Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Vintage Fridays: Mike Cuellar, 1971 Topps #170

The Orioles have had some great Cuban-born players throughout six decades in Baltimore. There's Mike Cuellar, Rafael Palmeiro, Danys Baez...okay, so there have been two great Cuban-born Orioles. But tomorrow another noteworthy native of the Caribbean island will make his O's debut. Outfielder Henry Urrutia, who batted .365/.427/.531 in a total of 67 games at AA Bowie and AAA Norfolk in the first half, has joined the team in Texas this weekend.

"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.

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