Monday, January 3, 2011

Top 15 Hitters: #9 Tyler Bortnick

Tyler Bortnick
5"11" 185 lbs DOB: 7/3/1987
Second Baseman
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
2010: Bowling Green/Charlotte
Acquired: 2009 Draft, 16th Round

Of the guys I've profiled so far, only Stephen Vogt's 2010 season wouldn't be classified as disappointing. Enter Tyler Bortnick, who was certainly one of the most productive hitters in the Rays system. He hit .300 most of the season, showed good gap power, and also stole 41 bases.

His contact tool is above average, and plays up because of his quality approach. In 125 games, mainly with Bowling Green, he walked 68 times and struck out only 77. He isn't a big home run threat, and lacks big raw power, but he topped 40 extra base hits with 35 doubles, 2 triple, and 9 long balls. His power tool likely isn't going to improve, but for a middle infielder, it's more than okay.

He also brings plus speed to the table, swiping 41 bags at a 74% clip. That's not outstanding, but should improve as he becomes a little bit more selective choosing his spots to run. He's versatile in the field, able to play all around the diamond. He was among the top defenders at shortstop in college at Coastal Carolina, but switched mainly to second base in 2010. He also played some third base with Hudson Valley in 2009. Second base fits him as a "permanent" position, but my guess is the Rays develop him in a super-utility mold not unlike Ben Zobrist in the field. Zobrist came through the Astros system as an infielder, mainly a shortstop, and hadn't a played an inning in the outfield until he was on the Rays' major-league team. Bortnick has similar athleticism, although I'm not sure his arm has enough juice to play right field on a regular basis like Zobrist.

Still, a player who would rate at least average at every position on the diamond is a player to covet. As a college senior, he'll have to quell doubts about his bat at the higher levels of the minors as he goes, but for now, it appears he has the tools to make it work. He has the discipline to make pitchers throw strikes and enough power to make them pay for mistakes over the plate.

I'd expect a reasonable (slight) decline in his stats as he faces better pitching, but if he's hitting something like .275/.375/.425 in triple-A, that surely gives him a future in the leagues. For a comparison, Elliot Johnson, who has a shot at a utility role in 2011, posted OPSes of .627, .746, and .770 in his first three seasons at Durham before a breakout to .851 this past season.

Bortnick got a taste of Charlotte at the end of the 2010 season and will be back there to open 2011. There's something of a middle infield jam around those levels of the system, so his ultimate position depends on how things shake out. Tim Beckham and Cole Figueroa could make up Montgomery's middle infield, so Bortnick may shift back to shortstop as Robi Estrada's 2010 Bowling Green numbers may not warrant a promotion. The other possibility is that they do begin the develop him as a super-utility player and get him time at second base, shortstop, third base, and the outfield.


  1. If he has enough arm for SS, he can play RF no problem. Charlotte will be a good test. Not an easy league for a hitter. GL Tyler.

  2. I watched him grow up playing and he has excellent skills all around the diamond,he can play infield and outfield,his baseball IQ is exceptional along with a very steady production from his bat,The Stone Crabs surprise player for the 2011 season...