Luis Ortiz’s Giant Strides Could Lead To Pirates’ Rotation

At the end of 2021, righthander Luis Ortiz was mowing down Yankees prospects in a start for Low-A Bradenton.

A little over a year later, he held the big league Yankees to one run in five innings in his second MLB start on Sept. 20.

“He’s the same guy whether he is pitching against the New York Yankees or the Tampa Yankees,” Pirates farm director John Baker said.

Ortiz stands in at 6-foot-2, 240 pounds and sports long dreadlocks. It’s impossible to miss his presence on the mound, where he leads the way with two plus offerings, including a fastball that can hit 100 mph.

The 24-year-old makes just as big of an impact off the mound, where he is typically one of the first players out of the dugout to celebrate the accomplishments of his teammates.

Ortiz was named one of the organization’s minor league teammates of the year in 2022. His improvements on the performance side of the game were just as impressive.

After spending 2021 at Low-A, Ortiz entered spring training last year with an improved changeup to pair with his fastball and slider. The Pirates skipped him over High-A and sent him to Double-A Altoona, where he focused on optimizing his fastball.

“Our research and development identified some ways to help him get more miss, and our pitching team created a plan to help him adjust the pitch,” Baker said.

The work started to click by the end of the season. Ortiz was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis in September, and in his final seven minor league starts he logged a 3.08 ERA in 38 innings to go with a 48-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

The Pirates called up Ortiz to start Sept. 13. In four starts he put up a 4.50 ERA in 16 innings.

Ortiz’s fastball sat 98 mph and touched 100 with Pittsburgh. His slider registered a 24% whiff rate and topped out at 90 mph. If there was an obvious flaw, it was that he walked 10 batters.

Ortiz spent the offseason working between the Pirates’ academies in the Dominican Republic and Bradenton, Fla., with the focus of improving his pitches and optimizing his locations.


— The Pirates signed veteran catcher Kevin Plawecki to a minor league deal. They signed Austin Hedges as their starting catcher. Plawecki will go up against Tyler Heineman and Jason Delay for the backup job. Heineman and Delay ended the 2022 season as the starting duo, after an injury-filled year at the position.

Sammy Siani, an outfielder taken in the supplemental first round of the 2019 draft, had a big offseason in Australia. He hit .291/.353/.546 in 39 games, finishing 11th in the league in OPS and tying for fifth with eight homers. Siani spent the 2022 season in High-A Greensboro, where he hit .201/.318/.306 with a 36% strikeout rate. His strikeout rate dropped in winter ball, to go with his improved offensive numbers. Siani should make the jump to Double-A Altoona in 2023.

Comments are closed.

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone