- Full name Rafael Angel Ortega
- Born 05/15/1991 in El Tigre, Venezuela
- Profile Ht.: 5'11" / Wt.: 180 / Bats: L / Throws: R
- Debut 09/30/2012
Organization Prospect Rankings
Ortega made a brief appearance in the big leagues at 21, when the Rockies called him up from instructional league to fill a need for an extra outfielder at the end of 2012. Since then, he had a hairline fracture in his left shin in 2013 that ended his season early and prompted the Rockies to try to sneak him off their 40-man roster. The Rangers claimed him, then designated him for assignment and the Cardinals snagged him in January 2014. He improved his plate discipline and was one of the organization's better outfield defenders in 2015 but became a minor league free agent in November and signed a major league deal with the Angels. A slap hitter with a short swing and good contact skills, Ortega profiles as a fourth outfielder with well below-average power and above-average speed who can play all three outfield spots, thanks to an above-average, accurate arm. He led the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with 15 outfield assists in 2015. If he doesn't make the Angels' Opening Day roster, he'll provide outfield depth at Triple-A Salt Lake.
After completing the 2012 season at Modesto, Ortega was in instructional league when the Rockies, their outfield corps depleted by injuries, called him to Colorado. He had two hits and reached base three times in his major league debut Sept. 30 and made one other pinch-hitting appearance. He returned to instructional league to work on bunting, reading pitchers and getting better leads, and he showed improvement. Those will be big factors in Ortega's success because he's an energetic leadoff hitter with good speed. He has a short swing and stays inside the ball well, and he'll maximize his value with better strike-zone awareness and plate discipline--he has a combined 187 strikeouts and 76 walks the past two seasons. Despite his size, he has surprising power but needs to guard against falling in love with his power stroke after he hits a homer, and then hitting the ball in the air for a series of at-bats. His speed plays on the bases, as he stole 36 bases for Modesto, but he was caught 18 times. Ortega is a true center fielder, and fearless when it comes to outfield walls. His reads on flyballs and routes are good, and his plus arm is very accurate. He should move up to Double-A in 2013.
Ortega batted .358 at Casper in a stellar U.S. debut in 2010. His girlfriend gave birth to their first child in Venezuela late in the season, but that did nothing to detract from his focus and high level of play. He's at his best in games and not particularly impressive in spring training, batting practice and the like. Ortega is the fastest runner in a system that lacks a true burner, and he's also the best defensive outfielder among Rockies farmhands. He's still working on his reads and jumps on the bases after getting caught in 19 of 51 steal attempts last year, but he's a true center fielder with a fearlessness when it comes to going after flyballs at the wall. He also has a strong arm for his position. Ortega hit too many balls in the air early in the 2011 season but worked to level out his swing path and batted .313/.352/.492 in the second half. He's a leadoff hitter who has quick hands and handles the bat well, but he needs to improve his strike-zone awareness. Getting stronger also would help, though he'll never have much power. He'll play in high Class A this year.
Minor League Top Prospects
Like Casper teammates Campos and Adames, Ortega spent two years in the Dominican Summer League before making his U.S. debut this season. He showed a solid all-around game, tying for the league lead in runs (69) while showing three plus tools in his speed, arm and center-field range. Ortega's bat may play just as loudly as the rest of his game. Though he has yet to reach his physical potential, he already can put a charge into the ball to his pull side. He makes lots of contact and stays on lefthanders well, attributes that could make him a .280 hitter. Because Ortega has a narrow frame, he likely won't develop more than average power and some observers wonder whether he'll have that much. Even so, his tools help him profile as a starting center fielder. Playing the game with a lot of passion also helps his cause.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Defensive Outfielder in the Colorado Rockies in 2013
- Rated Best Outfield Arm in the California League in 2012
- Rated Best Defensive Outfielder in the Colorado Rockies in 2012
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the Colorado Rockies in 2012