International Reviews: Baltimore Orioles
See also: 2014 Orioles International Review
See also: 2013 Orioles International Review
See also: 2012 Orioles International Review
Top signing: LHP Alexander Wells, Australia, $300,000.
Total signings: 20.
The international amateur market is an area that Orioles ownership and senior management has consistently underinvested in over the years, and the results show in the organization’s relatively thin pipeline from Latin America. The Orioles had a $2,002,900 bonus pool during the 2015-16 signing period, yet they spent have spent just around half that amount. While quality players can be found for low bonuses in the international market, the highest bonus the team gave to a player last year from the Dominican Republic or Venezuela last year was $100,000, which simply isn’t enough to compete for top talent in those countries.
Aside from paying $725,000 for pool-exempt, 27-year-old Cuban lefthander Ariel Miranda after watching him one time, Baltimore’s biggest signing bonus in 2015 was $300,000 for 19-year-old Australian lefthander Alexander Wells at the end of August. He’s the twin brother of Twins lefthander Lachlan Wells, who signed for $300,000 in November 2014 and pitched well last year in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. Alexander pitched in the MLB Australian Academy last year in August before he signed, posting a 2.70 ERA with 22 strikeouts and eight walks in 20 innings over four starts. He’s 6-foot-1, 190 pounds with his stuff mostly a projection, including a fastball that parks in the upper-80s to go with a curveball and changeup.
Gillian Wernet, a 17-year-old righthander from Aruba, signed for $225,000 in August. He has a big, strong frame at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds with a lively fastball up to 92 mph and room to gain velocity. He has a wide-ranging repertoire for a young pitcher, with five pitches between his fastball, cutter, curveball, slider and changeup. He might narrow his arsenal in the near-term, with his curveball his best secondary pitch right now.
On July 2, the Orioles also gave $100,000 Yaisel Mederos, a 26-year-old first baseman from Cuba. He’s 6-foot-5, 225 pounds and impressed the Orioles with his power. After signing, he batted .218/.256/.303 in 32 games with high Class A Frederick.
Last year in January during the 2014-15 signing period, the Orioles gave $100,000 to 17-year-old Dominican shortstop Luis Hernandez. The Orioles liked his defensive actions and that he was light on his feet with a quick transfer and an average to above-average arm, but he made 27 errors in 46 games at shortstop in the Dominican Summer League. A switch-hitter at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, Hernandez batted .194/.277/.291 in 232 plate appearances.
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Another 2014-15 signing was 19-year-old left fielder Johnny Dixon, who got $20,000 in March out of Panama. At 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, Dixon is still raw and overaggressive as a righthanded hitter (he hit .238/.293/.374 with 10 walks and 61 strikeouts in 225 plate appearances last year) but he has good power and tied for the lead among Orioles hitters in the DSL with five home runs.