The 2015 MLB international signing class has been called one for the ages. You saw examples on display at the All-Star Game last month in Denver.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Fernando Tatis Jr. Juan Soto.
That summer, the Phillies gave a team-record $4 million bonus to a 16-year-old named Jhailyn Ortiz. Before this season, he’s shown only a fraction of the potential the scouts saw in him prior to signing him. But it looks as though things are starting to click for Ortiz.
He stumbled out of the gate this season with the Single A Jersey Shore BlueClaws, with no homers, 28 strikeouts and a .530 OPS through 18 games. But he stayed the course, and with the help and support of the coaching staff, led by BlueClaws manager Chris Adamson, Ortiz got on track and became the fearsome force at the plate the Phillies envisioned six years ago.
“He had his ups and downs in his performance, a bit of inconsistency,” Adamson said Tuesday. “We just stayed with him, helped him to stay locked in every single day, not just in the cage, but everything.”
Adamson said that Ortiz has lost 25 pounds since he arrived in spring training, which has helped the 6-foot-3 outfielder in all aspects of the game.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised with how athletic he is,” Adamson said. “We all know about his power, but he hit a two-hopper to the shortstop last week and beat the throw to first. He’s way more athletic than you think.”
His July numbers for Jersey Shore are eye-popping: 13 homers and 25 RBIs in 26 games with an OPS of 1.134. Half of his hits last month left the ballpark.
Adamson said Ortiz's plate discipline is improving as well, and the numbers show it. His walk rate is approaching 10 percent on the season, up from 7.5 percent in 2019, and his strikeout rate, while still high at 28.4 percent, is down from the 31.2 percent he had two years ago.
He was promoted to Double A Reading over the weekend and picked up right where he left off in Lakewood — going 3 for 4 with a homer and a walk in his second game for the Fightin’ Phils.
He’s still only 22 years old and if he continues to progress as he has this season, it may not be very long before Ortiz roams the outfield in South Philadelphia.
“As long as he concentrates on being really consistent with his preparation and continues to buy into that, I think he can be a serious contributor for a long time at the big-league level,” Adamson said of Ortiz’s potential.
“His ceiling is ridiculously high.”