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Prospect Retrospective: Ben Rortvedt


Twins catching prospect, Ben Rortvedt, made his Major League debut on Friday, April 30 against the Kansas City Royals going 1-for-3 with a single, RBI, walk, and strikeout. Let’s take a look back at his rise to the Majors in his prospect retrospective.Prep Career

The Wisconsin native (ugh ;) ) was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the second round of the 2016 Major League Draft as the 56th overall selection out of Verona Area High School. The left handed hitting catcher had already signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Arkansas but, according to an article published in The Verona Press, Rortvedt told a Twins scout that he “wanted to play for the [club]” and was selected three picks later.

 

The most recent Prep Baseball Report prior to being drafted had him as the 22nd prospect in the PBR Draft 100 and went to to say that his “offense separates himself from the rest of the catchers in the draft ... projects as a middle of the order hitter with power to all fields”, and defensively he “possessed plus arm strength” and an “agile” blocker.

 

Professional Career

The catcher spent four seasons in the minors spanning five different levels, as well as being invited to play in the Arizona Fall League in 2019. Although he was scouted as a plus hitter with power in his prep days, Rortvedt slashed just .240/.315/.345 with 16 home runs in 1,001 at-bats over 291 games played. In fact, it wasn’t until MLB.com released its 2019 Top 30 Prospect Rankings for the Twins where he was identified as being known more for his defense than his bat as he posted elite caught stealing rates throughout his Minor League career.

 

Betsy Helfand of the Pioneer Press broke the news first with a flurry of transactions earlier in the day:

Twins other top catching prospect, Ryan Jeffers, has had a slow start to the season which opened the door for Rortvedt to make his debut. I would expect Mitch Garver to start getting roughly two-thirds of the playing time while Rortvedt serves as his defensive minded backup.

 

Twins Daily Coverage

READ: Kernels Ben Rortvedt is Catching On by Seth Stohs from May 2017

Seth talks with Rortvedt and provides a deeper dive into his background as a catching prospect growing up in Wisconsin.

 

READ: Looking Back: Twins Take Four Prep Hitters Atop 2016 Draft by Seth Stohs from August 2018

Being closer to the action than the National guys, Seth might have been one of the first writers to realize that Rortvedt was getting more recognition for his defense than his bat.

 

WATCH:

by Tom Froemming

READ: Twins Daily 2021 Top Prospects: 16-20 by Tom Froemming

Rortvedt appeared on many prospect lists and minor league reports throughout his four years in the organization and in the most recent installment he was ranked as the Twins 17th rated prospect after not being ranked in 2020.

 

As Major League Baseball is an offensive minded league, Rortvedt will need to improve his bat to become an everyday catcher for the Minnesota Twins. This is going to be a tall order with both Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers having already displayed their ability to hit at this level despite their struggles to start the 2021 season. Regardless, he can definitely stick with the Club has a back up catcher with plus defense.

 

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Getting to MLB from Verona, Wisconsin is a process. Have never been concerned about his numbers along the way, just happy to see him make yearly progress.

 

Doubt he will be up with the Twins permanently, but then he may prove me and others wrong. Have always seen this kid as either a future Twins starter or half of a catching platoon. Nothing has changed for me to not continue to feel that remains the case. This early promotion reinforces my belief in this kid from my wife's hometown when we met.

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The thing that has always puzzled me about Rotvedt is we have seen slow starts followed by better splashes of offense. We've heard about good AB and solid approach and a decent eye and pop/power potential. But the overall numbers say mediocre offensive potential.

 

Is it just me, or hope, that just seems to think he's been promoted based on his defense and his offense is about a year behind every step of the way? That's how I've seen him for the last few seasons. DECENT hitting potential with pop/power potential but needing his offense to catch up to his defense.

 

Am I wrong?

 

From ALL milb reports and scouting reports and the few times I've watched him in ST games and his brief ML appearance, he appears to be a well built athlete with power and a decent eye. Does that translate to being a decent hitter at the ML level EVENTUALLY?

 

Maybe. Hopefully.

 

I'd like to think, at worst, he could be a great defensive catcher who could hit in the. 230 range with power. And there is value in that. And I don't expect miracles, but is there enough potential over the next couple of years for him to at least provide contact and decdnt OB?

 

Kid has a lot of potential, whether it be a solid back-up catcher or stud back-up catcher.

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Kid has a lot of potential

He was my adopt-a-prospect for a while, for this reason.

 

The bat will determine whether he has a major league career, obviously.

 

He's always been young for his league, which for me means to look for him to maintain an acceptable BA and OPS as he moves up, even if he never wows you with his numbers. He's not that much younger than Arraez though (nor his most direct competition Jeffers), so the youth argument won't apply for much longer. He's not very tall, but has the potential to be powerfully built by the time he's 26 or so, and power numbers could come in that make him desirable as a starter and not just a good-glove backup.

 

He's on the options-clock now and has 3 years to make his case. I'm optimistic.

 

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I was at the game today and he looked great behind the plate. Several good blocks and a very strong arm. I am quite confident he would have blocked the wild pitch that advanced the runner. I believe he is the best defensive catcher we have.

 

His swing is ok but he looks overmatched at the plate. If he can hit even a little we might have a solid player.

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Rortvedt profiles as the classic "good defender, poor batter" catcher. His bat will likely top out at something like .220/.300, but if he's fielding well and becomes an expert at calling games, he will make for a fine backup catcher. 

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