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Fantasy baseball waiver wire: Orioles promote promising infielder Joey Ortiz

Here’s everything to know about the top-100 prospect, who could provide some value in deeper fantasy leagues if his gains in the Minor Leagues were legit.

Joey Ortiz of the Baltimore Orioles poses for a portrait during the 2023 Baltimore Orioles Photo Day at Ed Smith Stadium on February 23, 2023 in Sarasota, Florida. Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Baltimore Orioles have been at the forefront of the youth movement going on around MLB so far this season, and with the team in the thick of a competitive AL East race, they decided to dip into one of the league’s best farm systems again on Thursday.

Baltimore has called up shortstop Joey Ortiz, MLB Pipeline’s No. 91 overall prospect, from Triple-A. Amid Jorge Mateo’s injury issues and Adam Frazier’s continued struggles at second base, middle infield had become a need for the O’s, and it’s one that Ortiz is more than qualified to fill. So what makes him such an exciting prospect, and what does he mean for your fantasy baseball team?

Joey Ortiz fantasy impact

Unfortunately for those of us trawling the waiver wire, Ortiz is a bit more valuable as a real-life player than a fantasy one. His calling card is his defense at shortstop, where smooth actions and a strong arm make him a virtual lock to stick at the position — and be potentially elite at second base should Baltimore ask him to flip to the other side of the infield.

Still, while the glove is his best tool, he wouldn’t be making prospect lists unless the bat could also play — and there’s been exciting progress on that front over the last year or so. A fourth-round pick out of New Mexico State in the 2019 MLB Draft, scouts didn’t think much of Ortiz at the plate, the sort of bottom-of-the-order hitter who posts high averages but not much else. But he broke out in Triple-A at the end of last season, slugging .567 with four homers and six steals in just 26 games and raising the possibility that he might have enough thump in his bat to be a regular in the O’s lineup.

Let’s not get carried away here; even with his improvement at the plate, 15 homers, 10 steals and a .275ish average is still probably the ceiling for Ortiz in the Majors. Still, that’s a useful player in deeper leagues, especially in a Baltimore lineup that should provide decent counting stats. He’ll have to hold off fellow top-100 infielder Jordan Westburg and Connor Norby, but his defense could give him a leg up for playing time.