Middle infielder Eider Torres is among the least heralded additions to the Orioles' 40-man roster this off-season, but his presence should not be overlooked. An Eastern League All- Star this season, Torres is a fast, scrawny player who excels at Sam Perlozzo-style small ball. His best defensive position is second base, although he is often asked to play shortstop and has even seen time in centerfield.
Torres was signed at age 17 by the Cleveland Indians in 2000 as an undrafted free agent. After advancing slowly through the Tribes system, he was granted free agency as a 6 year minor league veteran this off-season. In a continuing effort to add depth to the minor league system, the Orioles signed Torres and protected him with a spot on their 40-man roster. Standing 5-8 and weighing 160 pounds, he is certainly not a power threat. In fact, Torres has hit only twelve home runs in his six minor league campaigns. What Torres can do, however, is terrorize opposing catchers while on the basepaths. Last season alone, he stole 41 bases in 53 attempts at Double-A Akron as well as 3 of 4 in a short stint at Triple-A Buffalo. Last year's stolen base champion in the Orioles' minor league system was Lorenzo Scott, who swiped at total of 29 for Delmarva. In 2005, Torres led the Indians' organization with 19 sacrifice bunts and he added 13 more in 2006.
Unfortunately, his quest to become a big leaguer has not been without controversy. In 2005, he served a 10 game suspension for using a banned substance. According to Torres, it was a $10 vitamin supplement that he had obtained legally in his native Venezuela. The Indians' Farm Director, John Farrell, made a point of stressing that it was a banned substance and did not refer to it as steroids. In 2006, his season ended abruptly in September after pitcher Bubbie Buzachero broke his jaw in a fight. The Indians appeared to side with Torres in the dispute; Buzachero was placed on the "restricted list", while Torres merely missed the EL playoffs.
Eider Torres will likely battle for a starting role for Triple-A Norfolk, although it is possible he will return to the eastern league for Double-A Bowie. Given his defensive aptitude and ability to do spot duty in centerfield, he has the upside to challenge for a spot on the 25-man roster. Due to his lack of power, Torres projects as a defensive sub/pinch-runner type.
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