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Friday Bird Droppings: Where it’s international signing day

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Teams can begin signing international amateurs today, and the Orioles might finally be in the mix for some top talent.

World Baseball Classic - Pool E - Game 1 - Cuba v Israel
The Orioles probably won’t sign Yoelkis Cespedes, brother of Yoenis. That would be neat, though.
Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

For Orioles fans who have been grumbling about the team not making any moves this winter, cheer up: the Birds are probably going to announce a bunch of signings today. They just won’t be major league signings.

Today marks the beginning of MLB’s 2020 international signing period, despite the fact that, you know, it’s not 2020. In a normal year, the signing period would have begun last July 2, but — in case you didn’t notice — last year was not normal. The pandemic pushed the process back five months, but today the wait is over. Teams are now ready to pounce and add an infusion of young talent to their organizations.

Let’s not forget how big a deal it is that the Orioles are part of this process again. In the pre-Mike Elias era, O’s ownership infamously refused to participate in the international amateur market, leaving the Birds with nothing but a handful of low-cost non-prospects while other teams gobbled up the most promising international talents. Year after year, the O’s hamstrung themselves with their lack of involvement, and their farm system suffered the consequences.

Even in the first two years of the Elias regime, once John and Louis Angelos gave the go-ahead to increase the club’s presence in Latin America, the Orioles were still left playing catchup. Many of the top amateurs in the 2019 class had already been extensively scouted and courted by other teams before the Orioles could get their international operations up and running.

This year, though, it appears the Orioles finally will be able to make their presence felt and recruit some legitimate talent. Perhaps they won’t land any of the five or 10 best prospects — this MLB.com preview from last April pegs other teams as the favorites to sign the top guys — but there are plenty of other intriguing names for whom the Orioles could make a serious play. According to CBS Sports, only five teams have more bonus pool money to spend than the Orioles for this signing period, so the club is in a good position to make a splash.

It’ll be exciting to find out who the Orioles come up with. Of course, none of these players will be anyone we’re likely to see in an O’s uniform within the next three or four years. But they’ll go a long way to giving the Orioles’ rebuilding effort a shot in the arm.

Links

Orioles’ 2020 international signing class solidifies efforts in Latin America: ‘The pipeline is starting to come through’ - Baltimore Sun
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