As we head into the final weekend before the deadline at midnight Monday to sign picks from the First-Year Player Draft, the Orioles have come to terms with 34 of their 49 selections.
They have agreed on deals with 10 of their 14 picks in the first 15 rounds. The four remaining unsigned among those picks include first-round selection, prep shortstop Manny Machado. They also have yet to agree with sixth-round pick, pitcher Dixon Anderson, seventh-round pick, pitcher Matthew Bywater and pitcher Alexander Gonzalez, taken in round 11.
In my most recent interview with scouting director Joe Jordan, he took questions on the unsigned picks and also talked about pitcher Dan Klein, the O’s third-round pick out of UCLA who just recently agreed to terms.
Here is a Q and A with Joe Jordan.
With Manny Machado, has there been any progress in the last day or two?
“No, there hasn’t. We are kind of focused on the weekend. I’m heading into Baltimore. The way this unfolds, I feel very good about it, I know we are going to make a strong push to get this kid signed.
“I think he absolutely wants to do that. I feel good about it and am very optimistic. I think the kid wants to be a pro player and is ready. It’s just trying to get through the negotiations, you know.”
Even though you feel good about it, is it still likely to go down to Monday’s deadline?
“I just think that with these high picks, that definitely was my expectation how it would play out and I haven’t been surprised by anything.”
Where do the O’s stand with the picks in rounds six, seven and 11?
“Our 11th pick (Alexander Gonzalez) is pitching in the Connie Mack World Series, he pitched Wednesday night. I really don’t know which way that one is going to swing. We are very close, I think as far as what we want to do and where he wants it done at. He got into summer and his team got into the playoffs. We were not able to get him off of that team and get him out, he wanted to finish his summer with his Connie Mack team.
“As far Bywater and Dixon Anderson. You know we are working those things, but I’m not overly optimistic that we sign both of them. We’re still working on them and will continue to do that for the next couple of days.
“We’ve got some really good backup plans. Things that we purposedly did, down in the draft. At some point in time, I’ll turn my attention toward those guys, but we are going to make every effort to sign all three of the guys you mentioned. Whether we get that done, I really don’t have a good feel for that.”
What was the key over the last day or two to getting negotiations wrapped up with Dan Klein?
“I think more than anything, it was interaction that we had when I was on the West Coast. I got to meet the family and it was good for me to interact with Dan and his Mom and Dad and them with me.
“We’ve been in a similar area as far as our money for awhile, but I think in the end it just got to a point where they were comfortable where we were.
“This kid was ready to go and I think when we had a chance to visit and talk it helped put it together.”
You have said Klein is now headed for Aberdeen. How much can he pitch there the rest of this season?
“I think a lot of it, as far as what happens the rest of this season, you know we’ll have at least one playoff team, depends on how he looks and feels. We won’t press him in any duty we don’t feel like he’s ready for. We’ll get him into games and see how it goes.”
Any guess how quickly he can pitch in a game?
“He told me that he was very, very close to game ready. He’s been working out, working hard, throwing a lot and anticipating getting a deal done. That’s what we will evaluate. Just take a look at where he’s at and if we are as comfortable with his condition as he is, I’m certain they’ll get him into some games fairly quickly.”
Would his innings be limited at this point?
“Yeah, we’re not interested in piling a whole bunch of work on him. It’s just a matter of getting him out there. Our scouting staff has seen him throw a lot but our development staff has not. There is no goal in terms of innings or appearances, it’s just get him out there, gut the rust off and get some work.”
Do the Orioles still, as you said earlier, have plans for Klein to eventually be a starting pitcher?
“I think so. That’s what I envision us doing. It’s very important for me that we as a scouting staff identify the abilities and tools and then turn it over to our pitching people. Then, as a group we’ll see what we see this summer and possibly the fall and put together an off-season program to get him built up to whatever role we want.
“He’s a good sized, physical, athletic pitcher that can command his stuff. He’s got at least three, if not four pitches, and has shown the ability to use them all and command the plate. So all that is a description of a starting pitcher and we’ve seen him do it.”
Jordan also reported that infielder Conner Narron (round 5) and pitcher Parker Bridwell (round 9) have reported to the O’s Gulf Coast League team in Florida. Narron is just about game ready and could be in that lineup maybe as soon as today. He will play shortstop and also some at third base. Bridwell is likely to throw more bullpen sessions before he can get into a game.