Amidst all that took place in Kansas City this weekend, one player deserves attention for doing something historic. That would be 29-year-old rookie outfielder Paulo Orlando. Along with Indians catcher Yan Gomes and Marlins pitcher Andre Rienzo, Orlando is just the third Brazilian born player in Major League Baseball history. He has also already gained the reputation for being a triples machine, as five of his first seven career hits, including his first three, went for three bases.
Paulo Orlando is the first player since at least 1900 to begin his career with three triples, according to Elias.
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughStar) April 12, 2015
#Royals Paulo Orlando is the first live ball era player with five triples through his first seven career games. No other player had four.
— Ace of MLB Stats (@AceballStats) April 21, 2015
So, who exactly is Paulo Orlando?
Orlando was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil on November 1, 1985. He grew up playing soccer and was introduced to baseball by a friend of his mother’s. But due to the lack of fields and interest in the game, Orlando was limited to playing only on the weekends. He was also a track star while in Brazil, and was a member of the Brazilian Junior Olympic Team. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Chicago White Sox in 2005. Ironically, the scout with the White Sox who signed Orlando told him, “All you do is hit triples.” Seems pretty accurate.
He made his professional debut in the South Atlantic League in 2006 with the Kannapolis Intimidators and hit .262/.305/.311 with 23 doubles, 10 triples and 29 stolen bases. He played the next two seasons playing for the Winston-Salem Warthogs (now the Dash) of the Advanced-A Carolina League and was traded to the Kansas City Royals in 2008 for pitcher Horacio Ramirez. He was assigned to the Royals’ affiliation of the same league, the Wilmington Blue Rocks, where he would play through the 2009 season. He would go on to play 1017 games over nine seasons in the minor leagues and had a total of 4093 plate appearances during that span. He played three seasons at each level; three in Advanced-A, three in Double-A and three in Triple-A.
In his minor league career, Orlando hit .275/.324/.403 with 164 doubles, 63 triples, 63 home runs, and 200 stolen bases. He played 547 games in center field, 273 games in right field and 163 games in left field while in the minors. His great athletic ability and versatility that allows him to play all three outfield positions well led the Royals to add him to their 40-man roster last fall to protect him from the Rule-Five Draft and ultimately led to his Major League debut this season. He made the team out of Spring Training as their fifth outfielder, and with the hand injury to Alex Rios, Orlando is finding himself in the lineup often and he is undoubtedly making the most of the opportunity.
Orlando has already accomplished something in his brief Major League career that nobody else in the live ball era has done. Now, at 29, the only Brazilian outfielder in MLB history hopes that he is here to stay.