Baltimore Orioles stay quiet in international signing market
In what was an unexpected signing, the Baltimore Orioles nabbed a minor league infielder from the New York Mets.
The latest addition to the Baltimore Orioles minor league system is Milton Ramos.
This 21-year-old right-handed hitter is from Hialeah, Florida and was originally signed by the Mets in the third round in the 2014 draft.
Ramos hasn’t made it out of the Single-A system and according to reports from Connor Byrne at MLB Trade Rumors, that is where he will stay.
According to the same piece from MLB Trade Rumors, the Orioles reportedly gave up an international signing bonus slot. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time the Birds have traded away their chances to sign someone from a country where baseball is king.
Avoiding the international market
Every team, with the exception of the Orioles, has selected at least one player in the international signing game. According to the International Signing Tracker at Baseball America, the Orioles are the only team that has not yet signed anyone from Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, or any of the other international markets. The Pittsburgh Pirates signed one player and the Chicago White Sox signed two; otherwise, all other teams have selected several players.
Of course, it can be a gamble to pick up international players since some are still only young teenagers. In fact, some are still only 15 years old. But, the Orioles did start the signing session with a signing bonus pool of $5.75 million. When the MLB signed the new players’ agreement in December of 2016, the international signing rules changed from previous years.
MLB international market rules
According to the MLB website, teams can trade a significant portion of their Signing Bonus Pools, but they may not exceed what has been allocated. So, when the Orioles signed Ramos, some of that money went to the Mets. This money that the Orioles, and the other 29 teams, had to sign international talent cannot go to players who are 25 and have played in foreign leagues.
Big names from the international market
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It makes absolutely no sense why any team would give away opportunities to sign young talent. Some of the best talent in the MLB has come from Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. Jose Altuve made his minor league debut at age 17 in the Venezuelan Summer League. Dominican Republic native Robinson Cano was 18 when he first played low-A ball for the New York Yankees. And, in 2000, Miguel Cabrera from Venezuela saw his first minor league pitch at age 17. The Orioles are missing out on serious talent by not signing players from the international market.
A pair of pitchers for international slots
Other teams in the league recognize the value of the international market, so the Birds are getting some fresh blood in the farm system. By giving up bonus money, they have acquired a pair of pitchers: Matt Wotherspoon and Jason Wheeler. Wotherspoon is a right-handed 25-year-old who was with the Yankees. Wheeler is a 26-year-old lefty who started with the Minnesota Twins. He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers where the Orioles found him.
Next: Britton returns to the team
Choosing to take other teams’ minor league castoffs has not proven to be the best way to go for many big league teams. Drafting and building from the inside is the way to go in today’s MLB. It would be wise for the O’s to pay attention to these international players and find some future stars to sign.