Major League Baseball will hold its annual First-Year Player Draft June 8-1o in that exotic getaway known as Secaucus, New Jersey. The first round will be shown live on MLB Network.
And like it’s hot older sister the NFL Draft, teams will pick in reserve order of their 2014 standings (not counting playoffs).
The Arizona Diamondbacks had the worst record a season ago, so they will be on the clock first followed by the Houston Astros –who will pick second because they were unable to sign the number one overall pick, Brady Aiken, last year. Aiken is available to be selected in this draft.
Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson is considered the odds on favorite to be the first player selected. Another shortstop, Alex Bregman (LSU) and RHP Dillon Tate (UCSB) could go next off the board.
The best high school player in the draft according to Baseball American’s top 200 is Brenden Rodgers — oddly enough another shortstop, out of Florida.
Your Baltimore Orioles will be very active early in this draft as they posses picks 25, 36 (Comp for Nelson Cruz), 68 and 102 in the first 3 rounds.
This is much different than last year as they didn’t posses a first or second round pick after signing Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz, and their first pick overall (37) was packaged with L.J. Hoes and LHP Josh Hader in the 2013 mid-season trade for Bud Norris. That pick turned out to be Derek Fisher.
Their first selection was 90th overall last year when they selected Miami High School LHP Brian Gonzalez.
The last first round pick was in the 2013 draft when the Orioles selected RHP Hunter Harvey with the 22nd selection overall.
Interesting note on their next selection (121), who was two-sport star Patrick Connaughton, who led the Notre Dame Irish college basketball team to within a bucket of beating the Kentucky Wildcats in last year’s Elite 8 round.
He’s considered a highly regarded right handed pitcher with plus stuff and makeup, but seems to be leaning towards pursuing a basketball career in the NBA or overseas from latest reports. Think Jeff Samardzija of the White Sox for comparable player.
This year the Orioles will look to re-stock their farm system as most good teams with recent success has to do because of trades and offseason signings. From everything I’m hearing they are taking on a Ravens draft-type mentality looking for the best available player as opposed to filling a need.
For example, if a really good power-hitting third baseman like Ke’ Bryan Hayes, son of former MLB player Charlie Hayes, is available they would consider taking him even though they have one of the best third basemen in MLB, Manny Machado, on their squad. Why?
Because you cannot project what will happen with Manny or Hayes. Best case scenario would be the Hayes tears up the minor leagues and in three years when J.J. Hardy’s deal is up, Manny moves over to short to accommodate Hayes’ arrival. Or what I like to say, a good problem to have.
Since the Orioles posses two of the top 40 selections, I expect them to get a bat and an arm. Here are some potential hitters that could be available when the Orioles select:
D.J. Stewart (6′,0″, 230), OF, Florida St. -Excellent bat speed, great pitch recognition, with plenty of power from the left side. He was ACC Player of the Year in 2014 and is a junior.
Christin Stewart (6′, 0″, 205), OF, Tennessee – Switch hitting OF with a ton of power for this size, but lacks a plus outfield glove or arm. His calling card is his ability to hit tape measure shots and has a opportunity to be the fist Vol baseball player to be drafted in the first two rounds in ten years.
Kevin Newman (6′,1″, 180), SS, Arizona – Blessed with speed and quick hands, this former San Diego high school (Poway) product is a possible late first round selection. Baseball America rated Newman the 29th best draft prospect going into the draft. Newman hit .352, with 47 runs scored and was 19/22 in steal attempts in 2015. The junior could be the heir apparent to JJ Hardy as the Orioles don’t have another top SS in their system.
Here are a couple potential pitchers that could be there for the Orioles at both 25 and 36:
Nathan Kirby (6’2″, 185), LHP, Virginia – Considered by most the best southpaw in the draft (others would argue the TCU Alex Young), Kirby is ranked by Baseball America 26th overall. Just based on that, he could be around when the Orioles pick at 25. Plenty of opinions-on both sides-about Kirby’s transtion to the professional level. Keith Law thinks he tops out as a back of the rotation guy, while others see him more of a 2 or 3 guy in a team’s rotation. Dosn’t have overpowering stuff (88-90MPH), but knows how to pitch and competes.
Beau Burrows (6’2″, 200), RHP, Weatherford HS, Texas – Ranked 33rd in Baseball America’s top 200, Burrows is a hard throwing righty with a developing body to go along volicity that has increased yearly-89MPH in 2012 and now tops out at 96/97MPH. Burrows was 24-5 with a 1.26 ERA in his 34 varsity appearances. His 278/69 K/BB rate is also solid.
Walker Buehler (6’2″, 175), RHP, Vanderbilt –Buehler checks a lot of boxes. A fastball that shows good life down in the zone and ranges from 90-96. He throws both a curve and slider and they both have shown potential of being above-average major league pitches. He also throws a changeup that is less consistent than the breaking balls, but also flashes above-average potential. That’s four pitches that can be at least average at the major league level. Good kid (honor roll at Vandy), no red flags. Could go as high as 15 or could fall into the second round/comp selections due to elbow soreness late in the season.
Finally, here are the allotted slot values based on where the Orioles pick according to Baseball America:
Round 1 (#25) – $2,064,500
Round 1 (#36) – $1,711,900
Round 2 (#68) – $907,000
Round 3 (#102) – $559,300
Round 4 (#133) – $414,700
Round 5 (#163) – $310,500
Round 6 (#193) – $232,600
Round 7 (#223) – $178,300
Round 8 (#253) – $166,400
Round 9 (#283) – $155,500
Round 10 (#313) – $149,700