Orioles replacing Alvarez in GCL (and other notes)

With less than a week remaining until the start of the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League season, the Orioles are in the process of naming a new pitching coach after removing Wilson Alvarez.

I’ve heard that Wilson was let go Thursday after six seasons with the GCL team.

Minor league pitching coordinator Chris Holt is in Sarasota as the temporary replacement for Alvarez until the new hire is announced.

Former Orioles pitcher and bullpen coach Alan Mills is beginning his first season as manager at any level.

Alvarez no-hit the Orioles on Aug. 11, 1991 at Memorial Stadium while pitching for the White Sox. The opposing right-hander was current MASN and 105.7 The Fan analyst Dave Johnson.

* Whatever happened to Henry Urrutia?

The former Orioles outfielder is playing first base in Mexico and still hoping to get another chance in the U.S. at age 32.

Henry-Urrutia-back-gray-swing-sidebar.jpgUrrutia was batting .299/.366/.472 with eight doubles, a triple, eight home runs and 38 RBIs in 51 games. He was traded from Toros de Tijuana to Saltillo because it needed a first baseman.

Urrutia played first base in Cuba, but the Orioles wanted him to focus on the outfield. They already had a first baseman who would receive the biggest contract in franchise history. Urrutia hasn’t played in the majors since 2015 or the U.S. since 2017 with Double-A Portland in the Red Sox’s system - a team that moved him back to first.

The Mexican League has been Urrutia’s professional home for the past two summers. He’d really like to return to the Orioles organization and spoke with director of minor league operations Kent Qualls back in January, sending him video, but they didn’t have a spot for him at Triple-A.

They’re trying to teach Ryan Mountcastle to play first base.

Norfolk’s Gary Kendall managed Urrutia with the Double-A Bowie Baysox.

Urrutia wasn’t happy playing at the Double-A level in 2017, but he’d do it now if a team would consider him for the major league roster. He also understands that his age is a detriment, especially for a rebuilding club.

Urrutia didn’t speak a word of English after defecting from Cuba. He sent me a couple of text and audio messages this week and I’m the one who needs a translator. He’s doing just fine with the language. It’s really impressive.

* Whatever happened to pitcher Gregory Infante?

At least one person in this group had to wonder.

The Orioles signed Infante as a minor league free agent on Jan. 6 and invited him to spring training, but he never arrived in camp. He had a serious illness that kept him in Venezuela until the end of February, when team physicians began treating him in Miami.

He never was cleared to join the Orioles.

I’m told that Infante is back in Venezuela and he’s no longer in the organization. The Orioles released him from Triple-A Norfolk’s roster on March 29 and he hasn’t been able to play this season.

Infante is healthier and a minor league free agent.

* Whatever happened to infielder Engelb Vielma?

Vielma finally solved his work visa issues in the Dominican Republic and joined Double-A Bowie, where he’s 2-for-9 with an RBI and two walks in three games. His debut was June 9 in Portland, Maine.

The Orioles intended to have Vielma report to their minor league camp for spring training but his arrival was delayed by a significant margin.

Vielma appeared in six games with the Orioles last season as a rookie and went 1-for-7 with a walk and run scored.

The Giants traded Vielma to the Orioles on Jan. 26, 2018 for a player to be named later or cash. He was designated for assignment to make room for pitcher Dillon Tate on the 40-man roster and outrighted to Norfolk on Nov. 27.

* Dwight Smith Jr. started his injury rehab assignment last night with Norfolk and went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

Smith is expected to play again tonight and join the Orioles in Seattle, which would require another roster move.

Bowie left-hander Bruce Zimmermann tossed a four-hit shutout in Hartford, walking none and striking out nine. He retired the last 17 batters.

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