Cardinals claim Rafael Ortega off waivers from Rangers

Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

The 22-year old outfielder heads to his third team this offseason.

The St. Louis Cardinals have claimed outfielder Rafael Ortega off waivers from the Texas Rangers, according to a report from Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. MLB Daily Dish was first to report that he was claimed by an unidentified team earlier this afternoon.

Ortega has now been claimed off waivers twice this offseason, having been taken by the Rangers in late November after spending his entire career in the Rockies' organization. He was designated for assignment by Texas last week to make room for newly-acquired reliever Miles Mikolas.

Ortega, 22, is a 5'11", 160-pound outfielder who spent his 2013 season with Double-A Tulsa. In just 42 games on the season, Ortega hit .228 with 1 HR and 10 RBI, in what is the worst statistical season of his minor league career. In six seasons in the Rockies' minor league system, he his a lifetime .298 hitter with 26 HR, 231 RBI and 156 stolen bases.

Ortega made a two-game cameo in the big leagues at the end of the 2012 season, notching two hits in six at-bats and stealing a base. Before last season, he was widely considered a fringe prospect in the Rockies' system, and was ranked as the team's ninth best prospect by SB Nation's Purple Row last winter. Baseball America had Ortega as Colorado's 15th best prospect at that time, a year after ranking him 21st.

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