Minor League Podcast: Henry Urrutia discusses his journey from Cuba to the majors - BaltimoreBaseball.com
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Minor League Podcast: Henry Urrutia discusses his journey from Cuba to the majors



Sometimes, this is how journalism and the media world work.

You have a good story – or in this case, a good audio package – that you are excited to offer to your readers or listeners.

And then real news gets in the way and changes things, potentially altering the story completely. That happened at BaltimoreBaseball.com on Tuesday.

Adam Pohl, the voice of the Double-A Bowie Baysox, puts together the tremendous ‘Minor League Podcast’ for us every week. Adam and I were excited about his upcoming segment, more than 20 minutes with Baysox outfielder and former Oriole Henry Urrutia, who was still on the club’s 40-man roster despite being demoted to Double-A.



A Cuban defector, Urrutia has a tremendous story to tell. And Pohl captures that story through a compelling interview.

The problem is, Urrutia is now in baseball limbo. On Tuesday afternoon, he was designated for assignment when the Orioles added outfielder Julio Borbon to their 40- and 25-man rosters.

What that means is that the Orioles have 10 days to trade, release or ask waivers on the 29-year-old Urrutia. If he is put on waivers and clears, then the Orioles can outright him to the minors without his consent since he has never been outrighted before.

Given his age, it’s a fair possibility that he clears waivers and ends up back in the organization. But since any team could claim him and send him down to the minors without penalty, he could have value, and offer no risk, to other organizations. He has hit .272 in 94 career plate appearances in the majors.

It will be worth watching that decision.

I, then, had another decision: Do we scrap this week’s podcast? Or do we hold it until we find out if he’ll remain an Oriole?

My instinct says a good interview is a good interview. And this is a good interview.

Urrutia, in clear English, discusses the difficulties of leaving his family behind, of the boat trip that took him out of Cuba and of the hard work that went into learning our language and culture.

Urrutia tells Pohl a story that he said he had never shared publicly. In 2012, his father, a former professional ballplayer in Cuba, traveled to Haiti and tried to convince Urrutia to come back home. But Urrutia believed he could get his visa, make it to the United States and play baseball.

The decision to stay paid off. He made his debut with the Orioles in July 2013, hitting .276 in 58 at-bats that year. It’s been a struggle since for him, dropping back to Double-A. He obviously knew his roster spot was in jeopardy, but when he talked to Pohl he spoke of never giving up and one day returning to the majors.

That may not happen with the Orioles. It may not happen at all. But his is still an intriguing story of perseverance. One that is very much still worth listening to, no matter the current circumstances.

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