Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mets sign 10th round pick Phillips Orta

Western Nebraska pitcher Orta inks seven-year-deal with Mets

Saturday, May 19, 2007 11:55 PM CDT

SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. - A Western Nebraska pitcher signed a seven-year deal with the New York Mets on Saturday, nearly a year after he was drafted in the 10th round.

A Mets scout for the midwest said Phillips Orta could end up as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter in the major leagues in a few years.

"The more time he gets on the mound, the better he's going to get," said Larry Chase, who scouts for the Mets in Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas. "I think you'll see him as one of our bright spots in the New York Mets organization in the next few years."

That would be fine with Orta, who says his favorite player is the Mets' Pedro Martinez.

"This has been a dream all my life and today is a big day for me," Orta said.

Orta was the ace for Western Nebraska this season, leading the Cougars to the first regional championship in school history. Western Nebraska finished a few wins shy of the Junior College World Series.

Orta will return to his native Venezuela for a work visa, then report to Port St. Lucie, Fla., for extended spring training.

Chase said Orta will likely end up playing short-season rookie ball in Kingsport, Tenn., or with the Mets' single-A team in Brooklyn.

WNCC's Orta drafted by Mets

By: Jeremy Woznick
Western Nebraska Community College pitcher Phillips Orta delivers a pitch in a game earlier this spring. Orta, who just completed his freshman season at WNCC, was selected by the New York Mets in the 10th round of Tuesday’s Major League Baseball Draft.
Like any kid growing up playing baseball, Phillips Orta always had the dream of being a big-league ball player one day.

After being selected by the New York Mets in the 10th round of Tuesday's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, the Western Nebraska Community College sophomore pitcher is one step closer to making that dream a reality.

Orta, the 6-foot-2 flame-throwing righthander from Venezuela, was taken by the Mets with the 304th overall pick. The selection was the highest ever for any WNCC player.
"Playing major league baseball has always been a dream of mine," said Orta during a phone interview from Miami on Tuesday afternoon. "It's always been my dream to be a big-league baseball player and I'm very excited. After working out with the Mets, I knew how interested they were in me. I'm just very grateful to be drafted."

Orta is currently playing in a competitive summer baseball league in Miami.
With another year of eligibility remaining at WNCC, Orta has yet to make any decisions in regards to his future with the program. He hopes to meet with the Mets in the coming weeks before making any final decisions.

"I'll have a big decision to make," Orta said. "I'll think about my options and do what's best for me and my family."

Although Orta's first-day selection in the draft might have been a little surprising to some, it wasn't to WNCC baseball coach Mike Jones. Jones knew his star pitcher was drawing a lot of interest from major league scouts throughout the season, and he couldn't be any happier with where Orta was selected.

"He's a great young man and he definitely deserves it," said Jones, who just completed his fifth season with the Cougars. "He's worked extremely hard since he came here and we knew he was going to get drafted at some point. As the season progressed, and he started getting better, more and more scouts paid attention to him."

In his freshman season with WNCC, Orta made 13 appearances on the mound for the Cougars. He pitched in 62 innings and finished the season with an earned run average of 2.78. He finished with 77 strikeouts, which translated into a lofty average of 9.1 per contest.
What made Orta so difficult for opposing hitters throughout the season was his velocity. His fastball consistently averaged between 88 and 94 miles per hour, and was one of a number of things the scouts fell in love with.

"His ability to throw the ball 92-94 is his biggest strength," Jones said. "Being able to do that, at his age, really bodes well for him. As he gets older, gets more mature and gets stronger, they predict he'll throw even harder."
As happy as Jones is for Orta and his future, he wouldn't mind seeing the Cougar talent return for his sophomore season.

"We've been on the phone a lot lately over the last two weeks," Jones said. "It all depends on the offer that the Mets put together for him. If it's a good opportunity for him, he'll definitely move on and head into professional baseball right away. If he doesn't feel like it's quite the offer that he wants, he'll be back here at WNCC."

By drafting Orta, the Mets have the sole rights to him for a full year. No other team can sign him to a contract or offer him any money until next year's June draft.
"He could go into rookie ball and Class A ball right now and be successful," Jones said. "He's got a lot of talent and he has a chance to be a great player."
The Mets' Class A affiliate is in Brooklyn.

Orta is the first player to be drafted straight out of WNCC. Francisco Leandro, who played with the Cougars in 2002 and 2003, was drafted by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 23rd round of the 2004 draft after transferring to Central Missouri State where he earned NCAA Division II All-American honors.

Jones said WNCC could have another former player drafted in the draft's second day today. Luis Perez, who played with the Cougars the last two seasons, has been contacted by the Devil Rays about the possibility of being selected.


  1. Eduardo S Fernandez5/20/07, 5:44 AM

    Nice Catch Dog !!! Looking forward to following this kid . My brother has been living in Venezuela for the last 25 years . I e-mailed him your article to see if he has any further info for us about him . I will drop it to you if so !

  2. If you do, PM it to one of us at NYFS, please.

  3. Will do bro . I am waiting on him . He is a banker by day but his weekends he spends at his dairy farm so I expect to hear from him today or tomorrow !