POSITION: Left-handed pitcher
BORN ON: August 7, 1987
BORN IN: Maracaibo, Venezuela
LIVES IN: Maracaibo, Venezuela
ACQUIRED: Signed by the Braves as a non-drafted free agent on October 17, 2003
SIGNED BY: Rolando Petit
STATISTICSClick here for Ortegano's 2007 stats
SCOUTING REPORTWhile the ‘three lefties' (Jeff Locke, Chad Rodgers, and Steve Evarts) get all the attention, the other lefty in the Danville rotation just keeps moving up the ladder with impressive stats. Jose Ortegano led the Appalachian League with a 1.48 ERA last season, and just about every other stat was strong as well.
The Venezuelan lefty allowed only 44 hits in 60.2 innings pitched, with ten earned runs allowed, 11 walks, and 55 strikeouts. Ortegano's career minor league numbers, including his two years in the Dominican Summer League, are impressive: 14-7, 2.22 ERA, 171 hits in 198.2 innings, 44 walks, and 187 strikeouts.
After last season was over, Ortegano pitched 17 games (only one start) in the Venezuelan Winter League. He was 2-2 with a 2.19 ERA, 32 hits in 37 innings, 10 walks, and 27 strikeouts.
So why does Ortegano not get as much attention as the ‘three lefties?' Well, his stuff is pretty average compared to the other three. Ortegano's fastball stays in the 86-89 mph range and occasionally hits 90. Jose commands his changeup very well, and that's his bread and butter pitch. He also has a decent curve ball. But it's all about command with him. He's been successful so far because of his command of all of his pitches.
If Ortegano had three more miles per hour on his fastball, he'd probably be one of the best prospects in the system. He's one of those pitchers that you really need to see more of at the higher level before you make a projection on his future. Soft-tossing lefties are just hard to predict.
2008 OUTLOOKThere is no doubting Ortegano's success, and now he'll get a chance to show his stuff in a full-season team with Rome. The battle for a rotation spot will be intense in March, but Ortegano has a great chance to win a job. It will be interesting to see what he could do in 130 innings or more. Let's give Ortegano two more seasons. Let's see what he can do in Single-A ball in both Rome and Myrtle Beach before we have a clear idea of what Ortegano might be in the future. If he continues what he's done in the past couple of seasons, the Braves might have something special. But he needs to be tested at a higher level.
ADDITIONAL STORY LINKSClick here for Ortegano's 2007 Player Profile
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. He can be heard on 680 the Fan in Atlanta and 105.5 the Fan in Macon. Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.