Continuing our reports on obscure 2015 MLB rookies, we turn our attention to Kansas City Royals outfielder Paulo Orlando.
A native of Brazil, Orlando was originally signed by the Chicago White Sox as a free agent in 2005. He did not play much baseball when young but the Sox liked his physical tools and felt they could teach him what he needed to know. He opened his career with Kannapolis in the Low-A Sally League in '06, hitting .262/.305/.391 with 29 steals, six homers, 18 walks, and 143 strikeouts in 470 at-bats. He was very, very raw.
He put up similar numbers in 2007 for High-A Winston-Salem (.253/.294/.376). He returned to the Carolina League for 2008 but was traded to the Royals for Horacio Ramirez, who then flipped him over to the Wilmington roster. Orlando didn't get out of the Carolina League until 2010 when he moved up to Double-A and hit .305/.366/.480 with 13 homers, 25 steals, and a 24/62 BB/K in 419 at-bats. He still didn't draw many walks but note the sharp reduction in his strikeout rate compared to early in his career; he was making progress honing his swing and refining his hitting approach.
However, by this time he was 26 years old and was seen more as roster-filler than prospect, granted he was productive roster-filler who the Royals liked and wanted to keep around. They kept signing him to minor league free agent contracts for '12, '13, and then '14 as he alternated between the Northwest Arkansas and Omaha rosters.
He spent all of '14 with Omaha and hit .301/.355/.415 with 34 steals. And now he's in the majors at age 29. What can we expect?
Orlando's speed and and his throwing arm are both above average; he is a very good, even excellent defensive outfielder with the necessary tools and instincts to handle center field. He's developed good baserunning engrams as well and is a threat to steal. Power is not a huge asset: he is not going to hit a ton of homers, but he's not punchless and should be good for some doubles and triples.
He is not selective and his walk rates are low, however Orlando has done a much, much better job making contact the last few years. He was a pure hacker early in his career but has toned that down, to the point where he can now be considered a contact hitter.
This is the profile of a fourth or fifth outfielder, albeit a useful one, assuming he maintains his ability to make contact against major league pitching. For fantasy purposes he could be worth a pick-up in deep league/dynasty formats for his speed. For regular baseball purposes he is fun to watch and it is always a good thing to see a "never give up" player receive a chance to demonstrate the results of their hard work. Paulo Orlando has come a very long way for a guy who was striking our more than once a game in Low-A.