The draft, Luke Scott and the minors

It's a rarity in baseball, but the games tonight become almost secondary.

The first round of the First-Year Player Draft begins at 7 p.m., which clashes with first-pitch in tonight's series opener between the Orioles and Athletics at Camden Yards.

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It's another night of "firsts."

The first four picks are a moving target, as manager Buck Showalter likes to say.

The Pirates are expected to take UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole at No. 1. The Mariners will take Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon at No. 2 unless the leaked medical records on his shoulder scare them off. He's mostly been a designated hitter this season, and a few whispers suggest that he might need surgery.

The Diamondbacks were supposed to take Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen at No. 3. Then they were supposed to take Oklahoma high school pitcher Dylan Bundy. The Orioles were supposed to take whichever pitcher remained at No. 4.

If only it were that easy.

I'm fairly certain that the Orioles would take Rendon at No. 4 if he somehow dropped to them. They also like another Oklahoma high school right-hander, Archie Bradley, who has a fastball that touches 98 mph and a devastating curveball.

I predicted Bundy last week, but I also predicted that Alfredo Simon would start Tuesday night, and that won't happen. I'm saying Bundy or Hultzen.

A few other thoughts while I have your attention:

Luke Scott still thinks he can delay having surgery on his shoulder until after the season, but he concedes that the pain affects his throwing and his hitting. And he's not doing either one.

What will the Orioles do with Scott? For starters, they'll sit him again tonight against Oakland left-hander Gio Gonzalez. But what about the next time that the opposition starts a right-hander?

Derrek Lee is entrenched at first base. Vladimir Guerrero is the regular designated hitter. It's not a fluid role. Showalter can't rotate different players. And Felix Pie is sharing left field with Nolan Reimold, since Scott's shoulder affects his throwing.

You see where I'm going with this?

Third baseman Brandon Waring was named the Orioles' minor league Player of the Year in 2009. He went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts for Double-A Bowie yesterday and also committed his ninth error. He's batting .165. What gives?

Steve Johnson was supposed to start for Bowie yesterday, but the Orioles reassigned left-hander Mike Ballard from Triple-A Norfolk to the Baysox and gave him the ball. Ballard responded by holding New Britain to one earned run (three total) and four hits, with one walk and 11 strikeouts, in seven innings.

Terrific.

But what about Johnson, who gave up one hit in eight innings in his last start and has surrendered two runs or fewer in his last four outings?

Johnson won't pitch until Tuesday in New Hampshire, which puts him on six days rest. He's 4-1 with a 2.02 ERA, he's healthy, he's coming off a dominant outing and he's going a full week between starts. What gives?

As long as I'm all over the place, New Britain's starter yesterday was Brett Jacobson, the former Orioles farmhand who was traded to the Twins with Jim Hoey for shortstop J.J. Hardy. Jacobson gave up two unearned runs and two hits in five innings. He's 2-0 with a 2.15 ERA in 14 games, but he's walked 26 and struck out 25 in 37 2/3 innings.

Mark Hendrickson threw two scoreless innings for Norfolk yesterday and was credited with the win. He hasn't permitted a run in his last four appearances covering 11 1/3 innings. His ERA is down to 2.88 in 15 games.

How much longer before he gets the call?

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