Los Angeles Angels Rafael Ortega shows promise in 2016
By David Rice
When the Los Angeles Angels signed outfielder Rafael Ortega last off-season they did not know what to expect. While Ortega’s numbers weren’t spectacular he did show a lot of promise in the time he was up with the Angels.
The Los Angeles Angels signed a plethora of outfielder last off-season in hopes of filling the void they have had over the past few years in left field. One player who got the opportunity to show what he could do was Rafael Ortega.
The first thing you will notice with Ortega is that he has tremendous speed and is an excellent defender. In mid-May Ortega flashed the leather against their SO CAL rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers. As the Angels were trying to hang on to a 7-4 lead in the ninth, the Dodgers Carl Crawford led off and sliced a line drive that was headed into the left-field corner.
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Ortega took off right away and made a headlong dive reaching out and catching the ball while getting a mouth full of dirt. The catch killed any Dodger momentum and the Angels went on to win the game and take the series three games to one.
This was just one of many examples of Ortega’s defensive prowess. He also has a very strong arm as well as he had seven outfield assists in only 59 games. At the plate Ortega hit .232 with one homer and 16 runs batted in. He also stole eight bases in 11 attempts. Ortega also drew 13 walks in 185 at-bats.
Again these numbers weren’t spectacular on the offensive sides, but considering the 66 games played in 2016 was the majority of his big league experience (2 games with Colorado in 2012) there is room for improvement. I believe the more time Ortega plays the better he will get at the plate and he could become a potential candidate for the lead-off spot in the future.
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For now Ortega will mostly likely be the incumbent in 2017 to be the fourth outfielder as he played parts of 10 games in each outfield position in 2016. The biggest reason to smile about Ortega’s potential is how hard he plays the game and his overall demeanor. He always seemed to give it 110% effort in whatever he did. Ortega is also still only 25 so he has many years ahead of him. He could be the next diamond in the rough.
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For now Ortega has made the 40-man roster which means the club feels strongly enough about him to protect him and hopefully we will start to see Ortega realize his potential next season.