International Reviews: Baltimore Orioles
Baseball America's annual
International Reviews begin today in the American League East, with
scouting reports on every team's top international amateur signings from
the 2012 calendar year, as well as a look at any notable signings from
the Cuban market.
See also: 2011 American League East International
LHP Yi-Hsiang Lin, Taiwan, $150,000.
OF Carlos Rodriguez (Venezuela), 2B Yariel Vargas (Dominican Republic).
Notable Cuban signings:
OF Henry Urrutia.
The Orioles had an eventful year abroad in general manager Dan
Duquette's first season. Their international scouting department
deserves credit for immediately helping their major league rotation with
the signing of lefthander Wei-Yin Chen from Taiwan and righthander
Miguel Gonzalez, who they signed after international recruiting director
Fred Ferreira recommended him from his winter ball performance in the
Mexican Pacific League.
Yet the most notable move for the Orioles was when they violated the
Asian protocol agreement by not performing a status check before signing
Korean high school lefthander Seong-Min Kim for a $575,000 bonus that
was wildly out of line with his talent. The Orioles' scouting reports on
Kim shared little resemblance to the reports from several other teams
who had seen Kim, a player other organizations considered a solid arm
for the Korean Baseball Organization but a non-prospect for major league
clubs. The signing never came to fruition, as Major League Baseball put
the kibosh on the deal.
The Orioles also signed lefthander Yi-Hsiang Lin
out of Taiwan for $150,000 in February, though the team hasn't signed
anyone else out of Asia since the Kim controversy. Lin, 20, is 6 feet, 175
pounds and posted a 6.68 ERA in 32 1/3 innings in the Rookie-level Gulf
Coast League with 22 strikeouts and 16 walks.
In July, Baltimore signed 25-year-old Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia
a minor league contract with a $778,500 bonus. Even though Urrutia
signed after July 2, his bonus won't count against Baltimore's 2012-13
international bonus pool because he's older than 23 and has at least
three seasons playing professionally in Cuba, so his bonus is exempt.
He's still waiting on his visa, however, after he initially became a
free agent using permanent Haitian residency documents.
Urrutia, who was represented by Bart Hernandez of Praver Shapiro Sports
Management, hit .397/.461/.597 in 305 at-bats with 12 home runs, 32
walks and 23 strikeouts for Las Tunas in his final season in Cuba in
2009-10. His father is Ermidelio Urrutia, who had played on the Cuban
national team in the 1992 Olympics and at several other international
tournaments and was Henry's manager for Las Tunas. Urrutia is 6-foot-3,
180 pounds with a level swing from both sides of the plate, though it's
better from the left side. Urrutia is a corner outfielder with average
pop, so scouts have questions about whether he has enough power to be an
everyday player in the big leagues. Urrutia doesn't have much
projection left but he's advanced enough that he should head to Double-A
once he gets his visa.
In the Latin American amateur market, the Orioles were relatively quiet
last year. They signed only two players from the region to six-figure
bonuses, giving $100,000 each to Venezuelan outfielder Carlos Rodriguez
and Yariel Vargas
the Dominican Republic. Rodriguez, who signed in November, trained with
Alberto Rivas, is 6-foot-1, 175 pounds and impressed the Orioles with
his potential to hit for power and stay in center field.
Vargas, who was an outfielder when the Orioles signed him from the Arias
and Goodman academy, moved to second base after signing. With average
speed and below-average power from the right side of the plate, Vargas
didn't profile well in the outfield, so the move to the dirt will be
important for Vargas. He had some infield experience prior to signing,
but he's learning how to handle the new position.
The Orioles are close with Arias and Goodman (Ferreira was involved in a
fantasy camp of theirs before his hiring) and they also signed
18-year-old Carlos Laureano
from them for $50,000 in June. Laureano is a 6-foot-1 righthanded hitter with some power and a pull-oriented approach.
The Orioles were also active in countries that typically don't produce
professional baseball players. Baltimore added the only two players from
Guatemala who signed with major league teams in 2012: 19-year-old
center fielder Juan Aguilar
($75,000 in February) and 19-year-old outfielder Paolo Pezzarossi
), who was the subject of a Guatemalan TV news report
after he signed for $5,000 in May.
Baltimore also signed 17-year-old New Zealand first baseman Pita Rona
for $25,000 last year in January and 18-year-old Czech Republic lefthander Jan Novak
for $40,000 in November. Novak pitched at the MLB European academy and
posted a 2.45 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 22 innings in academy games from
2011-12. He also pitched at the 18U World Championships in South Korea
in September, when he allowed 10 runs (six earned) in 10 innings with
nine strikeouts and six walks.