WATCH LIST: RAFAEL ORTEGA

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PARENT CLUB – ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
SIGNED – Colorado 2008, Minor League Free Agent (Venezuela)
CURRENT ASSIGNMENT – Cardinals’ 40-man roster
NOTES: Claimed off waivers by St. Louis Cardinals

At age 22, Rafael Ortega will embark on his seventh season of professional baseball in the U.S. after being signed out of Venezuela in 2008. A centerfielder with great speed,  Ortega climbed Colorado’s organizational ladder from three successful Rookie League stops, to loA, then hiA before playing in 2013 at AA Tulsa.

In 2010 at Casper of the Pioneer League, Ortega hit .358/.416/.510 and stole 23 bases against 9 CS. 2012 was another big year as he played a full season at hiA Modesto and then got a late-season call-up to the Rockies. His line of .283/.344/.410 with 8 HR and 36 steals in the California League got noticed and Ortega found himself in CF for the Rockies on September 30th. Over two big league games he went 2-for-6 with a walk.

PLAYER PAGE at MiLB.com

November 15, 2014

Ortega spent most of the 2014 season at AA Springfield (101 games) and finished up with a short stint at AAA Memphis. With three different clubs this year, Ortega batted .246/.329/.340 with 7 homers and 61 runs scored. He walked 48 times against 64 strikeouts in 382 ABs.

At age 23, Ortega’s on the doorstep of the majors at AAA. After four solid seasons from 2009-2012, Ortega’s numbers have dropped off the last couple of years, with 2013 seeing only 42 games of action. MLB.com doesn’t have Ortega in its list of top 20 organizational prospects. It could be difficult for him to break into St. Louis’ talented major league lineup.

Currently, Ortega is playing in the Venezuelan Winter League.

JANUARY 6, 2014

The Rangers placed Ortega on waivers on December 30th and then DFA’d him. The St. Louis Cardinals have claimed him and he has been added to their 40-man roster. The once-flashy prospect who had an unexpected MLB debut in which he dazzled at the end of the 2012 season is now in his third organization in the last three months. In 45 games in Venezuela this winter, Ortega batted .240/.315/.290 with five doubles and nine walks against 15 strikeouts. He scored 19 runs in those 45 games.

NOVEMBER 27, 2013

The Rockies placed Ortega on waivers after a disappointing 2013 and the Texas Rangers claimed the 22-year old OF. Ortega is currently playing winter ball in Venezuela.

NOVEMBER 16, 2013

Rafael Ortega is on the field for the La Guairá Tiburons of the Venezuela Winter League. Tonight he batted in the number 9 hole and played CF, going 0-for-3 and scoring a run. In 24 games this VWL season, Ortega has posted a line of .274/.338/.329 over 73 ABs. He has scored 13 runs while stealing two bases against one CS.

Ortega is still an interesting prospect at the age of 22. Some of his key numbers have gone down each of the last three minor league seasons after a breakout 2010 campaign but his 2013 AA season was cut short by injuries after just 42 games. He’ll be very closely scrutinized on the Watch List as 2014 unfolds. In the meantime, I’ll have more on his VWL performance here.

SEPTEMBER 1, 2013

It has been a lost year for Ortega, who still hasn’t played since June 20th. The Tulsa Drillers’ website lists him on the 7-day DL and the Rockies’ still have him on the 40-man roster. But the excitement of last year’s late-season callup to the Colorado Rockies wasn’t something he was able to follow up on this season. We’ll look for more info on any injury and see if he does anything in the offseason leagues.

JUNE 28, 2013

It’s been a rough time at AA for Ortega so far. After 42 games, his line is .228/.315/.297 and the numbers across the board are off from his big 2012 season. He hasn’t played since June 20th (the All-Star Break was June 24-25) but he is not listed on the DL or featured in the Texas League’s transactions page. So at this point, Rafael Ortega is nowhere to be found. More to come when we can track him down.

DECEMBER 15, 2012

After the two-game major league audition where Ortega went 2-for-4 with a walk, it was off to the Venezuelan League for winter ball. After 34 games playing for La Guaira, Ortega checks in with a .319 batting average, going 22-for-69 with 4 doubles and 17 runs scored. On the basepaths he has stolen 8 bags in 10 attempts.

Currently on the 40-man roster, Ortega emerged from the winter meetings still with the Rockies, despite all the activity this offseason with Dexter Fowler’s name coming up in various scenarios.

OCTOBER 10, 2012

Ortega got one more at bat with Colorado against Arizona on October 1st. He struck out as a pinch-hitter against Wade Miley and finished his brief major league callup at 2-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout. His two professional stops in 2012 were an odd combination, hi-A Modesto and the majors. Ortega figures to be an important prospect in the Rockies’ organization going into 2013.

SEPTEMBER 30, 2012

The Rockies called Ortega up and put him in CF, batting second, against the Dodgers on Sunday. He went 2-for-3 in his major league debut with two singles, a stolen base, a walk and a strikeout. Dodger reliever Josh Wall hit Ortega with a pitch in the ninth inning.

The jump from hi-A Modesto to the majors was a surprise, as the 21-year old was playing in instructional ball since the conclusion of the minor league season. But injuries way late in the 162-game season piled up to make an opening for Ortega, who the Rockies are apparently going to add to the 40-man roster to avoid losing him to the Rule 5 draft.

AUGUST 28, 2012

A 1-for-4 night against Bakersfield last night has continued another hot streak for Ortega who is hitting .316/.395/.526 over his last 10 games. Included in that stretch are two three-hit games, nine runs scored and eight RBI. Overall, in 107 hiA games this season, Ortega’s line is .281/.342/.416 with eight homers, 59 RBI, 77 runs scored, 35 steals (17 CS) and 43 walks against 88 strikeouts.

AUGUST 11, 2012

Over the last 10 games Ortega has been all-or-nothing at the plate, with three multi-hit games and seven 0-for’s. While the batting average over that stretch is a dismal .171, he’s taken advantage of his time on the bases and stolen eight bags in nine attempts. On August 7th against Rancho Cucomonga, Ortega went 2-for-6 at the plate with 3 steals and 3 runs scored.

Still just 21 years old, he sits at .284/.342/.409 in 408 ABs at hiA Modesto. Hitting out of the leadoff spot Ortega has produced 19 doubles, 7 triples and 6 RBIs with 33 steals against 17 CS.

JULY 28, 2012

Ortega had a great night at home against San Jose in a 5-2 Modesto win, showing what he can do with the bat, the glove and on the bases. He went 2-for-4 at the plate with a single, a HR, two runs scored, an RBI and a steal of home. He also raced back to the CF wall to haul in a scorched liner on the warning track in the top of the 2nd inning.

In the bottom of the 3rd inning, Ortega lined sharply down the 3B line where Giants 3B Bobby Haney made a diving stop. Ortega beat the throw for a single and went to third on a hit-and-run single by Christhiane Adames. Adames and Ortega then pulled off a double-steal, with Ortega coming home when the throw to second went through.

In the bottom of the 7th inning, Ortega took an 86-mph pitch from Shawn Sanford over the CF wall.

Ortega is batting .340 over his last 10 games with 2 HR and 8 runs scored.

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