Prospect Watch: Luis Ortiz Pitches Well in Return; Indianapolis and Altoona Lose on Walk-Off Hits

Greensboro’s Nick Garcia came into this week with a 4.91 ERA in his first 25.2 innings this season. He faced Asheville on Tuesday and shut them out for five innings. They will get a second chance against him on Sunday, as he looks to lower his ERA under the 4.00 mark. Luis Ortiz returns from his four-game suspension today to get the start for Altoona. Indianapolis has a very late start for a Sunday game, so be sure to rejoin us later. I’ll update their starter when it becomes available.

TRIPLE-A: INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS

P2Daily: Indianapolis Week on Pirates Prospects

Game Time: 6:07 PM

Box Score: LINK

Starting Pitcher: Matt Eckelman (0-3, 12.89)

  • Final Line:  2 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO

Notable Performances:

Oneil Cruz 2-for-4, HR, RBI, HBP

Travis Swaggerty 0-for-4, BB

Ji-hwan Bae 2-for-5, 3B, 2 RBI

Mason Martin, 1-for-4, HR, RBI, BB

Canaan Smith-Njigba 2-for-3, 2 BB

Game Recap:

Matt Eckelman got the start on Sunday, working on a limited pitch count. He gave up two runs in the second inning, but both runs were unearned due to errors by Oneil Cruz and Cole Tucker. Eckelman allowed just one hit and no walks in his two innings. He gave way to John O’Reilly in the third inning and he got roughed up, allowing five runs (four earned) in 1.1 innings. Cam Alldred, Cristofer Melendez and Eric Hanhold combined for 3.2 shutout frames. Hunter Stratton allowed an unearned run in the ninth for the 8-7 loss. Oneil Cruz started the scoring by leading off the game with his seventh homer. He also had a single and HBP, though he committed two costly errors, giving him seven errors this week alone, and 15 on the season. Indianapolis added a second run on a Cole Tucker bases loaded walk in the first. Ji-hwan Bae added an RBI ground out to make it 3-0 in the second. Bae hit an RBI triple (his third) in the fourth inning, making it a 5-4 deficit at the time. Bligh Madris brought home a run on his sixth double. Mason Martin made it a 7-6 game in the ninth with his 11th homer. Cole Tucker tied the game with his first double for Indianapolis. Canaan Smith-Njigba had two hits, two walks and scored two runs.

DOUBLE-A: ALTOONA CURVE

P2Daily: It’s Altoona Curve Week on Pirates Prospects

Game Time: 1:00 PM

Box Score: LINK

Starting Pitcher: Luis Ortiz (1-2, 5.06)

  • Final Line:  6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 SO

Notable Performances:

Jared Triolo 3-for-4

Nick Gonzales 2-for-5, RBI

Liover Peguero 1-for-4, RBI

Lolo Sanchez 1-for-3, RBI, BB

Connor Scott 0-for-4

Game Recap:

Altoona lost 5-4 on Sunday, as Enmanuel Mejia gave up a two-run two-out double in the bottom of the ninth for the walk-off defeat. Luis Ortiz started for the Curve and put in six solid innings, allowing two runs on three hits, with no walks and six strikeouts. He was a strike-throwing machine in this game, pump in 54 strikeouts on 69 pitches. He missed four games this week serving a suspension for a brawl that happened last Sunday. He now has a 4.74 ERA in 38 innings, with 46 strikeouts. Omar Cruz came in to finish it out and he gave up a run in the seventh and another in the ninth after he was pulled in favor of Mejia. The Curve scored their first run in the third inning on the eighth double of the season from Nick Gonzales. Liover Peguero followed with an RBI single. In the eighth inning, Lolo Sanchez hit an RBI single and Andres Alvarez had a sacrifice fly. Jared Triolo had three singles and two runs scored.

