Orioles start to gain ground in the Dominican Republic - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Orioles start to gain ground in the Dominican Republic

Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles

In 2021, the Orioles had 12 players from Latin America on their roster. None was originally signed by the team.

Signing and developing talent from Latin America has been a priority for Mike Elias’since he became the Orioles’ executive vice president/general manager in November 2018. The Orioles hope they took a large step with last week’s groundbreaking of a new academy in the Dominican Republic.

The October 6th groundbreaking in Guerra, 22 miles from the Dominican’s capital city, Santo Domingo, is another sign that the Orioles are serious about improving their talent in that baseball hotbed.

“We have made tremendous strides over the last couple of years in establishing our international presence and revamping our baseball operations infrastructure, and this project may be the most momentous step yet,” Elias said at the groundbreaking.

“International scouting and player development are critical to the future success of the Orioles, and baseball as a whole. This new academy will be the Latin American home of the Orioles, and once completed we expect it to be one of the finest training facilities in the Dominican.”

The Orioles haven’t had a homegrown Dominican player since shortstop Pedro Florimon played four games for them in 2011 and have never had  a player from Venezuela who originally signed with the team.

The Orioles have scouted and signed players from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela since the arrival of Elias and Koby Perez, the team’s senior director of international scouting,  but it’s a long process.

Under Peter Angelos, the Orioles shied away from a major commitment to Latin America, though Elias’ predecessor, Dan Duquette, did make some inexpensive signings.

Pitcher Ofelky Peralta, who has been in the organization since 2013, is the closest to the major leagues. Peralta, a 24-year-old right-hander, was 9-4 with a 4.73 ERA in 23 games with Triple-A Norfolk and Double-A Bowie.

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Last week, Peralta signed a minor league contract with the team for 2022.

Under Duquette, the Orioles signed three moderately priced Cuban players who had brief careers in the majors — outfielder Dariel Alvarez, pitcher Ariel Miranda and outfielder Henry Urrutia.

Jonathan Schoop, who was signed by the Orioles in 2008 at 16, is another success story. Under former pitcher Calvin Maduro, the team did scout in Curacao, Schoop’s home, and Aruba, but Maduro left the team after Elias arrived.

In July 2018, when the Orioles traded Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers and began their rebuild, Duquette said that the Orioles were returning to the Dominican Republic in a big way.

Even though it was too late to sign most of the best international prospects by then, the Orioles did come up with a player who had an excellent showing in his first year in the United States, third baseman Moises Ramirez.

Ramirez was signed in late August 2018 and hit .314 with five home runs and 28 RBIs in 34 games in the Florida Complex League. Another signing that preceded Elias and Perez was outfielder Davis Taverez, who he hit .325 with a homer and 22 RBIs in 36 games for the Florida Complex League Black team.

Some other strong prospects are players the Orioles acquired in trades. Infielder Isaac De Léon, acquired from Miami for reliever Richard Bleier, hit .276 with a home run and 23 RBIs in 45 games in the Florida Complex League. Outfielder Mishael Deson, who came from Colorado in the trade for reliever Mychal Givens, hit .369 with three homers and 16 RBIs for the Florida Complex League Black team and earned a promotion to Low-A Delmarva.

Right-handed starter Jean Pinto, who was traded by the Los Angeles Angels to the Orioles as part of the return for shortstop José Iglesias, was 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA in five games for Florida Complex Leauge Black team and was 1-1 with a 2.51 ERA in nine games for Delmarva.

The Orioles were far behind other major league teams in the Dominican Republic when Elias was hired. The team signed 27 players when the international signing period began on July 2, 2019. Many of the prospects signed in 2019 played in the Florida Complex League this year. Those signed last January played in the Dominican Summer League.

Players signed at 16 might take five years or more to develop. Because the Orioles had been out of the big-ticket international signing bonus market for years, it will take time before they’re considered a major player. Young players often commit to teams a few years before they’re legally able to sign.

The Orioles hope the Dominican complex will help. To underscore the Orioles’ commitment, team chairman and president John Angelos attended the groundbreaking.

“This partnership group continues to execute the long-term plan announced in the fall of 2018 to invest and reinvest in baseball facilities, technology, front office research and expertise, and player talent. Our organization’s capital commitment to the Dominican Republic is yet another demonstration of our confident long view of the value of MLB, Orioles, and Camden Yards brand platforms,” Angelos said. “As we continue to invest and give back across Maryland and Florida, we see this as another opportunity to make a difference internationally in the Dominican community as we strengthen the future of Orioles baseball.”

