Instantaneous Draft Grades in any sport is a pretty fruitless endeavor, and I think it is especially true in Baseball Drafts where the great majority of those selected will never make it to the Major Leagues. I’m not going to try an discuss the merits of the first 14 selections, because frankly I’m not qualified to do so. I have not been out and scouting these players. Like most, the best I can do is read the combined comments of the 3rd party talent evaluators, and get a feel for their thoughts. Luckily for those of us here on Orioles Hangout, we have several regulars extremely well versed in the Draft, including Hangout contributor Nick J. Faleris (Stotle), who is a Professional Scout, and runs his own site - Diamond Scape Scouting (http://diamondscapescouting.com/) - that can give us their analysis.
While I don’t feel comfortable evaluating players I’ve never seen, (and obviously have yet to play as professionals) I do feel comfortable discussing the strategy we have seen from Joe Jordan (Director of Amateur Scouting) and the Orioles so far.
We gave our initial thoughts on the selection of Dylan Bundy (http://orioleshangout.com/blog/chris-corner/268/os-select-dylan-bundy-with-the-4th-overall-pick) yesterday, so let’s move onto the picks of today:
The most interesting pick to me is 6th rounder Nick Delmonico (http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=14690099&topic_id=18682064). ESPN’s Keith Law does not believe Delmonico will sign. Faleris believes it will take $1.5 to $2M to sign him. Outside of Bundy, it seems pretty clear that Delmonico has the most upside of any O’s selection. Obviously the O’s have a good idea of the dollars that are going to be necessary here. I don’t think it is hyperbole to say the Orioles have to get Delmonico signed.
The first pick of the day was the 2nd rounder Jason Esposito (http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=14747077&topic_id=18682064) out of Vanderbilt. It appears Esposito went into this season as potential late 1st round talent, and had some regression. There are a lot of consensus opinions to be found about him being athletic, and a quality defensive 3rd baseman. With his Collegiate experience, I would think he would have a chance to step right-into a starting position at Delmarva if he signs quickly.
The O’s 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th round picks were all College players. That is a departure from the strategy of the past few years by itself. Going into this Season, both Law and Baseball America had the O’s Organization ranked in the lower 1/3 of Baseball. The commonality of every leading 3rd party site which looked at the O’s, were comments to the effect that the O’s lacked depth. It was also clear when you looked at the Opening Day Minor League rosters, the strength of the system was at the lowest levels. Going heavy with Collegiate talent might not put a lot of high ceiling type players into the system, but should greatly add to the depth of the overall system. Beyond just taking College players, the O’s obviously identified some pitchers who will have the chance to move quickly as relief pitchers. I understand the O’s are still having thoughts of moving last year’s 3rd rd selection Dan Klein to a rotation. However, I liked the pick at the time, because I thought Klein could advance through the system quickly as a reliever. Assuming Klein’s current shoulder soreness is not serious, I would think his success (already has advanced to Double A Bowie) has Klein on the verge of a promotion to the bigs. I would think what Klein has acheived, was something the O’s were looking to replicate today with 3rd rounder Mike Wright (East Carolina), 4th rounder Kyle Simon (Arizona), 5th rounder Matthew Taylor, and 7th rounder Trent Howard (Central Michigan).
EDIT: Joe Jordan has been quoted in The Sun as saying the O's will look at Wright as a Starter.
I think 10th round selection Phillip Wilson (http://www.virginiasports.com/ViewAr...&Q_SEASON=2010) could be in that same discussion as the pitchers above, but his success in the Cavaliers rotation this year might earn him a chance to start first. The bio listed above says Baseball America had him in their Top 100 prior to his entering College. He’s had a fair amount of success. I have to say, I think I'd prefer him to be used in the pen. His arm has now been stretched out some, so he should be able to go multiple innings. Has major college experience. Has been used as a reliever before, and knows what is necessary to get up and be mentally prepared to come into games. On the other-hand, I of course understand a starter is always more valuable than a reliever. Will be interesting to watch.
The 9th round selection Devin Jones (Mississippi State) was on the record (http://sdnmsu.wordpress.com/2011/06/...ll-future/?amp) as saying if he went early, he expected it to be Baltimore that selected him. Jones stated he had already talked to everyone in the O’s Front Office, so pretty clearly the O’s were very interested in him. He pitched in 17 games this year, starting 8. The link above suggests it could take a six-figure signing bonus to sign Jones. Similarly to Delmonico, the O’s will have had a good understanding of what it will take to add Jones to system. Like Wilson, I’ll be interested to see if the Orioles are projecting Jones as a starter or as a reliever.
I thought the 8th round selection of John Ruettiger (CF, Arizona State) was a pick for the Orioles to feel good about. Ruettiger (the nephew of Dan Ruettiger of ‘Rudy’ fame) has had success in the Cape Cod League, and in the Pac 10. Ranked 145th on Faleris’ Top 300 board, the O’s were able to get him with the 245th overall selection.
I’ll be looking to read more about the 11th Adam Davis ( C, Illinois), 12th Jason Coats ( OF, TCU), 13th Derek Jones ( RF, Washington State). Get them signed quickly, and get them as many professional ab’s as you can this year.
The 14th round pick was local product Kevin Hockaday ( http://belair.patch.com/articles/super-senior-hockaday-has-high-ceiling-in-final-season-at-john-carroll) from John Carroll High. Signed to attend the University of Maryland this fall, it sounds like Hockaday is a bit of a raw product. On the other-hand, he just set a new MIAA record (besting Teixeira’s previous mark) for homeruns in a season with 30. That level of production in the MIAA is impressive. I’d imagine as a local, the O’s will make him a fair offer, and I’d think playing for the home-town team (with their Minor League affiliates close by) will have plenty of appeal to Hockaday.
My early thoughts are somewhat positive with the results shown. Jordan did not get to go into this draft with the compensatory picks of his divisional peers. He obviously went into this draft with a budget. After spending $8.8M in ‘09, and a comparable amount in ‘10, I’m sure he had a similar amount to spend here in ‘11. While I think Jordan should have been provided with more to work with (especially as this could be the last non-capped Draft), that is outside of Jordan’s control. If you assume Jordan’s ‘11 budget was roughly $10M, and you know that Bundy will take-up 60-80% of that amount, all evaluations of Jordan’s selections have to be considered with that in-mind. You throw in what it figures to cost for Delmonico, and Esposito; and that does not leave a ton of money for everyone else. I think I can get behind the idea of getting College arms that have the chance to help the O’s bullpen in the near-term. That said, it appears that the National Evaluators feel the Orioles have been a little conservative with their picks. With what the rest of the Division has been able to achieve with all of their selections, you can not help but feel that the O’s have fallen even farther behind - even if you are comfortable with the selections the O’s have made.
It is always fun following these new additions to the Organization, and the board itself should be commended for all of the information each of our members have found and contributed for the choices made so far. If you have not yet done so, check out our Draft Forum at: http://forum.orioleshangout.com/forums/forumdisplay.php/46-O-s-Amateur-Draft-Talk
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