The scheduled start of Spring Training is near, and despite the MLB lockout continuing for players on 40-man rosters, each team will get a chance to look at minor-league free agents even if Major League camp doesn't begin on time. In addition to picking up a former top-100 arm recently, the SF Giants have signed two right-handed pitchers to minor-league deals.
According to MLB.com's transactions log, the Giants inked righties Luis Ortiz and Wei-Chieh Huang on February 1st. Both have a handful of Major League experience under their belts, and both spent time in the Texas Rangers system in the past few years.
Ortiz, 26, is listed at 6'3" and 230 pounds. A native of Sanger, CA, just outside of Fresno, Ortiz was a first-round pick by Texas out of high school in 2014. He had an impressive showing in his first few years of pro ball, ranking as one of Baseball America's top-100 prospects before both the 2016 and 2017 seasons and reaching Double-A in the Texas system at the age of 20.
During the 2016 season, Ortiz was sent to the Milwaukee Brewers in a trade for catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Two years later he was part of a deadline package again, as Milwaukee picked up Jonathan Schoop from Baltimore. Ortiz ended up making his MLB debut in September 2018 for the Orioles, but he was rocked for six runs in 2 1/3 innings pitched. He also made a start against Boston in June 2019 and was wild, walking five and allowing four runs in 3 1/3 frames.
Granted free agency after not appearing in the Covid-shortened 2020 season, Ortiz signed back with his original organization for 2021. With the Triple-A Round Rock Express he pitched mostly out of the bullpen, putting up a 4.60 ERA and striking out 44 in 43 innings.
At his best while rising through the minors, Ortiz pumped mid-90s gas with an above-average slider and improving changeup. He was seen as a potential frontline starting pitcher if he got his weight and conditioning under control, so maybe a return to his home state will help him rediscover some of the lost potential.
Huang, a 28-year-old hurler from Taiwan, signed with Arizona as an international free agent in 2014 and made the Diamondbacks' top-30 lists in 2016 and 2017 while pitching well out of the bullpen in Single-A. He was traded to Texas for Jake Diekman at the 2018 trade deadline and made four MLB appearances for the Rangers in 2019 and was released from the alternate site in August 2020.
Huang didn't play stateside minor league ball in 2021, but he made at least one appearance in the Dominican Winter League and looked good, striking out five in three scoreless innings. Huang's Baseball America scouting reports from 2016-17 mentioned a fastball in the low-90s with good movement, a plus changeup and good control when healthy. Just 6'2" and 175 pounds, Huang fits better in a bullpen role where he doesn't have to pitch multiple innings each appearance.