The Orioles signed Cuban defector Henry Urrutia to a minor league contract with a $778,500 signing bonus back in July and were hoping that he’d arrive in the United States in time to get a feel for Double-A ball.
But the Double-A season has been over for seven weeks and Urrutia has yet to step foot on U.S. soil.
According to Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun, the 25-year-old Urrutia has set up residency in the Dominican Republic but “continues to have difficulty obtaining a visa.” It’s not clear what might be holding up the approval and a resolution is not currently in sight.
Urrutia, who projects a corner outfielder or first baseman, batted .397/.461/.597 with 12 home runs in 305 at-bats for Las Tunas in 2010. He was barred from playing in 2011 after a failed defection attempt.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins say minor league pitcher Yorman Landa has died in Venezuela. He was 22.
The club said in a statement that the Twins are “deeply saddened by the heartbreaking loss.” The team did not say how he died.
Landa pitched in the 2016 season with the Fort Meyers Miracle, going 2-2 with 7 saves and a 3.24 ERA in 41 2/3 innings pitched. His career minor-league ERA was 2.66.
Landa had been on the Twins’ 40-man roster, but was dropped after the season. The organization signed him to a minor-league contract last week.
Landa was signed by the Twins in 2010 as a 16-year old from Santa Teresa, Venezuela.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.