Jhailyn Ortiz is the Phuture Phillies’ Readers’ #13 Pick.
Jhailyn David Ortiz was born in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic. His parents are Feliz Manuel Ortiz and Francesca Rosada. His father, a tailor, played organized baseball in the Dominican Republic. He has two siblings. One, Geury, was signed by the Phillies in 2015 and pitched in the DSL. He pitched in the GCL and for Williamsport in 2016 before being released in March 2017.
Sal Agostinelli had heard rumors of a 12-year-old Ortiz beating adults in a home run derby in a neighboring town while on a scouting trip. Soon after, Ortiz signed on at buscone Baltazar Mesa’s baseball academy. He remained there until he signed with Agostinelli, Carlos Salas (Scout Director for the DR), and the Phillies 5 years later.
Mesa was a key connection in a world where the buscones have a lot of influence where a player signs. He is the brother of Jose Mesa who pitched for the Phillies in 2001-03. He saved 112 games (2nd behind Papelbon’s 123), 45 in 2002 (still #1 in a season).
Salas had remained in contact with Ortiz, his family, and Mesa, developing a relationship with the family. Jose Mesa told his brother and the Ortiz family that the Phillies were a very good organization. His words helped a lot. When he signed, Ortiz stated he had chosen the Phillies because “They are more than a team. They’re like a family to me.”
This is true. As I mentioned above, his older brother was already in the Phillies system.
After signing, Ortiz spent two months with Manny Amador in the Dominican, playing in the “Tricky League,” an unofficial league a step under the DSL. He then came stateside and participated in the 2015 Instructional league in Clearwater.
Ortiz wasn’t placed on a roster until June 2016 when he made his debut in the GCL as a seventeen-year-old.
Ortiz was considered one of the top international free agents in the 2015 class. He signed with the Phillies for $4.2 million, the highest bonus paid that year. He was ranked as the 6th best international player by the Dominican, 14th by FanGraphs, and 18th by Baseball America.
So far, only 5 of the BA prospects ahead of him have made the majors – #17 Gilberto Celestino made it for 23 games for the Twins in 2021 and batted .136; #13 Juan Soto graduated to the majors in 2018, we all know about him; #3 Leody Taveras played 82 games and had 319 PA for Texas in 2020-21 batted .188; #2 Andres Gimenez played 117 games and had 342 PA for the Mets and Cleveland in 2020-21and batted .235, he was part of the Lindor trade; and #1 Vlad Guerrero Jr. graduated to the majors in 2019, another guy we know about.
Here are some excerpts from BA’s scouting write-up about Ortiz.
Ortiz is hard to miss, whether you’re watching him show off his vicious power in BP or just see his pure size. Between his strength and bat speed, Ortiz generates easy 65-70 power already. His raw power is the best in the class. When Ortiz has his timing right and gets a pitch in his kill zone, he can take a fastball out from right-center field over to his pull side.
That was the peak of Ortiz’s stock, and it’s expected to make him one of the highest-paid players on July 2, to the surprise of many scouts. Ortiz has always had a heavy body type, but since last summer he’s concerned scouts by getting heavier and losing his mobility. It’s something he will always have to watch and will almost certainly limit him to first base, although he does have an above-average arm. He has trouble especially recognizing breaking pitches, so in games, his timing gets thrown off. The optimistic outlook is that he is still young and just hasn’t been seeing much live pitching, so if he learns to recognize a breaking ball, the power will take over.
If Ortiz can make the adjustments to make more frequent contact, the raw power is there for 25-plus home runs to carry him at first base, but there is a lot of risk here. Ortiz is the hardest player on this list to rank. He would have ranked much higher had this list come out last summer. The Phillies are known to be extremely high on Ortiz, who trains with Baltazar Mesa and played in the Dominican Prospect League, and are the favorites to sign him.
The Dominican ranked sixth on the list of the best international prospects, he 14th with Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel, and Baseball America’s Ben Badler placing him 18th.
2016: Ortiz debuted with the GCL Phillies and played in 47 games and had 197 at bats. He slashed .231/.325/.434 with 8 HR, 17 walks (8.6%), and 53 strikeouts (26.9%). He also stole 8 bases in 10 attempts. He had 6 outfield assists (RF).
2017: Ortiz played in Williamsport his second year. In 47 games and 187 plate appearances, he slashed .302/.401/.560 with 8 HR, 18 walks (9.6%), and 47 strikeouts (25.1%). He was successful on 5 of 6 steal attempts. He had 2 outfield assists (RF).
2018: Ortiz played in Low-A Lakewood. He played in 110 games and had 454 plate appearances. He slashed .225/.297/.375 with 13 HR, 35 walks (7.7%), and 148 strikeouts (32.6%). He went 2-4 in steal attempts. He had 10 outfield assists (RF).
2019: Ortiz played in High-A Clearwater. He played in 115 games and had 478 plate appearances. He slashed .200/.272/.381 with 19 HR, 36 walks (7.5%), and 149 strikeouts (31.2%). He was 2-5 stealing. He had 14 outfield assists (1-LF, 3-CF, 10-RF).
2021: Ortiz repeated High-A in Jersey Shore before a late-season bump to Double-A Reading. He slashed .262/358/.521 with 19 HR, 29 walks (9.6%), 86 strikeouts (28.4%), and 4-5 in steal attempts at Jersey Shore (303 PA). He slashed .208/.307/.377 with 4 HR, 9 walks (10.2%), and 27 strikeouts (30.7%) at Reading (88 PA). He had 4 outfield assists – 3 from RF for Jersey Shore and 1 from CF for reading.
He saw a minimal amount of action in the Dominican Winter League, 6 AB in 3 games.
Through 2019, I saw a lot of Jhailyn Ortiz. He sported a variety of eyewear from season to season until finally going to contacts. This undoubtedly had a negative effect on his ability to pick up pitches early in his career.
He’s as big as you’ve heard. But, has been reporting in better shape each season. He is quicker afoot than you would expect. He covers a lot of ground in RF. The only knock on his fielding I could see was that he was too aggressive on balls that were going to drop in front of him. He judged well going left, right, or back.
He has a strong and accurate arm and likes to show it off. If he doesn’t get an opportunity to show it off, I’ve seen him fire a bullet to second base after catching a fly ball even though it’s not necessary (and nobody is on base).
Ortiz is a big, likable kid. I’ve been rooting for him since he reported to 2015 Instructs. He should start his age 23 season in Reading.