Ortiz Eyes the Future
FRISCO—Luis Ortiz is one focused young man. Despite playing in Frisco’s Dr Pepper Ballpark, a venue that has its man-made own river (The Lazy River) just beyond the right field fence, the Rangers’ 20-year-old No. 4 prospect (per mlb.com) is focused on one thing – pitching.
A right-handed starter from California, Ortiz was the 30th pick in the 2014 draft who signed for $1.75 million. He was a 2015 South Atlantic League All-Star with Low Single-A Hickory despite missing two months with a strained flexor muscle. In 13 starts with the Crawdads, he was 4-1 with a 1.80 ERA, 46 strikeouts and just nine walks.
Ortiz started 2016 with High Single-A High Desert of the California League, and in seven games (six starts) for the Mavericks he was 3-2 with a 2.60 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP, 28 strikeouts and only six walks.
He was promoted to Frisco in late May, making his Double-A debut on May 23 at San Antonio, going six innings, allowing one run on seven hits, walking one and striking out six. Ortiz only needed 80 pitches – throwing 60 strikes – to win his Roughrider debut.
Ortiz has now made four Double-A starts and has pitched well, but knows his transition to the Texas League remains ongoing. “The batters here are tougher to face. They have an approach every time they go up to the plate,” Ortiz said. “Coming from Hickory and High Desert, [you’re] trying to show that you can pitch, hit your spots. [Hitters are] more aggressive over there. Here they’re looking for a pitch they want.”
Ortiz features an arsenal of a fastball, which was reportedly hitting around 98 against the Missions in his Frisco debut, along with a slider and changeup. Naturally, he leans on his fastball, but is also very comfortable throwing both secondary pitches in any count and in any situation. “It’s basically whenever I want to throw it, I throw it,” Ortiz said of both his slider and changeup. “I let the catcher call the game.”
Besides working to become a better pitcher with each subsequent start, he is also working on his conditioning, extra important since some feel extra weight on his 6-3 frame is why he was injured in 2015. And Ortiz is hoping to ensure that he stays healthy for the entire 2016 campaign. He’s also now a father, giving him further impetus to work even harder.
“Yeah, I’ve been conditioning more every day, not taking the day for granted,” Ortiz said. “Having a little one opened my eyes more, made me grow up more and realize that it [realizing my dream of pitching in the big leagues] is not that far away.”
Ortiz knows how blessed he is to already reach Frisco, but even as many of his new teammates have already taken the Lazy River for a test float or two, he has not. But that doesn’t mean he won’t. “No, I haven’t, not yet,” Ortiz said. “Oh yeah, of course [I’m going to try out the river].”