The holidays are a good time to reunite with friends and family you haven’t seen all year, so the timing could not be better to talk about former Tampa Bay Rays prospect Tyler Bortnick. Bortnick found himself opposing Granden Goetzman and the other Rays minor leaguers playing for the Brisbane Bandits as his Blue Sox played against them on December 26th in Australia.
Australian Baseball League: Brisbane Bandits 6, Sydney Blue Sox 2
Blue Sox pitching did a nice job holding down two of the Bandits’ best hitters, Johnny Field and Tommy Coyle, holding them to a combined 0 for 8 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch. Unfortunately for them, that duo composes only half of the contingent of Rays prospects playing for Brisbane.
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Granden Goetzman returned from Christmas with a bang, going 2 for 5 with a triple, a double, an RBI, and 2 runs scored. His power and speed have been excellent all year, and now his OBP is finally moving towards .300 as he has a .248/.295/.487 line on the season. Maxx Tissenbaum, meanwhile, followed up a 2-homer performance in his last game by going 1 for 3 with 2 walks and 2 runs scored. He’s now up to a .333/.410/.563 line on the season and has been an especially difficult out of late.
For once, we also get to talk about a player on a team other than the Bandits. Tyler Bortnick appeared in this contest as the Blue Sox’ shortstop and had a strong game, going 3 for 4 with an RBI. Bortnick, as you may remember, was the Rays’ 16th round pick in 2009 and stayed in the system until he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Ryan Roberts on July 24, 2012.
Bortnick’s career has not gone as he would have hoped since then. He was playing at Double-A Montgomery at the time of the deal, but the D-Backs immediately bumped him up to Triple-A Reno and watched him put up just a .603 OPS in 151 plate appearances to end the year.
He did play much better in his second go-around in the Pacific Coast League in 2013, hitting to a .291/.397/.402 line with 19 steals, but by that point, he was already appearing in a lot of games for the Aces as a reserve. A hamstring injury ended Bortnick’s 2014 season in June after just 98 plate appearances, but once again, he was playing primarily as a backup. The fact that the D-Backs won’t even give him regular playing time is more relevant to his future than his DL time.
The Australian Baseball League hasn’t gone particularly well for Bortnick either as he has just a .227/.325/.336 line after enduring an 0 for 18 spell earlier in December. His plate discipline has been fine, though, as he has 18 strikeouts against 14 walks, and he has started to heat up as he has a 3-game hitting streak going. Tyler Bortnick’s prospect stock has taken a major hit since leaving the Rays’ system, and with Roberts long gone from the Rays’ roster, Rays fans should be rooting for Bortnick as he hopes to get himself back on track.