Position: Third Baseman/Outfielder
Bourquin was an exceptional athlete in high school, earning All-Ohio honors in Baseball, Basketball, and Football. Ronnie guarded LeBron James in the state semifinals as a senior. His father and brother both played baseball at Malone College, so athletics are in his bloodlines. As a high school senior, Ronnie batted .519 while setting school career records in at-bats, runs, hits, RBI, and batting average. He was named the Northeastern Buckeye Conference Player of the Year as a senior, and earned 1st Team All-Ohio honors as a senior as well.
Ronnie burst on the Big Ten scene as a freshman, batting .333 in 46 games for the Buckeyes, while being named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team. Bourquin played for the Stark County Terriers of the Great Lakes League following his freshman campaign, where he hit .256 and gained exposure to wood bats. Ronnie battled through an injury riddled sophomore season, where he notched only a .268/.373/.344 line in 49 games. While finally healthy in the summer of 2005, Bourquin returned to Stark County and earned All-Great Lakes Collegiate Summer League First Team honors. After a rough second season, Ronnie came back with a vengeance in 2006, leading the Big Ten in hitting at .416, and earning Conference Player of the Year honors. Bourquin came within one hit of tying the Ohio State single season record for hits, and was a named 3rd Team All-American by Collegiate Baseball Magazine, as well as being named a finalist for the Dick Howser and Brooks Wallace Awards.
After being selected in the 2nd round by the Tigers, Ronnie made his professional debut with the Oneonta Tigers in the New York-Penn League. There was little doubt Ronnie was capable of handling the short-season league, as he finished 10th in the league in runs (37), 1st in the league in walks (46), and 7th in the league in on-base percentage (.379). With a big August that saw him hit .310/.439/.460, Bourquin was named the TigsTown Oneonta Player of the Month, his first professional award.
Bourquin is a very good athlete, who should be able to handle just about any position on the diamond, if asked. His instincts are little rough at third base, and he could move across the diamond to first base or to an outfield corner eventually. He is an average runner who moves reasonably well around the bag. His arm is strong and accurate, but he struggles with footwork, leading to wild throws and some loss of zip.
Offensively, Ronnie's only plus tool is his strike zone judgment and patience. He recognizes pitches well, and has demonstrated a willingness to wait for a pitch he can drive. His patience can also be his worst enemy, setting him in poor counts and leading to a lot of strikeouts when he is pressed to swing at close pitches he doesn't like. Ronnie can make consistent contact, and once he adjusts completely to the pro game, he should hit for solid average, approaching the beloved .300 threshold on some occasions. His power is the least-developed of his offensive tools, but it should improve over the next couple of years. He can spray line drives to all parts of the field, but his swing is a bit flat and he struggles to generate loft. He could stand to add strength and learn to pull inside pitches for power, but that should come with maturity and experience.
Overall, Bourquin still has some room to grow, despite being a three-year college player. His ceiling is likely as an above-average third baseman, or average player in an outfield corner. He'll need his power to develop to fully support a corner position, but his ability to get on base should help offset that need to some extent.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% SS-A
Ronnie broke a bone in his left thumb that caused him to struggle through his sophomore season at Ohio State. He has fully recovered, and has shown no lasting effects from the injury. Bourquin has not experienced any other significant injuries at this point in his career.
There is little standing in Bourquin's path up the minor league ladder at this point, with Cory Middleton barely able to hit his weight, and Wilkin Ramirez moving to the outfield. With a good showing in spring training, Ronnie could jump straight to Lakeland, but his more likely destination will be West Michigan where he can torture Midwest League pitchers with his patient ways.
Ronnie should be pushed aggressively if he experiences success. His defense lags behind, but his offensive approach is advanced enough to adapt to the higher levels right now. Offensively, I can't help but envision what Sean Burroughs was supposed to be, but he'll need to be more than that to anchor down any corner (infield or outfield) slots. Brandon Inge is locked in at third for the time being, so there will be little rush on Bourquin if he struggles. Expect him to have his ups and downs this season, but he should see at least one promotion before the close of the 2007 campaign.
Mark Anderson covers the Tigers' minor league system and all of minor league baseball for TigsTown.com. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.