Former Oriole pitchers Daniel Cabrera and Radhames Liz, who were two of the few players from the Dominican who were signed and developed by the team, were two of several who attended the groundbreaking.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

 

 

 

42 Comments

42 Comments

  1. millboy

    October 14, 2021 at 7:47 am

    Thanks for the update, was wondering how things were moving along on that front. When they sign these 16 year olds, besides baseball, do they introduce these kids to American culture, help them with language barriers etc?

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 14, 2021 at 7:58 am

      Yes, millboy, part of the complex includes a school, and they’re given English lessons.

    • HmmmImNotSoSureAboutThat

      October 14, 2021 at 8:05 am

      Articles of possible interest:
      SI 2012 article “Drafted at 13, how one player changed international signing rules”
      Global Sports Matters 2018 article “Building a baseball team: Assimilating Latin, Asian players a team effort”
      Forbes 2021 “MLB Should Promote More Spanish Learning To Help Latino Players Better Acclimate” with an interesting take/solution but a little light on evidence to support the solution IMO

  2. Baltimore Castaway

    October 14, 2021 at 9:01 am

    You have to give a lot of credit to John and Louis Angelos for their substantial commitments of Money and Talent into this important part of every team’s core strength. Since their father came very close to ruining this franchise they are doing the right thing by sticking w the redevelopment plan.

    The real test will be when it’s time to announce the annual Signing Classes and the amounts of money they pay out to ones they believe that have the most talent.

    It will be several years still before this all starts to take shape. I look forward to this playing out into the full-on rebuild of this once-proud franchise.

  3. Orioles20

    October 14, 2021 at 9:13 am

    Everyone claims the orioles have money problem. If they really had money problems would they have spent that much money to build a new facility in the Dominican Republic. Doubt it. According to MLB.com the orioles are projected to sign three of the top fifty international prospects in this upcoming period. To me that’s big because they’ve only been down for three years and international signings are like college recruiting you got get a relationship years advance with the players. So imagine as we establish ourselves even more what it will be like.

  4. OrangeDNA

    October 14, 2021 at 9:19 am

    Rich,

    How many teams have academy’s like our new one? All teams? 50% of teams?

    I also wonder is this one state of the art? ala major college programs using the campus as a recruiting tool? or is this in line with what everyone else has

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 14, 2021 at 9:30 am

      I have not been to the Dominican, but I would think that most teams have similar facilities.

      If it’s as good as the Sarasota spring training complex, which is excellent but without frills, that would be fine.

  5. Balt mp

    October 14, 2021 at 9:42 am

    This is what Elias has been doing for two plus years . Any structure business or otherwise has to be built from the ground up . For the Orioles for the last 40 years to ignore one of the largest talent pools made no sense .

    Now I hope he turns his attention to the big league club.

  6. Orial

    October 14, 2021 at 10:24 am

    This is as significant as anything,with the possible exception of a new lease and stadium improvements,at getting the Orioles to where they should be in MLB standards. What took so long? Did it really take Dad handing the keys over to the Sons to get this accomplished? Probably. Building through the amateur draft is one thing but when looking at the talent in MLB the International Market is the real Gold-mine. Definitely encouraging.

    • Baltimore Castaway

      October 14, 2021 at 11:32 am

      I believe that is indeed what it took—the Old Man was not going to make these investments in Latin America…John and Lou are playing this straight—so far so good.

      • Phil770

        October 14, 2021 at 1:44 pm

        PA, as I understand it, was not so much against paying the money, but who it went to. He thought it was wrong to pay handlers to steer teenagers, often poor, to commit to a team, even his. The handler got too much of the payment, making it feel like a bribe. Certainly in some cases, it probably was a bribe. The Academy can better address those concerns – at least that is the thinking. Certainly better than sitting out altogether.

        • willmiranda

          October 14, 2021 at 3:29 pm

          I think the shady side of this trafficking was alluded to by Rich when he pointed out that underage kids are induced to make “commitments” perhaps years before they can legally enter into contracts. There must be some exchange of goods to seal the commitments. I am in sympathy with Angelos on this, These practices would probably be illegal as a form of child abuse in the USA.. Organized BB should look into the ethics, if not the legality, of all this and come up with a better system.

