Koby Perez recognizes that Luis Ortiz had a long way to go, but as a big left-hander with a low 90s fastball and impressive breaking ball, Ortiz had the profile of a pitcher with a bright future.
“That’s the type of guy that usually finds his way in the big leagues at some point,” said Perez, the Orioles’ senior director of international scouting.
Whether Ortiz could have reached that potential will never be known. He died Saturday, about a year after being diagnosed with leukemia. He was 20 years old.
“I can’t believe the way he took it on,” Perez said. “Anytime he was around me, he acted really mature about it. He took it as well as anybody would ever take something like that.
“He was a fighter. He said he was going to fight, and he did all the way to his last breath.”
Ortiz was 16 when he signed with the Orioles out of his native Dominican Republic in July 2019, receiving a bonus of $400,000 that was among the largest of Baltimore’s first true dive into the Latin American market. Perez had first seen him a year earlier, working as Cleveland’s director of Latin American scouting. He heard buzz the Washington Nationals were interested in giving Ortiz a significant bonus, and scouts from numerous teams populated each of Ortiz’s outings.
But he chose Baltimore, the leading pitcher of a 27-player class that represented the franchise’s largest investment in that area.
“Once he saw, ‘Wow, this team that really doesn’t sign anybody around here wants to sign me,’ I think that really helped push him to us,” Perez said.
Ortiz appeared in seven games with the organization, all in the Florida Complex League in 2021. He was assigned to Low-A Delmarva the next year, but he spent the year in Florida, on the injured list as he battled cancer.
During the past year, Perez joined prayer groups with Ortiz’s family. Perez and executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias were at the hospital alongside Ortiz’s family the day he died; Perez said Elias told them the team will handle funeral and other expenses.
Although Ortiz’s professional experience was limited, Ortiz said it made him an inspiration to children back in Santo Domingo.
“Everybody’s looking forward to this hometown hero making it and doing well, and unfortunately, this disease didn’t let him get that opportunity,” Perez said. “There’s some kids in his neighborhood that really looked up to …read more
Source:: The Mercury News