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2023 International Reviews: Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles have the No. 1 farm system in baseball. They did it by tanking to secure top five overall picks in four straight drafts, including multiple years with the No. 1 overall pick and the bonus pool advantages that have come with it. But they have also drafted well beyond those top picks, with 2019 second-rounder Gunnar Henderson the most prominent example.

As the Orioles shift to what should be a more competitive major league club that will lead to them picking toward the back of the first round in the years ahead, that places more emphasis on the importance of their emerging Latin American pipeline. The players signed under the current front office and international scouting department are still just starting to hit the full-season leagues, but players like catcher Samuel Basallo and other young Latin American signings will play a big role in keeping the farm system stocked.

Top Of The Class

Growing up in New Jersey, shortstop Luis Almeyda had some of the top programs in college baseball recruiting him before he started high school. Had Almeyda stayed in the United States, he would have been one of the top players in the 2025 class, but instead he moved to the Dominican Republic and signed with the Orioles for $2,297,500. Almeyda has already been in Sarasota, Fla. for spring training and is advanced enough that he could stay for the Rookie-level Florida Complex League season, though with the other shortstops the Orioles have ready to play there, he might debut in the Dominican Summer League. Almeyda has grown taller and started to layer more strength onto his 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame that still has more room for him to fill out. He typically has a sound offensive approach and a knack for driving the ball with impressive impact for his age, registering exit velocities north of 100 mph against live pitching. If everything clicks, he could develop into a shortstop with 25-plus home run power. Almeyda has the instincts and actions for shortstop, though with the way he has grown, there’s a chance he could end up at third base, with the power to profile at either spot. He’s an average runner who is smooth in the field with good body control, soft hands and a strong arm that should be at least a plus tool with a chance to tick up as he continues getting stronger.

Names To Know

Joshua Liranzo, 3B, Dominican Republic: Signed for $497,500, Liranzo turns 17 on Aug. 25, so he will play nearly the entire season at 16 as one of the youngest players in this year’s class. He’s young but strong at 6-foot-3 with a pair of tools that jump out between his righthanded power and arm strength. Liranzo has also impressed with his bat-to-ball skills, giving him a good mix of contact and impact to fit at third base. Liranzo’s older brother, Thayron, is a catcher who signed with the Dodgers in 2021 and played last year in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League.

Jose Mejia, SS, Dominican Republic: Mejia, 17, is 5-foot-11, 175 pounds and signed for $407,500. He was one of the better pure hitters among shortstops in the Dominican Republic this year, demonstrating a disciplined approach from the right side. He puts together consistent quality at-bats with innate feel for the barrel, giving him a chance to be a high-contact, high on-base hitter with a line-drive approach and gap power. He has a high baseball IQ and should get a chance to develop at shortstop, though some scouts think he could fit best at second base long term.

Felix Amparo, SS, Dominican Republic: The Orioles signed Amparo, 17, for $347,500 after he stood out for his athleticism, tools and physical upside. He has a wiry, high-waist build with significant strength projection remaining and good bat speed that enables him to generate impressive carry off his bat with his skinnier build. He’s an above-average runner with the athleticism and arm strength that give him a good chance to stick at shortstop.

Keefer Morfe, RHP, Venezuela: At 5-foot-9, 155 pounds, Morfe doesn’t immediately stick out, but he’s a 16-year-old who has excellent arm speed to produce a fastball that sits in the low 90s and can reach 95 mph. Given his arm speed and what should be more strength coming given his relatively skinny frame, there could be another jump for his fastball, too. Signed for $207,500, Morfe doesn’t have much effort in his delivery to generate that velocity, which helps him repeat his delivery well for his age to throw strikes, and he shows feel for a slider as well.

Luis Guevara, SS, Venezuela: Guevara signed for $197,500 with a good mix of athleticism, contact skills and baseball IQ. He’s not a power hitter, but he’s otherwise well-rounded as a switch-hitter with a knack for putting the ball in play, plus speed and a good chance to stick at shortstop.

Francisco Morao, LHP, Venezuela: Morao has good building blocks for a 17-year-old lefty. Signed for $197,500, Morao has a projectable frame (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) to add to a fastball that has been up to 91 mph, good control for his age and feel to spin a curveball with good depth, giving him potential starter traits.

Abraham Cohen, OF, Venezuela: A 16-year-old lefthanded outfielder signed for $137,500, Cohen’s hitting ability has been his calling card. At 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, he has an easy, sound swing that translates well in games, where he finds the barrel often with gap power. Cohen moves well enough now that he could see time in center field, though he most likely will gravitate to a corner.

Sleeper Watch

While he signed for $85,000, Omar Urbina was one of the prominent catchers coming out of Venezuela in this year’s class. He’s 6-foot-1, 175 pounds with a chance to stick behind the plate and be an offensive-minded catcher with a good mix of hitting ability and power for a 17-year-old catcher.

Roboscout Copy (1)

RoboScout's Prospect Names To Know, May 28, 2023

See who Dylan White's RoboScout tool is singling out as the prospects to watch across all four levels of the minors.

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