Xu “Itchy” Guiyuan is now the first athlete from China’s MLB development centers to sign a contract with an MLB team. The 19-year-old will join the Baltimore Orioles on an international free agent deal.
“Itchy,” as they refer to Xu both at home and abroad, is a two-time China National Youth League Baseball Most Valuable Player (2012, 2014). He also brought home MLB Taiwan Elite Camp All-Star nods consecutively in 2013 and 2014. In addition to that, it was back in 2012 at the China National Youth League Baseball Home Run Derby that Xu displayed the power of his left hand and brought home another trophy.
The development centers of MLB in Changzhou, Wuxi and Nanjing in China have been churning out players for the Chinese university teams since 2010. Xu is to jump from the University level of play, directly to professional baseball. His contract with the Orioles will begin with a minor league affiliate and come February 2016, he will be evaluated at the spring training camp of the Orioles. Until that time comes, his training in China will continue as he finishes his high school studies.