Taking an in-depth look at the Orioles’ draft with Jim Callis

If you read the entry I wrote last night with Baseball America’s Jim Callis, you know he is pretty high on the Orioles draft. He called it a “very good draft” for the Orioles and said it had the “makings of a terrific draft.”

He took some time with me to go over some of the Orioles’ picks made after they tabbed Dylan Bundy with the fourth overall selection.

Here are his comments on some of the picks.

2nd-round pick, third baseman Jason Esposito from Vanderbilt:
“Jason Esposito in the second round was a guy coming into the year a lot of people thought would go in the first round. He didn’t have quite the year with the bat that people hoped, but he has solid all-around tools for a third baseman. That’s a good value and they got him in a good spot.”

3rd-round pick, RHP Mike Wright of East Carolina:
“Mike Wright moved into the rotation this year. He might be more of a reliever as a pro, but has a good sinker/slider combination and gets a lot of groundballs.”

4th-round pick, RHP Kyle Simon of Arizona:
“Big, tall right-handed pitcher, not overpowering but gets a lot of groundballs. He goes after guys with a fastball and a cutter.”

On Matt Taylor, a LHP taken in round 5:
“A lefty with solid stuff across the board.”

On 6th-round pick, high school IF Nick Delmonico from Tennessee:
“A lot of people thought he could have gone in the first round. He was a little nicked up this year with a back injury. He didn’t have a great year but he’s athletic and versatile and can play a bunch of positions. I think he’s going to have a big bat and is interesting.”

LHP Trent Howard of Central Michigan from round 7:
“You are getting a lefty who had a 13-strikeout game against Andrew Chafin (pitcher from Kent State) who was a sandwich pick. A two-hit shutout. He pitched a lot of gems in front of a lot of scouts. I think they got a little bit of a bargain there. He got biceps tendinitis in late April and until then he might have been a 4th or 5th rounder.”

On 8th-round pick OF John Reuttiger:
“Very good in the Cape (Cod summer league) last year. Nephew of Rudy from Notre Dame fame. He’s a solid, all-around guy who can really hit.”

On Devin Jones, 9th-round pick, RHP from Mississippi State:
“He’s an inconsistent guy but you’ll see him at 96 with a fastball and 86 with a slider at times. You don’t see that too often in the ninth round.”

Jason Coats, a TCU outfielder from round 12:
“Another guy that was very good in the Cape and was a borderline first-round pick coming into the year. The 12th-round makes you think he may have a high number that made him drop a little bit. I just think he was a fifth-round pick if he was (likely to be) signable.”

Callis feels the Orioles got several players that, at one time, were projected higher than they were drafted and they fell for various reasons.

“Coming into the year Jason Esposito was a guy who was projected as a first-round pick,” Callis said. “Nick Delmonico was a possible first-round pick and John Ruettiger, you could have seen as a possible sandwich pick coming into the year. Jason Coats was a possible first-rounder. To get those guys where they did is exciting if you get those guys back on track.

“I think a lot of these guys will sign. I think Esposito should sign, so will Reuttiger and Trent Howard I think. Devin Jones is a guy that, great arm, just needs more refinement and probably needs to get into pro ball. Delmonico might be a little tough but I think they will sign most of these guys.”

The Orioles drafted six college pitchers in the top 10 rounds after taking Bundy. I asked Callis if that was a good move by the Orioles.

“I do think that was the strength of the draft, college pitching,” he said. “I don’t know if that was something they targeted to get a lot of pitching. Their farm system doesn’t have a plethora of hitters, they need everything. I just think they went with the best available guy and it just happened to be a lot of college pitchers.”

Coming later today: I’ll publish Callis’ comments on some later-round Orioles’ picks that could turn out to be sleepers, and we’ll get Jim’s take on the upcoming Dylan Bundy contract talks.

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