Orioles eager to make international splash on Friday - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles eager to make international splash on Friday

In all the areas the Orioles were behind when Mike Elias took over the baseball operations department in November 2018, perhaps none has advanced more than the team’s international scouting.

That is expected to be on display Friday when the team announces its 2020 class, which was delayed from last July 2nd because of the pandemic.

For years, the Orioles eschewed high-dollar contracts for Latin American teenagers, but that’s expected to change when this class is unveiled.

How far behind have the Orioles been? On their 40-man roster, there are just six from Latin American countries: pitcher Cesar Valdez and catcher Pedro Severino (Dominican Republic); infielder Yolmer Sánchez and outfielder Anthony Santander (Venezuela); infielder Ramón Urias (Mexico); and outfielder Yusniel Diaz (Cuba).

None was originally signed by the Orioles.

They have another pitcher, Jorge López from Puerto Rico, who isn’t an Orioles product, either, but Puerto Rican players are eligible for the First Year Player Draft.

There’s an eighth player not from the United States, left-handed pitcher Alexander Wells, but the Australian is an Orioles product.

At a time when Latin American players play a larger role in the game, the Orioles are rying to make up for years of neglect.

Managing partner Peter Angelos didn’t want to do business with the agents for many of the prospects from the Dominican Republic. Angelos thought that the buscones were unethical, and he wanted to avoid the market.

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As a result, the Orioles haven’t produced a home-grown player from the Dominican Republic since utilityman Pedro Florimon appeared in four games in 2011.

And, they’ve never developed a player from Venezuela. There have been 394 major league players from Venezuela.

In 2014, their best Venezuelan prospect, Eduardo Rodriguez, was traded to the Boston Red Sox for reliever Andrew Miller.

The Orioles have welcomed players from the Dominican and Venezuela when they acquired them in free agency or trades. They just haven’t spent much money on them.

Elias’ predecessor, Dan Duquette, chafed at the restriction, knowing how much talent the Orioles were bypassing. Under Duquette, the Orioles did sign some lesser prospects.

One was third baseman Jomar Reyes, who signed as a 16-year-old in January 2014. He and 17-year-old first baseman Carlos Diaz, from Mexico, were trumpeted by Duquette as “potential everyday major league players that can hit in the middle of the lineup.”

Reyes spent four seasons at High-A Frederick and got one at-bat in Double-A Bowie in 2019 before he was released by the Orioles in May 2020.

Diaz, whose contract was purchased from the Mexican City Red Devils, didn’t advance beyond two games at Short-Season A Aberdeen in 2017 before his release.

The Orioles have done well in niche markets. Wells’ signing looks promising, and the team hit the jackpot when they signed second baseman Jonathan Schoop as a 16-year-old from Curacao in 2008. Schoop was a key figure from 2014-2018.

After the Orioles traded Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers in July 2018, Duquette said in a conference call that the team was beginning a rebuild and would eagerly enter the Latin American markets it avoided.

Unfortunately for Duquette, the early July signing period had just passed, and the team could barely participate.

Elias hired Koby Perez to head up international scouting in January 2019. Knowing that it would take several years to catch up, the team was able to sign a class of 27 players on July 2, 2019. The biggest names were left-handed pitcher Luis Ortiz, who is No. 30 on the team’s list of top prospects, and outfielder Luis Gonzalez.

In 2021 and 2022, the international signing period runs from January 15th through December 15th. This year, the Orioles have $5,899,600 in international bonus pool money. Unlike in past years, that money can’t be traded.

According to Baseball America, some of the prospects expected to sign with the Orioles are catcher Samuel Basallo, the top catching prospect in the Dominican Republic, who could get a bonus between $1 million and $1.5 million.

Others linked with the Orioles are Venezuelan shortstop Maikol Hernandez, Dominican corner outfielder Wilmer Feliciano, and three other Dominicans — outfielder Teudis Cortorreal, shortstop Victor Celedonio and catcher Aneudis Mordan.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. CalsPals

    January 15, 2021 at 8:25 am

    Didn’t see any of these names in top 30 prospects, tons of SS, I’d be looking there before signing a higher dollar catcher, unless they want to have too many catchers like they have OFers…go O’s…

    • CalsPals

      January 15, 2021 at 8:28 am

      19 SS vs 2 catchers, none named Basallo…go O’s…

  2. Orial

    January 15, 2021 at 8:37 am

    What I would love to see is the O’s take that $5.9 million and divy it towards top15 prospects(more dollars per player) than water it down and give 500k to a handful of 50-60 prospects. Quality over quantity. Baby steps I guess

  3. Phil770

    January 15, 2021 at 9:50 am

    Rich, thanks for the update. PAs refusal to participate in the Latin American baseball prospect market is the worse decision that he ever made. Can you provide a brief summary of how the system of signing these these teenage prospects works? Seems to me it may unrealistic for the O’s to be in the running for any of the top 30 prospects.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 15, 2021 at 10:51 am

      Phil, it’s a free market. Orioles can sign as many players for $5,899,600 as they wish.

