Orioles remain in the running for Yoon, expected to scout Castillo

The Orioles continue to work the international market while seeking upgrades, and they remain in the running to sign Korean pitcher Suk-min Yoon.

A member of the organization watched Yoon throw during the weekend on the Cal-Irvine campus, along with a representative for the Giants. It wasn’t anyone in international scouting, but the Orioles had a presence.

Executive vice president Dan Duquette declined comment on Yoon during Saturday’s FanFest at the Baltimore Convention Center.

“We really can’t talk about the players who are free agents,” Duquette said.

Yoon, 27, is represented by Scott Boras. At least five teams are expressing interest, according to a Sang-Soo Kwon of the Korean news outlet JoongAng Daily, who tabs the Orioles as the frontrunners.

That part is obviously speculation, but it makes sense that the Orioles would be linked to him so strongly, considering Duquette’s affinity for tapping into the Asian market, dating back to his days as Red Sox general manager.

Here’s the article in the JoongAng Daily. You’ll notice how the author claims that the Orioles have only two starters. He’s short on his math, but Duquette is looking to add at least one more pitcher.

Yoon’s best season came in 2011, when he went 17-5 with a 2.45 ERA and 178 strikeouts in 27 games (23 starts) and was named Most Valuable Player. He reportedly was bothered by a shoulder injury last year.

Yoon has worked as a starter and reliever.

Fred Ferreira, the Orioles’ executive director of international recruiting, is in the Dominican Republic this week and is expected to scout Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, who recently defected.

Castillo, 26, has played for five years in Cuba’s top professional league and is exempt from international signing bonus limits.

Baseball America’s Ben Badler provided the following scouting report on Castillo. Here’s an excerpt:

“Castillo is short but has a strong, athletic frame at 5-foot-9, 185 pounds. His best tool is his speed, as he’s an above-average runner and one of the better base stealers in Cuba. More of a doubles hitter than a big home run threat, Castillo puts a charge into the ball with a line-drive right-handed swing, though he can get long to the ball at times and some scouts think he’s prone to chasing pitches off the plate. Primarily a center fielder in Cuba, Castillo has also played some second and third base, so his versatility could be a draw for some teams. He’s an aggressive, high-energy player, though some teams see him as a fourth outfielder.”

With Serie Nacional in 2010-11, Castillo batted .324/.373/.555 with 18 home runs and 29 steals in 400 plate appearances. The following season, he hit .332/.395/.545 with 28 doubles, 16 homers and 22 steals in 420 plate appearances.

The Orioles’ interest comes as no surprise, considering how they’ve signed Cuban outfielders Henry Urrutia and Dariel Alvarez. They figured to take a look at Castillo, who already has worked out for the Dodgers.

Castillo must establish residency in the Dominican and obtain the usual paperwork before becoming a free agent. It’s a process, as the Orioles learned with Urrutia, who will try to win a job this spring as an extra outfielder and left-handed designated hitter.

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