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Cuban prospect Urrutia joins O's as promised

ARLINGTON -- When Henry Urrutia was formally introduced as an Oriole in a press conference this spring, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette made it clear the organization's intention was for the outfielder to be in the Major Leagues in 2013.

Here he is.

Urrutia, who worked out with the team in Texas on Thursday, officially had his contract selected by Baltimore prior to Friday's series opener against the Rangers, and the 26-year-old is expected to get his first start Saturday.

"I'm not going to say he's strictly going to be a DH, but that's probably where he's going to be tomorrow," manager Buck Showalter said of Urrutia, who hit a combined .365 with a .958 OPS between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk.

"We watched him take batting practice yesterday and watching him move around. I don't know [if he can provide a spark]. I can't sit here and tell you that. We're going to give it a shot instead of sit around and not. You guys know, we've had some issues with our DH spot."

Signed by the Orioles last July, Urrutia thought he could be a September callup, but he didn't arrive until late February due to issues getting a work visa out of Haiti. But given Nolan Reimold's season-ending injury and the rate at which Urrutia has hit both left-handed and right-handed pitching, the O's pulled the trigger after just 67 Minor League games.

"That's the one thing that makes me strong and all the players that were with me," Urrutia said of his time stuck in Haiti, through Minor League coach Ramon Sambo. "I really think about what I went through and all the things, and that I have had to work really hard to keep it. To be here, it is my dream come true, and I know I have to continue to work hard to stay here."

Urrutia, who spent only 15 games at Triple-A, was billed as a line-drive, gap-to-gap hitter. He hit 20 doubles and seven homers for a .531 slugging percentage at both levels this year. While he will most likely be used as a left-handed DH, with some of the organization's initial concerns over his defense and baserunning, he could occasionally be a corner-outfield option.

Urrutia, who did not play in 2011 due to a suspension from an unsuccessful defection attempt, played for Las Tunas in the Cuban League from 2006-10 and batted .350 with 72 doubles, nine triples, 33 home runs and 219 RBIs. He also played for Cuba in the 2010 World Championship and started in right field for the World Team at Sunday's Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game. He went 0-for-3 with a walk in the World's 4-2 loss to Team USA.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli.
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