The Baltimore Orioles have officially signed 4 players to minor league contracts.
The Chris Marrero signing I mentioned in a previous blog post, but now it is actually official.
OF Xavier Paul is a 29 year old lefty swinging OF who has played the whole outfield in the majors in a reserve role. In the minors he’s shown the ability to hit for average, but he strikes out a lot. He does have some pop and does a lot of his damage against RHP. I don’t expect him to make the major league roster out of Spring Training since there is so much competition, but this was a very good depth signing. Having a guy like him around who can play all the OF spots (CF in a pinch) and has major league experience is a good thing. He’s got a pretty good arm, but not great defensively and can steal a few bases.
INF: Ivan De Jesus Jr. is the son of former Major League SS Ivan De Jesus who was a speed demon and slick fielder. Jr. is 26 years old and is a SS/2B back up in the majors right now. In the minors he has shown the ability to hit for high average, high OBP, and is a doubles machine. He has played all over the infield, but has a majority of his time spent at 2B and SS. He didn’t inherit his father’s speed. He has an outside shot of being the every day 2B, but he’s going to have to beat out the likes of Ryan Flaherty whom the Orioles love, and newcomer Jemile Weeks who was acquired in the Jim Johnson trade. You can bet the O’s are going to try every last ditch effort to get something out of Weeks. I think De Jesus still makes this club as the middle infield bench player. I don’t see anyone else with that skill set on this club other than Flaherty if he’s not the starter at 2B. Solid guy to have around when an injury creeps up.
P Fabio Castillo is a 24 year old righty that has spent his career in the minors so far. Last year he broke through at the AA level, but immediately struggled at the AAA level. He’s been a starter in the past and is a strike out guy, but also walks too many batters and has a tendency to give up the long ball. I don’t think the Orioles will try to make him a starter at this point and he will get bullpen work in AA to rebuild his confidence and will get a chance to crack AAA once more. He’s still young enough to spend some time on if you can get a good late inning bullpen arm out of him then you should be happy.