Even as a 19-year-old, Robinson Ortiz has a work ethic that Class A Great Lakes pitching coach Luis Meza thinks equals the best in the game. And he should know, because he's seen it a lot this year.The No. 24 Dodgers prospect tossed a career-high 7 2/3 innings, yielding two
Even as a 19-year-old, Robinson Ortiz has a work ethic that Class A Great Lakes pitching coach Luis Meza thinks equals the best in the game. And he should know, because he's seen it a lot this year.
The No. 24 Dodgers prospect tossed a career-high 7 2/3 innings, yielding two hits and two walks with five strikeouts as Class A Great Lakes topped Dayton, 2-0, in 10 innings Wednesday at Fifth Third Field.
"Pretty much all of his stuff was working for him," Meza said. "He was able to locate that fastball to both sides of the plate very well. Also his secondary offerings were very good. His slider was one of the best sliders he's thrown so far. He throws it consistently in the zone, and the changeup was another pitch working for him."
Ortiz, who had never gone more than six innings in a start before, threw 60 strikes of a career-best 94 total pitches. His 3.63 ERA in July coming into the outing was the best number he's sported in any month this season, but the lefty he was following a start against Clinton in which he threw 54 pitches and only went 1 2/3 frames.
Between the two starts, there were conversations between coach and hurler on how to better effectively utilize pitches in the strike zone without being predictable. That went a long way into making this latest appearance a scoreless one.
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"One of the things [we talked about] was be more in the zone, especially with the secondary offerings," Meza said. "He has good stuff, but one thing that was limiting his control was that he wasn't throwing the changeup and the slider in the zone. That was one of the things we focused on in these last side [sessions]."
The left-hander got back on the right track against Dayton by limiting most hard contact, getting eight groundouts and just three flyouts. Ortiz set down the first seven hitters before allowing a single to Juan Martinez with one out in the third inning, but he worked around that with back-to-back lineouts from Miguel Hernandez and sixth-ranked Reds prospectMichael Siani.
In the fourth, Ortiz got into his first true jam of the night after plunking Miguel Bautista with one out and walking Cameron Warren with two down. He wiggled his way out of it on one pitch to Brian Rey, who flew out.
The Dominican Republic native pitched around baserunners in the fifth and sixth before completing a perfect seventh. Back on the hill for the first time in the eighth, he issued a leadoff walk to Martinez. After Hernandez was retired on a sacrifice bunt and Siani grounded out to first, the book was closed on Ortiz's night. The hurler lowered his ERA by nearly a full run from 5.31 to 4.50.
"This is a guy who wants the ball and is very competitive," Meza said. "And to see him want to get the ball and get the last out, that was fun to watch. He showed you who this guy is, he really wants the ball in big spots."
Signed as an international free agent in 2017, Ortiz has fanned 49 hitters in 50 innings during his first campaign in full-season ball stateside. To see the steps the 6-foot, 180-pounder has taken in just a few months after sporting a 16.00 ERA after his first three starts in the Midwest League has impressed his coach.
"Being so young and wanting to show people he's ready for the level, it's been a thing where we're focused on getting him into work habits and routines," Meza said. "Despite going through some bad stretches, which is something that happens in baseball, he's had a good work ethic and work habit, so it's fun to watch and awesome to be part of it."
Reliever Joel Inoa entered with a runner at third, but kept the game tied by whiffing Claudio Finol and throwing a 1-2-3 ninth to keep the game scoreless.
The Loons broke through in the 10th on RBI singles by Romer Cuadrado and Dan Robinson.
Justin Bruihl worked around a hit to earn his first save of the season.
Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt.