One look at high Class A Winston-Salem outfielder Paulo Orlandoâ€™s speed from first to third made scouts in attendance do a double-take during the Warthogsâ€™ series at Kinston this weekend.
â€œIâ€™m getting 4.25 down the line,â€ said one scout from a National League club, â€œbut it seems like heâ€™s 4.25 from first to third. When he gets going, heâ€™s one of the fastest guys Iâ€™ve seen this year.â€
The 21-year-old doesnâ€™t have that initial quick burst of speed out of the box, but the former Brazilian track champion in both the 100- and 200-meter relays is an 80 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale. And itâ€™s a different kind of 80 speed. Itâ€™s not short, sparkplug Joey Gathright-like wheels. Orlandoâ€™s speed is long and angular based on his 6-foot-3, 170-pound wiry-strong frame.
Signed out of Brazil in 2005 along with 2006 Futures Gamer Anderson Gomez by assistant general manager Dave Wilder, Orlando is the more advanced hitter of the two.
â€œItâ€™s impressive how polished his at-bats are, based on his experience level,â€ the scout said. â€œHeâ€™s got good pitch recognition, plate disciplineâ€”heâ€™s got a good idea of the strike zone with some barrel awareness and above-average bat speed. This is a guy.â€
Orlando and Gomez were on the same club in low Class A Kannapolis, but Orlandoâ€™s game awareness, instincts and presence have advanced more quickly. Being the only Brazilian in the clubhouse can be a lonely situation at times, and Orlando typically uses one of the Latin players on the Warthogsâ€™ roster to translate for him as Spanish is his second language. Portugese is first, and English a distant third right now.
Through 97 at-bats, Orlando has been holding his own on the field, hitting .278/.317/.392.
â€œHeâ€™s a quiet reserved kid thatâ€™s still feeling his way through, still trying to find some self-esteem in some ways, I think,â€ White Sox farm director Alan Regier said. â€œThereâ€™s not a lot of baseball experience with him.â€
Orlando started playing baseball when he was 14 on weekends in Brazil with Japanese players who introduced the game to the South American country, but focused mainly on running track.
â€œHeâ€™s legitimately one of the fastest, if not the fastest player in the minor leagues,â€ Regier said. â€œAnd that speed is one thing, but weâ€™re absolutely thrilled with how heâ€™s handled himself, how heâ€™s been patient in the box, his route-running in center field. Even when he doesnâ€™t take the best route in the world, heâ€™s got closing speed to make up for it.â€
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