Grow the bats?
The Orioles drifted away from their pitching-first philosophy in the amateur draft tonight by taking Florida prep shortstop Manny Machado, 17, with the third overall pick.
Their intention became one of the worst-kept secrets in baseball once reports surfaced earlier today that the Pirates would select Texas prep pitcher Jameson Taillon with the second pick. The Orioles would have snatched Taillon with gusto if he remained on the board when their turn came up.
Not that they're in mourning tonight. Like many teams, they held Machado in high regard and recognized the need to inject more position prospects into their farm system.
Machado batted .639 with 27 doubles, 12 homers and 56 RBIs, 43 runs scored and 17 stolen bases at Brito Private School near Miami. He's regarded as a future .300 hitter in the majors with a plus-arm and power potential, though he's only listed at 6 foot 2 and 180 pounds.
Machado and Mychal Givens can race each other to the big leagues. That's assuming the Orioles can sign Machado, who's being "advised" by Scott Boras (that's what they call it with amateur players.) Director of scouting Joe Jordan doesn't think it will be an issue.
The Nationals took catcher Bryce Harper with the first overall pick, and if you're surprised by that news, don't admit it to anyone.
Check out Steve Melewski's blog on MASNsports.com for more information on Machado. We'll also provide quotes from Machado and Jordan, who are expected to be made available to the media later tonight in a conference call.
The Orioles don't have a sandwich or second-round pick, so they'll have to wait until the third round begins tomorrow afternoon.
Fun facts: Tonight marks the first time that the Orioles have drafted a shortstop in the first round since Rich Dauer (USC) in 1974. Machado is the third high school shortstop selected by the Orioles in the first round, joining Bobby Grich (1967) and Junior Kennedy (1968).