The Orioles continue to focus a lot of their energies on the international market, the latest example being the reported signing of New Zealand native Pita Rona.
Rona, 17, is a former softball player who switched codes so he could concentrate on baseball. The Orioles apparently scouted him this week and signed him to a “seven-year major league deal,” according to this report.
The Orioles reportedly will send Rona to their developmental program In Australia.
A seven-year major league deal? Not likely. You’re not going to find him on the 40-man roster.
Yes, I’ll need to gather more information and attempt to make sense of this transaction, but it’s interesting on the surface. And no, it’s not nearly as newsworthy as the Rangers signing Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish to a six-year, $60 million contract earlier today. No sense making comparisons.
New Zealand has never produced a major league player. Rona is a long shot to break that streak, but he’ll make the attempt.
Update: To clarify, Rona signed a minor league contract, which can be renewed up to six times. Major League Baseball has a developmental academy based in Australia. If Rona progresses as the Orioles are hoping, he eventually could be assigned to one of their affiliates (most likely in the Gulf Coast League.)
Rona probably will play third base. He’s 6-foot-5, 175 lbs. His father is a well-known softball player in New Zealand.
On an unrelated note, the Orioles are interested in signing pitcher Armando Galarraga to a minor league deal, but it’s not official. He hasn’t committed to them, according to a team official. Forget the reports coming out of Venezuela.
Want to see Rona hit a home run in softball? Well, here you go: