Prospect Countdown #35 : Rafael Ortega

Top 100 Los Angeles Angels' Prospects Countdown, #35 : Outfielder, Rafael Ortega (photo : Zimbio)

Rafael Ortega, Outfielder

HT : 5'11
WT : 160
DOB : May 15, 1991 (24), El Tigre, Anzoategui, Venezuela
Throws : Right
Bats : Left
School : N/A
Acquired : Signed as Major League Free Agent, December 1, 2015
Last Year's Ranking : Unranked

When Billy Eppler took over the reigns of the Los Angeles Angels, he held an empty left field depth chart. His first addition to the depth chart from the free agent market came in the form of Rafael Ortega. Now, with a plethora of sub-tier talent, Eppler and the Angels are waiting for one player to blossom into their every day left fielder, and Ortega has all the tools to show he could become that guy. Despite only seeing limited time at the Major League level, Ortega is knocking on the door and a strong Spring Training could turn him into a special pick up and talent for the Angels.


Ortega brings premier outfield defense to the Angels system, with a strong and accurate arm. He's best suited for center field, as he has a quick initial burst to range in each direction, and has outstanding closing speed. He plays a high energy game, which adds to his overall game defensively.

At the plate, Ortega has a short stroke from the left side. He takes away a high amount of the strike zone by minimizing his size with a knee bend, and loads with his lower half before taking a short swing, using his quick wrist as his best offensive quality. He keeps the bat through the zone, allowing for high mark in contact and rarely swings and misses.

Ortega has limited power, due mostly to his small size. Though, he has found some pop by muscling up on mistake pitches, and uses bat speed as a quality in his power tool. He'll likely never be a double digit home run threat, but will be able to drive through the ball and create pull line drives with some pop off the bat.

On the base paths, Ortega is a fast runner. It mostly stems from a quick first step, and he stays low to the ground while running, allowing for full use of his legs. Ortega should be able to steal double digit bags even at the highest level, possibly in to the 20's and more when he peaks.

Over the past few seasons, Ortega has simplified his approach at the plate. He's gone from trying to muscle up anything he sees coming into the zone, to keeping things easy and simply swinging when necessary. He has also become more disciplined with time, and has drawn a high amount of walks making him a dual threat at the plate.

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Scouting Report from Taylor Blake Ward - Senior Publisher for


Ortega began his career like most international players, in the Dominican Summer League, where he spent his first two seasons, combining for a .304/.367/.381 slash, 22 extra-base hits, 50 RBI, 83 runs scored and 56 stolen bases. 39 of Ortega's 122 games in the Dominican went for multiple hits. He closed out his international career with a .809 OPS in his sophomore professional season.

The young talent spent the next four seasons developing stateside in the Colorado Rockies farm system, combining for a .289/.343/.427 slash between four levels from Rookie Ball to Double-A. Over the four years, Ortega averaged 29 doubles, seven triples, 10 home runs, 102 runs scored, 75 RBI, and 41 stolen bases per full season while in the Rockies organization. He earned a call up to the big club in 2012, where he went 2-for-4 with a walk and stolen base.

After his time with Colorado, Ortega was a two-time waiver claim, finishing with the St. Louis Cardinals, and spending a pair of seasons with the organization. With the Cards, Ortega put together a .267/.345/.360 slash, with 31 doubles, nine triples, nine home runs, 127 runs scored, 74 RBI and 36 stolen bases. Last season, Ortega struggled in his first month, but hit .299 with a .765 OPS over his final four months. He is a lifetime .295 hitter against right-handed pitchers, with a .773 OPS.

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Ortega will compete for a spot on the Major League roster this Spring Training, and could be "their guy" to play left field daily. Spring Training will be the tell tale sign of what the future of Ortega and the Angels has to hold, but he has just as fair a shot as any in the current depth chart.

The ceiling isn't high on Ortega, but the tools say he at least could fall in as an average Major League outfielder with serious speed. Even if he doesn't see his name on the Opening Day lineup card this next season, he should see time with the Angels for his speed, and become one of the illustrious pinch runners the Angels have been missing the past few seasons.

For more updates on the Los Angeles Angels, their prospects, and our Top 100 Prospects Countdown, follow us on Twitter, @AngelsOnScout. Keep up with our countdown on Twitter with the hashtag, #LAATop100Prospects.

This article was published by Taylor Blake Ward, who serves as a Senior Publisher for, and can be found on Twitter, @TaylorBlakeWard.

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