Near-ready Urrutia highlights O's trio at Futures Game
Cuban outfielder starts for World Team, joining Rodriguez, Walker in New York
NEW YORK -- The Cuban infusion in Major League Baseball is everywhere these days, from Los Angeles (Yasiel Puig) to Oakland (Yoenis Cespedes) to Cincinnati (Aroldis Chapman) to Boston (Jose Iglesias) and several places in between.
Baltimore could well be the next stop. That's what outfielder Henry Urrutia is banking on.
Urrutia was one of three Orioles' prospects on hand for Sunday's Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game, and is almost certain to be the one who reaches the Major Leagues first.
At 26 years old in the midst of his first pro season, Urrutia can all but smell the crab cakes at Camden Yards.
"That's my dream, since I signed with the organization," Urrutia said through an interpreter. "I'd love to be there this year. It will depend on whether they think I'm prepared or not. But I'm going to keep working and working to be the player Orioles fans want to see."
Urrutia hit .365 with seven homers and 47 RBIs in 52 games with Double-A Bowie. The adjustment to Triple-A Norfolk hasn't been particularly tough either, as Urrutia has a .367 average with five extra-base hits in his first 60 at-bats.
Playing with and against the best prospects in the game, Urrutia started in right field and hit fifth for the World Team in Sunday's 4-2 loss to Team USA, going 0-for-3 with a walk.
"I can assure you that I've prepared myself in the Minor Leagues -- a lot of preparation, a lot of dedication and training," said Urrutia. "That's also going to come out in the big leagues."
Urrutia doesn't deny that he's inspired by his countrymen.
"I played with all those guys," said Urrutia. "Puig, Cespedes, Iglesias, Kendrys Morales, and they're all in the big leagues. As a Cuban, that makes me happy and it also encourages me."
Though he hasn't reached his desired destination yet, playing in a Major League venue was a big thrill for Urrutia.
"It's one of the most exciting times of my sports life," Urrutia said.
Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez and first baseman Christian Walker also represented the Orioles' future Sunday.
Rodriguez is next in line behind two other dazzling Orioles pitching prospects, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, the latter of whom is currently pitching out of the 'pen in Baltimore.
"I'm really excited for the Orioles to tell me about that, 'You're our third-best pitching prospect.' But you still have to spend time working, and working in the bullpen with my pitching coach," said Rodriguez. "And you just have to keep putting in that work and concentration."
Rodriguez retired all three batters he faced in the Futures Game, striking out one.
"I'm working on all my pitches all the time. My slider, my changeup, but it's good right now," Rodriguez said. "I'm really excited and blessed for the opportunity to come here for the Futures Game."
Though he can't wait to get to Baltimore, Rodriguez knows not to skip any steps along the way.
"Keep working, and when I'm going to the big leagues for my opportunity, I want to stay -- no coming back," Rodriguez said.
Walker was a late addition to the Futures Game roster, coming on board as an injury replacement Friday. He went 0-for-2.
"It was awesome," Walker said. "It was a little bit last minute. I didn't really think there was still a chance at all. An opportunity opened up and they thought I was the guy. It was definitely an honor to be selected for this team."