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Friday Bird Droppings: The O’s are opening a new Dominican academy

In other news, the O’s reached agreement with eight of their 13 arbitration-eligible players.

MLB: OCT 08 ALDS - Rangers at Orioles
There was a lot going on for Mike Elias and the Orioles yesterday.
Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

In what’s been an otherwise quiet offseason for the Orioles, yesterday brought plenty of actual news. For starters, the Birds announced the opening of their new, state-of-the-art training academy in the Dominican Republic, marking a huge step forward in the club’s international development efforts. The academy, which will be the base of operations for the Orioles’ international amateurs, boasts three full fields, a practice field, batting and pitching tunnels, a dining hall, educational facilities, entertainment spaces, and dormitories that can house more than 100 players and staff.

It’s been a long time coming. Under prior regimes, organizational policy was that the Orioles were to all but eschew the international market, putting them hopelessly behind in developing foreign talent. That changed with the arrival of Mike Elias and his staff prior to the 2019 season. Elias, along with Koby Perez, the Orioles’ vice president of international scouting and operations, have worked hard to reinvigorate the club’s presence in Latin America. They’ve signed several highly touted prospects in that time, headlined by the Orioles’ now #5 prospect, Samuel Basallo.

Even still, with the Orioles having been irrelevant in the international market for so long before the new regime arrived, it’s taken years to bring the team back to an even playing field with other MLB clubs. This new academy goes a long way to getting the O’s up to speed. The O’s will unveil the academy next Tuesday in an opening ceremony that will be attended by Orioles front office personnel, Dominican dignitaries, and a slew of current and former O’s including Félix Bautista, Jorge Mateo, Miguel Tejada, Melvin Mora, and Nelson Cruz.

Yesterday also marked the deadline for teams to agree on 2024 salaries with their arbitration-eligible players. The O’s, with an unusually large class of 13 arbitration guys, reached agreements with eight of them. Check out Mark Brown’s post for the salary details. They failed to reach agreement with the other five: Danny Coulombe, Austin Hays, Ryan O’Hearn, Cionel Pérez, and Jacob Webb. The Orioles could end up going to an arbitration hearing with any or all of these five players to determine their salaries for this season.

I get that quibbling over salaries isn’t the most exciting baseball topic to discuss, but it could be important for a team whose ownership seems insistent on carrying one of the lowest payrolls in MLB. If the O’s have to spend a few hundred thousand dollars more than they planned on their arbitration guys, it could affect their flexibility to make other moves, like it or not.

Links

Orioles, attempting to play catch up in the Dominican Republic, set to open new academy - The Baltimore Banner
Danielle Allentuck has more info about the Orioles’ new Dominican academy, which Koby Perez calls a JW Marriott compared to the Orioles’ previous Fairfield Inn. Ah, everyone loves a good lodging analogy.

Front office executives choose best farm systems 2024- MLB.com
A whopping 79% of baseball executives voted the Orioles as the best farm system in baseball. The O's also received the most votes for “which team hoards its prospects the most?”, and I can’t tell if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Predicting World Series winners through 2033 - MLB.com
In a thankless exercise, Will Leitch attempts to predict the next 10 World Series matchups, and he has the Orioles participating in three of them, winning the championship in 2027. So just hang on for three more years, everybody.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! A bunch of former Orioles were born on this day, including outfielder Hyun Soo Kim (36), whose O’s career was far too short. Last year marked his 16th season playing in the KBO, with his two years in the U.S. from 2016-17 sandwiched in between. (singing) Na na na na na, KIM! HYUN! SOO! The five other ex-Orioles with Jan. 12 birthdays are right-handers Chris Ray (42) and Luis Ayala (46), infielders Tim Hulett (64) and Juan Bonilla (68), and lefty Paul Gilliford (79).

On this date in 2007, the Orioles traded one-time ace Rodrigo López to the Rockies for two minor leaguers. López had been a nifty pickup for the Birds as a minor league free agent in 2002, winning 15 games and finishing as AL Rookie of the Year runner-up that season, and started 141 games in five years with the Orioles before a rough 2006 campaign led to his trade.