Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan has yet to sign his first-round pick, pitcher Dylan Bundy, or second-round pick, Vanderbilt third baseman Jason Esposito, but he has agreed to terms with 15 draft picks so far.
He has signed six of his top 10 picks, all pitchers, including Mike Wright (round 3), Kyle Simon (round 4), Matt Taylor (round 5), Trent Howard (round 7), Devin Jones (round 9) and Tyler Wilson (round 10).
“It’s going fine,” Jordan said of the progress of the signings. “We’ve gotten some guys done in our top 10 and gotten some of those guys started (playing). It always slows down once you get through that initial wave. Now that July is here, I think that will open up a handful of other guys.”
It appears the next priority is Esposito, taken in round two with the 64th overall pick. He just played in the College World Series and in 65 games this year he hit .341 with 22 doubles, nine homers, 59 RBIs and a .534 slugging percentage.
“Esposito talks really have just begun because he was playing in the World Series,” Jordan said. “He wanted to get his stuff home and take the holiday weekend and so, we’ve gotten in that one.
“My expectation when I took Jason was that once his college season was over that we could get him out there fairly quickly. We are just really getting into this and I should have a better feel for that in a few days.”
So far, according to Baseball America, just one of the draft’s top 16 picks, the 10th overall, has signed. All along, the Orioles have been confident that they will be able to sign top pick Bundy, but they also have expected that negotiations will go down to the mid-August deadline.
“Not much has happened in the first round. It’s just the way it is. Things will have to become defined a little bit in the first round before we can really get some traction on that one,” Jordan said of the Bundy talks.
So far none of the O’s signings would be consider an over-slot signing, but that is also not surprising as those usually take longer and come later.
Two players Jordan would still like to get are Johnny Ruettiger, an outfielder out of Arizona State taken in round eight and outfielder Derek Jones of Washington State, selected in round 13. It sounds like neither player is close to signing right now.
“Not much has happened with Ruettiger and Jones, our 13th-rounders. They kind of fall into the class of players that felt like they were going to go higher than they went and there is some disappointment they are dealing with,” he said. “We have tried to outline to them our expectations. Ours and theirs are a little ways apart.
“What I have learned in doing this is you just have to lay it out there. They don’t like hearing it, but you just have to lay it out and let them chew on it for awhile. If they are going to sign, they’ll come back and sign. If not, they will end up back at school. I really feel like both kids want to go play and it’s about time to get over the disappointment of being drafted lower than you thought you would be.”
The Orioles knew that sixth-round pick, infielder Nick Delmonico from a Knoxville, Tenn., high school would be tough to sign and nothing has changed that outlook to date.
“We’re going to have to be patient with that one. He’s a very talented kid and we’d like to get something done, but it’s too early to have really much of a feel there,” Jordan said.
Jordan remains hopeful of signing his 14th-round pick, K.J. Hockaday from Bel Air, Md.’s John Carroll High School. Hockaday has a college commitment to Maryland and is playing for the Youse’s Orioles team this summer and Jordan will see him play in person next week.
Jordan signed a whopping number of 39 players from the 2010 draft class, but he has known all along that with the O’s no longer fielding a team in Bluefield, W.Va., he would sign fewer players this year.
“I think a range is 20, 22, 23. I guess I’d say 20 to 25, maybe close to 20. We’ll see,” Jordan said.
Coming later today: I’ll post some comments from Jordan on the latest player he has signed, Tyler Wilson in round 10, a right-handed pitcher from the University of Virginia.
Time to promote something: I get asked often about the Orioles efforts in international scouting. Coming up next week, I will examine this issue with in-depth interviews with MacPhail and Ben Badler of Baseball America. You will read here starting Monday what MacPhail says on this topic and how Badler sees the O’s doing on the international front. I recently had a very long interview with MacPhail on the subject and will publish that interview in this space on Monday.