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Urrutia, Wright win top minor league awards

   Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia, who went from not knowing whether he would play pro ball in 2013 to the major leagues a few months later, has been named the Orioles’ organization’s Brooks Robinson Player of the Year.

     Right-hander Mike Wright, who excelled at Double-A Bowie this year and ended his third professional baseball season at Triple-A, was named the Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award.

  Other organizational award recipients, who will be honored before today’s game, are: Bowie Baysox manager Gary Kendall (Cal Ripken Sr. Player Development), area scout Dave Jennings (Jim Russo Scout of the Year) and Delmarva infielder Anthony Caronia (Elrod Hendricks Minor League Community Service).

The 26-year-old Urrutia, who defected from Cuba in 2011 and agreed to a $778,500 bonus to sign with the Orioles in July, was stuck in Haiti at the beginning of this year due to visa issues. He finally made it to Florida in late February and began his pro career in the United States this April.

In his first home game with the Baysox on April 26, he homered on the first pitch he saw – kicking off an impressive run with Bowie. In 52 games and 200 at-bats with the Baysox, he hit .365 with seven homers, 37 RBIs and a .433 on-base percentage.

   He was moved up to Triple-A and played 15 games with Norfolk, batting .367 with an .873 on-base-plus-slugging average before getting the call-up with the Orioles at the start of the second half. He hit .269 with no homers and two RBIs in 21 games with the Orioles before being sent back to Norfolk in mid-August.

    He stayed there until September call-ups and was recalled to the majors; in his lone at-bat since then he had a pinch-hit single in the 10th inning on Saturday.  Before he ever played a pro game, Baseball America listed Urrutia as the organization’s 13th best prospect heading into this season.

    Overall, in his first pro season, Urrutia hit a combined .347 with nine homers and a .913 OPS in 81 minor league games.
The 23-year-old Wright was the Orioles’ third-rounder in 2011 out of East Carolina University. In 26 starts for Double-A Bowie, he was 11-3 with a 3.26 ERA , matching Harrisburg’s Nathan Karns for the top mark in the Eastern League. His 11 wins were one behind the league lead.

    Wright was promoted at the end of the season to Triple-A Norfolk and threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings in his lone start for the Tides.

    Overall, the 6-foot-6 right-hander allowed 158 hits and 39 walks while striking out 138 batters in 150 1/3 innings at his two stops. Baseball America listed Wright as the organization’s eighth best prospect before the 2013 season started.


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