Today we present the fourth and final article in a series of interviews with Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan.
Once again, Jordan sizes up some of the players he selected in last June’s draft. He provides insight and analysis today on a few players the Orioles selected in the 18th round and later last year.
At the end of the interview there is a link to the previous stories with Jordan on the 2009 selections.
All the quotes in this article are from Jordan.
Round 18 - LHP Jarret Martin, Bakersfield (California) Junior College.
The 6’4”, 195-pound lefty will turn 21 August 14th. He did not pitch for an O’s farm team last summer.
“We’ve got some history with Jarret. We took him before and couldn’t sign him. He’s a 6’4” lefty with a plus arm. Breaking ball command has been an issue in the past.
“He basically went out last summer when we signed him and tried to do too much too quickly and got tender and we shut him down. We got him in instructional league and he looks really good now. He’s as healthy as he’s been in a while.
“Very good value there. If he throws the ball over the plate, we’ve got something. And there’s no reason why he shouldn’t. The delivery is good. He’s 6’4” and we’ve seen him throw 94 miles per hour. Not always where he’s trying to, though.
“He came up to the Oriolelanders club and pitched two summers ago so we could evaluate him. His price tag was a little higher and I decided not to give him the money he was asking for. Last year we got it done.
“It’s a helluva pick. A left-hander with that kind of arm. It gets back to Dave Schmidt for me, I just have so much faith in the guy. I’ll take these guys every year and I believe he can help them. Our pitching coaches in the system are good.
“This is where we have an advantage on other clubs. One, that we have the money to sign them, but two, we have the pitching instruction to help them.”
So the O’s drafted him before? “Yes, I think we took him, I think in the 19th round (in 2008) and Landers from Louisville in the 18th, ended up not signing either one. Jarret’s price tag came down so we got it done.”
Round 19 - OF Kipp Schutz from Indiana University.
The 6’4”, 195-pound Schutz is a left handed hitter and thrower from Evansville, Indiana. He will turn 22 on March 21st.
In 40 games last summer at Bluefield, Schutz hit .252-1-15 and played in left field. He walked 18 times and fanned 13 times.
“We have some history with Kipp. He’s more of a hitter than a power guy. He’s going to have to grow into some power as a corner outfielder. He played division I basketball at Indiana and is athletic.
“I like his ability to hit, we have some things to develop in other parts of his game. It’s more about taking a shot at a guy that we think is a player and hoping we can develop the power, that’s what is going to need to happen.
“But he’s a hitter. He can also play a good first base. He may end up getting time in the outfield or first. Either position requires some thump in the bat.”
Note - The O’s first drafted Schutz out of high school in Evansville, Indiana in round 26 in 2006 but he did not sign then.
It’s a small sample size, but last year he walked more than he struck out. Is that a good sign for a young pro? “Yeah, it is. He’s got a feel for what he’s doing at the plate. He needs to just play and get at bats. We’ll have a better feel for what we have after he gets 300 or 400 professional at bats.”
Round 20 - RHP James Brandhorst from Lamar University.
The 6’4”, 240-pound Brandhorst had a real good 2009 season at Aberdeen. He pitched out of the bullpen and went 0-1, 1.30 with four saves. In 27 2/3 innings, he gave up 23 hits with seven walks to 32 strikeouts. Opponent hitters batted .240 against him. He will turn 23 on August 26th.
“He didn’t throw a lot at Lamar. He came into Camden Yards and I saw him at our pre-draft workout. It’s kind of like (Brandon) Cooney a year or two ago. You shouldn’t get this kind of arm where you do, but Rich Morales, our area scout, really liked him. He said ‘Joe, he’s a tough son of a gun.’
“I like his arm and last summer what he did was pretty damn good. It’s scouts doing their job. There are good players down in the draft. He maybe exceeded what our expectations were.
“He reminds me of Cooney as far as where we got him in the draft and what we saw. He actually showed us that a little sooner than Brandon did. He’s a big, physical, powerful arm, a bullpen guy that is not afraid of the bat. He’ll go right at guys.”
