Dan Rodricks: Now translating for the Orioles, 23-year-old Brandon Quinones | COMMENTARY

20 July 2023

Going into the important series this weekend with the Tampa Bay Rays, Anthony Santander, right fielder of the Baltimore Orioles, had a batting average of .272, with 17 home runs, 54 runs batted in and an increasingly solid command of English. In fact, in a recent postgame interview on MASN, the native Venezuelan answered all questions without the assistance of translator Brandon Quinones.

Quinones was at the slugger’s side, of course, but only as a backup.

“Oh, man, I’m so proud of him,” the 23-year-old Quinones says of the 29-year-old Santander. “His English since last season has been great. He’s always been more than capable of speaking English, though the thing with him was he was always a bit … maybe shy. So he would always like having me around for [on-camera] interviews. When we arrived this year for spring training, he immediately just started doing interviews in English, and I can’t be more proud of him because I think he’s crushing it this year.”

To MASN viewers, Quinones is that young man who dons a headset and stands next to Baltimore players who are native Spanish speakers, translating the postgame questions that come, often rapid-fire, from broadcasters, then giving the players’ answers in English. He helps young players from Latin America who, while adept at pitching or hitting, are still learning a difficult second language. He also translates for the media in the Orioles clubhouse.

“I try my best to directly translate whatever they say,” he says.

All Major League teams have translators. The one employed by the Orioles is a congenial fellow who seems ecstatic, and still a bit surprised, by his position in life.

Quinones grew up in a bilingual household in Hialeah, Florida, northwest of Miami. His father, Gilberto, is a native of Puerto Rico; his mother, Maria Victoria, came from Cuba. How Quinones came to his job — how he went quickly from college student to MLB translator — will probably surprise those who believe young Americans spend too much time playing video games.

Quinones loves baseball, and he played outfield in high school and college. But he pulled back while a student at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens to focus fully on a career in sports administration.

“I just had such a passion for that,” he says. “I always knew I wanted to work in sports, so why not dedicate all my time and efforts to that?”

He traces his career choice back to a video game.

“Funny enough,” he says, “I grew up playing sports video games [like] ‘MLB: The Show.’ But my favorite thing to do in those games wasn’t to play the game itself. I really enjoyed constructing super teams in ‘franchise mode,’ trading for my favorite players, like Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera, and winning a championship.

“So, at a very young age, I was super fascinated with that and, as I got older and started researching things in sports, sure enough, I saw a viable career path.”

Quinones enrolled in an online lecture series on MLB ticketing operations. He also applied for an apprenticeship that MLB offered as it tried to improve diversity in the front offices of its 30 teams. Though he was not accepted, Quinones’ application found its way to Tyrone Brooks, a 1996 University of Maryland graduate who runs MLB’s “diversity pipeline” efforts.

In December 2021, Quinones was at home, playing a Nintendo game, when he got a text message: “I’m Tyrone Brooks, I work with Major League Baseball. This opportunity with the Baltimore Orioles just opened up for their team translator position. Would you be interested by any chance?”

Quinones thought he was being pranked. But he searched LinkedIn and found that Brooks has worked in baseball for three decades, helping young people find careers in the sport.

Quinones jumped at the opportunity. Within a few days, the Orioles had hired him. He worked as a translator in the 2022 season, as the rebuilding team started showing potential.

This season, he works closely with relief pitchers Felix Bautista, a native of the Dominican Republic (“He’s a gentle giant”) and Yennier Cano, a native of Cuba (“He’s always happy”). Quinones traveled with both of them to the All-Star game in Seattle. He also helps the Cuba-born reliever Cionel Perez.

“And then,” Quinones says, “if we call up a certain guy [from the minor leagues] or if we acquire a certain guy, if you have free agency or a trade, I might need to help translate for them. … We have some team meetings, or pitcher meetings or hitter meetings, and if I know we have some Spanish-speaking players who may not fully understand what the message is, I’ll be there to assist with that.”

Quinones not only scored a cool job right out of college, but he’s in a good place at a good time, with a surprising, surging team of players not much older than himself.

“It’s just such a good group of guys who are all connected, they’re all on the same page, they all root for one another,” he says. “One person’s success is everyone’s success.”

He’s among the many — Orioles staffers, players, fans — who feel lucky to be in Baltimore for the 2023 baseball season. “It’s been a blessing,” Quinones says. “It almost felt too good to be true, but it’s been a blessing every step of the way.”


Need help?

If you need support, please send an email to [email protected]

Thank you.