          • WorldlyView

            October 14, 2021 at 3:56 pm

            Phil and Will, Thank you for this info. I believe it’s extremely useful to have all the facts about a controversial topic

          • OriolesNumber1Fan

            October 14, 2021 at 6:58 pm

            Phil and Will are absolutely correct regarding the International market and Peter Angelos. With PA being an attorney, he didn’t want anything to tarnish his reputation as an attorney or his law firm!!! And with the handler getting too much of the payment, making it feel exactly like a bribe, PA wanted nothing to do with this. He also didn’t like how back then these “handlers” would tell these international players to lie about their ages, stating they were a few years younger to get more money – ala Miguel Tejada. So there was a MAJOR TRUST issue among other things in this regard for Peter Angelos.

            Per Roch Kubatko – “On this date in 2014, the Orioles moved within one game of elimination in the American League Championship Series following a 2-1 loss in Kansas City…. No one knew that the window had started to close on the Orioles, who also lost 2-1 the following day to complete the sweep. They’d finish .500 in 2015, lose the 2016 Wild Card game in Toronto, collapse in September 2017 and begin the tear down in July 2018.” So this ALL happened WAY PRIOR to Mike Elias ever coming to the Orioles. In my opinion, the tear-down should have happened sometime after the 2016 season and before the trading deadline in 2017, way before the Orioles finished in last place at 75 – 87 record in 2017 and way, way, way before they did it in July of 2018. The Orioles finished 3 out of the last 4 years at .500 or below under Dan Duquette and the last two years in last place in 2017 and 2018!!! And with the 2018 season the Orioles had their worst record EVER wasn’t proof enough that Dan Duquette destroyed this team!!! Talk about a “tank” job, what do you call this???
            So here comes Mike Elias to pick up the pieces with no International market, the 27th ranked farm system out of 30 teams, no analytic department, and a last place team and everyone blames him??? And calls him the “tanker”??? I’m so glad these same posters are not running this team that’s for sure!!!
            But speaking of “Tanking”, the Boston Red Sox are the real tankers here!!! They finished with a record worst than the Orioles last year and look where they are now!!! Now that’s a perfect tank job!!! There is no way this team was that bad in 2020!!! Maybe a .500 team with all that hitting but not the 4th worst team in baseball and the 4th pick in the draft, which turned into Marcelo Mayer!!! Then getting Garrett Whitlock In Rule 5 Draft and Nick Pivetta arrived in Boston thanks to a Trade Deadline move with the Phillies that also brought over a top pitching prospect in Connor Seabold!!! And also getting Chris Sale back from Tommy John surgery, the Red Sox really turned around their pitching staff!!! The signing of Kiké Hernandez was another great move to help the offense and stabilize center field!!! But most of the core pieces of this team are still there so….. perfect tank job!!! You do this in a short 60 game season so it doesn’t hurt for long and get the 4th pick in 20 rounds of the draft, plus the rule 5 draft!!! Major tank job here!!!!

          • WorldlyView

            October 14, 2021 at 8:27 pm

            #1fan, “everyone” has NOT blamed Elias alone for the Orioles’ mega-losing seasons. “Everyone” has not called him a tanker. Plenty of comments on this site have sung his praises and alluded to his contribution to the Astros’ turnaround.
            I genuinely can’t tell if you were being serious in excoriating the Bosox as deliberate tankers last season. Your outpouring of player facts did not offer any proof that ownership and management conspired to have team play poorly.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            October 15, 2021 at 8:39 am

            Again Onesy!!!! ….I implore you to use more exclamations!!!!

          • OriolesNumber1Fan

            October 15, 2021 at 10:51 am

            I’ll use as many !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! as I f’n feel – Goober or is it Gomer! Ah, it doesn’t really matter.

          • willmiranda

            October 15, 2021 at 11:33 am

            Number One, thank you for the support on international situation. However, the point I take from your analogy with the Red Sox is that after one bad season they made more good decisions than the O’s have made after four bad seasons. I guess I have to agree that it makes them better tankers.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            October 15, 2021 at 12:27 pm

            Tanking is the art of INTENTIONALLY losing games. By design.

            Show me where/how the Red Sox intentionally lost games? I submit they lost naturally, with zero intent. Therefore, they are about as far away from being a tanking team as can be. To clame they are is just plain silly.

          • OriolesNumber1Fan

            October 15, 2021 at 3:44 pm

            I’ll put it this way, player for player the Red Sox roster was better overall than the Orioles last year. They basically have the same core roster from last year!!! They play in the same division as the Orioles. Due to covid19, they even played only the east teams in this same division and the NL East division just like the Orioles!!! Yet they finished BEHIND the Orioles!!! Explain to me how that happens??? They made a few changes to their pitching by the 4th worst place standing, get back a pitcher from Tommy John late and added a center fielder for this year and poof instant playoff team and 1 series away from the World Series!!! Also, finished 40 plus games better than the Orioles!!! And you’re telling me they didn’t tank last year??? Better yet, show me where another team in the history of baseball made a jump from 4th worst team in baseball and turns into a 90 plus wins in just 1 season!!!

