Coming into spring training the Rangers shuffled around the outfield by moving Josh Hamilton to left field, keeping Nelson Cruz in his normal position in right field and projecting Julio Borbon as the starting center fielder and lead off hitter. Marlon Byrd left a position open for 2010 when he signed a contract with the Chicago Cubs.
Borbon in 2010 will barely no be considered a rookie with only getting 157 bats last season. In order to still be considered a rookie a player has to have less than 130 bats in the previous season. So essentially a player who gets in less than a 130 at bats in September call ups for several years can still be considered a rookie for the next season until they crest the 130 at bats mark. So essentially by baseball standards Borbon is no longer a rookie but in experience standards he should be considered a rookie.
In the last week of the 2009 season Borbon was able to get in three games in center field. This is his only experience at this position in a total of 46 games at the Major League Level. He is lucky in the fact that although he has quite the challenge in center field, he recorded 146 of his 157 total at bats last season in the lead off position. At this position he recorded a .322 batting average, with 47 hits, 4 home runs and 14 walks. This gave him a .385 on base percentage, which is pretty decent for a rookie. He was significantly better against right handed pitching over left handed pitching, which makes since considering he bats left handed.
As far as his defense in the field, he has a little to work on, it has been reported than he grips the ball like a pitcher so his throws in from the outfield are not as accurate and the velocity is somewhat diminished. It has also been reported that he struggles tracking fly ball and sometime doesn’t always use the perfect route. These issues can very easily be fixed with time and innings played in the field. No one within the Rangers organization expects him to be perfect his first season, but the position is his to lose and it will be interesting once the season ends to see how he did.
As far as other Rangers outfielders, Josh Hamilton made his first appearance in a Cactus League game going 2 for 3 with two singles. Although it came a week late, he finally made it into a game and should be ready to man left field starting opening day on April 5th.