Does he project to stay in the bullpen? “Yeah, I think so. That’s probably what we have in mind for him.”
What makes a player be more suited for the pen? “A lot of it is delivery and what pitches they have. What they did as amateurs can impact that. He’s an attack-type guy, you know, fastball and a hard breaking ball. What I have seen of him, it’s not a finesse type approach. We just feel like his personality and physically, that’s where he fits.”
Round 22 - LHP Cameron Coffey from Houston Christian High School in Houston, Texas.
Coffey is a 6’5”, 215-pound southpaw from Houston that will not turn 20 until September 20th.
Coffey, the subject of two stories recently on this blog, underwent Tommy John surgery in March of 2009. The O’s signed him to a bonus of nearly one million dollars last August. His fastball was topping out at 95 before the surgery.
When you selected him, I’m sure you knew it would take some money to sign him. Did you have any concerns about getting that done? “We did feel like we had a chance but we were not certain. I saw him throw the week before he got hurt. What I saw was a guy that fit probably in the top-40 picks in the draft.
“I put a first-round number on him, but there was some risk, I had not seen a lot of him. Then he got hurt and had surgery. He was signed to go Duke, but Rich Morales, our scout there, liked him and had gotten to know the family some. It was the 22nd-round and we thought it was worth a shot, if we don’t sign him, no big deal.
“As we got to know him and he started his throwing program, we made a call and decided we were going to make the investment.”
Did he you have any thoughts that you might have to pick him sooner? “No, not really, because he was signed to go to Duke. We started talking about it with the 15th round, but we just had guys we did feel like we liked and could sign. It all worked out, we got the guys we wanted.”
I spoke to Cameron recently and he is pleased with how he is throwing coming off the surgery. Are you also pleased with his progress? “Yes, everything is good. I’ve talked to Dave Schmidt about it. The thing you guard against is trying to get in a hurry for the player and as an organization. But his arm is looser and his hand speed is coming back. Everything is positive, 100 percent like we had hoped. We’ll get him on a mound this summer somewhere and go from there.”
Round 30 - OF Brenden Webb from Palomar Junior College in California.
The 6’3”, 185-pounder is from San Diego. He bats left, throws right and turned 20 on February 24th. He played in 13 games last summer for the Gulf Coast League O’s and hit .186-1-10. He joined the club in mid August.
“A great looking kid. He’s probably 10 to 15 pounds heavier. You look at him, physically he looks like David Justice, just a great looking kid. I’m excited, I really am, he’s a good looking left-handed hitter that can run and play outfield.
“We gave him some money, we invested because we think he was worth it. He signed to go to USC and maybe some clubs didn’t think he was signable. It was a good job by our scout, Mark Ralston and we got it done.”
In summing up the whole draft, with the overslot guys and guys you like coming off injury like Coffey and Berry, does this draft have the potential to hit big for the O’s? We won’t know for sure for a few years, but could it be your best draft since you’ve been here?
“I think top to bottom as far as numbers, it’s going to be. Everything is positive. But the thing about the draft is there are only a handful of certainties every year. You have to take athletes and guys with good bodies and that bring tools to the table and give the development people a chance to build something. Our guys did that.
“We’re going to be disappointed in some and some will be better than we thought they were. Potentially it has a chance to be a very good group. Now we have to get them out there and playing and see what happens.”
When you said it could be good in “numbers” does that mean the amount of players that could make it to high levels of the minors and maybe the Majors?
“Yeah, again, it’s potential. The thing I tell my guys is what we want is that when these players get out on the field and start working out, it doesn’t take long for these guys (our minor league staff) to see what we liked.
“They may not all be able to play and they all will have things to get better at, but we have to bring the right type of athlete and baseball players in. That’s all we’re trying to do. Some won’t work out, we know that. You can’t be scared and do what we do. You’ve just got to work and trust your ability to evaluate players and then turn them over and let’s see what we’ve got.”
Click here to see last week’s blog with Jordan which links the earlier interviews as well.