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            October 15, 2021 at 7:26 pm

            I don’t know what else to say to you … except you obviously don’t understand what is meant by ‘tanking’. And I’m not trying to be a smart aleck here, but you think that players playing poorly is what is meant by an organization ‘tanking’. That has absoulutely nothing to do with tanking. Players don’t tank. They ALWAYS try to perform to the best of their capabilities.

            It’s managment/ownership that ‘tanks’ by not putting the best product on the field that they can. The Red Sox continually buy the best players they can, and they put them on the field. They’re ‘trying’ to win. There are no throw away seasons. They may stink every now and then, but that’s baseball. You’re best efforts don’t alway work.

            And by the way, the Sox have a history of going from last place to 1st place in one year several times.

          • OriolesNumber1Fan

            October 15, 2021 at 8:00 pm

            This just shows you know nothing about players in professional sports!!! I’ve played with some players that went out drinking and didn’t take care of their bodies by also taking drugs and such. Baseball had this issue with performance enhancing drugs recently. And players that get their contracts seem to take off seasons once they’ve been paid. Happened to Chris Davis who was one such player. It happens in all sports!!! Le’Veon Bell was one of the best running backs in football, signed a big 5 year contract with the Jets and he’s now a third string RB with the Ravens. Speaking of Bell, the Orioles signed outfielder Bell from the White Sox to a big 5 year contract and he tanked. So your statement that players always play to their best is total BS!!! I believe that the Red Sox didn’t really want to play last year because of covid19 and instead of opting out and not being paid, they played but tanked!!! No question about it!!!
            You should read the book put out by Jose Canseco!

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            October 15, 2021 at 8:58 pm

            I believe I know more than you do.

            I don’t think you’ve said one thing in this last paragraph (if ever) that was original. I’ve read each and every thing you just wrote..only it was formulated in somebody’s else’s mind.

        • OriolesNumber1Fan

          October 15, 2021 at 10:07 pm

          Just total BS from you. If you think you know more than me about ANYTHING, then you’re living in a fantasy world!
          Good teams players tank when these veteran players know the “writing is on the wall” and they know they can’t overcome getting back in the race to make the playoffs!!!
          This can be from a key injury or just bad play!!! Or great players hitting free agency and don’t want to risk getting hurt in their free agent walk year!!! All facts!!! This happened to the Orioles in 2018!!! They gave up on Buck Showalter!!! All facts!!!
          You only speak of your opinion. You never back it up with any facts. The last time you mentioned a player to back up your opinion, you thought would be better off playing more is now catching in the minors for the Mets!!! This is what you know!!!

          • OriolesNumber1Fan

            October 15, 2021 at 10:32 pm

            And it’s very true what they say – You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!!!

    • CalsPals

      October 15, 2021 at 3:53 pm

      They hired a cheater to manage the team, cheating is cheating…go O’s…

    • CalsPals

      October 16, 2021 at 8:32 am

      Why must everything be an attack with you, good players do not tank, it is not in their DNA, give 100% & no tank, losses, absolutely, some days 100% isn’t as good as someone else’s 100%, but no tanking, it’s the coaches responsibility to put them in the best position to win, Hyde hasn’t always done that…good lord…go O’s…

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        October 16, 2021 at 10:34 am

        No players tank. He seems to think they do. Dario truly doesn’t understand the tanking concept. (and I’m the dumb-ass)

        Tanking is purposefully losing in order to position the team in the upcoming draft. He claims players ‘tank’

        Why in the world would any player care about draft position? Does he welcome the team possibly finding a replacement for him? Doesn’t make sense. Nor does #1 or his arguments.

        • OriolesNumber1Fan

          October 16, 2021 at 2:53 pm

          Who said players “tank” for draft position???? They “tank” AFTER GETTING PAID”!!!!!!!! Their efforts show this in their stats. Players also cheat the system with all the drug scandals they’ve had over the years. And you said it yourself the Red Sox hired a cheater to manage their team! THIS WAS A FORMER PLAYER!!!! If you think ALL players are squeaky clean, then pick up a book and read else you’re living in a fantasy world!!!! You both need to grasp what the term “tank” really means. Some players used to “juice up” for their next contract then get off the stuff before getting caught but their numbers reflected this downward spiral on their stats as well. Alex Rodriquez is the perfect example of a great player juicing up along with Barry Bonds, and all the rest!!!

