Pittsburgh Pirates: Analyzing Luis Ortiz’s First Major League Starts
Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospect Luis Ortiz has made a nice first impression, so let’s take a look under the hood at his numbers.
The Pittsburgh Pirates promoted Luis Ortiz earlier this month, and the right-hander has been downright dominant. It’s only been three starts and 15.1 innings, but Ortiz has allowed just two earned runs, has struck out 17 batters and only surrendered five total hits. While he has walked seven, it’s a minor blemish on an overall strong first impression.
Of course, Ortiz is doing it with a blazing fastball. Averaging out at 98.6 MPH, Ortiz is already in the top 98th percentile of fastball velocity. He also has 2383 RPM on his four-seamer, which is in the top 83rd percentile. While Ortiz’s active spin rate is only 95.7%, he’s just one of three total pitchers to be in the 90th+ percentile of fastball velo and 80th+ percentile of fastball spin rate.
Ortiz uses his fastball nearly 60% of the time, with a 58.2% usage rate. His second most used offering is his slider, which he has thrown 36.7% of the time. His slider also has decent spin with 2533 RPM. Impressively, he throws his slider with a ton of gyro spin, having an active spin rate of just 19.7%, which ranks top 50 among all pitchers. He does throw a change-up, but he’s only tossed it 12 times.
Ortiz has always been known for his ability to strike batters out. Aside from his 17 K’s so far, batters have whiffed at his stuff at a 32.1% rate. The league average mark is just 24.7%, so Ortiz is well above that. He’s gotten batters to swing outside the strike zone at a 36.8% rate, which, again, is far better than the league average rate of 32.6%. Even when batters do swing out of the zone, they’ve made contact just 52.8% of the time, 10.7% better than average.
But his 65.6% first-pitch strike rate is arguably the most impressive number among his plate discipline rates. The league average rate is only 60.8%, and anything above 65% is elite. Only 30 total qualified pitchers have a 65%+ first-pitch strike rate. Ortiz is getting ahead of batters quickly and often. He also doesn’t give opponents much time to breathe and prepare, pounding the strike zone with a nine-second tempo between offerings. That’s the 35th fastest time between offerings in baseball right now (min. 60 pitches thrown).
In the event that batters are making contact, they are not making hard contact vs. Ortiz. If Ortiz had enough innings to qualify, his 85.3 MPH exit velocity and 29.7% hard-hit rate would rank top 15 among all pitchers. On top of that, he has a solid 44.1% ground ball rate and 16.7% line-drive rate. Opponents have not yet managed to have a single barreled ball against him (which means a batted ball with a minimum exit velocity of 98 MPH and launch angle in the 26-30 degree range).
Of course, it’s all in a small sample size of just three games and 15.1 innings. But the results so far have been extremely promising. Ortiz is proving he can be a major league starting pitcher. He’ll look to get an extended look next season for the major league team and hopefully is pitching alongside the likes of Roansy Contreras, Mike Burrows, and Quinn Priester by the time summer 2023 rolls around.