Correcting the Guatemalan math, and a Hardy note

News leaked yesterday that the Orioles signed 18-year-old outfielder Juan Diego Montes from Guatemala. Various photos of the kid in an Orioles jersey circulated through Twitter.

That part was accurate.

The mistake came in the math.

Forget what you've read about Montes being the second player from Guatemala signed by the Orioles. A reader of this blog pointed out correctly that Montes is the third.

Apparently, outfielder Manny Hernandez has become the forgotten man.

Former Orioles farm director and scout David Stockstill signed Hernandez, a native of Guatemala City, back in September 2009. Hernandez led the Gulf Coast League club with 19 RBIs and tied for the lead with three home runs in 46 games in 2012. He batted .216/.295/.298 with two homers and 16 RBIs in 55 games with short-season Single-A Aberdeen this season.

Hernandez, 21, isn't currently viewed as a prospect in the organization, but he deserves mention after Montes' signing.

This makes outfielder Andres Aguilar the second player from Guatemala signed by the Orioles, and the first by executive director of international recruiting Fred Ferreira. Aguilar, who signed in February 2012, batted .234/.282/.284 in 69 games this season with the GCL team.

The blog and my Twitter account are blowing up with inquires about shortstop J.J. Hardy and whether the Orioles will trade him.

If Hardy isn't the starting shortstop on opening day, you'll have to wave smelling salts in front of my nose. Well, one of you. Let's not overdo it.

Fans are reacting to the CBSSports.com report that the Cardinals rejected the Orioles offer of Hardy for pitcher Shelby Miller. I don't doubt that the two sides talked at the GM meetings, and that the Orioles are checking on available pitchers. They want a starter for the top half of their rotation. The Cardinals have pitching to spare and need a shortstop.

Makes sense on the surface. However, the Orioles would need to be overwhelmed in order to move Hardy, their Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner. And the Hardy-Miller talk is typical of these meetings. It was a preliminary discussion and didn't figure to go far.

I'm sure that the Cardinals, like every other team, checked on the availability of the Orioles young pitching prospects. Names like Kevin Gausman, Eduardo Rodriguez and Mike Wright always come up. Executive vice president Dan Duquette doesn't want to part with them.

End of discussion.

Hardy is entering the final year of his contract and his value remains high, which suggests that the Orioles should explore trading him. How about signing him to an extension and keeping the left side of the infield intact?

Who plays shortstop in his absence? Manny Machado will eventually shift to the position, but why now? Especially as he recovers from knee surgery.

And who plays third base if Machado, a Gold and Platinum Glove winner, moves to short? It's not like the Orioles have better options in the minors. Why weaken that side of the infield?

As one member of the organization recently said, people won't fully appreciate Hardy's value until he's gone. And the Orioles aren't in a rush to find out, no matter how hard they work to acquire another pitcher.

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