Scouting Yankees Prospect #48: Javier Ortiz

The New York Yankees signed right handed pitcher, Javier Ortiz as an international free agent in 1996 out of Cartagena, Columbia as a 16 year old. Ortiz played his 2004 season with the Trenton Thunder with some time in AAA Columbus as well. Despite an up and down career, the Yankees are still high on Ortiz' arm and his good repertoire. It's these reasons that he's our #48 Yankees' prospect.

Vital Statistics
Name: Javier Ortiz
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: November 28, 1979
Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 155
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
How Acquired: The New York Yankees signed right handed pitcher, Javier Ortiz as an international free agent in 1996 out of Cartagena, Columbia.

Maybe Javier Ortiz is not exactly the ideal prospect as a far as consistency and overall performance, but there is still a lot about him to give people hope for his future. The Yankees signed him all the way back in the the fall of 1996, which seems like so many years ago. However, after all these years of bouncing around in the Yankee organization, Ortiz is still yet to turn 25 years old and has played AAA ball. Considering the fact that he was signed at the ripe age of 16, it can be figured that Ortiz has now spent 8 seasons in the Yankee organization, 6 of them on US soil. Yankee scouts fell in love with the right arm of Javier Ortiz when they ventured into the less frequently scouted, Columbia. He showed a live arm at that age, throwing in the upper 80's with good movement and the potential to develop off speed stuff. It didn't take long for Yankee scouts to sign him up and assign him to the Yankees Dominican Summer League team. He would eventually spend two seasons there, showing progressive improvement. 1999 would be the season that the Yankees would decide that their highly touted 19 year old was ready to come and pitch on US soil. However, things did not go according to plan right away for the organization or Javier Ortiz.

The performance of Javier Ortiz in his first two and a half seasons was nothing short of a colossal disappointment. The Yankees expected some pretty big things from their Columbian righthander but he just seemed to hit a wall. Javier tossed 50.2 innings in his first season, getting lit up for a 5.68 ERA with high walk totals and low strikeout totals. Whatever could go wrong did go wrong and that didn't change for the next two seasons. Ortiz would return to the Gulf Coast League two more times but only amassed a total of 6.1 innings pitched. The rest of the time, he was sitting out due to injuries that plagued his 2000 and 2001 seasons. However, at the age of 21, the wiry righty came back at the end of the 2001 season after being promoted to Staten Island and threw 13.2 innings with an ERA of 1.98. This would set the tone for an Ortiz comeback in which he would have an excellent 2002 season. In 2002, Ortiz split time between Tampa and Greensboro, racking up an unheard of 177 innings pitched. He went 13-8 with a 3.66 ERA, becoming a workhorse for both pitching staffs. But, the consistency would not last for Ortiz as he hit a wall in AA Trenton in 2003. Ortiz posted an ugly 5.76 ERA and was simply smacked around all year long. The righthander gave up 181 hits in 150 innings pitched, mostly because of lack of command of his fastball.

The 2004 season would would be a make or break season for Javier Ortiz, at least the Yankees thought it would be. Ortiz would become a free agent after the season and the Yankees were going to base their decision to keep him or not on his 2004 performance. However, when the season ended, it was hard to make that decision. In fact, they probably came out of the season more undecided than when the season began. Ortiz started 2004 in AA Trenton where he had a solid stint with the Thunder after a poor showing there in 2003. The Columbian righty posted a 4.11 ERA but the important thing was that his walk totals were down along with the hit totals against him. The Yankees decided to test him late in the season by pushing the 24 year old to AAA Columbus. However, the plan blew up in everyone's face. Javier was hammered against more advanced AAA hitters and it was really a blow to his psyche. So, now, which Javier Ortiz do the Yankees think they would get if they resigned the soon to be 25 year old? Most signs seem to say that the Yankees will retain him but his inconsistency is certainly a point of concern along with his high strung emotions on the mound. But, the Yankees might want to keep this live arm for a little while longer because Ortiz still has the potential to bloom into an excellent pitcher.











DSL Yankees








1998 DSL Yankees 6-3 0 66.0 50 30 66 2.32


GCL Yankees








2000 GCL Yankees 0-0 0 2.1 3 1 2 7.71
2001 GCL Yankees 0-0 0 4.0 1 1 2 0.00
2001 Staten Island 1-1 0 13.2 11 4 12 1.98
2002 Tampa Yankees 4-3 0 50.0 47 13 35 2.52
2002 Greensboro 9-5 0 127.0 128 25 63 4.11
2003 Trenton 6-11 0 150.0 181 71 91 5.76
2004 Trenton 6-7 0 105.1 110 33 77 4.10










Repertoire. Four seam fastball, Two seam fastball, Curveball, Changeup

Fastball. Javier Ortiz has always had a very live arm, and that is one of the primary reasons the Yankees have stuck with him for so long. Javier throws his heater between 91-93 MPH, pitching around 92 MPH. Also, the important thing about Ortiz is the good sink he gets on his two seam fastball. He has become a very good groundball pitcher in the last couple seasons as his movement has gotten even better. However, it is sometimes his location that gets him in trouble. If he leaves his sinking fastball up in the zone, it will get hammered and that is where you see some of those bloated ERA's he has posted in his career. It is the same case with his less used four seam fastball. Whenever he tries to muscle his fastball by a batter, he gets knocked around. Ortiz needs to calm himself down, control his emotions and let his movement take over rather that trying to blow it by the batter.

Other Pitches. Ortiz has live stuff and a good repertoire which obviously includes his curveball and his changeup. Javier has a good 12 to 6 hook that is usually in the mid 70 MPH range. However, with that slower curveball, he can't afford to hang it out over the plate. But oddly enough, he seems to have very good command of his breaking ball and doesn't give up an abnormal amount of long balls. He has the ability to locate his fastball but he only needs to be sure not to fall in love with this pitch. The case is just the same for his changeup as well. Ortiz has developed the pitch over the last few seasons and it has served him well. Especially for this pitch, Ortiz needs to control his emotions and not try to overthrow it.

Pitching. What it all boils down to to in the troubles of Javier Ortiz is command of his fastball. His off speed stuff has developed very well over the past few years but he runs into most of his problems when he leaves his two seam fastball up and out over the plate. Most of this occurs in a bout of frustration for Ortiz who is a tremendously emotional hurler. Sometimes his frustration gets the best of him after a call by an umpire or a play in the field. However, when he is composed and has his sinker working, Javier can be about as tough as they come. Primarily, he is a groundball pitcher who, despite throwing pretty hard, does not strike a lot of guys out mainly because he does not have one dominating pitch. But, if he gets on a roll and locates his fastball, he can produce a lot of weak ground balls.

Projection. It looks like the Columbian born, Javier Ortiz could be a legitimate Major League starting pitcher as he will likely start the 2004 in AAA. However, it seems highly unlikely that it will be with the Yankees. As an emotional young pitcher that battles through inconsistency before settling in, the likelihood of the Yankees having some patience with him seems very slim. With the good stuff Ortiz has, he will someday get a shot with an MLB team but probably not with the Yankees.

ETA. Late 2005. Assuming that the New York Yankees re-sign Javier Ortiz, he is going to be an important part of the Columbus Clippers 2005 starting rotation. If he follows his career pattern and adjusts to his new league, he could have a shot of a September callup in 2005.

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