Ben Rortvedt opts for offensive makeover to hold onto Yankees roster

Yankees catcher Ben Rortvedt is at the Yankees-Twins game on Feb 27, 2024.

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While acknowledged for his defensive skills behind the plate, Yankees catcher Ben Rortvedt actively seeks to demonstrate his offensive capabilities. He acknowledges the perception of him primarily as a defensive player and emphasizes his desire to contribute offensively as well.

Despite being a left-handed batter, Ben Rortvedt acknowledges that his career batting average currently sits at .147 across two seasons, totaling 157 at-bats. He also acknowledges his struggles last year, hitting just .118 in 32 games with the Yankees.

Ben Rortvedt expressed confidence in his hitting abilities, stating that he believes he is a better hitter than his performance has indicated. However, he acknowledged the need to substantiate this belief through his on-field performance.

Ben Rortvedt has demonstrated his capability as a productive hitter during his time in the minors, and he showcased his potential at the plate during Monday’s game by going 2-for-2 with two well-struck singles in the Yankees’ 9-2 Grapefruit League victory over the Twins.

Aaron Boone remarked after Monday’s game that Ben Rortvedt performed well at the plate in Triple-A last year. He noted that Rortvedt has been having quality at-bats and has been making solid contact with the ball so far.

In his initial two spring games, Ben Rortvedt has achieved a 2-for-3 record with a walk. If he maintains this level of performance, his chances of securing a roster spot for the season opener will significantly improve. This opportunity arose following the departure of Kyle Higashioka, who was traded to the Padres in December as part of the blockbuster deal that brought Juan Soto to the Yankees.

Ben Rortvedt expressed his desire for consistency, emphasizing the need to prepare to make an impact, regardless of the frequency of play, be it daily or every fourth or fifth day. He refrained from attributing his previous performance solely to luck but acknowledged that many well-hit balls did not result in successful outcomes due to being hit directly by fielders.

This spring holds significant importance for Ben Rortvedt due to his lack of minor-league options. If he fails to secure a spot on the team, he is likely to be designated for assignment, potentially leading to a trade, waivers, or alternative opportunities such as free agency. There’s also the possibility of him remaining with the Yankees as a non-roster player. 

In contrast, Wells, aged 24, still has options available. Boone emphasized that it was only February and cautioned against premature speculation. He stressed the importance of focusing on getting the players ready for the season ahead.

Ben Rortvedt’s journey to Yankees top ladder

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Despite his defensive prowess behind the plate, Ben Rortvedt, a 26-year-old catcher, has faced challenges securing consistent playing time with the Yankees over the past two seasons due to injuries.

Shortly after joining the Yankees from the Minnesota Twins in March 2022, He suffered an oblique strain, hindering his opportunity to compete with Gary Sánchez for the starting role. Limited to 42 games in 2022, Ben Rortvedt missed the first three weeks of the 2023 season while recovering from surgery for a left shoulder aneurysm.

Throughout 2023, He split his time between the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and the Yankees. Ben Rortvedt displayed offensive potential with the RailRiders, batting .286 with six home runs and 22 RBIs in 29 games. However, his performance with the Yankees remained inconsistent. He managed only eight hits in 68 at-bats across 32 appearances, with 24 of those being starts.

Boone emphasized the significance of Ben Rortvedt’s ability to have uninterrupted seasons, which have been hindered by various injuries in recent years. He expressed his desire for Rortvedt to undergo a typical spring training, focusing on development both as a catcher and offensively, and to enter the season without any disruptions. Boone hopes this will enable the backstop to showcase his true potential by putting together a complete, healthy season.

Defensive prowess vs. offensive challenges

Yankees starter Gerrit Cole and catcher Ben Rortvedt

Ben Rortvedt, a 26-year-old catcher, has garnered recognition for his exceptional receiving skills, particularly evident during the latter part of the 2023 season. He served as Gerrit Cole’s primary catcher during a period when Cole achieved a Cy Young-caliber performance, boasting a stellar 2.25 ERA across 13 starts with the catcher behind the plate.

Manager Aaron Boone acknowledged Ben Rortvedt’s defensive prowess, emphasizing his talent in handling pitchers. However, his offensive output remained limited throughout the season. This prompted the Yankees to integrate Austin Wells, their highly-rated prospect drafted in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft, into the lineup. This move aimed to fulfill the team’s commitment to developing young talent, especially as their playoff hopes diminished.

Wells, still under development as a catcher, displayed significant left-handed power during his call-up in September. Across 19 games (18 starts), Ben Rortvedt recorded a respectable batting average of .229 with four home runs and 13 RBIs.

Ben Rortvedt now aims to concentrate on controlling his actions and performance, stating, “I’m focusing on managing the elements within my control.” He acknowledged the nature of his current position, emphasizing his commitment to working diligently and making his situation a difficult one for those making decisions. “My goal is to work hard and make it tough for them to decide,” he remarked. “That’s my main objective—putting in the effort and maintaining a healthy routine during camp.”

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

One thought on “Ben Rortvedt opts for offensive makeover to hold onto Yankees roster

  1. Good article. He has a live bat, and the pitchers love him. Three does not go into two though. Trevino has the most trade value, so maybe get a young MiLB Pitcher back?

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