Orioles notes: Katz acquired for international signing slots; Duquette on Britton, Bourn

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

The Orioles continued to shed their international signing bonus slot money Saturday, sending two slots to the Chicago White Sox for 22-year-old left-handed reliever Alex Katz.

Katz, who pitched for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic and has intrigued scouts with his fastball-breaking ball combination, will join High-A Frederick, the team said.

“He has a good fastball and excellent strikeout record,” executive vice president Dan Duquette said of Katz, who has struck out 10.1 per nine innings in his minor league career. “A lot of guys like him and they project him to be a major league reliever. We’re going to send him to Frederick. He pitched in the Carolina League last year. He should return there. He showed a good fastball and a really good breaking ball in the WBC. We got a couple good looks at him.”

The Orioles traded international signing bonus slots Nos. 45 and 75 to Chicago, which according to Baseball America are worth a combined $756,300. They dealt slot No. 15, worth $885,300, to the Milwaukee Brewers for right-hander Damien Magnifico on April 13, and designated him for assignment on May 2 without seeing him in the majors.

On April 14, they sent slot No. 105 (worth $198,000) to the Seattle Mariners for left-hander Paul Fry.

That makes for over $1.8 million in international slots sent out for the current period, which ends on July 1. The hard cap on international signing bonuses looming for next year’s international period factored into that, Duquette said.

“What happened is that there’s a hard cap on the international scouting market,” Duquette said. “There were a number of teams that spent beyond their cap and went into the penalty, and with the hard cap coming up next year, teams saw that there was some liquidity in the market for the calendar year that ends July 1. So, the hard cap worked to enhance the value of these picks. So we’ve been able to use them to acquire some pitchers to help our organization.”

Britton update: Duquette said closer Zach Britton threw for a second time Saturday after first playing catch Thursday, marking the first steps back on his comeback from left forearm soreness in Sarasota, Fla.

“He’s been through the prescribed rest period, and now he’s just tossing, throwing the ball around,” Duquette said. “So far, his health is fine.”

Veteran statuses: Right-hander Edwin Jackson is “pitching well” for Triple-A Norfolk, Duquette said, but the club wants to get him a few more innings to see if he can help the major league club.

Veteran outfielder Michael Bourn has an opt-out Monday, and Duquette said he doesn’t know if he’ll take it or remain in the organization. Either way, Duquette said the Orioles want to remain with a 12-man pitching staff, which could influence whether they can accommodate Bourn.

Around the horn: Right-hander Tyler Wilson is no longer listed as the starter for Triple-A Norfolk Sunday, indicating he could be an option if the club needs to add a pitcher to the major league roster. … Manager Buck Showalter joked that left fielder Hyun Soo Kim feigned hyperventilating when he was told he’d be in the lineup for a second straight day. Before Friday, Kim had just three starts in May. ... As part of Celebrate Maryland Day, the Orioles wore Maryland flag script jerseys, and senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen threw out ceremonial first pitches.

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