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November 10, 2010

Orioles are cutting a Dominican minor-league team

One year after expanding their Dominican Republic operation to two minor league teams, the Orioles are going back to one Dominican Summer League squad for 2011.

It’s the second minor-league club the Orioles’ organization has cut this year, announcing in late August that it was halting its rookie-level affiliate in Bluefield, West Virginia.

Orioles President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail said only a handful of clubs have two separate teams in the DSL and he did not believe that the quality of players in the Orioles’ academy warranted two entrants.

That belief was confirmed when former interim manager Juan Samuel evaluated the Orioles’ Dominican operation this summer and concluded that reducing the number of players would improve the quality of instruction and baseball experience for the remaining prospects.

“I just think our resources are better applied elsewhere,” MacPhail said Wednesday.

The organization’s international efforts have been a subject of criticism for years. The most successful Dominican major leaguer the organization has produced in the past decade was the enigmatic Daniel Cabrera, who had a 5.10 ERA in six seasons and didn’t pitch in the majors at all in 2010. The Orioles have never produced their own Venezuelan major leaguer and no 2010 major league Opening Day roster included an international player originally signed by the Orioles.

In the past, MacPhail has stressed the need to emphasize international scouting, signing and developing, which included a new facility in the Dominican and spending more money on international amateurs. But the club still lags far behind many other organizations in number of international scouts employed and money allocated for foreign signees – as well as legitimate international prospects.

One of last year’s Dominican teams is now a casualty of that reality.

“We'll be filtering out some of the players that had an ample opportunity to show they can play,” said John Stockstill, the Orioles’ director of player development. “One team appears to be adequate at this time.”

With the reduction of Bluefield and the Dominican Summer League club, the Orioles are going from nine to seven affiliates, a streamlining of the system and its talent base.

“You have to be realistic about the players you have,” Stockstill said. “Any scout likes the opportunity to have more longshot players that might take longer to pan out, but I don’t see this as a setback.”

Overall, the Orioles are expected to reduce their number of minor leaguers by about 60 – much of that reduction will occur through natural attrition from one season to the next.

There should be little effect on the Orioles’ staffing. Bobby Dickerson, who was the organization’s Latin America field coordinator in the beginning of 2010, was needed to manage the Triple-A Norfolk affiliate in June. That coordinator position will not be filled and Dickerson, one of the more versatile coaches in the system, will be utilized elsewhere, Stockstill said.

Posted by Dan Connolly at 7:05 PM | | Comments (8)


Imagine if MLB started "filtering" out the bad teams.

This move and the stats show how clearly the orioles need to spend and develope internationally.. If we don't we may never catch the other AL east teams..

“You have to be realistic about the players you have,” Stockstill said.

Too bad that this policy has never been adhered to at the Orioles.

If you look into the system, you see two quailty players from Dominican Republic in Jonathan Schoop and Hector Veloz.

It is not a question of quantity, but the Orioles are finally seeing quality in the scouting circles in the Carribean.

Dan, any chance you could look into how many other clubs are streamlining their farm systems? It'd be real interesting to see how the O's stack up against most other teams (especially the big budget ones) as far as short-season teams and international baseball academies, and to see if baseball, as a whole, has had to cut back a bit because of the economy and ticket sales continuing to fall. I'm sure a lot of other people would be interested, because you all do a great job of reporting on the O's but it'd be nice to have the context set by comparing them with other teams. Any information would be great!! Thanks, Christian

My thought exactly, Christian.

I think you left out a bit Danno...

“I just think our resources are better applied elsewhere,” MacPhail said Wednesday. He then backed away from the microphone, said, "Like my wallet", under his breath, and laughed.

Seriously. This guy came in with all this big talk about stepping things up on the international front and what has he done? Wasted money trying to turn a fragile Japanese pitcher into a big league starter and spent next to nothing on international free agents.

I mean, come on. The A's, who actually have financial issues, just signed a top five international talent for $800K. That's chump change. Where were the O's on that? Oh, is Andy still waiting for the market to set itself? That's a good one. Keep saying that and then you never have to do anything.

But no worries, everyone. Andy's growing the arms and buying the bats. He just forgot to mention that the bats are going to be second rate, past their prime chumps like Miguel Tejada, Garrett Atkins, and, coming soon, Lance Berkman.

PS - 28-24 Ravens and Cliff Lee signs with Texas.

PSS - Look at me. I got so flustered, I forgot which post I was commenting on.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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