This past July, there wasn’t any correlation between the Orioles and International Free Agents, however, since their return to baseball relevancy, they haven’t had much success searching the global market.
Since 2012, the Orioles have signed twenty-four players, from eleven different countries, and just two have made appearances for the Orioles. The two I refer to here are Henry Urrutia (2012), and Dariel Alvarez (2013), both from Cuba.
The remaining signees since 2012, go as follows:
Jan Novak (LHP) – Czech Republic
Pita Rona (1B) – New Zealand
Paolo Pezzarossi (OF) – Guatemala
Juan Aguilar (CF) – Guatemala
Carlos Laureano (OF) – Dominican Republic
Yariel Vargas (2B) – Dominican Republic
Carlos Rodriguez (OF) – Dominican Republic
Yi-Hsiang Lin (LHP) – Taiwan
Guillermo Salas (SS) – Venezuela
Ofelky Peralta (RHP) – Dominican Republic
Johnny Dixon (LF) – Panama
Irving Ortega (SS) – Dominican Republic
Luis Hernandez (SS) – Dominican Republic
Richard Barcenas (OF) – Venezuela
Miguel Gonzalez (RHP) – Dominican Republic
Elier Leyva (OF) – Cuba
Jomar Reyes (3B) – Dominican Republic
Suk-Min Yoon (LHP) – Korea
Lazaro Leyva (RHP) – Cuba
Yaisel Mederos (1B) – Cuba
Gillian Wernet (RHP) – Aruba
Alexander Wells (LHP) – Australia
A notable name from the 2011 market is Tsuyoshi Wada, who never made an appearance in an MLB game, after being assumed he would join the Orioles rotation the following season. In early February 2012, Wada had mentioned some discomfort in his pitching elbow, which ultimately led to Tommy John Surgery, and him becoming a free agent in 2014.
We know about Urrutia, and Alvarez, so let’s take a look at a few other players that have been picked from the International Market.
From the 2012 class, just Yi-Hsiang Lin remains active. Lin is currently assigned to the class low-a Aberdeen Ironbirds, and in 14 appearances in 2016, he posted a 4-0 record, with a 2.57 ERA in 28 IP. He also held both right-handed, and left-handed hitters to averages under .200. Since being promoted from the Gulf Coast Orioles, Lin has a 2.83 ERA in 40 appearances.
Looking through the 2013 class, Guillermo Salas was promoted from the Ironbirds, back to the class-a Delmarva Shorebirds after just 26 games. He played 56 games with the Shorebirds in 2015. Through 65 total games at the class-a level, Salas is slashing just .211/.221/.272 in 220 plate appearances. Primarily a middle infielder, you probably won’t see Salas in an Orioles uniform in foreseeable future.
In 2014, the Orioles signed Korean left-hander, Suk-Min Yoon, after nine seasons in the Korean Baseball League. While pitching with the Kia Tigers prior to being signed by the O’s, Yoon pitched to a 73-59 record, with a 3.19 ERA in 1,129 innings. After being signed, Yoon was immediately assigned to the class-AAA Norfolk Tides, and made 23 appearances (18 starts). Yoon did not resemble the pitcher from the KBO of years prior, as he finished the 2014 season with a 5.72 ERA in 95.2 innings, and a record of 4-8. Yoon did not receive an invite to Spring Training in 2015, and chose to return back to the Kia Tigers, where he has since pitched to a 2.78 ERA in 61 relief appearances (3 starts).
Last season, Australian pitcher Alex Wells, started 13 games for the Ironbirds, and finished his season with an ERA of 2.15. Very, very respectable for a 19-year-old who began playing cricket at the age of 10. The future is very bright for this right-hander who allowed just one home run in 62.2 innings.
The Orioles won’t be a team that lands a Miguel Cabrera, or Mariano Rivera type player from the International Market, however, there is promise for at least a few of the twenty-four mentioned.
Keep your eye on Lin, and Wells, as they seem to be the most successful players of the past five years worth of acquisitions, and here’s hoping we see either one of those players in an Orioles home white within the next five years. If all else fails, maybe if they won’t be making it to the bigs, they can be used in a multi-player deal within the next few years.