Welcome one of our new contributors, Alec Whitaker. His first piece is about young slugger Jhailyn Ortiz, a teen with power and plenty of potential.
The Phillies boast one of the best farm systems in Major League Baseball, and a big reason for that are young studs such as five-tool infielder Scott Kingery, young flamethrower Sixto Sanchez and elite defensive shortstop J.P. Crawford. Although these three top prospects, and others like former first-overall pick Mickey Moniak, garner most of the hype and attention, there is one under the radar prospect you should be excited about.
Jhailyn Ortiz was signed by the Phillies back in 2015 at the ripe age of 16. Ortiz, who hails from the Dominican Republic, was given a healthy $4 million by the team, a large agreement for an unproven teenager. Ortiz did not disappoint from a power standpoint when he first saw action in the Gulf Coast League back in 2016, as the 6’3″, 215-pound slugger belted eight homers in 47 games. Ortiz did struggle to make consistent contact though and hit only .231 with an on-base mark of .325 and an OPS of .758.
Many scouts believed that Ortiz would be a legitimate power hitter limited to first base and would struggle to hit for high average, but then 2017 happened. Ortiz spent the offseason after 2016 working on being a better fielder and getting in better shape, and his hard work paid off as he hit .301 with an OBP of .401 and an OPS of .961 in 47 games while playing for Williamsport in the New York-Penn league. He added eight homers and 15 doubles in 47 games. Not only did his offense improve, but his defense did, as well. Ortiz played 42 games in right field, committing three errors in 61 chances, not a number to brag about, but the fact that he showed he could hold his own in the outfield is important for him and the organization moving forward. The experts also took notice of Ortiz’s big year as the right-handed slugger jumped up the prospect lists (he’s now No. 8 in the system per MLB Pipeline).
Now, Ortiz will enter his first full season as a 19-year-old with a lot to prove. Ortiz must continue to display impressive power without selling out. He’ll have to continue to make consistent contact while working on his walk to strikeout ratio, something the organization greatly values. Ortiz has the early makings of a big time player, and one that should help the Phillies win a lot of games. He most likely will not be a .300 hitter in the majors, but if he can maintain a good contact tool and play solid defense in either right field or first base, then he will have a very successful career.
Ortiz probably won’t step foot in Citizens Bank Park for another three or four years, but the wait may be worth it for the Phillies and their fans.