 with five homers and 16 stolen bases in 247 at-bats.

The downside to Borbon is that his running game has shown some holes with him getting caught 11 times in 27 attempts at Double-A, but he has still stolen 52 bases on the season. He also has just 27 walks this season, which is far too few for a slash-and-dash, lead-off type hitter. The left-handed hitter is doing OK against southpaws at the Double-A level with a .281 average but his slugging average dips 100 points and he has yet to take a walk in that situation.

Borbon has quietly flown under the radar for more than a year now, but that is surely going to change soon. He could be making good on the Major League contract before you know it… Perhaps even before the Alvarez/Hosmer mess is settled.

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

One Response to “A Shot of Borbon”

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  1. Tom Au says:

    Kudos to Julio Borbon for beating expectations and living up to Boras’ billing.

    But that doesn’t change the fact that Scott Boras messed up the Pirates with his hard-ball handling of Alvarez. Or maybe the Pirates messed themselves up by trading Jason Bay (an almost sure thing) because they had Alvarez (and Tabata), two highly speculative prospects, on the horizon. Or so they thought, at least in the case of Alvarez.

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