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Chasing Madison Bumgarner Thread

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Ben Rortvedt: the catcher of the future

Posted by Jonathon Zenk , 13 April 2018 · 7,430 views

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Ben Rortvedt: the catcher of the future After struggling his previous two seasons in the Minnesota Twins organization, Rortvedt is on fire to start 2018. He is finally coming into his own and becoming the catcher many thought he would become when drafted in the second round out of high school in 2016. After two subpar years, the great Tom Froemming and I were still high really high on Rortvedt. Still only 20, he has plenty of room for growth, and has the opportunity to be an All-Star catcher in the big leagues.

Rortvedt was more known for his offense coming out of Verona Area High School in Wisconsin, but his offense has struggled so far in his first two seasons, while his defense has been a real positive. As a senior in high school, he finished the season with an on-base percentage of .568 and a slugging percentage of .667. He was considered the top offensive high school catcher in the 2016 draft. So, it was just a matter of time before his offense came around. His defense, on the other hand, has been a pleasant surprise.

On defense, he threw out 36.2 percent of potential base stealers (30 of 83) last season. So far this year, he caught the only base runner trying to steal on him. His calling of the game is much-improved as well. In an article by Mike Berardino, he talked to Twins first base coach Jeff Smith.

“He receives the ball well; he’s got real soft hands,” said Smith, in the Berardino article. “He gives a good target and has made huge strides in his game calling and his ability to work with his pitching coach and his pitchers. Ben can really throw, too.”
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In his first two seasons, the best average for him was .250 in 13 games in Elizabethton in 2016. In his other two stops, he hit .203 with the GCL Twins and .224 in his first full season with Cedar Rapids in 2017. Rortvedt, hitting .471 through four games in 2018, is off to a really nice start, which is surprising considering he started out really slow in both of his previous years. I know it is really early, but I believe he has turned a corner. He has eight hits in 17 at-bats in his four games so far. In 2016, as a rookie, he started off hitting .179 (12-67) in his first 22. It was even worse in Cedar Rapids last season, hitting just .145 (16-110) in his first two months of the season.

But, to his credit, he was able to bounce back from both of those slow starts. In 2016, after starting out slow in both the Gulf Coast League and Elizabethton, Rortvedt hit .313 (10-32) in his final 11 games. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, he could not carry the positive momentum into 2017 from the ending to the previous season. However, he did have a decent ending. After the woeful beginning to the season, Rortvedt finished the season batting .224, but in his final three months, he hit .268. That does not seem great, but it is a definite improvement, especially in his first full season playing professional baseball. In those final three months, he hit all four of his homers on the year. He was also the second youngest player to play for the Kernels last year, only older than 2017 first overall pick Royce Lewis.

If Rortvedt keeps it up with the Kernels, he should be in the state of Florida by the month of June, maybe even sooner. It would also clear up a spot for David Banuelos to become the every day catcher. Banuelos came over to the Twins in an offseason trade from the Seattle Mariners for International bonus pool money. Fort Myers lacks a powerful lineup, so Rortvedt would come in and make the Miracle lineup a force. Mitchell Kranson could be due for a promotion as well, which would clear up a spot for the Verona native. With his defense being a major strength already for him, when the offense comes around, which it is starting to, the sky is the limit for the youngster.

  • glunn, Oldgoat_MN, nclahammer and 3 others like this

There is an Adopt-A-Prospect page on Ben maintained by yours truly. You're hardly alone in having high hopes for the young fellow.

    • glunn, TNTwinsFan and Jonathon Zenk like this
Glad you finished your article with his last half season improvement in 2017. For a moment I was going: "now wait a second here..." I have high hopes for him, all the more from all we've heard and read about his defense. I really hope his growrh6and improvement is enough to get him to Ft Myers for half a season.
    • glunn and rdehring like this

The catching prospects are young. The Twins still have Castro for another season. And Garver MAY be able to step it up to be the regular guy in 2020, which means you hope for some competition for the spot come 2021 or 2022.


I also see the Twins drafting a catcher as one of their top two picks this season.



Saw Ben help turn a 1-2-3 bases loaded double-play late in a one-run game which resulted in a Kernels victory last year.Made it look very easy.Hope to see him in person again this year.

    • MN_ExPat likes this

I am in the wait and see.When he gets to AA, we will all have a better idea if he has a real chance to make it.  

I understand sometimes younger players need a couple of years. Just way too early to anoint him with the catcher of the future tag.

Apr 16 2018 10:32 AM

He was pushed pretty hard, to be fair, as most HS guys who aren't first round picks find themselves in EST. From what I understand, that's due to his defense being well ahead of his bat right now. He got off to a horrendous start last year in CR, and still finished with a somewhat respectable line. The good start this year tells me he might be that legit catcher we want, and if he keeps it up, I'm betting he gets a midseason call to Fort Myers.