Orioles General Manager, Dan Duquette, made it clear that he was going to be searching for RF, and DH help this offseason, while trying to keep a platoon moving around in LF. While it’s no secret that the Orioles aren’t going to be spending a ton this season in the free agent market, help from within the organization could be just a call away.
The MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire on December 1, and rumors have it that there should be a new agreement in place by that time. According to MLB Trade Rumors, roster size could increase from 25, to 26, which for the Orioles, could mean another outfielder on the bench.
We know that Hyun Soo Kim is more than likely going to be the Opening Day left fielder, with Joey Rickard as his backup. But what about a third left fielder? What about Henry Urrutia?
Urrutia, who will turn 30 just before pitchers and catchers report to camp, will be entering his fifth season in the Orioles organization. He is a career .299 hitter through 368 games in the minor leagues. More specifically, Henry hit .336 with Bowie in 127 games, and .284 in Norfolk through 227 games. Urrutia also spent five seasons with the Lenadores de Las Tunas of the Cuban League, slashing .350/.426/.517 and hitting 33 home runs in 355 games.
Currently, Henry is playing winter ball with the Charros de Jalisco. Only appearing in eight games thus far, Henry is batting .185, with one home run. On a positive note, Henry is batting .308 vs. left handed pitchers.
Urrutia was released by Leones del Caracas of the Venezuelan League back at the end of October, signed by the Charros, and made his debut with them on November 15, going 0-3, with a walk.
Urrutia has made two separate appearances with the Orioles at the major league level. His first in 2013, appearing in 24 games, and batting .276, with 1 triple. His next stint in the bigs was in 2015, playing in 10 games, and batting .265. It was on August 19, 2015, that Urrutia picked up his first big league home run, in walk-off fashion, hammering a 1-2 pitch over the left field wall, to defeat the New York Mets, 5-4.
The extra defensive help that Urrutia would bring to the club would be welcomed for sure. In 2015, Urrutia carried a UZR/150 of 18.6 (a 1.1 UZR). In comparison, Hyun Soo Kim had a -17.6 UZR/150, Joey Rickard had a -22.3, and Nolan Reimold had a -2.0.
Duquette has been quoted in the past as saying, “He [Urrutia] is a good on-base man”. Duquette also said that Urrutia “looks like he is an everyday major league ballplayer, and he has all the skills; he just needs a little more experience.” Those quotes were from 2013 and Urrutia could be poised to make the 2017 ball club, and stick with them as a third left fielder.
I personally enjoy watching Urrutia play, and I love the passion he brings on a daily basis. He won’t stop until he succeeds, and will never let anyone tell him he can’t do it. Henry impresses me with the amount of confidence he has in himself, and I wish all the best for him. When the calendar reads February, keep your eye on number 51. It wouldn’t surprise me if Urrutia opens more eyes, in an effort to put on that white Orioles home jersey on April 3, 2017.