Orioles may be making some progress with second-round pick

The Orioles may be making some progress in talks with their second-round draft pick, Vanderbilt third baseman Jason Esposito.

"We have had some productive, healthy dialogue in the last few days," Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan said this morning. "I think he wants to go play. The club has been real clear where we are at with this one."

Jordan has said a few times he thought Esposito would be signed by now and already playing somewhere on the O's farm, but that has not happened.

That leads some to speculate that the Orioles thought they had a dollar figure that Esposito would agree to sign for, but at some point, Esposito sought more and a signing the Orioles expected to happen not long after the draft still has not come to pass.

It's possible a decision on Esposito could come this week - and maybe in the next day or two.

Esposito, a right-handed batter, hit .341 with nine homers and 59 RBIs in 65 games this year as his Vandy team made the College World Series. The 21-year-old Esposito was ranked 77th on Baseball America's list of the top 100 draft prospects and 55th by ESPN's Keith Law.

The Orioles expect to meet with the representatives for their first-round pick, pitcher Dylan Bundy, again Wednesday, as I reported here this week. Denver Bundy, Dylan's father, believes both sides are open to getting his son signed before the Aug.15 deadline. But that doesn't happen very often with the top picks. We'll see on that.

The Orioles remain optimistic that this deal will get done.

Meanwhile, Jordan has also talked recently with Rod Delmonico, the former head coach at the University of Tennessee. His son, Nicky, was the Orioles sixth-round pick out of Farragut High in Knoxville, Tenn.

"I have had a couple of recent conversations with his father in the last week. The door is open. I don't really know how this is going to go, but we're talking," Jordan said.

It is believed that Delmonico is seeking mid-first-round money. Last year, picks in the mid-first round were getting in the neighborhood of $1.5 million.

Meanwhile, Jordan did confirm today that 12th-round pick Jason Coats, an outfielder out of TCU, is fully expected to go back to college and almost certainly will not sign with the Orioles.

It also appears the Orioles will not sign K.J. Hockaday, their 14th-round pick out of John Carroll High in Bel Air. He appears headed to the University of Maryland, although Jordan expects to see him play on his summer team again and has not completely ruled out an agreement here, but it seems like a long shot.

By the time the signing deadline comes and goes, the Orioles seem likely to sign around 20 to 22 players. They have signed 17 after coming to terms yesterday with eighth-round pick Johnny Ruettiger, an outfielder from Arizona State. The Orioles have signed seven of their top 10 picks.

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