By Scott Barancik, editor

Zach Borenstein had a monster season in 2013, and he has the MVP award to prove it.

The 23-year-old Los Angeles Angels prospect led the California League (Class A-advanced) in average, home runs, and several other statistics. His league-leading nine RBIs during the postseason helped the Inland Empire 66ers become league champions.

But when Baseball America published its list of the California League’s Top 20 prospects earlier this month, the Illinois native’s name wasn’t on it. The snub begged an explanation, and assistant editor Jim Shonerd provided one in an article accompanying the list. “Borenstein nearly won the Cal League triple crown, leading the way in average (.337) and homers (28) but finishing third in RBIs (95). However, doubts about the outfielder’s athletic ability kept him from making the top 20,” he wrote.

In an an e-mail to Jewish Baseball News, Shonerd defended the decision.

“Borenstein had a fantastic season, but we make these lists based on more than just statistics,” he wrote. “I talked to managers, coaches and scouts who watched the Cal League all season, and not enough of them believed in Borenstein’s ability enough to warrant putting him on the list. He was in the conversation, and some of those observers did believe in him. But there were doubts about his swing and how well it would translate against better pitching as he moves up in the minors, as well as his athletic ability as an outfielder.”

Count Borenstein’s family among those who think Baseball America got it all wrong. They expressed outrage in e-mails and in posts on our Facebook page.

“Doubts about Zach’s athletic ability? There is a player in Shonerd’s list who hit .233 and struck out [in] 33% of his at-bats,” wrote father David Borenstein, a prosecutor by trade. “Put a basketball in Zach’s hands and he would be able to score at will against any of the other members of the Cal team. The trainer for the low-A team (Cedar Rapids) said Zach could make any special-teams squad in the National Football League. [Zach] came back from a hip flexor tear and hit .367 in his last 45 games. You don’t dominate the California league like Zach did unless you have athletic ability.”

Borenstein’s brother also took Baseball America to task. “Even if Shonerd’s pitiful argument that Zach isn’t athletic were true – which is a patently absurd pretense – what would it matter?” Josh Borenstein wrote. “Is Paul Konerko athletic? Prince Fielder? David Ortiz? Kevin Youkilis? I’ve read that Hank Greenberg was slow and lumbering. Does their lack of athleticism diminish any of these great ballplayers?”

You needn’t have Borenstein blood running through your veins to find the Top 20 list puzzling. Consider Inland Empire teammate Alex Yarbrough. A second baseman, he finished behind Borenstein in nearly every batting category. Shonerd described the 21-year-old as “not especially athletic or fleet afoot.” But there he is, ranked 9th on the list of top California League prospects.

Inland Empire didn’t respond to a request for comment on the snub. But it’s worth noting that when the Los Angeles Angels chose eight top prospects to play in the prestigious Arizona Fall League this year, Borenstein was one of them.

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