The 2012 MLB First Year Player Draft is on Monday June 4th.  The Baltimore Orioles will select 4th.  The Orioles pick is a highly important one and will lay the groundwork for the rest of the draft.  Here is why:

The Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins have the #1 and #2 picks in the draft.  It seems to be a lock that RHP Mark Appel out of Stanford, and high school OF Byron Buxton will be the top two picks.  Regardless of the order, these two stand out as the best pitcher and position player overall.  Florida catcher Mike Zunino draws Brian McCann like projections and is a perfect fit for the Seattle Mariners at pick #3 overall.  The Mariners have no catching depth in their system, and have made up their minds that Jesus Montero will not be a catcher long term.  The top three of this year’s draft is almost a sure thing.

Then comes the Orioles at pick #4.  There is no lock in this spot.  There are a few guys that the O’s could select.  And their selection will change the course of all the other teams.  Let’s take a look at some of the possible picks.

Kevin Gausman RHP LSU- This seems to be the most likely pick.  Some say that Gausman is the most ready pitcher in this year’s draft.  Others say that he’s too raw for this point in his career.  Gausman is a high strikeout guy who can reach up to 97 on his fastball.  But he does come with risk.  Many reports say that he will be a #2-#3 starter that will never quite reach his potential.  Obviously it’s too early to say something like that, but I fear that this guy could have Luke Hochevar written all over him.

Kyle Zimmer RHP SF- A few weeks ago Zimmer seemed to be the favorite for the O’s.  He’s moved down the mock drafts little by little.  He could certainly still go as high as #4 to Baltimore or #5 to Kansas City.  If both teams pass he could drop just out of the top 10.  Zimmer’s fastball reaches as high as 98 and his curveball is supposedly very good.  He seems to be a solid pick that will undoubtedly turn into a good major league pitcher.  He has less risk and a slightly lower ceiling than Gausman.

Carlos Correa SS Puerto Rico- A young high school kid who goes to the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy.  Many experts believe that he is the 4th best player in this year’s draft behind Appel, Buxton, and Zunino.  He may not be taken #4 because of the Orioles’ need for pitching.  If they decide to take the best player available they could go with Correa.  It would be surprising if the Orioles did not take a pitcher though.  If Machado makes a permanent move to 3B, Correa could make sense for the Orioles.  They really need to develop more pitching though.

Lucas Giolito RHP High school (CA)-  An elbow sprain has kept him out of action for the past few weeks.  It certainly doesn’t hurt his upside though.  Pick #4 overall would be a big surprise, but he could live up to that potential.  He has #1 starter upside.  He has also risen up the draft boards recently.  In the past few seasons there have been some surprising reaches on young high school arms.  There is a small chance we see that happen here.  Honestly Giolito may have the highest upside of all the pitchers on this list, but he’s going to take a long time to develop.

Albert Amora OF High school (FL)- The O’s don’t really have a need for an OF.  So this would be a surprising pick.  I only name him because he is one of the top hitters in the draft and should certainly go in the top 6 overall.  I don’t see the Orioles going in this direction, but if they surprise everyone with a name like this you don’t need to be upset.  He would certainly be worth the pick.

Overall you should expect the birds to select Gausman.  An unlikely shake up in the top 3 could change everything.  Last year there was an unlikely shake up when Anthony Rendon slid down the board.  The Orioles were thankfully committed to Bundy and let Rendon slide right past them.  The difference is that Bundy was the best high school arm in the draft for sure.  All of the guys this year could be a toss up.  So if Appel or Buxton would shockingly fall, the Orioles would be getting a gift.  This happened a few years ago when Matt Wieters shockingly fell.  Wieters fell because of potential sign-ability issues.  Because of the new bargaining agreement that shouldn’t be an issue this year.  Be ecstatic if Appel would fall.  But again, that isn’t likely.  Be happy with Gausman or Zimmer, because they have high upside.  And the Orioles need high upside arms.  You should also be happy with a Giolito pick.  That could be the best option of them all.

Whatever the Orioles decide to do will impact the rest of the teams behind them.  Kansas City, Chicago Cubs, San Diego, and Pittsburgh will all likely take the best available based on whatever the Orioles don’t select.  One would argue that the Orioles have more impact on this year’s draft than any other team.  Which way will they decide to go?