Amateur Signing Bonuses: Orioles

Let's continue our look at the five largest bonuses each team has given to amateur players with the Orioles…

  1. Matt Wieters, $6MM (2007)
  2. Manny Machado, $5.25MM (2010)
  3. Adam Loewen, $3.2MM (2002)
  4. Brian Matusz, $3.2MM (2008)
  5. Matt Hobgood, $2.422MM (2009)

Wieters was the fifth overall pick in the 2007 draft but was arguably the top talent available along with David Price. He destroyed the minors (.343/.438/.576) before making his big league debut last May. Wieters hasn't had the immediate impact the O's hoped for, but perspective is important here. There's nothing wrong with a 24-year-old catcher hitting .266/.328/.393 in his first 887 plate appearances while throwing out 27.6% of attempted basestealers in the AL East.

Another one of the talented young players on Baltimore's big league roster right now is Matusz. He was the fourth overall pick in 2008 and like Wieters he crushed the minors (1.91 ERA, 9.6 K/9, 2.5 BB/9) before debuting in the show. After an eight start cameo in 2009, Matusz's coming out party in 2010 was rock solid for a 23-year-old lefty in that division. His overall numbers won't wow you – 4.30 ERA, 7.3 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 in 175.2 innings – but he was superb down the stretch, posting a 1.57 ERA with a .178/.237/.282 batting line against in his final eight starts. Matusz and Wieters are two biggest pieces in the Orioles' rebuilding effort.

Machado was the third overall pick this past June and didn't sign until the August 16th deadline. He hit .306/.359/.472 in just 39 plate appearances this year, his pro debut. Hobgood was the fifth overall pick last year and has been good but not great so far: 4.48 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 120.2 innings. He just turned 20 in August.

Loewen was the product of the now defunct draft-and-follow process. The O's took him fourth overall in 2002 but didn't sign until a year later, after he spent a season with Chipola College, a two-year school. Loewen cruised through the minors and debuted with Baltimore in 2006. He threw 164 innings with the O's over the next two seasons (5.38 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 5.8 BB/9) but his pitching career was derailed by chronic elbow issues. Loewen went the Rick Ankiel route and transitioned to an outfielder, and he's now working his way back to the big leagues in the Blue Jays system.

The Orioles have never been a big time player on the Latin American free agent market, but they opened a state-of-the-art academy in the Dominican within the last few years. Expect their presence in the international market to jump significantly in the coming years.

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