A new international signing period arrives for the Orioles

A new international amateur signing period has arrived in Major League Baseball. Later today the Orioles are expected to announce their latest class of international signees. Their class, per reports, will be headed by Dominican shortstop Luis Ayden Almeyda.

A right-handed hitter, the 16-year-old Almeyda, according to Baseball America, will get a bonus of over $2 million. The Orioles have never had an international amateur sign for $2 million or more, and Almeyda’s bonus would easily beat the previous record, set this time last year.

Here are the seven-figure bonuses from the O’s in the last two classes:

$1.7M – OF Braylin Tavera, from Jan. 15, 2022.

$1.3M – C Samuel Basallo from Jan. 15, 2021.

$1.2M – SS Maikol Hernández from Jan. 15, 2021.

So Almeyda would become the fourth to sign for seven figures under the regime of Mike Elias and Koby Perez, the O’s senior director of international scouting.

Heading into that last signing period, Tavera was ranked as the No. 18 international prospect by Baseball America and No. 22 by MLBPipeline.com. Heading into today, Baseball America has Almeyda at No. 17, while MLBPipeline.com ranks him 20th.

The three biggest bonuses from that last O's class were Tavera, followed by infielders César Prieto from Cuba and shortstop Edwin Amparo from the Dominican Republic. Each got $650,000.

In 2022, Tavera played 47 games in the Dominican Summer League and batted .243/.411/.319/.730 with two homers and 14 RBIs. He produced an impressive 19.5 walk rate and that strong OBP. And his wRC+ was 116.

Between high-A Aberdeen (25 games) and Double-A Bowie (90 games), Prieto hit .273/.314/.404/.718 with 11 homers and 57 RBIs.

The switch-hitting Amparo played in 51 games in the DSL, batting .247/.342/.361/.703 with two homers and 15 RBIs and with a respectable 10.8 walk rate.

The MLBPipeline.com O’s top 30 list now includes six international players. Basallo is rated No. 12, Prieto No. 18, Frederick Bencosme No. 25, Hernández No. 27, Tavera No. 28 and Leandro Arias No. 29.

The Orioles' international program will be vital to the club's efforts to build a consistent postseason team. Last year among 975 players on opening day rosters, 275 (28.2 percent) were born outside the United States.

The 975 include a total of 840 players active on what were then 28-man rosters, plus another 135 major league players on injured, restricted or bereavement lists.

Those 275 international players represented 21 countries and territories by birthplace, tied with 2018 for the highest total ever.

As it has each year since MLB began releasing this annual data in 1995, the Dominican Republic again led the majors among countries and territories outside the United States, this time with 99 players.

Venezuela ranked second with 67 players, while Cuba placed third with 23 players (tied with 2016 and 2017 for its most ever). Rounding out the totals were Puerto Rico (16), Mexico (13, its most since 14 in 2013), Canada (12, its most since 17 in 2013), Colombia (10, its highest total ever, eclipsing seven in 2020), Japan (7), Panama (6, its highest since seven in 2012), Curaçao (5, tied for its highest ever), South Korea (4), the Bahamas (3, marking its first time ever with multiple players), Aruba (1), Australia (1), Brazil (1), Germany (1), Honduras (1), the Netherlands (1), Nicaragua (1), Taiwan (1) and the U.S. Virgin Islands (1).

Baseball America says of Almeyda: "Almeyda typically puts together quality at-bats with a good approach and impressive power for his age that has started to jump as he's filling out his long, rangy build. He's smooth and under control at shortstop, where his feet work well and he has soft hands to go with a strong arm. Almeyda has the ball skills for shortstop, though depending on his physical development, there is a chance he could slide to third base, but he should develop the power to play at either spot."

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