When the Orioles announced their minor league managers and coaches last week, there were a number unfamiliar names to fans. There was also one name that’s familiar throughout the game.
Felipe Rojas Alou Jr., a longtime member of the Orioles’ organization, will get his first opportunity to manage in the United States this season. He’ll be the manager of the Delmarva Shorebirds, the Orioles’ Low-A affiliate.
Alou might have the best bloodlines in baseball.
One of 11 children of Felipe Alou Sr., Felipe Jr. is the son of the 86-year-old former major league outfielder who twice led the National League in hits and became the first Dominican manager in baseball history.
Felipe Sr. played for the Braves, San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics, New York Yankees, Montreal Expos and Milwaukee Brewers before managing the Expos and Giants.
His two brothers, Matty and Jesús, were also excellent major league outfielders and the three played in the same outfield a few times for the Giants. Matty led the National League in batting with a .342 average as a teammate of Roberto Clemente with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1966, one of the two years Felipe Sr. led the league in hits.
Moises Alou, Felipe Jr.’s older brother, had a stellar 17-year career as a major league outfielder and was a six-time All-Star. Another brother, Luis Rojas, managed the New York Mets in 2020 and 2021 and will coach third base for the New York Yankees this season. Another brother, José, played three seasons in the Montreal organization and scouts for the Yankees. Two cousins, Mel Rojas and Jose Sosa, also played in the major leagues. One of Felipe Jr.’s sisters, a lawyer, has done some baseball legal work.
As for Felipe Jr., he played three seasons in the Kansas City organization. The 43-year-old has been with the Orioles for the past 15 years, most recently as the director of the team’s academy in the Dominican Republic.
“This is something as a family, as a baseball family, talking to my dad, my brother and my other brothers, this is something that we thought would be a good thing down the road in my career,” Alou said from the Dominican. “Getting the chance to manage and continue to impact some of the younger guys in the lower levels, I’m very excited about it.”
A number of the players Alou is expected to manage with the Shorebirds he saw in the Dominican.
“With the commitment that we’ve been making over the last couple of years,” Alou said, “having a person that saw their beginning, a person that comes from where they come really helps with that transition.”
Alou was already in place when Mike Elias arrived as Orioles executive vice president/baseball operations and brought along Koby Perez to head up international scouting.
“Ground through sky different,” Alou said. “It was all about the commitment. I know Mike Elias understands that. That’s where he comes from. He’s seen that commitment work somewhere else. The same with Koby Perez, a person who’s a legit international scout.
“We need this market. We need to be aggressive in this market. Let’s flood the market. It’s a pretty solid foundation in any organization. No doubt you can tell the difference, you can tell the aggressiveness.”
Alou points to the Dominican academy under construction as a key.
“Now, you’re going to bring the players that you’re scouting, you’re going to bring them to a lot better situation,” Alou said. “We do have an [existing] academy. It works. We get our stuff done, but once you have a Class A place with all the resources and equipment … it makes it a lot easier to bring in not only the players, but the entire family. Parents want to see their kids coming to a better learning situation.”
Two of the best prospects who could play for the Shorebirds this season are outfielder Mishael Deson, a 19-year-old outfielder obtained from Colorado in the trade for reliever Mychal Givens, and infielder Isaac De Leon, who came from Miami in the trade for reliever Richard Bleier. Deson hit .369 with a .931 OPS in the Florida Complex League, and De Leon hit .283.
Others Alou might manage are outfielders Stiven Acevedo and Isaac Bellony and third baseman Moisés Ramirez, all of whom played in the Florida Complex League last summer and are Oriole products.
The eldest Alou continues to advise his son. His most important contribution to his son’s education was “by the way he managed himself as a person, his interaction with people and players and coaches,” Felipe Jr. said.
Baseball is what the Alou family is about.
“We enjoy it. We love it,” he said. “We give our full effort on it, and this is what we’ve seen since we were born.”
Note: Baseball America, which has five Orioles ranked among its top 100 prospects, ranks the Orioles’ organization as the fourth highest in talent. Seattle, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh rank ahead of the Orioles. It ranks catcher Adley Rutschman as baseball’s top prospect, and pitcher Grayson Rodriguez sixth. Left-hander DL Hall is ranked 52nd, shortstop Gunnar Henderson is 57th and outfielder Colton Cowser is 98th.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB