Orioles sign Korean pitcher, three others to minor league deals

The Orioles continued their offseason efforts to tap into international scouting -- the Asian market in particular -- by signing their first South Korean pitcher.

The team has signed journeyman right-hander Eun Chul Choi to a minor league contract, Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette confirmed Friday.

The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Choi is a mostly unknown commodity. He pitched in the in Veracruz Winter League in Mexico last offseason. His only experience in the United States is a three-outing stint in the independent Golden Baseball League pitching for the Orange County Flyers in 2008, according to Baseball-Reference.com. He was 1-0 with a 16.20 ERA in 3 1/3 innings.

Known or not, he is the first signee in what Duquette says will be a serious push into Korea.

"We're signing him because we're hoping to develop some pitching from Korea," Duquette said. "We signed a number of pitchers with the Red Sox from Korea."

While he was Boston's general manager, Duquette signed several Korean-born pitchers to free-agent deals, including Sun-Woo Kim, Jin Ho Cho and Sang-Hoon Lee, each of whom made it to the major leagues.

The Orioles have also signed right-hander Kyler Newby and re-signed righty Raul Rivero and shortstop Carlos Rojas to minor league deals, according to a report in Baseball America.

Newby was 10-5 with a 4.26 ERA last season in Double-A and Triple-A in the Arizona Diamondbacks' farm system, throwing 118 1/3 innings on the season.

Rivero was 4-2 with two saves and a 4.11 ERA as a reliever at Double-A Bowie, while Rojas hit .204 in 311 at bats between Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. Rojas primarily played shortstop last season but also played second and third base.

The Sun reported last month that the club had signed righty Jon Link and outfielders Antoan Ricardson and Lee Cruz to minor league contracts.

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