Furthermore, it appears the team is using old school scouting perspectives (i.e., big man on the island) where having a well known and established scout would result in talent flocking to perform for you. Much attention was given for the team signing Fred Ferreira, the Shark of the Caribbean. He was one of the trailblazing scouts in Latin America and is known for signing several excellent talents (e.g., Vladimir Guerrero). Ferreira would be a great manager and caretaker of the international program by teaching younger scouts how to ply their trade, assuming Ferreira has moved with the times and is not banking off his stature. That said, the few sources I do have said that the Orioles are one of the least represented teams in the Dominican. My sources do not extend beyond that country, but the team has sat out on top level Venezuelan talent as well and trade journals like Baseball America have expressed that it would be in the Orioles' best interest to engage more fully in Venezuela.
Perhaps, the team is trying to find value on fringe markets. They have seemed to be dabbling in markets like Guatemala, Taiwan, New Zealand, and their tumultuous efforts in South Korea. Again though, outside of the failed Seung-min Kim attempted signing with a 550k bonus which fell apart because the team did not follow well established rules and because the scouting reports handed to them by their famed Pacific Rim scout did not match the player that wound up in the United States for the team to get a second look on. In fact, that is actually one of the elements that appears to be part of the Orioles strategy. Acting fast on few looks. More recently, the team dropped 800k on Dariel Alvarez even though no other club appeared faintly interested in him at that price. If that is what is happening, it is an interesting mode of operation. Find guys who come up nuts in their tryouts for teams and be willing to spend twice as much before the player can get in shape. Maybe it will work. That said, I have my doubts that Alvarez or Henry Urrutia will make any noticeable impact on the future of this franchise. Perhaps that 1.6 MM could have been spent better on elite young talent.
Over the past few years, the Orioles spending has been rather pathetic in relation to the rest of baseball (numbers are procured from Ben Badler's reporting at Baseball America).
|2010||1.18 MM||25||MacPhail||.3 MM||Hector Veloz|
|2011||1.02 MM||27||MacPhail||.15 MM||Elvis Duran|
|2012||Est. 1.1 MM*||Est. 27||Duquette||.15 MM||Yi-Hsiang Lin|
|2013||1.23 MM**||30||Duquette||.325 MM||Ofelky Peralta|
|* - Team signed Henry Urrutia for 778k, which would increase total to 1.9 MM and a ranking of 20th.|
|** - Team signed Dariel Alvarez for 800k, which would increase total to 2.0 MM and a ranking of 29th.|
Perhaps the above is unfair as the team did dive into Wei-Yin Chen and Tsuyoshi Wada. That would have put the 2012 numbers into the top ten. Of course, those signings were not what most teams are doing with their international signings. What Duquette did with Chen and Wada, other General Managers do with Nolascos and Washburns. I would argue that finding talent for your active roster is a bit different from finding talent for your minor leagues. If you agree with that assessment, the Orioles have been quite negligent in putting up the money and relations required to sign elite Latin talent.
Below are the totals expressed by Baseball America for three of the past four years. I do not have the data for 2012, but from what was mentioned above we expect the Orioles to be ranked pretty close to the bottom.
As you can see, the Orioles ignored elite talent during the unrestrained MacPhail era and willfully ships out signing bonus allotments during the signing bonus limits in place during the Duquette era. As it stands, ignoring the minimal investment in 2012, the Orioles spent the least money in baseball for young international talent over recent history. Keep in mind a top tier international talent costs over a million and that there are about a dozen or two players each year who are treated as such. The Orioles top signings receive a third of that. The rather clearly suggests that the club simply ignores that level of the market. A market portion that is not ignored by low revenue teams like the Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Perhaps you have faith in Duquette in that he is mindful of the market and is instead finding where value is. You may point to the lofty-ish minor league talent rankings that were built on first round picks and under the market signings from the previous regime as evidence of the current regime's ability to find and procure talent. Perhaps you look to Suk-min Yoon and Wei-Yin Chen and find solace there. Where you won't find solace are in the low minors. Those teams differ from others around baseball because those teams have a minimal number of raw, hard throwing arms from Latin America. Perhaps the high failure rate mitigates the money spent in this market. Perhaps the Orioles are the only team in baseball that knows this. To me, that is a lot of faith to have.