Came back after missing the COVID year and put on 15 pounds of a good weight that some him hitting the ball with authority before a left labrum tear shut him down prematurely. Still, his intriguing mix of good defense up the middle and a developing stick brings him in at #19.
Age (as of Jun 30th) : 22
2021 Level: A+/AA
Tools (current/future value)
Game Power: 40/45
Raw Power: 45/50
Most Likely Future Role: Utility infielder
Ceiling: 2nd Division Starting shortstop
What we know: No player came back looking more different after missing the year from COVID than Joey Ortiz who packed on 15 pounds or muscle and came back hitting the ball with authority. Drafted in the 5th round of the 2019 draft, Ortiz was known for his glove, but the stick was a question mark and his short Aberdeen debut did little to offset those concerns.
He was the first name mentioned this spring by Orioles officials when minor league camp opened up and he showed the Orioles were right by aggressively starting him in A+ by putting up a 30.5# line drive rate and a 123wRC+ in a tough hitting park at Aberdeen. After just 19 games he was promoted to AA where his ISO shot to .233 in the more hitter friendly Prince George’s stadium in Bowie. He hit the ball with good authority in AA but just 16 games into his Double-A season, he hurt his shoulder and ended up missing the rest of the season after under going labrum surgery.
Playing on the same teams as SS Jordan Westburg and Cadyn Grenier (Best defensive SS in the system), Ortiz was moved around by the Orioles playing 2B and 3B as well as SS and he played all three well. His range and arm strength made him a plus defender at 2B and he solidly handled the hot corner. At shortstop he has plenty of range and average arm strength to play there on a regular basis, but his versatility might make him better at moving around a bit.
What we don’t know: While it was not his throwing shoulder, how will he recover from labrum surgery? Can he hit upper level velocity and offspeed pitches?
What we think: Ortiz was becoming a nice story and might have ended up higher on the list had he complete the year healthy. He’s most likely ticketed to AA to start next season but with both Jordan Westburg and Gunnar Henderson most likely starting there, he may have to move around defensively once again. Ortiz does have the upside of being an every day shortstop but he most likely will settle in as a solid utility infielder.