After being a bit of a disappointment since the Padres signed him out of Cuba, outfielder Jorge Ona is amid a great start to his 2019 season.
In a season full of firsts and surprises for the Amarillo Sod Poodles, the hot start by 21-year-old outfield prospect Jorge Ona has stood out.
Last season, after signing with the San Diego as an International free agent out of Cuba in 2016-17 and becoming a mid-season all-star in his only season at Fort Wayne, the Padres sent him to his second level where he slashed .239/.312/.380/.692 in 100 games with the Lake Elsinore Storm.
None of those numbers jump off the page in terms of statistics, but the Padres saw enough of the 21-year-old to give him a shot at the Double-A level at the start of 2019. Ona has made the jump from Advanced Single-A Lake Elsinore to Double-A Amarillo, widely considered to be the hardest adjustment in terms of competition between the different levels of the minors, and done it with ease. We have seen an entirely new hitter.
He is a hitter that is tearing up Texas League pitching. Ona has blown previous numbers out of the water, as he is currently slashing .343/.432/.571/ with a 1.003 OPS. Those numbers put the Padres prospect in the top five in every slash (Batting Average/On Base Percentage/Slugging Percentage/On Base Percentage) category in the Texas League while also placing in at least the top eight in home runs and RBI.
One stat that stands out for Ona is that he has been extremely successful at home and on the road. At a glance, someone who knows the Texas League would look at his numbers and assume that the ballpark is the reason for his success while it might be a case while at home, it doesn’t say anything about what he has done away from Hodgetown.
In 12 games at home in Amarillo Ona has posted a .348/.392/.609/ batting line and a 1.001 OPS. In 13 games on the road in other ballparks in the TL, his batting line reads .349/.442/.465/ and a .907 OPS.
So as expected the power numbers away from Hodgetown, where if the wind blows the right way it can turn a pop out into a home run with an Amarillo breeze, are higher at home, but the average has stayed consistent. Ona arguably has been a better overall hitter away from Bomb City.
Jorge Ona’s breakout season comes as a surprise to some, especially considering the stats he posted in his previous two seasons in which nothing jumped out as numbers produced by a potential big leaguer.
Not only is Ona swinging the bat well, but he’s getting the pitches he wants to hit which has resulted in a .417 OBP. You can see his adjustments at the plate, continuously fighting off pitches and making the pitcher work until he gets one he can drive.
It’s as if Jorge Oña’s game goes to another level when the team needs him most. He has the much-underrated ability to be a nuisance to opposing pitchers late in games when they need outs most; He makes them throw pitches, and most importantly they throw strikes. There has been a change in approach at the plate, as not only is Ona seeing more pitches but also there is a change in where he deposits them.
He has dropped his pulled ball percentage down six points to 40%, meaning that he is spreading the ball around the field better so far this year than in previous years. He is spreading the ball to all fields thus far. A year ago his line drive percentage of batted balls sat at 19%, but if we jump to the present, he has upped it to 29% so far through the season.
Despite the numbers, there doesn’t seem to be any change in his swing. It’s still compact. If Ona can continually make at-bats hard on pitchers, he will get better. Padres’ general manager A.J. Preller once compared him to Albert Belle. Ona’s start to 2019 is impressive and, if he can keep it up, he will continue to turn heads and raise eyebrows in an already stacked San Diego system.