I’m sure I’m not the only one asking this question and no, for those of you of a certain age group, he’s not Tony’s brother. (Which I think would have made him Dawn’s cousin, but I don’t know—that whole arrangement confused me.) Anyway, he filled in for Alex Gordon in left field today since Go-Go has not been on fire (1 for 13 so far this year), might still be having some issues with his wrist and the Angels had tough lefty C.J. Wilson on the mound. (Gordon, you might recall, had the extensor retinaculum of his right wrist (throwing hand) repaired on December 30, 2014. The extensor retinaculum? It’s the band of fibrous material on the back of the wrist that binds together the tendons leading to the fingers and thumb. But you already knew that.)
It’s the second time this year Kansas City has used Orlando instead of Gordon and while he hasn’t exactly been magic, he’s been more than adequate–3 for 8, 3 runs, one walk and one K. The notable thing is that all three of his hits have been triples. The man has wheels.
So this led me to wonder where the heck he’s been? Of course, with Dyson backing up the tremendous KC outfield already, it’s not like another outfielder was really needed but it still made me wonder.
Turns out the Brazilian Orlando is from Sao Paulo and has been in professional baseball since 2006 when he was 20. At that time, he was basking in the glare of the white hot spotlight of Kannapolis, NC, a city of about 45,000 that lies 21 miles northeast of Charlotte, give or take, and playing for the White Sox Class A affiliate Kannapolis Intimidators. He has spent the intervening years trudging his way through the minors, helped by his speed but hurt by his apparent propensity for swinging at just about anything that left a pitcher’s hand. He became part of the Royals’ system in 2008.
And through all those years, never an at-bat in the Big Leagues until now, playing and starting for the first place, defending AL Champion Royals, displacing Jarrod Dyson. This is the head scratcher. KC signed Dyson to a one-year $1.225 M contract in the off season after he appeared in 106 games last year. In fact, Dyson has been the go-to fill-in OF for the last five years, has fantastic speed and a good OBP. Why not use him? Maybe it’s because he has no power. But Orlando, despite being 6’2”, only has meh power. He’s speedy like Dyson but then, many outfielders are. So what led to Paulo filling in for Gordo instead of Dyson-o? My guess is that it was because he has only played left field whereas Dyson has only played center. They are different positions but I still thought the ball woulda shoulda gone to the guy who’s produced in the past. But then again, it’s early. Good time to grab a look-see at someone.
In any event, the Royals are undefeated, 6-0 with two sweeps under their belts and a series with the Twins upcoming. I’m glad Orlando has been given a chance after all his toil in the minors. I’m even more glad that he has done well.