With the big news that Mark Teahen has been lured out of retirement by Tommasin Padova, the Italian Baseball League will see another notable signing for the 2017 season, as former Red Sox prospect Ron Bermúdez inked a contract today with IBL powerhouse Angel Service Nettuno. The news broke in Spanish via the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League’s official site and in Italian on Baseball Mania.
The Venezuelan outfielder is the latest in a steady stream of players from the South American country to play in Italy, with recent signees including former Cardinals’ top relief prospect Eduardo Sánchez. Last year, the six IBL clubs boasted at least 35 Venezuelans in the six-team circuit.
Bermúdez, now 28, first emerged on the scene in 2007 when he was awarded Boston’s Latin American Player of the Year after a .349/.455/.498 line. By 2010, he was a rising star in the Sox system after an age-22 season that saw him listed as a South Atlantic League All-Star. He hitting .274/.337/.435 at two Single-A levels. Bermúdez failed to distinguish himself in the upper minors, however, and signed with the Orioles for the 2014 campaign after qualifying for minor league free agency.
The right-handed hitter recently wrapped up a winter ball appearance with Aguilas de Zulia in Venezuela, hitting .308 in eight games. Bermúdez also received interest from a team in the highest level of Mexican minor league baseball (Liga Norte de México).
The city of Nettuno, south of Rome, is where baseball started in Italy. The game was taught to locals by American soldiers stationed there after World War II. The club was, by far, the most successful club in Italy from the founding of Italy’s league in 1948. Nettuno has won 16 titles, including 6-of-7 in the 1950s. Its last championship, though, was in 2001. It has won the European Cup six times, with back-to-back championships in 2008-09. Since then, a single second-place finish in 2012 is all the hardware the club has claimed.
Nettuno finished a disappointing fourth place in 2016 with a 21-15 record, losing four out of five games in the semi-final series with Bologna. They were second-to-bottom in average at .225, narrowly missing leading the league in strikeouts (310 in 36 games). The club will no doubt hope that Bermúdez can spark their sputtering offence and deliver postseason heroics.