Cuban outfielder Urrutia moving closer to officially joining Orioles

February 28, 2013 | WNST Staff

The Orioles made news back in July by agreeing to a minor-league deal with Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia that included a $778,500 signing bonus and it appears the 26-year-old will officially join the organization later this week.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette confirmed to reporters that Urrutia has arrived in Florida after obtaining his work visa in Haiti and is expected to report to the Orioles’ minor-league complex at Twin Lakes Park in the next few days. Urrutia will need to pass his physical, which will be more than a foregone conclusion since the club doesn’t know what kind of shape he’s in after he was unable to obtain a work visa to come to the United States last summer.

Their original agreement was pending a physical, so the Orioles would not be on the hook for any payment if he proves to be unfit.

Urrutia is a switch hitter with a line-drive stroke that’s more polished from the left side, according to several scouting reports. In his final season in Cuba in 2010, he batted .397 with a .461 on-base percentage and .597 slugging percentage in 305 at-bats with 12 home runs. The outfielder also had more walks (32) than strikeouts (23) and was tied for ninth in the league in on-base percentage.

Urrutia did not play in 2011 due to a suspension after he attempted to defect from Cuba. The Orioles planned to assign him to Double-A Bowie last summer after agreeing to terms, but his inability to leave Haiti prevented that from happening.

He lacks the upside of recent Cuban defectors Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler but is considered to have reasonable major-league potential.