The Texas Rangers selected right-handed pitcher Luis Ortiz out of Sanger High School in California with the 30th overall selection in Thursday’s first round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Ortiz went 5-3 with a 1.04 ERA and 72 strikeouts against just seven walks in 43.2 innings in his senior year. He was named World Cup MVP after serving as closer for the gold medal-winning 18-and-under USA Baseball national team, earning a win and three saves in five appearances for that squad.
"It means the world to me," Ortiz said. "I'm glad the Rangers gave me this opportunity. They saw something in me, and I'm willing to work for it."
As a selection straight out of high school, Ortiz has a high ceiling. While Daniels didn’t want to put a timeline on a path to the Rangers’ pitching staff, he said the 6-foot-3, 220-lb righty has already shown major league ability.
“It’s Big League caliber stuff already,” he said. “It’s not a projection where we’re hoping he can develop his pitches.”
Daniels said the team had Ortiz’s value graded in the top half of the first round, and didn’t expect him to fall to the no. 30 overall selection.
“The strength of the draft was it’s depth, and it’s as unpredictable of a first round as we’ve seen in a while,” he said. “We were happy he was there. We expected he would be long gone.”
“He’s an elite kind of talent, as good of pure stuff as there is in the draft”
Ortiz was rated as the 28th-best prospect by Baseball America, and was listed as the 14th-best right-handed pitcher by that publication. MLB.com rated him as its 24th-best overall prospect.
Daniels said there were other players the Rangers liked at the 30th pick, but no one in Ortiz’s category.
“He was clearly our pick,” he said.
Ortiz is from the Fresno, Calif. area and is committed to Fresno State University, but Daniels said he’s not worried about getting the first-rounder signed. The Sanger HS grad missed a start this season with an arm issue, but came back at full strength at the end of the year. The club did its due diligence on Ortiz’s health, Daniels said.
Ortiz is of no relation to former Ranger third baseman Luis Ortiz, who played for Texas in 1995-96 and later served as the team's hitting coordinator.
The Rangers gave up their original first round pick with the signing of free agent Shin-Soo Choo, and were awarded the 30th overall selection as compensation for the Orioles’ signing of free agent Nelson Cruz.
Rangers select Ti'Quan Forbes 59th overall
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Forbes batted .427 with 3 home runs and 32 RBI as a senior for Columbia High School in Columbia, Mississppi. A three-sport star in high school, Forbes also pitched for the Class 4A State Champions this season, going 18-8 with 191 strikeouts in his high school career. The Ole Miss recruit was tabbed by Baseball America as the 5th-best shortstop prospect and 46th-best prospect overall. Baseball America also listed him as the top prospect coming out of the state of Mississippi.
The 59th pick was the team's regular second round choice.