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Tuesday Bird Droppings: The Orioles added some international talent

The O’s signed 19 players on the first day of the international signing period.

Atlanta Braves v Baltimore Orioles minor leaguers
Will any of the Orioles’ new international signings become the next Samuel Basallo?
Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

The Orioles may still be quiet on the MLB free agent market, but their organization got a whole lot stronger yesterday. On opening day of the 2023-24 international signing period, the Birds signed 19 youngsters from Venezuela and the Dominican Republic to begin their professional careers. Check out Mark Brown’s roundup for details about the newcomers, headlined by shortstop Emilio Sánchez, who received a $1.3 million signing bonus.

Best of luck to all of these guys as they set off on their baseball journeys. As is the nature of such things, it’ll be a few years before we can really evaluate how well the O’s fared with this international class. But in general, it seems the Orioles are finally on a nearly equal footing with the rest of MLB when it comes to scouting and acquiring young international talent. Before Mike Elias and his staff arrived, the O’s had no international presence whatsoever, forcing the new regime to have to start from scratch.

They’ve made significant progress already. The Orioles’ biggest splash came in the 2020-21 signing period when they gave a seven-figure deal to catcher Samuel Basallo, who has since developed into the Orioles’ #5 prospect and could reach the majors this year. A pair of 2021-22 signings, outfielder Braylin Tavera and shortstop Leandro Arias, are also among the Birds’ top 20 prospects. Despite those intriguing signings, though, the O’s surely missed out on other talented prospects simply because they didn’t have the kind of pre-existing relationships with young players in the region that other teams did. That was the price to pay for the organization being M.I.A. in the market for so long,

That’s all changed now. The Orioles have built up those relationships. They’re opening a brand new, state-of-the-art training academy in the Dominican today. Their international pipeline is growing, and the O’s should begin seeing those efforts pay dividends at the major league level in the coming years, beginning with Basallo, while further improving a farm system that’s already ranked as the best in baseball.

Yeah. It’s a good time to be an Orioles fan.

Links

Orioles open international signing period with deals for 19 prospects - The Baltimore Banner
Count outfielder Stiven Martinez as one player who’s happy with the Orioles’ international efforts these days, saying, “the way they run things around here is really impressive.” Music to my ears.

Looking ahead to the 2024 Orioles as spring training nears - BaltimoreBaseball.com
As of now, the 2024 Orioles roster will look like...the 2023 Orioles roster, basically. As Rich Dubroff points out, their Opening Day roster could include just one player (Craig Kimbrel) who’s new to the organization. Whether that’s a good thing or bad thing is up to you.

Yankees Trade History: Orioles - Pinstripe Alley
Our SB Nation Yankees counterpart, Pinstripe Alley, recapped their club's trade history with the Orioles, including the MLB-record 17-player trade in 1954. What I wouldn’t give for a 17-player trade to happen nowadays. I’m a glutton for chaos.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Three former Orioles were born on this day: outfielder/designated hitters Mark Trumbo (38) and Jack Cust (45) and infielder Eider Torres (41).

On this date in 2016, the Orioles reached agreement with Chris Davis on a $161 million contract to keep him in Baltimore for the next seven years. I guess it, uh, seemed like a good idea at the time. The slugging first baseman had led the majors in homers twice in the previous three seasons, hitting 159 in a four-year span, but we know now that the Davis signing quickly turned into one of the worst in the history of sports. He almost immediately collapsed, amassing -5.9 WAR (yes, negative 5.9) starting in 2017, including an unfathomable .168/.243/.296 batting line in 2018. Davis suffered a spring training injury in 2021 and ultimately retired, though he’ll continue to receive deferred payments through 2037.