As of just after 6 p.m., there was still no word on the Orioles’ remaining three top draft pick targets. The Orioles still hope to sign first-round pick Dylan Bundy tonight along with second-rounder Jason Esposito and Nick Delmonico, taken in round six.
Bundy seems a very safe bet to sign at this point, but right now, there is no clear indication either way about the other pair. My guess, and it remains just a guess, is that they get all three. I think Delmonico would probably be the most likely to not sign.
Jonathon Mayo of MLB.com just predicted on MLB Network, along with the rest of us for a while now, that the Orioles will sign Bundy tonight.
“I think they’ll get it done. The Orioles have a pretty good track record of waiting to the last minute, not that it’s been by their design, but they’ve gotten guys done in the past (very late) starting with a guy like Matt Wieters.
“There was a rumor floating out there that he was going to get a major league contract. That would be rare for a high school pitcher and I don’t know that’s going to be the case. I’m sure they are going back and forth.
“I am sure he can use college as leverage, but I think he wants to go out and play. His brother is in the organization and I think he will become an Oriole right around 11:59 and 59 seconds,” Mayo said.
Esposito was the Orioles’ second-round pick, taken 64th overall, a third baseman out of Vanderbilt. This year the right-handed batter hit .341 with nine homers, 59 RBIs and a .534 slugging percentage. He hit .376 in SEC games.
Delmonico, a lefty-hitting corner infielder and sometimes catcher, has a college commitment to Georgia where his brother Joey plays. He has another brother, Tony, playing right now in the Single-A California League for Rancho Cucamonga.
In his high school career, Delmonico hit .450 with 45 homers and 209 RBIs. He had three stints on Team USA.
I asked Baseball America’s Jim Callis for his scouting reports on Esposito and Delmonico:
“Esposito is a guy that, beginning of the season, people thought he could go in the first-round. There is some mixed opinion on how good his bat really is. But he’s a very athletic third baseman, runs better than your typical third baseman and defends better than your typical third baseman.
“He’s got some pop, it’s just kind of consistency with the bat. If he hits enough, and the Orioles obviously think he can because they took him in the second round, I think he can be a solid regular.
“I don’t think he is necessarily a star, but his ceiling is an above average third baseman,” Callis said.
“Delmonico is another guy that came into the year with first-round aspirations. He was hurt this year. Had a back injury from lifting weights and he wasn’t the same guy scouts had seen in the past and that’s a reason why he fell to the sixth round.
“If he can catch, he is even better. Has some arm strength and good baseball instincts. He could also play first or third and corner outfield.
“Guys like the bat too. There are some mixed opinions because, with the injury, he didn’t have the season he hoped. But guys that like him, really like him.
“Ceiling-wise, that’s another guy that can be an above-average regular. That’s nice when that is his ceiling, because if he doesn’t reach that, there is still enough there that maybe he’s a solid regular or good utility man because he is athletic.
“If all goes well for the Orioles and they sign these three guys today, you might have a Cy Young candidate in a couple of years and two guys that are above average players at their position or, at worst, maybe solid players at their position,” Callis said.
So who does he like better, the high school player Delmonico or the collegian in Esposito.
“They are pretty comparable, I think they are pretty close and it just depends on your own personal philosophy,” Callis said. “Esposito I think is more a known quantity. You’ve seen him for three years in college and you know what he is defensively and you’ve seen him with wood bats in the Cape.
“Delmonico could be more risk, more reward. With him, you may have an All-Star catcher. I know they have Matt Wieters. I guess I just haven’t seen enough or heard enough of Delmonico behind the plate, so I’d probably go Esposito. But I do think they are comparable prospects. My gut feel is Esposito, but you could argue that one back and forth,” he said.