A lefty pitcher emerges at No. 2 as O's international prospect rankings list continues

Luis De Leon courtesy of the Delmarva Shorebirds

Today, as we continue to rollout the MASNSports.com top 20 O’s international prospects, we find out yet again that teams can get big talents sometimes out of modest signing bonuses.

Some players sign late in the process as late bloomers and beyond that, it is just hard to project what someone at age 16 will look like and play like three, four, and six years down the road.

It is also quite exciting to see a pitcher ranked so highly now on this list as left-hander Luis De León, age 20, is the No. 2 prospect on the list for 2024.

He was signed by the club for just $30,000 in December of 2021 out of Barahona, Dominican Republic. He had an ERA of 5.14 in 28 innings in 2022 in the Dominican Summer League.

But last year, over six games in the rookie-level Florida Complex League and 10 for Single-A Delmarva, he went a combined 5-1 with a 2.01 ERA in 53 2/3 innings. It was a nice breakout performance by the lefty. Even after he moved up, he allowed just a .177 batting average and 2.39 ERA in his first go-around in full-season ball with the Shorebirds. De León walked 30 with 67 strikeouts (11.2 K per 9) and had a 1.30 WHIP. Among all O’s farm pitchers with 50 or more innings last season, his ERA was second-best.

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Some pitchers filter in as we hit the third day of the O's international prospects rankings


When we published the Orioles' top 20 international prospects list Saturday with players we have ranked No. 2 through No. 10, there were no pitchers, but several do make this list as we wrap it up today.

Among the final 10 players here are six pitchers, five right-handers and a lefty. Several can bring some heat for such young players but most have to work on deliveries and command to lower walk rates as they move up the minor league ladder.

No. 11 - RHP Luis Sánchez: The Orioles signed Sanchez for $200,000 on Jan. 15, 2019. He turns 20 on March 4. He had some small, nagging injury issues and did not pitch in an official minor league game in 2022 while working on a strengthening program. But he did throw innings against live hitters at instructional league after the season and pitched well and impressed, showing some upper-90s velocity.

From San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, Sánchez brings a fastball that has been up to 99 mph and often sits in the mid-90s. His slider has become a solid secondary, and he throws an average changeup at this point. Between the Florida Complex League and Dominican Summer League in 2021, he went 0-4 with a 7.23 ERA. In 37 1/3 innings he walked 29 and fanned 39, allowing a .268 batting average. But the stuff is plus at times and he needs to just harness his command and stay healthy. He could be a starter for low Single-A Delmarva this year. 

No. 12 – Infielder Joshua Liranzo: A right-handed hitter, he was part of the January 2023 signing class and, at $500,000, got the second-highest bonus from the Orioles in this class after Luis Almeyda, who received $2.3 million and is fourth on this list.

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Almeyda heads up large O's international class (updated)


The Orioles have announced a large international amateur signing class today of 27 players headed by shortstop Luis Ayden Almeda, age 16, from the Dominican Republic. Almeyda’s signing bonus is $2.3 million, per MLB.com, the largest ever given an international amateur by the Orioles. He becomes the club’s first international signee with a bonus exceeding $2 million.

Last year’s top signee, outfielder Braylin Tavera, did have that distinction until today, signing for a $1.7 million bonus to head up the class announced last January.

Almeyda sets an O’s record and becomes the fourth player to sign for $1 million or more under the regime of executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias and senior director of international scouting Koby Perez. In the 2021 class, they signed catcher Samuel Basallo for $1.3 million and shortstop Maikol Hernandez for $1.2 million.

“I’m very excited and blessed,” Almeyda told MASNsports.com in his first one-on-one interview as an Oriole. “I am ecstatic to start out with this organization and develop as a ballplayer and a man as well.

“It really wasn’t a tough decision. I had my mindset on this team from the start since they started with me. I know that they have one of best farm systems in the minor leagues or maybe the best farm system in the minor leagues. You know, I’m just excited to get on this journey.”

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