SARASOTA, Fla. — Henry Urrutia, the Cuban defector who joined the Orioles earlier this month eight months after he signed, will play in his first game at Ed Smith Stadium in today’s exhibition against the State College of Florida.
Urrutia will start in right field and hit sixth in the batting order.
Urrutia, who signed a $778,500 signing bonus in July, hasn’t played in two seasons. He was suspended for the entire 2011 season in Cuba after a failed defection, so the Orioles are pacing him slowly to get him readjusted to the game while getting him ready for the season.
He played in a handful of games in right field and is currently getting three at-bats and playing six innings per game.
Urrutia looks the part. He’s a legitimate 6 feet 4 with a lean build that will likely add weight now that he’s out of Haiti, where he was living while trying to get to the United States since July.
It’s still unclear where in the Orioles minor league system he would open the season. When the team signed him in July it planned to start him at Double-A Bowie.
But he still has some visa paperwork to complete before he’s able to play for an affiliate, which could prevent him from being placed on a minor league Opening Day roster.
In his final season playing in Cuba in 2010, Urrutia compiled a .397/.461/.597 batting line with 12 homers in 305 at-bats playing for Las Tunas.