Orioles continue to raid the independent leagues

The Orioles have tapped into the independent league market again to find another pitcher.

They're leaving no independent stone unturned.

The Orioles signed right-hander Kyle Mertins, according to a tweet from his former team, the Sioux Falls Pheasants of the American Association.

Mertins, 24, is a former 28th-round pick of the Atlanta Braves in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Cal-State Fullerton. He went 4-1 with a 1.00 ERA in 45 relief appearances, with 36 hits allowed, 14 walks and 54 strikeouts in 54 innings.

Since late November, the Orioles also have signed former American Association pitchers Marcel Prado from El Paso and Chase Johnson from Amarillo, and outfielder Buddy Sosnoskie from Fargo-Moorhead. They signed Frontier League left-hander Logan Mahon from Gateway, shortstop Chris Wade from Windy City and catcher Jim Vahalik from the Washington Wild Things. And they signed Pecos League pitcher Luis Pardo from the Trinidad Triggers.

Wade, an 11th-round pick of the Florida Marlins in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Kentucky, batted .301/.375/.303 with 11 doubles, five homers and 37 RBIs in 90 games with the ThunderBolts.

Vahalik, 24, will give manager Buck Showalter another catcher in spring training while Allan de San Miguel and Chris Robinson participate in the World Baseball Classic. He batted .241/.288/.312 with eight doubles, three homers and 22 RBIs in 78 games with the Wild Things and London Rippers.

Vahalik played for the University of Toledo. His only professional experience consists of his one season in the Frontier League.

The Wild Things' Web site includes the following quote from manager Chris Bando:

"Jim has all the tools to be a solid major league catcher. His enthusiasm and passion for the game is contagious for his teammates, and I'm excited for Jim and look forward to hearing good things from the Orioles about Jim."

You can read about Pardo here.

It's been suggested by many that I need a vacation. This blog entry might be proof.

Good night.

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