The Orioles’ first piece of business in 2019 was one that new executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias has said was a priority since his arrival in November: bringing in someone to lead the club’s under-utilized international scouting operation.
On Wednesday, he tapped Cleveland Indians director of Latin American scouting Koby Perez to serve as senior director of international scouting, which Elias called the “first major step in improving our footing in Latin America.
“In Koby Perez, we have found the right person to spearhead the Orioles’ new international presence,” Elias said in a statement. “His experience, connections, and reputation built across a fast-rising career in multiple successful organizations will immediately elevate our capabilities in this critical market.
“We will continue to augment our operation until the Baltimore Orioles are leaders in recruiting and developing international players.”
Perez, a former Red Sox farmhand from 2002-2003, first crossed paths with Elias and assistant general manager for analytics Sig Mejdal when he joined the St. Louis Cardinals as an area scout in 2006. He left to join the Philadelphia Phillies’ Latin American scouting staff in 2009 and spent five years there, working on the signings of infielder Maikel Franco, outfielder Domingo Santana, and pitchers Seranthony Dominguez and Hector Neris, among others.
Most recently, Perez was the director of Latin American scouting for the Indians, a role he assumed in January 2016 and that saw him guide the team’s scouting in that area. For two years prior, he was the Indians’ international crosschecker.
Perez takes over an international scouting department that hasn’t had a formal leader since Fred Ferreria wasn’t brought back after the 2017 season. Assistant director of minor league and international operations Cale Cox, who was dismissed in October, played a significant role in the team’s return to the market this summer, with nearly $1 million in bonus money spent.
But they only really got back into the international signing game this year, with most of the available money in the organization going to a major league payroll recently despite the skill of former executive vice president Dan Duquette in signing foreign amateur talent at his other stops. No one in their current top-30 prospect list on Baseball America was an amateur free agent signed from Latin America; Australian left-hander Alex Wells is the only homegrown international player on the list.
With the Orioles, Duquette instead traded international signing bonus slots and bonus pool money for players who were further along, with Miguel Castro, Richard Bleier, Paul Fry, and Yefry Ramírez all involved in trades featuring international money.
The team traded for a massive pool of bonus money — which only gave them the right to spend it, not actual money — in the July trades of Brad Brach, Kevin Gausman, and Darren O’Day. But the only players available to spend north of $7 million — Cuban outfielders Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr., plus right-hander Sandy Gaston — signed elsewhere.