Orioles sign free agent INF Gui Yuan "Itchy" Xu to a minor league contract

The Orioles today announced that they have signed free agent INF GUI YUAN "ITCHY" XU to a 2016 minor league contract.

Xu (pronounced "SHOO"), 19, becomes the first player signed by a Major League Baseball club from the MLB Development Centers. The 6-foot, 188-pound left-handed hitting and left-handed throwing infielder is a native of Shenzhen, China and was recruited to the MLB program in 2010. As a student-athlete at Dong Bei Tang High School and the MLB Development Center in Wuxi, Jiangsu, China, Xu was a two-time China National Youth Baseball League Most Valuable Player (2012 and 2014) as well as a two-time MLB Taiwan Elite Camp All-Star (2013 and 2014).

"Xu has been working hard at the MLB Development Center and we hope he'll be the first of many future Major League players from China," said Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations DAN DUQUETTE. "He has excellent balance at the plate and very good left-handed power which we think will play well at Oriole Park at Camden Yards."

Originally recruited as a pitcher, he also won the 2012 China National Youth Baseball League Home Run Derby and was the winner of the 2011 Shenzhen Baseball League Best Hitter Award and Most Improved Player honor.

MLB International (MLBI) formally opened a baseball development center in Wuxi, China on September 23, 2009. It was the first MLB training facility in China, providing baseball training for middle school and high school-aged students within an academic school environment. The center has an international team of baseball instructors, and, in addition to receiving an excellent academic education, the students receive baseball training and lessons in English to prepare them for global opportunities. Additional MLB Development Centers have been opened in Changzhou and Nanjing.