Only a couple of years ago, the Dan Duquette era of Orioles baseball did not “philosophically believe” in the international market. In just a few short years, this organization has turned the corner in a very good way under GM Mike Elias.
In this recent international signing period, Elias and Senior Director of International Scouting, Koby Perez, got to work. With over $6 million to work with, these two men put a lot of young players’ pens on paper.
In total, the Orioles signed 24 international free agents. Amongst these 24 are a few that every single team had eyes on in this market. Two are currently residing in the top-50 international prospects, while another, at 22 years old, is destined to see the majors already this season.
With all these signings, there still isn’t much on many of these kids. However, there is a lot to look at with a few of them. Let’s highlight the big three of these signings.
The first is the Orioles’ largest deal given to an international free agent, and that deal went to 16-year-old outfielder Braylin Tavera for $1.7 million.
Tavera comes in at No. 22 on the top-50 international prospects per MLB Pipeline. Measuring in at six-foot-two and 175 pounds, you could hardly tell this kid is 16. His scouting grades across the board are all 50-55, which can only improve when you’re just 16.
The 46th ranked international prospect is Leandro Arias. Only a few weeks older than Tavera, Arias is another highly-touted prospect at the ripe age of 16. Much like the previous, all of Arias’ scouting grades range from a 50-55.
Arias is a shortstop with nimble feet, who excels his game by being a great hitter from both sides of the plate. Arias is known to have an approach at the plate that goes beyond his years, something we don’t see much of at the big league level in Baltimore.
The third prospect to highlight here, and although his signing bonus is lower than the first two, while maybe being more exciting, is César Prieto. Prieto was signed out of Cuba and is at the perfect MLB age of 22.
A smaller guy, Prieto measures in at just five-foot-eight and 169 pounds. However, there is nothing small about his play. In 172 games in forgone leagues in Cuba, Prieto saw 667 at-bats. Of those 667 at-bats, he struck out only 51 times. To go along with that, the young infielder walked 71 times.
To make the kid sound even better, he holds a career .366 average with a .945 OPS in those 172 games. That’s simply remarkable. Also, he recorded 244 hits, which is well beyond pace for 200 hits in a 162-game season.
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