Top 50 Prospects: #14 - Dan Ortmeier

Dan Ortmeier did something that no other minor leaguer did in 2005, and it was an impressive combination of speed and power. But questions remain for the other switch hitting corner outfielder in the Giants system.

#14 - Dan Ortmeier
Date of Birth: 05/11/1981 Position: OF Height: 6'4" Weight: 220 Bats: S Throws: L
Acquired: Drafted in the 3rd Round (#97 Overall) of the 2002 Draft
2005 Stats
Norwich - AA .274 .360 .463 .823 503 85 138 23 6 20 79 48 115 35 12
San Francisco - MLB .136 .269 .136 .405 22 1 3 0 0 0 1 3 5 1 0
Mesa - AFL .385 .414 .654 1.068 26 8 10 4 0 1 5 2 2 4 0

For all the ups and downs in the 2005 season, Dan Ortmeier can at least claim he did one thing that no one else in the minor leagues could.

For Ortmeier, 2005 was a victory of sorts. He finally stayed healthy for (almost) the entire year, a first for him. And he also finally got his first callup to the bigs, a September stint that saw him at least score his first major league run, plate his first RBI and get his first stolen base. But in the end, there’s still a lot to wonder about with him.

Ortmeier plays baseball with a football attitude, and while the Giants love the blue collar, do-everything-you-can attitude in most cases, it’s gotten Ortmeier into trouble over his career with injuries. And not just to himself. In 2004, Ortmeier put two players into the hospital besides himself, an opposing catcher in a collision at the plate, and his teammate Jay Pecci, whom he collided with chasing a foul ball. Injuries like those might be prevented by tempering his enthusiasm in the future, but one has to wonder how much the injuries he’s suffered through his entire career have affected his impressive tools.

As mentioned, though, he managed to stay healthy, at least in the regular season and Giants fans got to see what he could do. And what was that?

On the good side, Dan Ortmeier continued to show a nice combination of power and speed. He was the only player in minor league baseball in 2005 to combine 20 home runs and 35 stolen bases, and was the first player in Norwich franchise history to go 20/20. And he continued to play solid defense and his throwing arm remains good, if not spectacular, after shoulder problems in the past.

The bad news was a disappointing amount of contact after repeating the Eastern League. Good power and speed are tough to put to use with a sub-.275 batting average in AA, the second year since his San Jose rampage in which his average has been below expectations. (Although he continues to put up a solid OBP) And, despite performing well early in the Arizona Fall League, his campaign was cut short by a sore wrist, which had also given him problems in 2004.

The result is that Ortmeier remains even more of a mystery than when no one had seen what he could do when healthy.

Ortmeier remains the ‘other’ switch-hitting corner outfielder with power and speed in the Giants organization, with Todd Linden continuing to hover between AAA and the majors. Both have enough questions around them to make it impossible to decide who will be the more effective player in the long run. Unlike Linden, who has forsaken some of his speed to concentrate on power, Ortmeier’s game is better suited for speed long term.

Ortmeier should get to show what he can do in hitter-friendly Fresno, however, and make a more serious case for being a part of the Giants’ plans after 2006. The key for him will be to get that batting average up to more acceptable levels, and take advantage of his speed to get more extra base hits that don’t leave the yard. Whether or not he can do that will determine whether he will be a starting outfielder in the big leagues, or whether his career path might follow Dustan Mohr’s.

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