We continue our countdown of top prospects here at The Good Phight, counting backwards from 20 to our top prospect.
Jhailyn Ortiz, R/R, 23 years old
Ortiz repeated High-A to start 2021, the same level where he hit about 20 bombs but reached base at a sub-.300 clip in ’19. Now 22, he dominated there (.262/.358/.521, though with a 28% K% and .378 BABIP) while continuing to play defense in the outfield, including part-time in center field. He still hasn’t played first base in an affiliated game, so while we’ve had Ortiz projected there since the day he signed, now that he’s on the 40-man roster it’s time to change course and project him to the outfield. While staying there lowers the offensive bar Ortiz would need to clear to profile as a big leaguer, his hit tool is still below what we think fits in an everyday capacity in the outfield. We liken Ortiz to the Kyle Blanks/Christian Walker-type hitters in the Quad-A/low-end corner area, the sorts of bats who tend to find roster equilibrium in an org that has a playing time opportunity rather than forcing their way into their parent club’s plans.
Jay: 11, Ethan: 14, Alex: 15
Sometimes, prospects take a while to develop. After all, as many people would tell you, development isn’t linear. We’ve been spoiled by the fact that so many international prospects lately have seemingly entered the major leagues at an incredibly young age and not only acclimated, but taken a leap once there. Names like Juan Soto and Ronald Acuna are not only examples of this, they’re examples that the Phillies will have to play 36 times a year for the foreseeable future. It makes one jealous that the Phillies have not been able to develop such a player even though they have had some success at developing those international signings.
Ortiz was the guy that the Phillies shelled out big money for, signing for $4.2 million in 2015. He came to the states the following year and proceeded to hit well, drilling 16 home runs over two seasons in short season ball. Since then, he had stagnated, barely hitting .200 in 2019 though he was still only 20 years old that season. He wasn’t getting on base at all and was striking out over 30% of the time. The lost year of development in 2020 did seem to help him reset as he came back in 2021 and hit much better, lowering his strikeout rate and increasing his walk rate. The power returned, his calling card out of the international market and things seem to be getting on track.
As the report mentioned, he’s now on the 40-man roster, so some decisions are going to have to be made about Ortiz. The team will likely want to see how he does in Double-A Reading before making any real decisions, but the fact that he seems to have rebuilt some of his prospect status is big for the team. He could prove useful in the event injuries decimate their major league team, or he could be used as a piece in a trade if another team is willing to give him a shot soon. He’s kind of stuck right now behind a certain MVP in Philadelphia, but if he continues to progress, hitting like he did last season, the team will find somewhere for him.