HIGH-A: GREENSBORO GRASSHOPPERS

P2Daily: It’s Greensboro Grasshoppers and Matt Gorski Week on Pirates Prospects

Game Time: 1:05 PM

Box Score: LINK

Starting Pitcher: Nick Garcia (2-1, 4.11)

  • Final Line:  4.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO

Notable Performances:

Sammy Siani 0-for-3, 2 BB, SB

Dariel Lopez 1-for-4, 2B

Endy Rodriguez 1-for-4

Abrahan Gutierrez 1-for-3, BB

Fabricio Macias 2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI

Jack Herman 2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI

Maikol Escotto 0-for-4

Game Recap:

Greensboro lost 8-4 to Asheville on Sunday. Nick Garcia got his second start of the week and couldn’t match his five shutout innings from Tuesday. He went 4.1 innings, allowing two runs on six hits, with no walks and four strikeouts. He ERA remained the same as when he started (4.11) and he now has 39 strikeouts in 35 innings. Wandi Montout got the last two outs of the fifth. Santiago Florez followed with two runs over 1.2 innings. Cam Junker faced four batters to get the final two outs of the seventh and all four reached base and scored. Ricky DeVito closed it out on the pitching side with 1.1 scoreless. Jack Herman hit a two-run homer, his third of the season. Fabricio Macias hit a two-run double. Dariel Lopez hit his fifth double. Sammy Siani stole his ninth base. Macias and Siani each picked up outfield assists.

LOW-A: BRADENTON MARAUDERS

BRADENTON MARAUDERS WEEK: 5/31

Game Time: 12:00 PM

Box Score: LINK

Starting Pitcher: Jake Sweeney (0-0, 4.63)

  • Final Line: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO

Notable Performances:

Sergio Campana 1-for-2, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB

Rodolfo Nolasco 1-for-4, 2 RBI

Jase Bowen 1-for-4

Juan Jerez 0-for-4

Alexander Mojica 0-for-2, 2 BB

Deivis Nadal 1-for-2, HBP

Game Recap:

Jake Sweeney got the Sunday start for Bradenton and pitched well, allowing one run on three hits, a walk and four strikeouts in five innings. He threw 61 pitches, with 41 going for strikes. He now has a 4.13 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 28.1 innings this season. Nick Mears followed with his second rehab appearance. He needed just 13 pitches to get through a scoreless inning with two strikeouts. He did walk a batter, but all of his pitches to the other three batters were strikes. Yunior Thibo tossed a scoreless seventh. Denny Roman allowed an unearned run in the eighth, and Johan Montero got the save with 1.1 scoreless, as the Marauders took the 4-2 victory. Bradenton had two big hits in the game. Rodolfo Nolasco started the scoring with a two-run single in the third. In the fifth, Sergio Campana added two runs with his first homer of the year. He also drew two walks in this game. Bradenton had five hits in the game and Campana’s was the lone extra-base hit.

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dbsteel

You tell Cruz that they bring him up as an outfielder, but if he wants to be a SS, they keep him down until he gets better.

ironmike56

Ortiz is very impressive in person. He works faster than the clock requires, has a very clean and simple delivery, and is borderline intimidating. I’m timing my Altoona trips to make sure I catch hos starts.

AdministrativeSky236

Think he is pitching better than his numbers indicate?

zebug

Hoping Cruz isn’t injured. Post gazette is reporting he was pulled from the game due to an ankle injury, not just a defensive replacement.

JimEastTennessee

7 Es in a week, 15 on the season…looks like a DH, OF and (gasp, what a waste of an arm if he can’t handle the OF) 1st base

tedwins

I see Stratton got the loss for Pgh and Indy, tough day for that name🤷‍♂️😅

Mblee24

When does bae and Cruz come up. I think easy to swap them for Castro and park right now.

Cruz can be DH or play outfield.

AdministrativeSky236

The bat is definitely picking up, but cruz with 2 more errors today to put him at 15 for the year. That’s gotta be borderline unplayable at the mlb right? SS isn’t really a position you put someone to hide them

ArkyWags

It’s not borderline. It’s unplayable. But they should play him there this year when he comes up. And give him an OF glove after this year and tell him that’s where you’re going, kid. I see NO point in calling him up and have him trying to learn a new position while trying to hit big league pitching.

Last edited 3 months ago by ArkyWags
NMR

We’re clearly looking at a young, immature player. He’s 23, it should be expected.

