Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Pitching Breakout Candidates for 2023

Sep 13, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Luis Ortiz (75) pitches against the Cincinnati Reds in the first inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 13, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Luis Ortiz (75) pitches against the Cincinnati Reds in the first inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports /
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PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 25: Luis Ortiz #75 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch in the first inning during the game against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on September 25, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 25: Luis Ortiz #75 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch in the first inning during the game against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on September 25, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Starting pitcher Luis Ortiz

During the month of September, Luis Ortiz made his MLB debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The hard throwing righty made four starts while pitching 16 innings during the 2022 season’s final month.

Through his first three MLB starts Ortiz pitched 15.1 innings, allowing 2 earned runs on five hits, seven walks and 17 strikeouts. In his final start of the season he recorded just two outs while allowing 6 earned runs. When the dust settled, Ortiz owned a 4.50 ERA, 3.68 FIP, 14.5% walk rate and a 24.6% strikeout rate.

The season Ortiz put tougher led to him shooting up prospect boards. This includes FanGraphs now ranking Ortiz as the 4th best prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system, and the 50th best prospect in all of baseball.

Looking ahead to 2023, Ortiz should enter spring training with a legitimate chance of cracking the team’s starting rotation. Even if Ortiz starts the season with Triple-A Indianapolis, he should join the Pirate starting rotation early in the 2023 season as he appears to be a budding building block for the team’s rotation long-term.

Ortiz possesses a power fastball that sits in the high-90s and regularly touches 100 MPH. He also throws a wipeout slider. While developing a third pitch would be huge for his long-term success, the two pitches that Ortiz does have are so good that he may not need a third pitch to find success.

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