The first pick in any draft is a position most teams long for, but it’s also a burden. Any screw up will be scrutinized for many years as teams discover who they should have drafted and play “what if” into the wee hours of another losing season.
This makes signing amateur free agents, drafting a player in the 40th round or trading for a low-level prospects easier to digest because there’s nothing to lose. It’s fluffy and ideal for dreaming.
The Milwaukee Brewers did just that yesterday. They traded serviceable middle reliever Burke Badenhop to the Boston Red Sox for left-handed pitcher Luis Ortega. Badenhop is 31 years old with 375 innings on his major league resume. Ortega is 20 years young with 59 rookie league innings under his belt.
The Red Sox know what they’re getting. The Brewers are dreaming and that’s a good thing, especially when your farm system is not one of baseball’s better ones and money to buy free agents is always scarce.
Luis Ortega is small at 5″10 and 165 pounds and I can’t help comparing him to another Milwaukee Brewer left-handed pitcher-Teddy Higuera. The Brewer’s last 20 game winner also stood at 5’10, weighing 185 pounds. According to scouting reports, Ortega throws over the top, so did Higuera.
The Brewers purchased Higuera from Ciudad Juarez-Mexican League in 1983. He went on to become the Brewer’s undeniable ace and put up some impressive numbers during a career cut short by injuries. Ortega is not from Mexico. He’s from the Dominican Republic and he probably has no idea who Teddy Higuera is or Juan Marichal for that matter-the first Dominican born player to be elected into the Hall of Fame. But I bet he knows about Pedro Martinez who will no doubt be the next one.
I know nothing about Ortega other than what it says on various web sites; throws in mid 80’s to low 90’s, decent control but far from over powering. It’s not clear whether he will be a starter or reliever.
But I knew nothing about a small fat left-handed pitcher named Higuera either.