Debating whether Orioles should hold onto draft pick

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette stated multiple times during FanFest that the club’s best players would come via the farm system rather than free agency. The ol’ draft and develop strategy toward building a winner.

The organization has improved its depth, as evidenced by various ratings from national baseball sites, but should the Orioles stay the course and horde their top pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft?

Signing Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana would give the Orioles a veteran starter at the expense of the 17th overall pick in the draft, as well as a sizable amount of cash. They’ve been checking on both pitchers at various stages of the winter, just in case they couldn’t reach agreement with A.J. Burnett or Bronson Arroyo.

Arroyo is headed to Arizona. Burnett would prefer to stay in the National League, according to sources.

Now, the Orioles are “talking” to left-handers Joe Saunders and Chris Capuano, according to’s Jon Morosi. Their vision broadens as more starters come off the board.

If the Orioles go that route, they will hold onto their draft pick and still lack a veteran who slots directly behind Chris Tillman., in its latest mock draft, has the Orioles selecting catcher/first baseman Kyle Schwarber from the University of Indiana.

Schwarber has impressive power, but some scouts project him to play first base or right field. ranks Schwarber, a left-handed hitter from Middletown, Ohio, as the 14th-best player in the draft and writes: “Strong lefty makes the most of modest catching tools but his 70 grade raw power reminds some of Travis Hafner.”

Baseball America has ranked Schwarber at No. 17 and writes: “Physical left-handed swing helps him hit for power and average; his best position is clearly the batter’s box.”

The order could change in the next few months, of course, and the Orioles are known to favor pitching in the first round.

Here’s a list of the 17th overall picks in each draft class since 1980. See how many players reached the majors, how many became stars and how many have names that don’t ring a bell:

2013 Tim Anderson, SS, East Central HS (MS), Chicago White Sox
2012 DJ Davis, OF, Stone County HS (MS), Toronto Blue Jays
2011 C.J. Cron, 1B, Utah, Los Angeles Angels
2010 Josh Sale, 3B/OF, Bishop Blanchet HS (WA), Tampa Bay Rays
2009 AJ Pollock, OF, Notre Dame, Arizona Diamondbacks
2008 David Cooper, 1B, Cal, Toronto Blue Jays
2007 Blake Beavan, RHP, Irving HS (TX), Texas Rangers
2006 Matt Antonelli, 3B, Wake Forest, San Diego Padres
2005 Carl Henry, SS, Putnam City (OK) HS, New York Yankees
2004 Timothy Elbert, LHP, Seneca HS (MO), Los Angeles Dodgers
2003 David Murphy, CF, Baylor U (TX), Boston Red Sox
2002 Cole Hamels, P, Rancho Bernardo HS (CA), Philadelphia Phillies
2001 Daniel Denham, P, Deer Valley HS (Antioch,CA), Cleveland Indians
2000 Ben Diggins, P, University of Arizona, Los Angeles Dodgers
1999 Rick Asadoorian, OF, Northbridge HS (MA), Boston Red Sox
1998 Brad Lidge, P, University of Notre Dame, Houston Astros
1997 John Curtice, P, Great Bridge HS (VA), Boston Red Sox
1996 Todd Noel, P, North Vermillion HS (LA), Chicago Cubs
1995 Roy Halladay, P, West HS (Arvada,CO), Toronto Blue Jays
1994 Ramon Castro, C, Lino Padron Rivera HS (PR), Houston Astros
1993 Scott Christman, P, Oregon State University, Chicago White Sox
1992 Jim Pittsley, P, Dubois Area HS (Dubois,PA), Kansas City Royals
1991 Eduardo Perez, 1B, Florida State University, California Angels
1990 Jeromy Burnitz, OF, Oklahoma State University, New York Mets
1989 Cal Eldred, P, University of Iowa, Milwaukee Brewers
1988 Charles Nagy, P, University of Connecticut, Cleveland Indians
1987 Alex Sanchez, P, UCLA, Toronto Blue Jays
1986 Scott Scudder, P, Prairiland HS (Blossom,TX), Cincinnati Reds
1985 Brian McRae, SS, Manatee HS (FL), Kansas City Royals
1984 Don August, P, Chapman University, Houston Astros
1983 Terry Bell, C, Old Dominion University, Seattle Mariners
1982 Tony Woods, SS, Whittier College, Chicago Cubs
1981 Ricky Barlow, P, Woodville HS (TX), Detroit Tigers
1980 Dennis Rasmussen, P, Creighton University, California Angels

Halladay and Hamels really stand out. McRae and Perez spent a combined 23 years in the majors with a whole bunch of teams and had famous fathers.

Antonelli was the first player Duquette signed after the Orioles hired him. He never made it to Baltimore. Real nice guy, though.

Burnitz reached agreement with the Orioles on a two-year, $12 million deal in 2006, but he ended up with the Pirates. Burnitz’s agent, Howard Simon, said his client changed direction because of language about the physical that the Orioles included in the letter of agreement. They reportedly wanted a full review of Burnitz’s health record, a physical for the Orioles and a physical for the insurance policy.

“Who knows how many weeks or months it could take?” Simon said at the time.

Burnitz signed a one-year, $6.7 million contract with the Pirates that included a mutual option that would increase the total value to $12 million. He batted .230/.289/.422 with 16 homers and 49 RBIs in 111 games, was granted free agency and retired.

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