The Baltimore Orioles have made history by signing Chinese youngster Xu Guiyan and possibly opened the door for a generation of players to emerge from Asia’s most populated country.
The 19-year-old became the first Chinese-born player to sign for a Major League franchise since Henry Kingman, born to American parents, who appeared for the New York Yankees in 1914, and the first player to come through from one of the MLB’s three development centers in the country.
With the eyes of a nation of 1.3 billion people now on him, Xu’s career will be under the microscope from the very start, but it may be a couple of years before the MLB sees the high-profile youngster make his bow in the big leagues.
The outfielder/first baseman will remain in China for the time being, finishing high school before linking up with his new Orioles team-mates ahead of spring training in February.
From there, it’s likely that Xu will be farmed out to one of Baltimore’s affiliates, where the franchise will be able to gain a better indication of just what the Chinese star is capable of.
Having initially been spotted as a 13-year-old by Rick Dell, the MLB’s director of game development in Asia, Xu has gone on to become a two-time China national youth baseball league MVP, winning the 2012 China youth league’s home run derby.
The left-hander will find the game in North America is a different animal from what he’s used to, but Xu’s early achievements certainly bode well for a player whose every move from here on in will be scrutinized by an entire nation.
While those betting with the likes of betfair might not believe the Orioles will be competing for a World Series this year, that could change if Xu can live up to the inevitable hype that will surround him.
Featured image via AP Sports