More on the Orioles and their pursuit of international talent

The hiring this week of Koby Perez as the Orioles’ senior director of international scouting is the latest step forward for the organization on the international front. For years, the club just didn’t do nearly enough in this market, and it hurt the team in numerous ways. Baltimore lacked in producing international talent.

Hopefully, those days are over, although certainly it will take years for general manager Mike Elias and Perez to produce significant results. But you have to start somewhere, and while they are not starting from square one, it’s pretty close.

Last year, there were 877 major league players on opening day rosters and inactive lists, such as the disabled list. Of that number, 254, or 29 percent, came from an all-time record 21 different countries and territories outside of the United States.

That number of 29 percent ties for third-highest percentage ever. International players made up 29.8 percent of 2017 rosters and 29.2 percent in 2005. The 29 percent mark tied 2018 with 2007 as third-most since Major League Baseball starting releasing such records in 1995.

Since that time, the Dominican Republic has produced the most players born outside the United States to make the majors every year. That number was 84 players last April, with Venezuela producing 74 to easily rank second, followed by 19 from Puerto Rico, 17 from Cuba and 11 from Mexico. It should be noted that players from Puerto Rico and Canada are eligible for the June amateur draft of high school and college players. Players from the other countries can be signed at 16 and the signing period runs from July 2 to June 15.

The Texas Rangers led MLB with 14 players from outside the United States on opening day 2018, followed by the Chicago White Sox with 13, Miami with 12, and Minnesota, Philadelphia and Toronto with 11.

The Orioles had six such players for their opener last year. They had Jonathan Schoop from Curaçao, Anthony Santander from Venezuela and four players from the Dominican in Pedro Álvarez, Pedro Araujo, Miguel Castro and Gabriel Ynoa. They were not all on the active roster on opening day, but this list counts players on inactive lists. Of those six, only Schoop was originally signed by the Orioles.

So the Orioles are getting back in the game. This process started over the summer and into the fall as the club signed several international players, including outfielders Isaac Bellony, Kevin Infante and Angel Gomez, infielder Moises Ramírez and pitcher Kelvin LaRoche.

Last year. all teams began the signing period with one of three pool amounts. No, this is not actual money, but the respective amounts teams are permitted to spend on international amateurs. Clubs can trade for up to 75 percent of the original pool amount. Clubs with Competitive Balance B picks in June 2018 had pool amounts of $6,025,400. Clubs with Competitive Balance A picks, including the Orioles, had pool amounts of $5,504,500. The rest had $4,983,500. So the teams getting Competitive Balance picks got more to spend, and big-spending clubs such as Boston, New York and Los Angeles, got the smallest amounts. But the difference is obviously not a huge amount. Foreign pro players who are 25 or older and have played in a pro league for at least six years are exempt from these pool limits.

This is why some were surprised that Shohei Ohtani came to the majors from Japan in December 2017. He signed with the Angels for a bonus of about $3 million. Had he come to the States at \ 25 and not age 23, and not subject to bonus pool rules, he could have commanded as much as $200 million, some analysts felt.

Perez-Koby-Plaid-sidebar.jpgAnyway, the Orioles should have a formidable one-two duo here in Elias and Perez. Like Perez, Elias has vast knowledge of and connections in the international market. No doubt they’ll produce a great foundation for the Orioles here. The results will come, eventually.

It will be interesting to see how the Orioles spend future bonus pools. Some clubs seem to have a philosophy of signing a few players to larger bonuses in seeking the best talent. Others spread the money around, seeking quality out of quantity. Perez indicated this could be a year-to-year decision for the Orioles as they rate the talent at the top end of the player pool each year.

Click here for more comments from Perez on a conference call with reporters on Thursday. Click here for some comments by Elias.

Dosch retires: Third baseman Drew Dosch, an Orioles minor leaguer since the organization drafted him in 2013, has retired from baseball. Via Twitter yesterday, he told his friends, fans and supporters, “I’ve created bonds and relationships in baseball that will last me a lifetime. I appreciate all of the love and support through the years.”

Drafted in round seven out of Youngstown State, Dosch played five seasons on the O’s farm, batting .278/.337/.398 with a .735 OPS. He was a solid player who made mid-year All-Star teams in 2014 at Single-A Delmarva, 2015 at Single-A Frederick and 2018 at Triple-A Norfolk.

In 2018 for the Tides, he hit .276 with seven homers and 40 RBIs. He just could never get that big league chance, perhaps in part because he didn’t produce enough power at a corner infield spot and some questions about his defense. But I sure wish him well and enjoyed getting to know him better in a long interview we did in Florida before the 2017 season.

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