5 Chicago Cubs players to keep an eye on down the stretch

(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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(Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
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5 Chicago Cubs to keep an eye on down the stretch: #4 – Rafael Ortega

Before 2021, Rafael Ortega only saw 410 career at-bats since making his Major League debut in 2012. That is still less than a full year’s worth of work. However, this season, given the opportunity to shine, he has taken it and run with it thus far. Ortega was signed by the Cubs in November 2020, slashing .250/.333/.818 in 2021 with Triple-A Iowa prior to his call-up.

At the end of May 2021, Ortega was called up, then called up again to fill in for the injured Jason Heyward and Jake Marisnick after being reassigned back to Triple-A. He has since remained in the majors and been given his first real chance to make something of himself on a daily basis.

Since remaining with the Cubs, Ortega has been a fascinating player to watch. He is batting .317/.368/.524 in 126 ABs and distinguishing himself as one of the better hitters this season for the Cubs. Still not a huge sample size, but it’s getting bigger. It’s also big enough to now secure his role in the lead off spot. He has every opportunity to keep it going following this season and it will be interesting to see if he can do so.

The Chicago Cubs definitely need a bat to rely on leading off games and getting on base. Should he stay anywhere near the level he is now, he will be utilized heavily moving forward.