Baltimore Orioles could set a new standard by signing Victor Victor Mesa
The Baltimore Orioles have long withheld from venturing into the international free-agent market but with cash to spend, and Victor Victor Mesa still available, the Orioles could take a big step forward in the rebuild by signing the Cuban outfielder
The Baltimore Orioles scouting team will gather en masse on Friday morning as Victor Victor Mesa, the top-rated international prospect, prepares for an MLB showcase in Miami. The showcase will also include Mesa’s brother, Victor Mesa Jr. and pitching prospect Sandy Gaston.
Both Mesa Jr. and Gaston warrant consideration from MLB teams; Gaston is a 16-year-old, hard throwing RHP, and Mesa Jr. is an outfielder like his brother, although he’s much less polished as a prospect.
However, Victor Victor Mesa is the true prize in this group. Listed at 5’11”, 190 lbs, the 22-year-old Mesa is, as mentioned, the top-rated prospect in the international pool.
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Mesa profiles as a center-fielder, and while there are some questions about the bat and power potential, he possesses very good range on the defensive side, a good arm and plenty of speed on the base-paths.
Mesa could prove to be a great compliment to current Orioles center-fielder Cedric Mullins, who had a breakout year himself in 2018, and proved that he can be an every day outfielder for the Orioles going forward.
Make no mistake, Mesa will be expensive; but the Orioles are one of two teams, including the Miami Marlins, who have the international bonus pool money to sign him.
Before his contract expired at the end of this season, Dan Duquette did well to acquire international slot money in the handful of trade-deadline moves the organization made. However, the Orioles have never been apt to spend their allotted bonus pool cash; instead, they’ve focused on stateside talent, and the traditional free-agent pool.
For reasons unknown to us, the Orioles have long been anti-spending when it comes to several areas, including the international market, and they’ve generally been worse off because of it.
It’s understandable that the scouting department may not be up to par, or be generally bad at identifying talent; those issues are common enough and can be fixed.
But the unwillingness to spend money, both to put scouts in Latin America & the Caribbean and to pay for players in those markets, is unacceptable in today’s iteration of MLB.
There could be a bright side, however; the removal of Executive VP of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette, and the lessened impact of majority owner Peter Angelos (due to his health) may encourage both scouting and purchasing power in the international market for the Orioles going forward.
But since we aren’t yet sure who the Orioles will hire to replace Duquette, it’s hard to say with certainty whether the Orioles tendencies to spend internationally will change.
If the Orioles are to succeed with this rebuild, those tendencies will need to change. The Orioles need to spend money on R&D. They need to spend money on their analytics department.
And most importantly, the Orioles need to do a better job identifying talent, and they need to be willing to pay for these top international prospects when they have the opportunity.
The new front office can change the narrative
The Orioles have the most international pool money in MLB for this period, which would allow the organization to push to sign Mesa, the consensus number-one prospect in the international market right now, if they wish to do so. No other team could offer Mesa more money.
Yes, there’s potential for them to be wrong about international players, including Mesa. And the organization’s past free-agent signings, including Chris Davis, Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner don’t exactly encourage us about their talent identification.
But this organization can no longer sit idle and pass on opportunities to acquire talented players.
We’ve seen teams hit on players in the international market before (Shohei Ohtani), and we’ve certainly seen them miss (Rusney Castillo), but avoiding an entire field of players isn’t acceptable.
The new leadership, once it arrives, needs to focus on acquiring as much talent as possible to help build the farm system and get this franchise back on track. They can start by putting everything they can into evaluating and trying to sign Victor Victor Mesa.
There’s a reason that Dan Duquette made trades to acquire international pool money this July. It’s time for the front office to put that money to use. Signing Victor Victor Mesa would be an incredible place to start.