Ortega, 28, joined the Atlanta organization on a minor-league pact before the season. The left-handed-hitter, who has appeared in parts of three prior MLB campaigns, carries a .285/.373/.524 batting line (126 wRC+) in 493 plate appearances at Triple-A.
It’s not clear whether Ortega is seen as a potentially permanent solution or a temporary fill-in, but his promotion reflects the fact that the Braves are in a bit of an outfield pickle. The club lost Nick Markakis just before the trade deadline and isn’t sure whether or when he’ll return. Having foregone the chance to add a significant player from outside the organization, the club is now left with what is has on hand and what it can procure through the limitations of the August acquisition period.
At one point, it seemed the Braves were set with a three-man outfield unit featuring Markakis, superstar Ronald Acuna, and rookie Austin Riley. Many even felt the club should jettison Ender Inciarte when he returned from the injured list. As it turns out, Markakis and Riley are now shelved with injuries; the latter had struggled mightily for a lengthy stretch before hitting the IL.
For a moment, it looked as if Adam Duvall would be the solution. He started with a six-game hot streak but has been dreadful in his ten ensuing games. There’s still hope that he can contribute, but it’s far from a certainty. Much the same holds for utilityman Johan Camargo, who has scuffled since a hot July. The Braves might’ve utilized Charlie Culberson in the outfield, but he’s filling in at short for the injured Dansby Swanson. Matt Joyce is still on the roster — indeed, he’s in the lineup tonight — but the club has elected to utilize him mostly as a bench bat. (He has played just 64 1/3 innings in the field.)
Despite the increasing uncertainty, the Braves’ lineup has had no trouble pushing runs across the plate, having outscored all but five other teams in the past thirty days. And the club has managed to stay out in front of the trailing pack in the division. While the Nats, Mets, and (if they can gather themselves) Phillies are threats to mount a charge, they’re still decided underdogs. But the Braves can’t sleep on their lead — six games, entering play today — and will obviously also want to fine tune their outfield mix (among other question areas) in advance of the postseason.