Borbon savoring return to Majors with Orioles

Having not played big league ball since 2013, former first-rounder humbled by long road back

Borbon savoring return to Majors with Orioles

NEW YORK -- Before he did anything else, Julio Borbon called his father, Julio. He had just heard the news he'd been waiting to hear for years, so it only made sense to alert his "No. 1 fan."

Drafted 35th overall in 2007 by the Rangers, it took fewer than two years for Borbon to make Texas' big league roster. But by 2013, his stock had fallen. The Chicago Cubs claimed him off waivers in April before designating him for assignment later that year.

So the 30-year-old outfielder wasn't too bothered by the traffic Wednesday afternoon on the George Washington Bridge en route to Yankee Stadium, where the Orioles were playing the Yankees. After being selected by Baltimore in the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 12, 2013, he was finally called up to the Major League roster on Tuesday.

O's place Kim on DL, call up Borbon from Double-A

"You can't give up on your dreams, no matter what," Borbon said. "No matter what, at the end of the day, you can accomplish things no matter what age or race or ethnicity you are. Things are available for anybody if they're willing to put in the work."

Borbon's promotion, of course, stemmed in part from need. His contract was selected from the Bowie Baysox after the Orioles placed Hyun Soo Kim on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring.

That didn't dampen Borbon's enthusiasm, though. A former highly touted prospect, Borbon looked around the Baltimore clubhouse Wednesday and pointed out familiar faces from his previous Major League stint. Darren O'Day and Chris Davis were former teammates with the Rangers.

In fact, O'Day pitched in one of Borbon's most recent appearances at Yankee Stadium: Game 4 of the 2010 American League Championship Series. Not that Borbon was in a mood to reminisce.

"People don't understand the process of even making it. And the percentage of people who play in the big leagues is very slim," he said.

The process was humbling, Borbon said. After playing for Triple-A Norfolk in 2014-15, he elected for free agency. He then signed a Minor League deal with the Orioles on March 12, and was sent to Bowie.

He played well with the Baysox, hitting .289 with 20 steals in 29 attempts.

"He's the guy that best fit what our needs were going to be," manager Buck Showalter said. "He's got experience. He's played in these ballparks. It's not like this is something new for him."

Showalter is correct; it's not new for him. But after a whirlwind couple of years, Borbon is treating this assignment with the enthusiasm of a rookie.

So after he learned of his callup, he delighted in sharing the news with his long list of supporters. His wife. His friends. Former teammates and coaches.

But first, he needed to call the man that, "always followed every step of the way." He needed to call his dad.

"He'd been waiting just as much as I have for this day," Borbon said.

Joshua Needelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.