The Baltimore Orioles look to be the likely beneficiary of a shark attack, but more on that in a moment.
How many times this winter have Orioles fans done things like get up in the morning, check the O’s web page, look at Roch on MASN, or perhaps even gone to MLBTR to see if maybe, just maybe, today will at last be the day that a recognizable player move has been made? And then, rather than seeing a name everyone has been talking about, instead there are paragraphs describing some 5th-string outfielder or a resuscitated veteran of minimal repute who is being given a last-ditch effort for a final hurrah. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, there is news of a distant prospect … prospects – that category of the baseball world that, by a high factor of multiplication, outnumbers the category of serviceable major league players.
Yesterday did not bring any news of AJ Burnett or Bronson Arroyo being secured. Instead we heard about the signings of first baseman Carlos Diaz from the Mexico City Red Devils and third baseman Jomar Reyes from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Diaz is age 17 and Reyes is 16. The older boy is 6-2 and 220, but the younger one is 6-4, 230! They both project as potential middle of the order power hitters.
For now, they will go to the Gulf Coast League and begin the long ladder climb that hopefully ends at Camden Yards. Yes … it is a long climb, and this does nothing to help the 2014 Orioles. But these signings through this fellow Fred Ferreira – hired by Duquette to be the Executive Director of International Scouting – should not be scoffed at, as more than 60 of his international discoveries have made it to the big leagues.
Perhaps you have heard of some of them from “The Shark’s” long career. Of immediate knowledge for Orioles fans is Miguel Gonzalez – who Ferreira remembered seeing pitch well in the Mexican League. Though Gonzo had been in the Angels and Red Sox organizations, he had not been a substantial threat to get to the big leagues. But The Shark saw him.
And then there is this fellow named Henry Urrutia – now there is a name that could well be a factor in helping the 2014 Orioles.
And if you want some higher caliber names that have come through Ferreira’s connections, try these: Vladimir Guerrero, Bernie Williams, Roberto Kelly, Mike Pagliarulo, Oscar Azócar, Orlando Cabrera, Armando Galarraga, Henry Mateo, Jose Vidro, and Wilson Valdez.
Though it is maddening at times in the short term to see the core that the Orioles have – such a solid group that would seem to just need a bit more help to make it to the very top of playing October baseball – yet those additional signings are hard to come by. But Duquette is not just trying to win today, but to build a self-feeding and self-sustaining organization that finds the bulk of its success from within. Accomplishing both those immediate and long-range goals is what he is seeking to do, like and respect him or not.
The announcement to Orioles fans of securing Miguel Gonzalez back in 2012 probably was little noted at the time, if at all. But these seemingly small events may, at some point, have the largest impact. I realize that does not play well on the final day of January, but I will save this post in a file to bring back again someday … I hope. But the hope is not unreasonable, because The Shark is real.