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Friday Bird Droppings: Looking ahead to Orioles international signings

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The O’s will reportedly be handing a franchise-record bonus to Dominican center fielder Braylin Tavera next week. Not too shabby!

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles
Mike Elias wasn’t kidding about improving the Orioles’ international presence.
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Believe it or not, we have some actual baseball news to discuss here in Birdland. No, the lockout isn’t over, and there’s no sign it will be over anytime soon. But the 2022 international amateur signing period — which is unaffected by the lockout of MLB players — will begin next week, and the Orioles are set to make a big splash, according to the Baltimore Sun’s Nathan Ruiz:

Wow! Assuming Tavera’s bonus indeed ends up being at least $1.5 million, it would mark the largest deal in Orioles history for an international amateur, surpassing the $1.3 million given to Dominican catcher Samuel Basallo last January. As you might imagine, there’s not a ton of publicly available information about Tavera, who’s all of 16 years old, but he does rank 22nd on MLB Pipeline’s list of top international prospects. He’s described as “one of the most well-rounded players in this year’s class,” in particular his “good approach and sound fundamentals with improving pitch recognition.” Sounds up the Orioles’ alley. (Tavera does not appear in FanGraphs’ top 50 list.)

General manager Mike Elias, upon being hired in November 2018, promised to overhaul and dramatically improve the Orioles’ then-pathetic international presence, and boy, has he ever. Between the multiple seven-figure deals handed out in the last two years, and breaking ground on a new training academy in the Dominican last October, the O’s are doing their best to make up for lost time after previous regimes were almost entirely restricted from any activity in the international market.

Will Tavera, or Basallo, or any of the other international amateurs the Orioles have or will sign, make it to the majors and succeed? It’ll be years before we know. But at least the O’s are finally trying, and that’s a heck of a start.

Before we get to the links, don’t forget to take today’s Camden Chat’s Sporcle quiz! Your task today: given a list of 16 former O’s players, can you pick out which ones have been inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame? To make it more challenging, I didn’t include any of the super obvious ones like Cal, Brooks, Eddie, etc. Instead, these are guys who had perfectly solid O’s careers, but not all have earned enshrinement into the Orioles’ HOF. Good luck!

Links

Another look at some of the solid offense on the farm - Steve Melewski
Quick, who had the best OPS (min. 300 PAs) of any Orioles minor leaguer last season? Hint: it wasn’t Adley Rutschman. Or Kyle Stowers. Check Melewski’s article for the surprising answer.

The Orioles’ new hitting coaches can't speak to their players. So how are they preparing for 2022? - Maximizing Playoff Odds
Somehow, it kind of never occurred to me that major league coaches can’t talk to their players during the lockout, but yeah, that seems like a problem. Matt Borgschulte and Ryan Fuller have a Plan B, though.

Raising the bar on resolutions - School of Roch
Roch Kubatko has some fun with extremely small sample sizes, including John Means being 2-for-6 as a hitter. Hear me out: is he the next Shohei Ohtani?

It’s inevitable that Rutschman will be compared to Wieters - BaltimoreBaseball.com
The comparison won’t truly be complete until someone starts an “Adley Rutschman Facts” web site. Get on that, internet!

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! And happy 26th birthday to current O’s right-hander Dean Kremer. Kremer will enter spring training — whenever it begins — as a candidate for a rotation spot, though he’ll have to do better than last year’s 0-7, 7.55 performance in 13 starts.

Three former Orioles were born on this day: 2011 outfielder Kyle Hudson (35); 16-year MLB veteran but short-term Oriole Francisco Rodriguez (40); and righty Ross Grimsley (72), who had two stints with the Birds from 1974-77 and 1982.

On this day two years ago, the O’s made a shrewd signing of veteran shortstop Jose Iglesias to a one-year deal with an option. Though Iglesias battled injuries for most of the truncated 2020 season with the Birds, he put up the best offensive numbers of his career, batting .373 with a .956 OPS in 39 games. The O’s then parlayed him in a trade to the Angels for prospects Jean Pinto and Garrett Stallings. Not a bad series of transactions.