This is an interesting interview with Henry Urrutia conducted in the Dominican Republic a few weeks before the Cuban defector made his way to the United States. We had previously heard bits and pieces of Urrutia's story but it is very interesting – to me at least – to hear about his journey in greater detail directly from the source. The 26-year old has already been through a lot to even get to this point – as detailed in the above video – and still has some obstacles to overcome to reach his goal of playing the in Major Leagues.
Urrutia is certainly one of the more intriguing minor league
players to watch this season. Having not
played in a professional game in over two years and spending the past year and
a half in Haiti and the Dominican Republic after fleeing Cuba, Urrutia’s
situation is far different from that of your typical minor league prospect. Both Urrutia and Dan Duquette have made it
clear that the outfielder is not in the United States to be a minor league player. The Orioles made Urrutia their most significant Cuban signing in club history with the goal that he will help the Major League team sooner rather than later. The question is, how soon can a player who has had any actual game experience in nearly two years progress to the level of being Major League ready? It is a storyline that will be extremely interesting to follow as the Minor League seasons begin next week.
On the latest depth chart, we have Urrutia listed as an outfielder in AA Bowie. That was the organization's original plan, but the team has also reportedly discussed starting him at a level or two lower (Frederick or Delmarva) to get his feet wet. Given the long lay off Urrutia has experienced, that seems like a smart plan. After all that Henry Urrutia has been through already to get to this point, we will certainly be rooting for him to move through the system quickly and eventually realize his dream of playing in the Major Leagues.