Duquette: Urrutia is 'absolutely' an option to help 2013 Orioles

The Baltimore Sun

HOUSTON -- Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette won’t dismiss the possibility of adding players through trades and waiver claims as this season progresses, but he also believes there is help from within, potentially including Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia.

“He’s an option to help our major league team this year, absolutely,” Duquette said of Urrutia, who is tearing up Double-A Bowie. “He is a good on-base man. He’s got a .400-plus on-base percentage. He uses the whole field and now he is starting to hit with power.”

With the calendar turning to June, speculation is starting to escalate on which teams will be sellers and which will be buyers at next month’s non-waiver trade deadline. With no obvious ace, the Orioles could be in search of starting pitching.

But it seems like the club right now is more interested in seeing what rookie Kevin Gausman does with an extended look while waiting for Wei-Yin Chen to return from an oblique injury. Chen threw from 60 to 75 feet again Wednesday without pain. A set date for his return has not been determined.

The club also hasn’t ruled out getting a contribution from right-hander Dylan Bundy, who begins a throwing progression next week, at some point in 2013, Duquette said. He’s been sidelined with right forearm discomfort and hasn’t pitched since March.

As for offensive additions, the Orioles could potentially add the 26-year-old Urrutia, who only has been in the country since this spring. Heading into Wednesday, he was leading the Eastern League with a .353 average in 139 at-bats (36 games) while ranking sixth among qualifiers in on-base percentage (.419) and third in slugging (.554).

At this point, Urrutia will continue to get that experience at Double-A Bowie instead of moving up to Triple-A Norfolk. Duquette wouldn’t dismiss the possibility Urrutia could skip Norfolk on his way to the majors, similarly to what third baseman Manny Machado did last year and pitcher Gausman did in May.

“It’s possible he could come up from Double-A, but I’d like to see him get a few more at-bats at Double-A and then take a look at what our need is and where he fits into our ballclub,” Duquette said. “We could send him to Triple-A if we wanted to.”

The 6-foot-5, 200-pounder gave up switch hitting this year and is batting only from the left side. He is hitting .297 against lefties and .373 against right-handers.

Urrutia, who has a strong throwing arm and moves well for someone his size but is still learning the nuances of the pro game, has been playing right field — a position that is manned in the big leagues by Gold Glover Nick Markakis.

The Orioles aren’t worried about an outfield logjam right now; they figure they can find a place for Urrutia if he continues to hit and get on-base at such a dizzying pace.

“He looks like he is an everyday major league ballplayer,” Duquette said. “He has all the skills; he just needs a little more experience.”

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