July 2 has arrived. It’s the day where a new international amateur signing period begins and teams all around Major League Baseball announce signings.
This year the Orioles will not be left out. They expect to announce as many as 30 or more signings in a class expected to be pitcher heavy.
MLB teams have a limited amount of pool money to sign players in a period that begins today and runs through next June 15. The Orioles, at nearly $6.5 million, are in a group of teams with the most to spend. But teams can trade for up to an additional 75 percent of their original pool total.
This year the Orioles didn’t get a crack at some of the players commanding the biggest bonuses. They were scooped up early and reached agreements with teams well in advance of today’s date. This all happened before Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias was hired in November and before he hired the club’s new senior director of international scouting Koby Perez in January.
But Perez is still pretty excited about the group of new Birds that will be announced as signed today.
“We’re going to sign about 30 guys, more or less,” he told me in a recent interview. “We’ve got some good talent. We got a late start because we got here late and teams have been working on players years in advance.
“But we’re happy with the guys we have. We were able to find a couple of shortstops and some athletic outfielders and most of our guys will be pitchers. We feel good about our group as a whole. The higher profile guys were already spoken for, but we still feel real good about the guys we got. We think there are prospects there and we feel hopefully a couple of them can help in Baltimore someday.”
And with teams working years in advance to scout and sign these young players, the Orioles are now doing that too.
“We’ve been working on future classes ahead. We’ve already got a preference list for 2021 and we know about some of the 2022 kids already,” said Perez.
“There are certain years where you may spread the money around and there are certain years where you may find a top-notch guy and give one guy a big bonus. Every year with a different crop of players can make every year different.”
Perez said make no mistake, the Orioles do fully expect to be in play for the top players in the future.
“Absolutely. We’ll be involved with all the players. We’ll make decisions when the time comes but we will look at the entire pool of players. If they are fits for us, we’ll make those types of investments,” he said.
Perez came to the Orioles after spending the last three years as director of Latin American scouting for the Cleveland Indians. The O’s will have a heavy focus on players from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, but they will target players worldwide.
“Those are the two main countries,” he said. “But as we know, (Jonathan) Schoop is from Curacao. We’ve seen players from Colombia get to the major leagues. We’ve been starting to dig into the Bahamas. There were 13 or 14 signed from there last year. We signed one and I think we are getting another from there. We are going to find the players where they are at and try to sign the best players that we can.”
By the way, there are 15 foreign-born players on the 2019 All-Star game rosters, nine that will play for the National League and six for the American League. They include players from the Dominican Republic (6), Cuba (3), Puerto Rico (2), Venezuela (2), Canada (1) and South Korea (1).
DSL update: The Orioles have two teams playing now in the Dominican Summer League and they feature some players that are off to good starts.
The Orioles’ DSL-1 team has a record of 12-14 and DSL-2 squad is 14-9.
Three Baltimore pitchers are in the top seven in league ERA. They include 17-year-old right-hander Hector Lopez of Panama, who is 1-0 with a 0.38 ERA to rank second in the DSL. Over 23 2/3 innings, he has walked six and fanned 20. Also 19-year-old left-hander Cesar Angomas of the Dominican Republic is fifth at 0-2 with an ERA of 0.75. Over 24 innings he has walked nine and fanned 25. And 22-year-old lefty Claudio Galva of the Dominican is 3-2 with an ERA of 0.90 to rank seventh. Over 20 innings he has walked five and fanned 14.
Catcher Wilkin Grullon, 19, from the Dominican, is one of the league’s leading hitters batting .373/.462/.418. Outfielder Kevin Infante, signed to a bonus of $175,000 by the Orioles last October, is batting .297/.366/.385 in 23 games.
Outfielder Stiven Acevedo, 16, from the Dominican, was signed by the new front office and Perez to a $275,000 bonus. And he’s playing well now in the DSL. Over 24 games, he’s batting .290/.339/.360. The Orioles like his tools and he has a good feel for hitting.