MARIETTA, Ga. - Luis Ortiz brought his entire five-pitch arsenal to work with him today at the 2013 18u WWBA National Championship as he threw five perfect innings to earn the win for the San Diego Show.
That’s right, the 6-foot-3 205-pound 17-year-old California native has five pitches, all of which he can throw with unparalleled accuracy and precision.
“I throw a palmball, a circle change, a slider, a curveball, and a fastball,” Ortiz mentioned. When asked what his favorite two-strike pitch is he replied, “I like my slider. It works a lot.”
It seemed to everyone watching him throw this afternoon, including the countless number of scouts with their eyes glued to their radar guns, that much more than just his slider ‘works a lot.’
The hard-throwing right-hander threw five perfect innings before being yanked due to pitch count limitations. He made the most of his five innings, throwing just 50 pitches, 41 for strikes. That’s an 82-percent strike rate, in case you were wondering.
“He just came out there throwing strikes,” said assistant coach Luis Lorenzana. “Obviously, we all know what he brings to the table, but his command of every pitch (and) his demeanor coming out is what makes him that much more impressive.”
His effortless release has the ball screaming to the plate at 95 mph, sitting between 91-93 mph. Four off-speed pitches Ortiz also throws kept opposing hitters off balance all game. Ortiz ended his perfect outing with seven strikeouts.
Ortiz keeps the ball down in the zone and isn’t afraid to attack hitters inside, which makes him that much harder to hit. He was able to get seven groundouts, compared to just one flyout.
“He’s one of the premier arms in the ’14 class,” said Perfect Game scout Jheremy Brown.
“It was cool. He’s pretty on today,” said travel ball teammate Rowdy Tellez, a first baseman who played in the Perfect Game All-American Classic last year. Tellez said he has never faced Ortiz before, but has seen him pitch in California and was very impressed with his stuff.
The jaw-dropping command, break, and velocity of his pitches don’t all come to him without hard work. The fireballer recently worked to drop 40 pounds. He went from 245-pounds to 205-pounds and instantly saw the benefits. “I saw the velocity was picking up and I was hitting my spots and my other stuff was starting to work,” Ortiz said.
“He comes to the park with a workman’s-like mentality and at this level and beyond everyone has a talent, everyone can throw the baseball hard for the most part, but what he brings to the table, his demeanor, that’s what makes special pitchers,” Lorenzana said.
“Every time I step on that mound I gotta give 110-percent,” Ortiz added. “When I go out there it’s just me and my catcher and we just have fun. That’s what the game is all about; just having fun.”
The kid with a slingshot arm has had a loud 2013 campaign thus far, opening a lot of eyes when he was at the Perfect Game National Showcase earlier in June that is sure to catapult his national ranking up close to the top.
After a stellar outing on Day 1 of the PG National in Minneapolis, one scouting report read:
“Ortiz pitched aggressively, showing good feel for both his 93-95 fastball and his 82-84 slider. He has easy arm strength and speed, and wasn't afraid to throw his slider, going right after hitters.”
Although his performance didn’t let him show it, Ortiz admits he was nervous at first when pitching in front of so many scouts, but claims he has gotten past that.
“Now scouts are just regular people,” said Ortiz. “(They are) regular guys with radars and that’s it and you just do your part on the mound.”
Despite the nerves, Ortiz was happy to be in attendance and said he learned a lot from being in the Metrodome for the National.
“It was a great experience going out there and competing against the best players in the U.S. It can’t get any better,” Ortiz said. “You’re playing the top level and those are guys you’re gonna see later down the road.”
Surely, Ortiz will see top-caliber competition very often in his baseball future. He is a top-caliber player himself. After all, how many 17-year-olds can say that draw a crowd when throwing a bullpen?