      • Phil770

        January 15, 2021 at 12:01 pm

        Thanks, Rich. I did a little more research and discovered that the Int’l signing day is a culmination of scouting and relationship building with “handlers” in the various countries. There are basically verbal agreements to sign with teams for two and even three years before the official signing period for 16 year-olds. So the Int’l market signing day is more like Div. 1 football and basketball recruiting and signing, but with fewer surprises. In looking at a projected list of top signees, the teams listed as selectors are the Dodgers, Rays, Padres, White Sox, Marlins for two or more players. The Astros, Cubs and Nationals are mentioned as signing one top player. Because of these verbal agreements, teams actually reserve a portion of their slot money for a particular player that they can sign. My point being that it is not a truly “free market” on signing day for the very top players. The O’s are likely a year or two away from being able to sign a ‘top 30’ player.

    • CalsPals

      January 15, 2021 at 12:04 pm

      The SS they signed was #30, couldn’t see any others though…go O’s…

  4. Boog Robinson Robinson

    January 15, 2021 at 11:10 am

    Rich … Nice recap of past failures in the international market, I had all but forgotten about Jomar Reyes. He was quite a disappointment for me personally after reading the hype train back in the day. I following his box scores on a daily basis. The first time for me keeping an eye on a minor league player. Anywhoooooo… he was a 16 year old with all the physical tools of a grown man is how I remember it. Makes me wonder if 16 was the new 18 if you know what I”m saying.

    I also find it interesting that Rich notes how Duquette “chafed” at the restrictions Mr. Angelos put in place regarding the D.R. market. I don’t never recalling reading that before, but I’m not at all surprised. It can’t be anything but good for the organization if Mikey’s team can take advantage of the relaxed postion and improve things on the international recruiting stage. Heck it’s hard to imagine the team NOT improving in that area.

  5. dlgruber1

    January 15, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    So let me get this right. The O’s, who throw nickels around like they’re manhole covers, are considering signing a CATCHER using around 20% of their available bonus pool money. I seem to remember reading somewhere they have a pretty decent prospect already at that position. Am I the only person that thinks that’s absurd. I know they want “organizational depth”, but I was kinda hoping to see some of that depth on the major league roster some day. Sign infielders and pitchers dammit!!

    • CalsPals

      January 15, 2021 at 1:25 pm

      TOTALLY agree…addressed same thing earlier…go O’s…

      • Rich Dubroff

        January 15, 2021 at 2:47 pm

        I have tried and failed, obviously, to convince readers that the signing and drafting of very young players is not akin to the NFL draft. The more players you have, the better. If you have multiple good players at a hard to find position, catcher, shortstop, third base, you can trade them to fulfill other needs. A 16-year-old catcher is probably several years behind Adley Rutschman. The more good players you have, the better. It’s not the NFL where all players are drafted at 21 and 22 from colleges. Baseball signs players between 16 and 22 with various levels of experience and from very different backgrounds.

        • Eastern Sho Joe

          January 18, 2021 at 9:57 pm

          Rich, you haven’t failed. Many of your readers get it. Your continued effort is appreciated.

    • CalsPals

      January 15, 2021 at 1:27 pm

      My other guess is they know they’ll only have Rutschman for the minimum time once he’s started his clock, this might be insurance for when he leaves for the Yankees or Dodgers…go O’s…

    • ClayDal

      January 15, 2021 at 2:08 pm

      Not necessarily. The young man is only 16, so it may be another 6 years or so before he’s in Baltimore. By that time, Rutschman could be moved to 1B or traded or any other possibilities. If Rutschman stays long term, the other catcher could be used as trade bait. Or moved to another position. Or he never makes it. When 16 year olds, you go by talent, not position. Too many years in the future to predict. It’ not the worst thing to have 2 outstanding catchers on your team

      • Phil770

        January 15, 2021 at 2:45 pm

        Well said. The Dodgers traded 5 good prospects for a 3 month rental of Manny. Upgraded the Os instantly, didn’t put a dent in the Dodger pipeline. Padres just traded 8 prospects for two front line pitchers. If this catcher was signed to a big contract, it was to outbid other teams. As I noted earlier, this system requires long term recruiting, scout, etc. MLB did not allow trade of bonus pool slots this year, which may have benefited the O’s. U

  6. jimcarter

    January 15, 2021 at 6:52 pm

    Only agents representing white players are ethical?As someone who has lived decades among bigots and racists, I say, don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

    • CalsPals

      January 15, 2021 at 7:17 pm

      What are you referring to?…I’m confused…go O’s…

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        January 16, 2021 at 2:33 am

        You’re not the only one that’s confused….

  7. Phil770

    January 15, 2021 at 7:34 pm

    @CalPals, I m too. I think he might have been commenting on Rich mentioning that the underbelly side of the Int’l market was a principle reason for PA’s policy to “eschew” this market. Though Rich’s specific comment does not seem to be in this thread.

    • CalsPals

      January 15, 2021 at 8:03 pm

      I was looking for something referencing agents but couldn’t find it…thx for trying to clarify…go O’s…

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