Hobbs High School product gets off to fast start this summer

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FARMINGTON — David Ortega ventured out from one corner of New Mexico to the other, and he continues to send nice, opposite-field shots into the distance.

The Farmington Frackers center fielder and 2017 Hobbs High School graduate is making solid contact particularly against outside-corner pitches, something he said he’s significantly improved on in the last year and a half.

Ortega said he’s tucking his hands closer to his shoulders in his stance and is using his legs more to establish a strong base in the batter’s box.

“That helps me get everything I can into the ball and stay level through (my swing),” Ortega said. “My hands were (initially) out far from my body. I was really relying on rotating. I feel like when my hands are closer to my body, I can hit the outside pitch as well as the inside pitch, just as hard.”

Ortega said he’s better able to make contact from behind the ball when he’s “closed and compact” with his swing.

“I have a lot of room for contact. It gives me more power,” Ortega said. “I’d love to be able to hit a ball to (the) shortstop and beat it out, come out the next at-bat with runners in scoring position and just hit one over the fence.”

After hitting .411 in 2017 and .455 his freshman year at New Mexico Junior College, his confidence keeps swelling. He’s currently hitting .500 with one RBI, one stolen base and four runs scored with the offense-happy Frackers (4-0).

“He’s not afraid to take a fastball the other way instead of just being a pull monkey and hooking it down the line. Any time you can take a fastball to (the opposite side) on command, you know you’re going to be a good hitter,” Frackers coach Jared Holley said.

When he's hitting the ball with more force, Ortega said opposing defenders have less time to react quickly and make a play for a quick out. Since he already possessed stellar speed upon making contact, it’s buying him more time to turn a hard-hit single into a double.

“I think that goes a long way to bettering my swing, too. You start spreading the ball more, using the whole field,” Ortega said. “Every time I hit it to the outfield, I’m looking for second base right out of the gate.”

And playing at 5,400 feet above sea level will further aid Ortega in crushing it further.

“We’re definitely going to see some pop out of that swing,” Holley said.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.

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