Pittsburgh Pirates: Five Favorable Baseball Savant Statcast Comparisons

Mar 5, 2023; Bradenton, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Carlos Santana (41) bats in
Mar 5, 2023; Bradenton, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Carlos Santana (41) bats in / Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
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Luis Ortiz

Luis Ortiz made his debut late last season but looked excellent in the few starts he was given. Although he gave up eight earned runs in 16 innings, Ortiz struck out 17 while only allowing one home run. Plus, six of the eight earned runs he allowed were in his final outing of the season. 

This was after he had a 4.56 ERA, 4.40 FIP, and 1.14 WHIP in 124.1 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. He struck out 27.1% of the opponents he faced with a walk rate of just 7.5%. Sure, he had a mid-4s ERA, but much of that was due to bad flyball luck. Ortiz had a ground ball rate of 47.8%, but an HR/FB ratio of 17.4%, the 50th highest of all minor league pitchers with 80+ IP. Ortiz's overall batted ball numbers barely changed, so it's safe to say that his HR/9 will decrease going forward. That's especially true given that he is excellent at preventing hard contact (86.1 MPH exit velocity) and getting swings and misses (29.8% whiff rate).

Ortiz averaged out at 98.5 MPH with his fastball, with 16.1 inches of vertical movement and 14.1 inches of horizontal movement. His slider also was a strong pitch, hitting 87.7 MPH with 36.4 inches of vertical break and 4.5 inches of horizontal run. Then there was his change-up with 27.3 inches of drop and 14.9 inches of horizontal movement. It averaged out at 90.9 MPH. All three of his offerings had average or better movement.

Based on Baseball Savant's data, their five comparisons all come from pitchers from this past season and are only based on pitch velocity and movement (no comparisons based on batted ball profiles because of such a small sample size of batted balls). That includes Sandy Alcantara (2.28 ERA/2.99 FIP), Luis Castillo (2.99 ERA/3.07 FIP), Hunter Greene (4.44 ERA/4.37 FIP), Gerrit Cole (3.50 ERA/3.47 FIP), and Jordan Hicks (4.84 ERA/4.17 FIP). Alcantara needs no introduction after winning the 2022 Cy Young Award, and both Cole and Castillo put together excellent 2022 campaigns. After a rough start to his MLB career, Greene had just a 3.65 ERA/3.11 FIP from June onward. Jordan Hicks was by far the worst player among this group, but keep in mind he was used in a role he was unfamiliar with. Hicks started the year in the Cardinals' rotation but struggled horribly. He pitched much better when he came out of the bullpen.

Ortiz has ace potential for multiple reasons, but the player comparisons based on his stuff are very promising. You probably didn't need me to tell you that Ortiz's stuff is off the charts, and he throws the ball just as good as some of the sport's best pitchers, but the data also supports that claim.