Now that top Cuban prospect Victor Victor Mesa and his younger brother, Victor Mesa Jr., have been declared free agents by Major League Baseball, the Orioles plan to pursue both players aggressively, according to an industry source.
The Orioles have plenty of international free-agent bonus money to spend – their $6.7 million in bonus slots is the most in baseball this period — and the club has long been eyeing Victor Victor, 22, as an opportunity to make a big splash in a Latin American market the Orioles have underinvested in for years.
Both brothers left Cuba in May, and it took until now for them to establish residency in the Dominican Republic so they would be declared free agents.
The Orioles plan to scout both players at to-be-determined showcases, according to a source.
Having interest in the brothers isn’t the same as actually signing them, but the Orioles are in position to be a major player for the brothers because other teams have already committed bonuses to other players this signing period.
Playing in the Cuban National Series league in 2016-17, Victor Victor Mesa hit .354/.399/.539 in 70 games for Matanzas. He also was 40-for-50 on stolen-base attempts and had more extra-base hits (27) than strikeouts (19).
The 17-year-old Victor Mesa Jr. was a standout for the Cuban U-18 national team.
The team has already invested more money in international signing bonuses than past years, signing three Dominican players to bonuses of more than $200,000: shortstop Moises Ramirez ($225,000), outfielder Issac Bellony ($220,000) and outfielder Damien Valdez ($200,000). Last signing period, the Orioles gave only one international free agent a bonus of at least $200,000.