Friday, July 19, 2013
Vintage Fridays: Mike Cuellar, 1971 Topps #170
"Hank", as Buck Showalter has already taken to calling him, had an uncommon path to the big leagues. After five seasons with a .350 batting average for Las Tunas of the Cuban League, including a .397/.461/.597 batting line in 2010, he made a failed attempt to defect from the country and was suspended for the 2011 season. Urrutia was able to defect in September 2011, taking refuge in Haiti. The Birds signed him for a $778,500 bonus last July, but he encountered difficulties in obtaining a visa and was not able to make his U. S. pro debut until this past spring. While there's a big difference between the minors and the majors, the Orioles were significantly impressed by the way that Henry was able to shake off two years' worth of rust, especially with the bat. I don't expect him to hit .365 against the David Prices and Justin Verlanders of the world, but he doesn't have to do that to help the O's chase a playoff spot. Buckle up, as they say.