The Angels are designating reliever Oliver Ortega for assignment, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. That’s the corresponding 40-man roster move for infielder Brandon Drury, who has officially inked a two-year free agent contract.
Ortega has appeared in the majors in each of the past two seasons. The right-hander debuted as a September call-up in 2021, making his first eight MLB appearances late in the year. He logged a fair bit of action in 2022, coming out of the bullpen on 27 occasions and tallying 34 innings. Ortega posted a solid 3.71 ERA over that stretch, though his peripherals were less impressive. He struck out a slightly below-average 22.3% of opponents while walking batters at a lofty 12.2% clip.
It was a different story at Triple-A Salt Lake, where a rough ERA belied better underlying marks. In 25 2/3 innings as a Bee, he was tagged for a 5.96 ERA. His 22.3% strikeout rate there was a match for his MLB figure, but he nearly halved his walk rate to a solid 6.6% clip. Ortega posted slightly better than average ground-ball numbers at both stops.
Ortega throws fairly hard, averaging a bit north of 96 MPH on his fastball during his MLB time. He’s paired that with a low-80s curveball that has been a quality swing-and-miss offering. Both pitches have been hit hard when opponents have made contact, however. The 26-year-old has shown inconsistent control throughout his minor league career, and the walks contributed to squeezing him off the Halos roster entirely.
Initially an amateur signee out of the Dominican Republic, Ortega has played seven-plus seasons in the Los Angeles organization. His time with the franchise could now be nearing its end, as the Halos will have a week to trade him or try to run him through waivers. He still has two minor league option years remaining, meaning another team could freely move him between MLB and the upper minors for the foreseeable future if they’re willing to keep him on the 40-man roster. Ortega doesn’t have the requisite service time to refuse an outright assignment, so he’d stick in the organization if he goes unclaimed on waivers.