Pittsburgh Pirates: Luis Ortiz was Bringing the Heat

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates called up one of their more intriguing pitching prospects for the doubleheader yesterday.  He was borderline dominant.

Yes, it was just 1 start with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Yes, it was against a team who is also at the bottom of the standings.  Still, that should not take anything away from what Luis Ortiz was able to do in last night’s game.  The team’s 15th-ranked prospect according to FanGraphs looked as if he should be ranked much higher.

Ortiz had a really good start against a decent Cincinnati Reds lineup. He pitched 5.2 innings and only allowed 1 hit.  He did not give up a single run and struck out 5 opposing hitters.  Obviously really impressive numbers.

The velocity and run his fastball had were unbelievable, but scouting reports he had power stuff, so not a complete surprise. However, the most impressive and surprising part of the start made by Ortiz was his ability to hold his velocity deep into a game.

Ortiz hit 100 miles per hour multiple times, posting at least 6 pitches at 100 or higher.  He was also riding 98-99 into his 6th inning of work.  This was a question.  Would Ortiz be able to keep his power stuff late into games?  He definitely showed that last night.

The biggest question regarding his future with the Pittsburgh Pirates will be whether or not he can make it as a starter or is better served in the bullpen.  It is pretty clear that his fastball-slider combination will give him a lot of upside as a reliever.  However, his ability to command those pitches will matter just as much.

His command did start to slip some in the later innings.  He walked 2 hitters in the 5th inning, his toughest inning.  However, he escaped it with a double-play ball to end the inning.  Then he started the 6th inning and recorded 2 outs.  He walked another hitter in the inning and was taken out of the game.

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The good news is it took him a while to start to lose command in the zone.  This seems like something he will improve on if he continues to start and get that opportunity to pitch deep into those games.  Ortiz was sent back to Triple-A, as he was the extra man for the doubleheader.  Hopefully, we will see him again by the end of the year.