What can we expect his focus at the plate to be like as the worst shortstop in all of baseball?

How many errors is he gonna be able to leave in the field when playing in front of 20k butts?

The most humane thing to do for his development was move him a year ago, the second most humane thing for him will be to move him now.

Last edited 3 months ago by NMR
ArkyWags

You think his focus will be better at the plate while learning a new position? I’ll disagree with that. Big league pitching is a tough enough nut to crack that I think jerking him to a new position when he’s called up is foolish.

He seems to be doing an ok job of leaving the errors out on the field now while he’s hit six dongs in May.

I certainly agree they should have moved him before. And it pretty much has to be done. But I think it’s best to do it with a full off-season. Not now.

NMR

Look dude, Oneil Cruz still clearly has work to do toward “learning to play” shortstop. I don’t even understand what that phrase means.

They’re not asking him to be a catcher for chissakes, not even a centerfielder.

Can you explain what exactly you even think would be so stressful about such a move?

If he tracks fly balls like he fields shortstop then the answer is he stays in AAA until learning to play some position competently.

But if he’s comfortable enough to make most of the plays he’s supposed to, I think you’re wildly discounting the overall decrease in stress we’re talking about as a big league right fielder vs a big league shortstop.

ArkyWags

I’ve seen enough of this org putting infielders like Adam Frazier and Cole Tucker into the outfield on a whim to think it’s a bad idea with Cruz. Or anyone. You’re acting like moving from the infield to the outfield is no big deal. We’ve seen examples on this here team that it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

A potential side issue: given how Cruz feels about the outfield, I think they’re gonna need to take some time to get some buy in from him. Because they’ve let him play short so long he believes he can (we can both agree he can’t). Which is, of course, the organizations fault.

I think Cruz is potentially a big part of their future. With big league pitching being tougher than ever to hit, it feels like a mid season position change at the highest level adds an extra layer of difficulty. So if they want him to play outfield, put him there now in Indy (why that hasn’t been done already is anyones guess).

NMR

I’m very much not calling it “no big deal”, I’m simply willing to consider that playing a shitty shortstop itself is a very big deal.

What you’re saying is that you’re not worried about him learning outfield, you’re worried about the quality of his outfield play. That sure as hell applies to shortstop, TOO!

The question then becomes, what’s the bigger stressor? Relatively hidden in COF, or the highest-demand infield position on the diamond?

To your point about feels, I could not agree more, and I also cannot fathom a scenario in which allowing him to continue playing the position at the highest level with an ultimate plan to pull the rug out from under him actually satiates any sort of issues on his end. That couldn’t be further from reality, IMO.

“Yes, we’re responsible for causing him to be reticent to move by waiting this long.”

“….but if we just wait a little longer…”

Nah, I’ll pass.

NMR

Also, Adam Frazier was a positive-value outfield defender. How is that evidence of bad strategic thinking?

He’s a better second baseman, but if that logic applied to Oneil we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Buxton, Hamilton, Gordon…it’s not even particularly notable when up-the-middle defenders flip IF/OF.

AdministrativeSky236

I agree, I dont think an in season move is the best idea. Not sure where he will be able to find time at the MLB level, I guess a combo of DH, SS, and maybe occasionally in the outfield? But realistically this offseason we tell him to buy an outfielders glove and think of himself as a right fielder at the MLB level and he will make the team out of camp. Newman/castillo can hold down short until peguero comes up middle of next year

TNBucs

With his hitting I was thinking he was getting close to a call-up but then had the same thought as you when reading about the errors–he’s not playable at SS in the majors right now. So what do you do with him? Keep running him out there at SS to see if he can fix his throwing problems? Try him at 2B? Move him to OF for good?

Mblee24

Yeah he has to be move imo. They need a DH and OF right now so put him there for now.

PirateRican21

Ortiz is not a finished product, nor should he be, but he is aa very promising arm, hoping that he makes it to Pittsburgh sometime next year.

AdministrativeSky236

We have a few intriguing arms that arent having the best results so far, hoping one or two put it together so we have some more pitching help at the major league level soon

agent00

nolasco…only player who can hit in bradenton right now!

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