Borbon working on outfield skills
Rookie thriving offensively, but coaches helping with range
ST. PETERSBURG -- Early Sunday morning, before the lights had even fully illuminated Tropicana Field, Julio Borbon and two Rangers coaches went out to the outfield to play catch.
Borbon has made heads turn in the nine games since he was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City, mostly with his speed (eight steals) and bat (.469 average). Rangers manager Ron Washington, though, sees a work in progress in other areas.
Borbon was a regular starter in the outfield for the RedHawks, and the Rangers envision him there in their lineup eventually, too. But his throwing mechanics have proven to be slightly inconsistent, so Washington and the Texas coaching staff have been helping the 23-year-old get back to the basics.
"Working on his throwing, working on his release point," Washington said. "He's adjusting, he's getting to it. He's a little unorthodox in his style and he's trying to smooth it out."
On Sunday, Borbon was out playing catch with first-base coach Gary Pettis, the former five-time Gold Glove outfielder, as he has done every day since he was brought up. Borbon said the issues were not something he was totally unaware of -- for years he has battled inconsistency in his arm motion and range. Pettis, he said, was the first coach to propose solutions to the problems.
"The little things that maybe not a lot of other people saw, G.P. saw it right away," Borbon said. "He noticed that and the reason why I wasn't coming through with my legs. I probably heard what was the reason, but I didn't know how to correct it. He's been able to do that and get me to make way better throws with more consistency, which is what we're shooting for."
The mechanical flaws were fairly minor and essentially revolved around lowering Borbon's release point, instructing him to better utilize his legs when throwing and smoothing out his delivery.
"It's not completely new, but it's more of an inconsistency thing," Borbon said. "I've seen it and it comes around every now and then and I've just got to find a way to keep it."
Borbon and the Rangers hope the adjustments can enable him to fulfill the potential five-tool capabilities he's flashed. He has 15 hits, six RBIs and eight runs in eight starts since being recalled on Aug. 7, including a four-hit and four-stolen base performance against the Red Sox on Aug. 15.
Only four of his eight starts have been in the outfield, however (the rest, including Saturday night, have been at designated hitter). Borbon hopes the arm improves to the point where Washington cannot resist penciling him in as an everyday outfielder.
"It's definitely been coming along," Borbon said. "I've been making way better throws. I haven't really been able to throw during games, but during practice I can see the differences. It's so much better."
Zach Schonbrun is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.