Jon Berti made 57 starts at second base for the Vancouver Canadians in 2011. (Image from The Vancouver Sun).
A key member of the 2011 Northwest League championship club is hoping a change of address will lead him to the major leagues. The Toronto Blue Jays traded infielder Jon Berti to the Cleveland Indians on April 23 for cash considerations.
Berti was into his eighth season in the Blue Jays system after being drafted by Toronto in the 18th round out of Bowling Green in 2011. He was drafted three years earlier in the 36th round by the Oakland Athletics out of Troy High School in his hometown of Troy, Michigan.
The 5-foot-10 right-handed hitter began his professional journey with the Vancouver Canadians in 2011. His first game was on June 18 where he earned a walk in his first at-bat and reached base two more times on a single and a hit by pitch. The next night saw Berti drive in his first two runs and steal his first base.
Jon Berti scored a team-high 37 runs for Vancouver in 2011. (Image from Paul Yates – Vancouver Sports).
Those two games were the start of an 18-game on-base streak that saw Berti reach base by hit, walk or hit by pitch. The streak would end July 11 because of the infamous brawl in Spokane that involved Rougned Odor. Berti had a sacrifice fly in his only at-bat before he and his double-play partner Shane Opitz were ejected in a bench-clearing brawl along with Odor and Spokane pitcher Matt West.
All Berti would do was pick up right where he left off as he put together another on-base streak that lasted 12 games. Among the highlights were his first professional home run that proved to be the difference in a 2-1 win in Eugene July 21.
Berti finished the regular season with a .291 batting average and a .387 on-base percentage with five doubles, five triples, a home run and 21 runs batted in. He also stole 23 bases in 28 attempts.
Though he slugged just .376, Berti tapped into his power during the playoffs. He belted a lead-off home run against the Eugene Emeralds in Game 2 of the West Division final September 6 as part of 3-for-5 night with three RBI to help the C’s even the best-of-three series.
Berti added one more home run in the clinching Game 4 of the Northwest League final against the Tri-City Dust Devils September 11. He finished the post-season with two home runs and five RBI while batting .280. That performance landed him a berth on the 2011 Northwest League Post-Season All-Star team.
Vancouver Canadians broadcaster Rob Fai said Berti was an integral part of the C’s winning its first Northwest League title.
“Jon was the type of hard-nosed player that every championship team absolutely has to have. You simply can’t maintain your focus over the course of a full season and a playoff run and not have a person that is comfortable stepping in front of a clubhouse full of prospects and saying, ‘It’s time to step up.’
A man of few words, he was mature beyond his years, came from really good stock as they say and just played the type of baseball you didn’t mind paying to see.
He also had a sincerity that screamed coach down the road.
I would say in my 12 years behind the mic, he was a top five overall favourite for me. Cleveland got themselves a heck of a player. Sturdy, reliable and just a true pro.”
Berti is a career .252 hitter with 236 stolen bases. He has spent parts of the last four seasons with Triple-A Buffalo and he is hoping to break through in 2018 with Cleveland. Right now, the 28 year-old is at Triple-A Columbus where he has played six games and has two hits in a dozen at-bats.
Best of luck to Jon Berti in his quest to make it to the bigs.