Caught in the draft

I have to keep reminding myself that Monday is an off-day for the Orioles, but not the people who cover the team.

The First-Year Player Draft begins that night, so I've been doing my homework in preparation for it. I'll still end up guessing wrong, but I wanted to chime in anyway.

It's not an exact science, but everyone knows the Nationals will take catcher Bryce Harper with the first overall pick. I don't see how they'd pass on him unless Stephen Strasburg is named president of baseball operations later this week and wants to go in another direction.

The Pirates choose second, followed by the Orioles and Royals. That's another certainty.

It seems like a lock that Texas prep right-hander Jameson Taillon, Florida prep shortstop Manny Machado and Mississippi left-hander Drew Pomeranz will be the next three coming off the board in some order.

The Pirates could throw everyone a curve, like they did last year by taking catcher Tony Sanchez with the fourth overall pick, but I don't think they'll stray from that trio.

I'm just speculating here - Steve Melewski has been in steady contact with scouting director Joe Jordan and an assortment of draft gurus, so check out his blog here - but I can't see the Orioles passing on Taillon or Machado if one of them is available.

If both are available? You know the organization's philosophy on stockpiling young arms, but it might be hard to pass up Machado's "five-tool potential," as Baseball America's Jim Callis refers to it.

The Orioles took another high school shortstop, Mychal Givens, in the second round last year, but that probably hasn't soured them on Machado.

Again, I'm only posting a guess, but I say the Pirates take Pomeranz and the Orioles grab the 6-foot-6 Taillon, whose fastball has been clocked at 99 mph.

If you're thinking, "Texas pitcher. Throws hard. Beau Hale," don't run out of the room. And there's no reason to scream. Taillon attends The Woodlands High in Texas. Hale pitched at the University of Texas and came down with a bad arm. We don't have to link them, though I just did because Hale popped into my head the first time I read about Taillon.

Anyway, that's my prediction with less than a week to go before the draft. I reserve the right to change my mind - like five seconds after the pick is announced.

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