          • OriolesNumber1Fan

            October 16, 2021 at 3:03 pm

            And it wasn’t the General Manager of the Astros that cheated!!!! It was the players banging on their garbage cans that cheated!!! Players cheat and tank!!! Not ALL players do this but they’re there. The Black Sox scandal for excepting $$$ to NOT WIN THE WORLD SERIES!!!! READ A BOOK!!! THIS WAS THE ULTIMATE TANK JOB!!!!

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        October 16, 2021 at 3:30 pm

        So the NBA changed thier draft to a lottery because players tanked? Bwahahahaaahhaahhaaha

        Ahhhduh….

        • OriolesNumber1Fan

          October 16, 2021 at 4:35 pm

          The NBA changed the “Lottery” part of the draft to the 3 worst teams only. And they only have 2 entire rounds in the draft as well. Proving the NBA does not put a lot of stock in the draft outside of the top 5 players drafted. And teams have a salary cap to stay under and it didn’t fix some teams that just mismanage their teams by trading away number 1 picks. The NBA is now way the other way for great players migrating to play with other great players. And further, players on a court or on a field are the ones that win or lose games proving my point that players tank!!!
          And I told you before – Stop crying, there’s no crying in baseball!!! And what, no comeback to the following: The Black Sox scandal for excepting $$$ to NOT WIN THE WORLD SERIES!!!! READ A BOOK!!! THIS WAS THE ULTIMATE TANK JOB!!!!

  7. Arkyoriole

    October 14, 2021 at 10:38 am

    Henry “Hammerin’ Hank” Urrutia! A blast from the past! Loved that guy.

  8. dlgruber1

    October 14, 2021 at 10:49 am

    I’ve heard some on this site refer to “the Oriole Way”. I suggest reading the article “The Oriole Way: The Founding Fathers” by Warren Corbett. The parallels between then (the arrival of the O’s from St. Louis) and now are remarkably similar. If Elias can be the modern day Paul Richards and Koby Perez be the Jim McLaughlin of Latin America we O’s fans have much to look forward to. The Oriole Way was the model that led to the O’s being the winningest team in MLB from 1965 thru 2000. The O’s won 3,079 games in those years. The Yankees were 2nd with 3,065 wins. Somehow they abandoned it and quickly went from what was the model for success in all MLB to possibly the worst run team in all MLB. The blueprint for success is right there. They need to get back to it. There’s a saying “ the more thing change, the more they stay the same.” Here’s hoping that’s true.

    • Baltimore Castaway

      October 14, 2021 at 11:29 am

      Well said DLG

  9. WorldlyView

    October 14, 2021 at 3:35 pm

    Rich, are there any indications as to when players will begin arriving at the academy? I’m also curious as to whether a signed contract is a prerequisite for being “enrolled.” Any info available about the capacity of the academy and if new coaches will be hired? Thanks.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 14, 2021 at 4:33 pm

      Steve, the Orioles already have an academy in Boca Chica. This will replace that. The Orioles say it will take 12 to 16 months to complete and will house about 100 players. Orioles major and minor league players will be able to work out there. The Orioles have two teams in the Dominican Summer League, so I assume they have enough staff, and I would assume it’s only for players who are signed. The minimum age for signing in the DR is 16.

  10. CalsPals

    October 14, 2021 at 5:40 pm

    Cardinals fire their manager for philosophical differences, maybe he wouldn’t tank?….go O’s…

    • HmmmImNotSoSureAboutThat

      October 14, 2021 at 8:59 pm

      Sir the Cardinals made the NL Wild Card game this season, yeah maybe he wouldn’t tank. Your monopoly on theater of the absurd is getting stronger by the day, though thanks for being concise vs. the lengthy post above.

      • Hallbe62

        October 15, 2021 at 3:42 pm

        “Big Mouth strikes Again” !! by the Smiths

        Great song, but devastatingly childish when sang by Josephus

    • CalsPals

      October 15, 2021 at 7:11 am

      LOL, sarcasm, not shocked you’re commenting on me though DS…Your monopoly on theater of absurd is getting stronger by the day…go O’s…

  11. BirdsCaps

    October 16, 2021 at 9:33 pm

    So they have the infrastructure, but have they paid off the right agents so they can get decent players. The o’s were horridly negligent for many years, but the system is messed up.

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