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As I mentioned earlier this week, the Orioles recently agreed to terms on a minor league contract with 19-year-old Australian left-hander Chris Lamb.

I spoke with a few people about Lamb, including the young pitcher himself, in e-mails.

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Orioles scout Brett Ward is responsible for the signing. The Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs were also among the teams that were reportedly interested.

Lamb is the first amateur player from Australia signed by the Orioles since John Stephens in 1996, according to Ward.

Other recent Orioles players from Australia include left-handed pitcher Damian Moss, who was acquired in a trade for Sidney Ponson in 2003, and minor league left-hander Craig Anderson, who played in the team's minor league system from 2006 to 2008.

In nine appearances with the Queensland Rams in the Claxton Shield Baseball Championship, Lamb is 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA.

While the numbers obviously aren't exciting, keep in mind that it's a small sample size against some of the best players in Australia. Several players represented the country in the World Baseball Classic and the Baseball World Cup. According to Ward, the level of competition in the Claxton Shield is similar to the Single-A level.

Earlier this year, Lamb pitched with more success in the Queensland State League, which is equivalent to the Rookie-level leagues in the United States.

In nine appearances (four starts) in that league, he was 2-1 with a 3.03 ERA and one save. Lamb struck out 49 batters and issued 33 walks in 29 2/3 innings.

Lamb is still young and learning to pitch effectively. He walks a lot of hitters, but coming to the United States will certainly help him to develop. Team practices in Australia aren't as common as they are in the United States. With the full attention of the Orioles minor league coaches, he'll be given the chance to train properly.

David Ireland, the assistant general manager for Queensland, offered this scouting report about Lamb:

He's a skinny kid with a live arm and room to add 10-15 pounds of muscle as he fills out. At times he can get erratic and lose the strike zone, but he also has the ability to get hitters to swing and miss. The coaching staff has been working with him on his release point and repeating his delivery. With consistent work in the [United] States he will have a much better opportunity to refine his mechanics. He currently throws his fastball with late sinking action at 88-90 mph and has topped out at 93. His secondary pitches are a real good curveball that drops off the table and a changeup that he is still developing. The coaches have taught him a cutter that he has started to implement into games as well.

People who have seen Lamb pitch believe that he could be an effective left-handed specialist with a peak of mid-rotation starting pitcher in the majors. Not surprisingly, Lamb's stuff is viewed to be more effective against left-handed hitters.

The opportunity to "make a living and have memories I will cherish forever" are the biggest benefits about coming to the United States to begin a professional career, according to Lamb.

"The deal was too good to refuse," Lamb said.

Queensland manager Dave Nilsson was a catcher for the Milwaukee Brewers for parts of eight seasons during the 1990s. He batted .284 with 105 home runs and 470 RBIs in his career.

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While he will be moving approximately 9,000 miles across the world, Lamb doesn't think there will be a big difference in the way he approaches things in the United States.

"Not that many [cultural adjustments]," he said. "It's fairly similar."

Lamb, who is expected to report to Sarasota in February for minor league spring training, will likely be assigned to one of the Rookie-level affiliates -- Gulf Coast League or Bluefield -- in order to give him an opportunity to continue to work on his command and control.

Bonus interesting fact: Ward also passed along a random tidbit that I thought some people might enjoy. Orioles starting pitcher Kevin Millwood played in the Australian Baseball League during the 1996-97 season. In fact, he was the league's Pitcher of the Year.

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