Rockies turn to 21-year-old Rafael Ortega.

Dodger fans looking for someone to epitomize the dire state of today’s opponent, the Colorado Rockies, have their man. Batting second and playing center field for the Rockies, is Rafael Ortega.

Here’s all you need to know about Ortega: The 21-year-old Venezuelan has never played an inning of baseball beyond the Single-A California League. He ended the season with a .284 batting average and 36 stolen bases for the Modesto Nuts. The Cal League is notorious for being a hitter’s league; the “average” batting average in the league this season was .273.

Today, he’ll make his big-league debut.

Here’s more from the Denver Post:

Rafael Ortega thought it was a prank. The Rockies’ minor-league director called him Saturday night and told him he was headed to the big leagues. It took a moment to sink in. Ortega had just played in the instructional league in Arizona. He finished the season at Class-A Modesto.

The big leagues were not the obvious next step.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Ortega said. “I have had to make a lot of phone calls.”

Regarded as a good runner with a strong arm, Ortega, 21, is starting in center field against the Dodges, where the high blue skies are a challenge. He was promoted for multiple reasons: He has been playing this month since the minor league season ended, was going to be put on the 40-man roster this winter anyway and the Rockies’ bench is ravaged by injuries.

Tyler Colvin is available today with the range of motion almost fully returning in his left throwing elbow. Carlos Gonzalez (left hamstring) and Dexter Fowler (tendinitis let wrist) are unlikely to play. CarGo tested his leg in pregame drills and did fine. He could pinch-hit, but would have to be careful running. Pitcher Drew Pomeranz nearly pinch-hit last night when the bench was limited to Jonathan Herrera, underscoring the need for the Rockies to bring up another body.

Ortega reached on an infield single in his first plate appearance.

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.