Forget the free-agent market. The Orioles clearly want to do most of their shopping in the international market.
The Orioles have signed Andres Aguilar, an 18-year-old outfielder from Guatemala. He’ll be assigned to the Gulf Coast League team unless the roster is full. If there’s no room, he’ll be placed on the Dominican Summer League team.
Here’s Aguilar taking a round of batting practice:
Fred Ferreira, the Orioles’ executive director of international recruiting, returned home from Guatemala yesterday after signing Aguilar.
“He can run exceptionally well and he has an above-average arm,” Ferreira said. “He’s also a good hitter. He has some power. He can play center field. He’s a good one in the making.”
Guatemala has never produced a major league player. Troy Tulowitzki’s mother is Guatemalan, but he was born in California.
“We’re hoping (Aguilar) will be the first,” Ferreira said. “We’re really high on this kid and we’re feeling pretty good about him.”
Ferreira will scout Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes next week. Cespedes will be playing in the Caribbean Series if his team advances. Otherwise, he’ll be evaluated in another workout.
Ferreira attended Cespedes’ private workout for the Orioles last month. He hasn’t watched Cespedes play in the Dominican Winter League - the outfielder is 5-for-35 with 10 strikeouts - but he’s read the reports from his scouts.
“He’s struggled, but we still want to see him,” Ferreira said.
“Watching him work out and in batting practice, he showed ability. There’s no question he has tools. He has a good bat. We couldn’t see him run because the grounds were wet, so we didn’t see him in the 60-yard dash or anything like that.”
The Orioles haven’t determined whether Cespedes is ready for the majors or if he’ll need time in Double-A or Triple-A.
“Everybody has a different opinion,” Ferreira said. “I guess it depends on what day you see him and what he shows you. You’ll hear opinions, and sometimes it’s not the right one.
“I want to see more of him, to be honest with you. We’re talking about a player who might be an expensive one, and you have to be a little more thorough with your evaluation and get as many opinions as you can.”
Ferreira also will get his first look next week at 19-year-old Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler.