Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia, who didn’t make it out of Haiti until February and got a late start on his professional career, has been promoted to Triple-A Norfolk.
Urrutia tweeted the news this morning, and a team official confirmed it.
Urrutia batted .365/.433/.550 with 16 doubles, seven homers and 37 RBIs in 52 games with Double-A Bowie. The Orioles had been discussing his move to the International League and it finally happened today.
The Orioles will have to make room for Urrutia at Norfolk, whose roster already includes outfielders Jason Pridie, LJ Hoes, Xavier Avery and Trayvon Robinson.
Urrutia, who received a $778,500 bonus from the Orioles last summer, batted .397/.461/.597 with 12 homers, 32 walks and 23 strikeouts in 305 at-bats in his final season in Cuba. He played for Las Tunas in the Cuban League from 2006 to 2010 and batted .350 with 72 doubles, nine triples, 33 home runs, 219 RBIs and 209 runs. He also represented Cuba in the 2010 World Championships.
The former switch-hitter didn’t play in 2011 due to a suspension after an unsuccessful attempt at defection.
The Orioles wanted to assign Urrutia to Bowie last summer, but he was stuck in Haiti while attempting to obtain his visa. He finally arrived in Miami on Feb. 27.
It’s possible that Urrutia, who now bats exclusively from the left side, could make it to Baltimore later this year. He’s been working to improve his fielding and baserunning. So far, his bat has been just fine.
We’ll now find out how it plays in the International League.
Update: Ryan Ripken, the son of Cal Ripken Jr. and a 20th-round selection by the Orioles in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, has transferred from South Carolina to Indian River Junior College in Fort Pierce, Fla. Ryan Ripken was red-shirted as a freshman at South Carolina.
Ripken will be eligible to re-enter the draft in 2014.