PBR Draft 100: An Inside Look At Ben Rortvedt

By Steve Nielsen
Scouting Supervisor – Wisconsin/Illinois

Recently our National Supervisor, Nathan Rode, released our PBR Draft 100. The PBR Draft 100 ranks the top high school prospects eligible for the 2016 MLB draft, including players outside of Prep Baseball Report’s coverage area of 27 states. This list is compiled after months of seeing games across the country and conversations with scouts and college recruiters.

These types of lists come out every year by multiple publications and you’ll see them more frequently the closer we get to June. But rarely is the state of Wisconsin represented as well as it is this year in terms of high school draft prospects. It’s rare to see even one high school prospect taken out of the Badger State, but our PBR Draft 100 includes three Wisconsin natives, all of which will get carefully scrutinized by MLB scouts and cross-checkers over the next six months leading up to the MLB Draft in June.

Leading the way in Wisconsin, as far as draft talks go, is C Ben Rortvedt (Verona Area). A top 20 PBR Draft 100 prospect, Rortvedt has been on our radar since the spring of his freshman year, standing out as a physical specimen with a raw tool set that appeared to have the ability to play at an extremely high level. That summer is when the left-handed hitting catcher really put everything together and was putting it on display at high level events.

Scouting Report from PBR Top Prospect Games (7/23/13) - Highly physical 2016 prospect, shows advanced strength, 5-foot-10, 170-pound left handed hitting catcher and outfielder. Rortvedt was one of the most eye catching prospects at the event. Hitting from the left side he showed easy explosive bat speed. Posted exit velocity of 92 mph from the tee. Hit from a balanced stance, lower half worked well, good balance throughout. Advanced bat speed, impressive whip through the zone. Showed advanced approach at the plate in game, showed the ability to take what is given and hit the ball where its pitched with hard contact. Went 4-for-7 with a double. Advanced foot speed, excellent base runner. Defensively showed improved hands behind the plate, highly agile, high flexibility. Arm played at 79 mph from the crouch, over the top slot, with accuracy and carry. Recorded event best 2.00 pop time. Rortvedt is physically impressive, it is obvious to see he puts in hard work and should progress at a steady pace. The left handed hitting catcher is a high follow in Wisconsin and the region.

It was a year from that point that the toolsy backstop committed to Arkansas. But it wasn’t until that winter, heading into his junior year, when the word draft initially accompanied his name.

Scouting Report from Milwaukee Preseason ID (2/8/15) - Verbally committed to Arkansas. Physically advanced 5-foot-10, 175-pound left-handed hitting catcher, strong build, solid sturdy frame, excellent physical composition for the catching position. Defensively looks to be one of the top catch and throw guys in the 2016 class. Plus arm strength, plays from a short over the top slot, traditional catchers arm action, gets carry through the bag, 83 mph arm strength out of the crouch. Stays underneath the baseball, footwork is quick and direct, highly athletic catcher, posted pop times at 1.85-1.94. Hands are soft receiving the baseball, comfortable and confident behind the dish, agile blocker. 7.15 runner in the 60, advanced for position. Offensively hits from a slightly open stance, smooth loading action with short stride, athletic setup with strong balance through contact. Explosive bat speed, strong hands/forearms, line drive gap to gap approach, power potential. 92 mph exit velocity from the tee. Projects to be an interesting draft follow in 2016.

This past summer Rortvedt planted his name firmly in the national draft landscape and took over the No. 1 spot in Wisconsin, outperforming his peers on several of the nation’s biggest stages, and most notably with his bat.

2016 Rankings Update (7/22/15) - For the first time in almost a year, there will be a new No. 1 at the top of the 2016 rankings. C Ben Rortvedt (Verona Area) leads the pack for the first time as he has been off to a torrid summer. Rortvedt has been impressive all over the summer circuit and continues to improve his draft stock. His left-handed bat has done nothing but square up baseballs all summer and shows off a cannon of an arm behind the plate. Rortvedt caught the eye of the scouting community earlier this summer when he stood out at the Tournament of Stars and then made USA Baseball’s 18u Trials Roster.

Garnering comparisons to a Kyle Schwarber type profile, Rortvedt is determined to show that he is not just a bat, but can really defend as well. Most recently, this fall in Jupiter Rortvedt’s bat took an uncanny weekend off (3-for-19), but showed that he can be a highly capable defender cutting down two base runners in one game.  

Rortvedt’s next test, and possibly most influential, will be the PBR Super 60 Pro Showcase in February, a chance for him to give scouts a look at his impressive tool set. A cold weather state, Rortvedt’s opportunities in the spring will be late and limited as several of the country’s top prospects will have 20 games under their belt before the snow melts in Verona, WI. Either way, Rortvedt will be a hot topic among the pro scouting community over the next six months.

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