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Wednesday Pebble Report: Rafael Ortega Has Found His Stroke

Rafael Ortega is starting to find the same success he had in Casper last season.
Rafael Ortega is starting to find the same success he had in Casper last season.

Eye On:  OF Rafael Ortega - Low-A

The Venezuelan center fielder, who turns 20 this Sunday, struggled to begin the season after dominating the Pioneer League and becoming a bit of a Purple Row darling in 2010.   In 2011's first month, Ortega scuffled to just a .238/.287/.288 slash line.  In the last two weeks, he has really turned it on again.  The left-handed hitter hit two doubles and his first home run of the season as part of a five RBI night last night, is 14-for-his-last-26 and has posted six multi-hit games in his last nine starts.


AAA Colorado Springs, W 13-6 (14-19, 3rd, 5.0 GB)

THE Doug Davis made his debut with the Iowa Cubs against the Sky Sox and mostly impressed in 3.2 IP.  Matt Macri (2011, MiLB FA) knocked a two run triple in the second, but most of the offense came later against Thomas Diamond, scrapping together a six run fourth inning after two quick outs.  Josh Fields (2011 MiLB FA), #5 PuRP Chris Nelson (2004, 1st round), Willy Taveras (2011 MiLB FA) and Eliezer Alfonzo (2011 MiLB FA) all had multi-hit efforts.  Greg Reynolds (2006, 1st round) got the win despite giving up five runs on ten hits in six innings.

AA Tulsa, L 1-3 (18-12, 1st)

 Rob Scahill pitched well, allowing three runs in six and a third innings.  Casey Weathers (2007, 1st round) worked a scoreless frame and struck out one. Catcher Lars Davis (2007, 3rd round) hit his first home run of the season in addition to a single.   #16 PuRP Tim Wheeler (2009, 1st round) singled and was intentionally walked. 

High A Modesto,  L 8-14  (14-18, 6th, 7.0 GB)

The time has come (if not passed) for the Rockies to address the Nicholas Schnaitmann (2008, 22nd round) situation.  The 21-year-old starter was promoted to Modesto despite a 5.32 ERA and 4.0 K/9 in Asheville last season.  Predictably, he has struggled at the higher level, but no one could have forseen this:  Last night, Schnaitmann faced 24 batters and recorded nine outs.  He permitted six walks, nine hits, 13 runs, a wild pitch and four runs (in fact, the home runs cycle).  His ERA rose to 15.64 after six starts, four of which he allowed 6ER or more.  Either he's injured, is just plain bad and is blocking a more deserving starter, or he maintains value and is going through a horrible stretch.  Either way, he needs to get out of Modesto to salvage any confidence he might have left.  I feel bad for the guy.

The offense tried its best to catch up to the daunting deficit.  Kiel Roling (2008, 6th round) hit his third home run, a three-run shot, while Mike Zuanich (2006, 30th round), Scott Robinson (2006, 30th round) and Kent Matthes (2009, 4th round) threw out multi-hit games.  The bullpen, comprised of Leuris Gomez (2006, DR FA), Will Harris (2006, 9th round) and Kurt Yacko (2008, 8th round) struck out seven and held Stockton to one run on five baserunners in the last five innings, but the Nuts would never overcome the Schnaitmann deficit.  


Low-A Asheville, W 9-5 - (16-16, 1st)

#10 PuRP Rafael Ortega (2008, VA FA) wasn't the only Tourist to have a good offensive day.  Shortstop Cristhian Adames (2008, DR FA) collected three hits including a double, while Russell Wilson (2010, 4th round), Avery Barnes (2009, 11th round), Dustin Garneau (2009, 19th round) and Brett Tanos (2010, 10th round) each had two hits.  The offensive explosion gave Josh Mueller (2010, 13th round) and 8-0 lead, more than enough for the right-hander out of Eastern Illinois.  Mueller left after five shutout innings with the game in control.  Taylor Reid (2010, 14th round) got blown up for five runs in two thirds of an inning in garbage time.