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Orioles sign 19-year-old Chinese infielder Gui Yuan 'Itchy' Xu to international free agent deal

The Orioles signed 19-year-old Chinese infielder Gui Yuan "Itchy" Xu to an international free agent deal for next season, the club announced Monday.

Xu (pronounced "SHOO") is the first player signed by a major league team to come from the MLB's international developmental centers. Xu has been a member of MLB's developmental center in Wuxi, China, since 2010.

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Xu, who is 6 feet, 188 pounds and throws left handed, received a $10,000 signing bonus, according to MLB.com.

Major League Baseball opened its first development center in China in Wuxi in 2009. The facility provides baseball training to middle- and high school-aged students in an academic environment. Two other development center have been opened in China since.

"Xu has been working hard at the MLB Development Center and we hope he'll be the first of many future major league players from China," Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said in a statement. "He has excellent balance at the plate and very-good left-handed power which we think will play well at Camden Yards."

A native of Shenzhen, China, Xu is a two-time National Youth Baseball League Most Valuable Player (2012 and 2014) as well as a two-time Taiwan Elite Camp All-Star (2013 and 2014). He was originally recruited as a pitcher, but won the 2012 China National Youth Home Run Derby in 2012 and earned Shenzhen Baseball League Best Hitter and Most Improved Player honors in 2011.

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