The amateur baseball draft - and we’re required here at MASNsports.com to refer to it strictly as the First-Year Player Draft because it’s that important - will begin on Monday. The Orioles will make their selections in Sarasota instead of Baltimore. I guess they were seeking a cooler climate.
Our own Steve Melewski has been doing the heavy lifting in the days leading up to the draft, but since everyone else is chiming in, I’ll take a few seconds to do the same.
It’s either that or try to remember whether Justin Duchscherer is supposed to throw four innings in an extended spring training game today. If so, that qualifies as my latest update.
The Orioles have the fourth pick in the draft, and they’ll take a pitcher unless Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon falls to them, which is highly unlikely. In fact, he could go first to the Pirates unless they’re scared off by the strained shoulder that’s limited his time in the field. If that happens, the Mariners figure to grab him at No. 2.
Prep center fielder Bubba Starling is regarded as a top five talent, and Baseball America calls him the best athlete in the draft, but I’d expect the Orioles to pass on him if he’s available. They’re more interested in UCLA right-handers Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer, Virgina left-hander Danny Hultzen and Owasso (Okla.) High School right-hander Dylan Bundy, the brother of pitcher Bobby Bundy, taken by the Orioles in the eighth round in 2008.
I’ve heard a few fans screaming for the Orioles to pass on Bundy because the club took another high school pitcher, Matt Hobgood, with the fifth overall pick in 2009.That’s ridiculous. Bundy rates highly on every draft board. He’s not expected to go any lower than seventh, and he might not be available when it’s the Orioles’ turn.
Hobgood has nothing to do with Bundy unless you’re arguing that a college pitcher or a bat are more desirable.
By the way, the Orioles selected Zach Britton out of Weatherford High School in the third round of the 2006 draft.
I’ve argued in the past that I’d prefer a college pitcher who’s closer to being major league ready. I pushed for the Orioles to take Justin Smoak in 2008 because they needed a first baseman, but they chose left-hander Brian Matusz. I don’t think they have any regrets, despite Smoak’s three-run bomb Tuesday night.
If Bundy is as good as advertised - and his fastball is routinely clocked at 94-97 and hits triple digits, and he has a plus-cutter and curveball - then I won’t argue with his selection at No. 4. And Baseball America reports that “his makeup and work ethic are off the charts, too.”
Manager Buck Showalter can probably recite the stats of every pitcher and position player who’s regarded as a first-round talent. He stays up late to watch replays of college games. One night, a Rice opponent intentionally walked Rendon twice, which didn’t do Showalter much good. He really likes Cole, but he also can break down the differences in the two UCLA pitchers and explain why some scouts prefer Bauer.
Showalter will step aside and let scouting director Joe Jordan do his job. Jordan told Melewski that he’s had conversations with Showalter, but the manager isn’t looking to influence the pick.
I’ll predict that the Orioles take Bundy if he’s available at No. 4. Obviously, what happens before they’re on the clock will greatly influence that decision.
Update: The Orioles named Bobby Bundy as their minor league Pitcher of the Month for May, and Single-A Frederick teammate Tyler Townsend as Player of the Month.
Bundy went 3-1 with a 2.93 ERA in five starts. Townsend, a first baseman, batted .281 with five homers and 14 RBIs.