Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Rortvedt Steps Behind Plate For Twins

The Minnesota Twins owned the 15th overall pick in the 2016 Major League Baseball draft. There were questions as to how they would use the selection, and whether or not a major league deficiency at catcher warranted a backstop being picked. Terry Ryan and his club didn't go that way out of the gate, but they didn't wait long.

With their second round selection, the Twins took a high school catcher from Verona High School in Wisconsin. Ben Rortvedt became the second highest drafted catcher since Minnesota grabbed Joe Mauer 1st overall in the 2001 Major League Baseball draft. Signing recently for just below the slot value, a nice $900k bonus check coming his way, Rortvedt is ready to get his professional career started.

I was able to catch up with Rortvedt recently and ask him a couple of questions in regards to his draft experience, playing career, and what's next with the Twins. Here's what he had to say:

Off The Baggy: What was the draft experience like for you? Did you have any indication of when and where you were going? Did you watch the action live?

Ben Rortvedt: The draft experience was much like the college recruitment process for me. People coming out to see you play and the communication was all similar. I had a rough idea where I might go and where I wanted to go from talking to teams and hearing things, but anything could have happened so I tried to keep my head on straight. I watched the draft live at home with some of my family. 

OTB: Being from the Midwest, I'm guessing you're plenty familiar with the Twins. What do you know about the organization and team as a whole at this point?

BR: Being close to Minnesota I know the Twins have an incredible fan base. One of my high school coaches is a avid Twins fan, and many of my classmates are as well. It is great having that kind of support behind you. 

OTB: As a catcher, you become the highest player drafted by the Twins at the position since Joe Mauer went first overall. What sets you apart behind the plate? What are your strengths?

BR: My strength as a catcher, I believe, is that I am well rounded. I like to believe that I can impact the game behind the plate and at it as well. 

OTB: Entering the Twins system, what is the area of your game you're most looking forward to improving in your first year at the professional level?

BR: Defensively I am looking forward to learning from the coaches and players that have a lot more years under their belt than I do; exchange thoughts on catching and improve my ability behind the plate. 

OTB: At the big league level, catchers can sometimes get lumped into an offensive or defensive only role. You profile as a more complete player at the position. What is your hitting approach like?

BR: My hitting approach is pretty simple. I try to take what pitchers give me. I don't try to do too much at the plate. Always thinking away and up the middle at the plate.  

OTB: Behind the dish, there's a handful of professionals that have made a name for themselves among the game's best ever. Is there a current or former major leaguer you model your game after and if so, why?

BR: Being from Wisconsin I like Jonathon Lucroy. He's a great defensive catcher and very fundamentally sound. I also like Tucker Barnhart from the Reds. He is very smooth behind the plate. 

OTB: Finally, if there's one thing you take pride in how you play the game above everything else, what is it?

BR: The one thing I take pride in is hustle and effort. Always giving your all on the field. 

Rortvedt ended things on a great note, with hustle and effort being things you can always control when it comes to the game of baseball. He'll likely be assigned to the short season Gulf Coast League for the Twins. Obviously being a high schooler, there will be some developmental time that needs to take place, but Rortvedt could quickly become the best catching prospect in the Twins system.

Keep tuned into Off The Baggy and @tlschwerz for updates on Ben Rortvedt's first season at the professional level. Good luck Ben!

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