Borbon was the presumed center fielder of the future in Texas when he was drafted in the second round out of Tennessee in the 2007 draft.
At first he looked as if he would fulfill those expectations. He made it up to the big leagues quickly, joining the Rangers late in the 2009 season, and played well. In 46 games, Borbon hit .312, with a .376 OBP, 19 stolen bases and even showed some pop with four home runs.
That performance excited Rangers’ management and fans, and earned him the starting spot entering the 2010 season. He had a bit of a drop-off from those late-season numbers in 2010, but still played solidly. He hit .276 in 137 games mostly at the top of the order.
However, Borbon’s play in center was questionable. He had an average .988 fielding percentage in, but often times he would take bad routes on balls, allowing some extra balls to fall in for hits.
He also has just an average arm in center. This isn’t a terrible thing, but it certainly isn’t an advantage for a team looking for great defensive play as opposed to pop with the bat in a lineup that is already stacked.
Borbon took a major step back in 2011. He struggled early on in the season and then suffered a hamstring injury about 30 games into the year, which sidelined him for the rest of the season.
Well, not completely. Borbon came back healthy in mid-June, but the Rangers were so happy with the play of Endy Chavez and Gentry in center that they left Borbon in Triple-A for the rest of the year.
He didn’t sulk though. He performed well in Round Rock, hitting .298 in his 32 games in the minors.
Borbon comes into spring training this year motivated to regain his starting spot on the big club, and I would view him as the favorite to be patrolling center on Opening Day.