Since arrving at his first spring training this year, Orioles minor leaguer Gui Yuan Xu has been a curiosity.
He’s trying to become the first player ever signed from one of Major League Baseball’s three development centers in China. But it’s uncertain if Xu’s talents – evident in the cages and against his peers in China – will translate against American pitching.
Beginning in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, Xu has proven he can hit. He got off to a torrid start and was the team’s leading hitter for weeks before tailing off.
Playing sporadically because of a large roster, Xu – whose Americanized nickname is “Itchy Shoe” – kept his average over .400 until July 20. He has more recently slumped, sending his average plummeting to .274.
The good news for Xu is that he has proven he can hit to all fields. His power numbers are less encouraging. He has just three extra-base hits, all doubles, through 62 at-bats.
He has also flirted with a position change. He began the season at first base, but coaches have expressed early concern about his fielding. He has now been playing some outfield and as a designated hitter.
His first season ends on Sept. 1.