The Orioles’ start to each international signing period under executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias and senior director of international scouting Koby Perez has been record-setting for the organization in quantity, total investment or individual signing bonuses.
That continued in the Orioles’ fourth international signing class since Perez entered the organization in January 2019. Although the size of the club’s bonus pool prevented it from exceeding last year’s collection of talent totaling $6.3 million in bonuses, Baltimore handed out its highest bonus to a Latin American amateur in team history, agreeing with Luis Almeyda, a 16-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic, on a $2.3 million deal, a source with direct knowledge of the agreement confirmed to The Baltimore Sun. All of the Orioles’ seven-figure bonuses in this area have come in the past three signing classes, including outfielder Braylin Tavera ($1.7 million) in 2022 and catcher Samuel Basallo ($1.3 million) and infielder Maikol Hernández ($1.2 million) in 2021.
Originally from New Jersey, Almeyda was considered a well-regarded prospect in the 2025 draft class before moving to the Dominican Republic. Now, the potential five-tool infielder will be in his third professional season when the 2025 draft takes place. A right-handed hitter, Almeyda is listed at 6 feet 3 and 180 pounds, size that could lead to an eventual move to third base. His power potential would make him a fit at either position on the left side of the infield.
The Orioles, whose $5.8 million bonus pool trailed eight teams, announced the signings of Almeyda and 26 other international prospects Sunday, the first day of the international signing period. The size of the class ties the 2019 group — Elias and Perez’s first — for the largest initial signing class in team history, with 13 of the players receiving a bonus of at least $100,000, the Orioles announced.
“We are thrilled to welcome these talented individuals and their families to Birdland,” Perez said in a statement. “Today’s announcement … would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our staff, and of course the continued support of our international efforts from Mike Elias and the Partnership Group.”
This class could be the first to enjoy the Orioles’ new training academy in the Dominican Republic.
“I think in this coming calendar year, we’re going to start getting in there at some point in time and maybe have programs and part of the [Dominican Summer League] season there,” Elias said in December.
Although international players aren’t eligible to sign until they are 16, these deals are typically agreed upon years in advance. With the Orioles largely inactive when it came to signing international amateurs until late in 2018, Elias, Perez and Baltimore’s scouts in Latin America have in many ways been playing catch-up in recent years. But Almeyda’s deal shows the Orioles are creeping closer to the top of the market, with Baseball America having his bonus among the 20 largest in the class.
In announcing the class, the Orioles also highlighted shortstops Joshua Liranzo, Félix Amparo and Luis Guevara; infielder José Mejía; right-handed pitcher Keeler Morfe; and left-handed pitcher Francisco Morao. The class includes nine pitchers, eight infielders, six catchers and four outfielders. Fourteen of the players are from the Dominican Republic, with 11 from Venezuela and one each from Colombia and Cuba.
The Orioles say Liranzo, a 16-year-old from the Dominican Republic, has “plus-plus bat speed.” Amparo, 16, is expected to stick at shortstop, considered a plus runner and thrower. Speed is also a strength of Guevara’s game, with the Orioles saying the 16-year-old switch-hitter has “excellent leadoff hitter makeup.” Morfe’s fastball gets up to 95 mph with sink, and the 16-year-old Venezuelan’s repertoire also includes a low 80s slider and mid-80s changeup. Mejía, 17, is projected to have a plus hit tool and develop into a second baseman with an offensive skill set. Morao is regarded as a strike-thrower, with a low 90s fastball, a sharp curveball and a changeup the Orioles believe will improve as the 17-year-old develops.
Given how young players are when they sign, the Orioles have yet to see substantial benefits from their increased investments in the international marketplace, but that could change quickly. Several products of the pipeline played for Low-A Delmarva last season, with infielder Frederick Bencosme shining there to earn a promotion to High-A Aberdeen. After playing in the Florida Complex League in 2022, Basallo and Hernández are among those who figure to move to affiliated ball in 2023.
Throughout their rebuild, the Orioles supplemented their international efforts by acquiring young Latin American players in trades, but as their depth in that area has improved, they could shift to the opposite end of such deals as they look to improve a contending roster. First baseman/outfielder Luis De La Cruz, a member of Elias and Perez’s first international signing class in 2019, was traded to the New York Mets last week to complete their late December trade for catcher James McCann.
MLB Pipeline first reported the value of Almeyda’s bonus.
This story will be updated.
Orioles 2022-23 international signing class
Position, name, hits, throws, date of birth, home country
SS Luis Almeyda, R/R, April 17, 2006, Dominican Republic
RHP Xavier Alvero, R/R, Dec. 1, 2005, Cuba
SS Félix Amparo, R/R, Feb. 27, 2006, Dominican Republic
SS Junior Aybar, L/R, July 14, 2006, Dominican Republic
RHP Luis Beltrán, R/R, April 6, 2004, Dominican Republic
OF Abraham Cohen, L/L, June 15, 2006, Venezuela
SS Sebastián De Los Santos, S/R, June 16, 2006, Dominican Republic
RHP Javier González, R/R, Sept. 22, 2005, Colombia
SS Luis Guevara, S/R, Feb. 6, 2006, Venezuela
OF Raúl Leonte, L/L, May 7, 2006, Dominican Republic
SS Joshua Liranzo, R/R, Aug. 25, 2006, Dominican Republic
C Adriander Mejía, R/R, Aug. 29, 2006, Venezuela
INF José Mejía, R/R, Sept. 29, 2005, Dominican Republic
LHP Francisco Morao, L/L, Nov. 15, 2005, Venezuela
RHP Keeler Morfe, R/R, June 9, 2006, Venezuela
C Juan Ortega, R/R, April 10, 2006, Venezuela
INF Diorky Ortiz S/R, Nov. 15, 2005, Dominican Republic
OF Breiny Ramírez, L/L, May 19, 2006, Dominican Republic
RHP Juan Rasquín, R/R, Dec. 24, 2005, Venezuela
C Jhonanderson Robain, R/R, Jan. 14, 2006, Venezuela
C Miguel Rodríguez, R/R, Dec. 29, 2005, Venezuela
OF Elvis Rojas, L/L, Sept. 25, 2005, Dominican Republic
RHP Raymond Sosa, R/R, May 3, 2006, Dominican Republic
RHP Rafael Suero, R/R, May 7, 2006, Dominican Republic
C Omar Urbina, R/R, Sept. 1, 2005, Venezuela
RHP Kevin Velasco, R/R, Jan. 11, 2006, Venezuela
C Luis Vicioso, R/R, May 7, 2003, Dominican Republic