No. 30: Jose Ortega, RHP
Another prospect we've seen before, Ortega made his MLB debut in 2012 with the Tigers, pitching 2 2/3 innings at the MLB level when the Tigers needed another bullpen arm. He was signed in 2006 as an international free agent from Venezuela (surprise!), and spent 2007 and 2008 pitching in the Venezuelan Summer League (VSL), where he achieved good success. In 2009 he came stateside for the first time, and was assigned to short season Class A-Oneonta (now Connecticut), where he had some success, but high walk totals limited his overall effectiveness. 2010 was a breakout season for Ortega, as he climbed all the way from Class A-West Michigan, through Advanced-A Lakeland, to Double A-Erie, and his combined numbers were very encouraging, as he threw 68 1/3 innings, striking out 61 and walking 31, which, while still high, was an improvement. 2011 saw him hit a snag at Triple A-Toledo, and he still has yet to post good numbers at Triple A to this date, but he still retains prospect status due to his stuff.
Scouts are split on what they see with Ortega. Some will tell you that he's nothing more than a power-armed middle reliever, while others will say that he has a set up profile. I'm rather torn to be honest with you all, and I'm 2nd guessing myself in putting him this high, but I'm not one to change my mind once I've decided something. Ortega is essentially a 2 pitch pitcher, with a fastball and a slider. The fastball works in the mid 90's, usually around 94-96, and he consistently shows the ability to ramp it up to 97-98 in short bursts. The fastball also has some really nice movement in the form of arm side run, which is particularly effective against right handed hitters when he's able to get the pitch in on their hands. His slider is a 50 pitch for me because I haven't seen very much depth, if any at all, with the pitch. It has good velocity and nice horizontal break, but it mostly stays on a flat plane, limiting its effectiveness and ultimate projection beyond anything other than average. Ortega is also a smaller guy, standing only 5'11", which limits the effectiveness of both his pitches, since he doesn't get nearly the same downward plane that a taller pitcher would have, making him much more hittable, especially when he leaves pitches up in the zone (which he has a tendency to do).
Overall, as I said, I'm split on where I project Ortega. I definitely think he's someone who can pitch in the major leagues with some effectiveness, but I think I lean more towards the 6th-7th inning projection than I do the pure set-up projection. If his slider can gain some depth, which is unlikely, then his profile would obviously become better, but again, I don't see that happening. On the whole, Ortega fits nicely in any bullpen as a middle reliever that's capable of getting strikeouts in key spots, but I wouldn't call on him in high-leverage situations (yet, anyways). Ortega should be in the running for a bullpen spot with the Tigers in 2013, but depending on what they do with someone like Bruce Rondon, or if they end up acquiring someone else, he may find himself back in Toledo to start the season, but will undoubtedly be on the short list of names to get the call if someone on the big club gets injured.