Checking in with Orioles international scouting director Koby Perez - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Checking in with Orioles international scouting director Koby Perez

Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles

Koby Perez is preparing for his second international signing period since joining the Orioles. Perez, who came to the Orioles in January 2019 as the team’s senior director of international scouting, has had to wait because the 2020 signing period was pushed back from July 2nd to January 15, 2021.

This interview was edited for style.

Question: What have you been able to accomplish during the pandemic?

Perez: “We’ve been able to get a lot of work done, virtually through Zoom for future classes. As you know, we try to work ahead in learning the players that are going to be involved in the future. Basically for the 2020 class, we’d done a lot of that work ahead of time. A lot of it was just keeping tabs on the players of interest.”

Q: Do you have a lot of interesting prospects that you expect to sign?

A: “We think so. Again, we worked ahead of time and kind of identified the players of interest, made sure those players liked us, and we liked. We think we’re the front-runners for a pretty good group.”

Q: You’ve said it was going to take a couple of years to become a major player in the international market. Do you think the teams’ higher ranking among minor league systems has made signing international players easier?

A: “Yeah, absolutely. I think our whole baseball operations is improved, including all of our minor leagues and affiliates. Our minor league system is showing [improvement]. That’s definitely helped. I think a lot of what’s helped is [general manager] Mike Elias has made about four trips down to the Dominican Republic with me.

“Your top leader, kind of showing face down there, shows everyone that we’re really serious about our work in international. That has really put us kind of on the fast track a little bit.”

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Q: In your last interview with us, you mentioned a pitcher, Luis Ortiz, who was a July 2019 signing as a hot prospect. Ortiz is now ranked No. 30 in the system by MLB Pipeline. What about him stands out?

A: “He’s a left-handed pitcher with a good pitcher’s frame, and he shows average velocity for a young kid, but what stands out more for him is the pitch ability that he has. He goes after hitters. He has a good breaking ball, and he throws a bunch of strikes. For a young kid to be able to do those things, it’s really exciting because we know he’s going to get bigger and stronger. We know the velocity is going to improve even more than what he’s showing, which is already average.”

Q: Who are some other guys that you’re excited about for 2021?

A: “Our highest-paid guy, Luis Gonzalez, is definitely showing well. He showed well in Instructional League, showing why he was our highest-paid guy. (Gonzalez received a signing bonus of $475,000 in July 2019.)

“His raw power was definitely shown in Instructional League. He’s one of the guys that we’re excited about.

“We also have a couple of guys that didn’t make the Instructional League because they were from Venezuela. All flights [to the U.S] were canceled. Moises Chace, he’s a right-handed pitcher that we were excited to try and get to the Instructional League, but unfortunately we couldn’t. He and Raul Ringel, also from Venezuela, also a right-handed pitcher, show a lot of promise.”

Q: One thing that Elias has done is getting a number of international prospects in trades. It began with the Andrew Cashner deal to Boston in July 2019 and has continued since. Are these players that you scouted and knew something about?

A: “For sure, these guys are players that we’ve had history with as amateurs. Our pro department did a good job of identifying and looking at some of the intriguing statistics [they’ve accumulated], and things that they’ve done.

“There are some that haven’t played yet, and we relied on our amateur scouting reports.”

Q: When domestic prospects are interviewed, they talk about how the Orioles have been able to keep up with them during the pandemic. Were you able to keep up with the prospects from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela?

A: “Absolutely. Our player development staff did an amazing job being able to do Zoom calls and send player programs to each player individually and keep tabs on [them]. I think they did as good a job as they can do, given the situation. I’m keeping tabs on players.

“I’m really excited about this year to come, and once these academies start opening up and we’re able to get back into baseball, we’re going to have a lot of pleasant surprises.”

Q: Before the pandemic, you’d spent about 220 days on the road scouting. How much of an adjustment has it been to be working from home?

A: “It’s been a little bit different, but it kind of worked out family-wise because my kids are basically homeschooled, and I’ve been able to help my wife by being around. Being off the road with the pandemic was able to give me more time with my family, and help out around the house more than I normally would.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Orial

    December 14, 2020 at 8:09 am

    Solid interview Rich. If you look around baseball you’ll notice that a good portion of the young stars are of Latin descent so as the the O’s continue their Rule 5,continue their low tier FA signings,continue their “dumpster” approach the International Market may just be the real light at the end of this tunnel. The one question I do have tjough Rich is not as much about International signings but about the talent level they’re going after in this process. Glad they’re finally participating but when will we see the O’s sign a top 3-5 type player instead of the the top 50 category? Like MLB free agency it’s nice to participate but comes a point where you want to be number one in line.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 14, 2020 at 8:48 am

      Because the Orioles had not been participants in this market for so long, Orial, they’re still behind. It’s like college recruiting; many of the top players decided ahead of time to commit with other teams, and the Orioles had no choice but to concentrate on others. They should do better with this coming signing period, and better still in subsequent ones because players will know that the Orioles are serious players.

  2. willmiranda

    December 14, 2020 at 10:27 am

    Does Perez have anything to do with Asian prospects or players? Do the O’s have any interest in them? Or, as we always have to ask, are the better Asian players too expensive for the team?

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 14, 2020 at 10:34 am

      His area of expertise is Latin American amateurs. Asians fall under pro scouting. They’d have interest in them at the right price.

      • willmiranda

        December 14, 2020 at 7:38 pm

        Thanks, Rich. Good to know how the bases are covered.

  3. mlbbirdfan

    December 14, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    Nice article, thanks. When will we see either of the two players names in this article at the major league level?

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 14, 2020 at 7:31 pm

      They haven’t even played in the Dominican Summer League, so they’re likely several years away.

  4. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    December 14, 2020 at 5:29 pm

    Nice interview.Maikol Hernandez a shortstop is ranked 29th among International Prospects. The Orioles are favorites to sign him. This is the first time I can remember that we have been listed as favorites to sign any top rated International prospect.

  5. Tony Paparella

    December 15, 2020 at 10:46 am

    A very good article Rich and certainly a good one for us fans.Good to see or hear about some of the inner goings on like Elias making 4 trips down there to check on the talent.That keeps everyone involved in the process alert and on their toes as well as shows the commitment and support of the organization.I have to say there is a lot of conjecture in part because of the last year being a less than hands on movement.Hopefully the prospects followed the protocol and put in the effort expected of them in order to stay on track with their progression.I hope next year (upcoming season)will get everyone back on line and back to a sort of normalcy.

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