Gary Rajsich, who was hired as the Orioles' director of scouting in November, is now days away from his first draft with the O's, who have the fourth pick in round one Monday night.
Rajsich has several of his top staff members with him in Baltimore this week in final preparations for next week's draft.
While he is not going to volunteer to any reporter which players the Orioles are focusing on with their top pick, he did say he has trimmed the list of players under consideration for that selection.
"We are probably looking at six to eight players," Rajsich said. "We started out at about 10 to 12 players under consideration and cut that to eight to 10 and now are at six to eight. We are getting it lower. We certainly have our two or three favorites, but we are waiting to see what the teams ahead of us will do now. We've got about 120 guys (ranked) on our board right now. We'll make some tweaks (before Monday)."
Rajsich is pleased with his scouting staff's prep work for the draft.
"I feel like our scouts and staff have done a great job seeing the right people and being in the right ballparks all year. We're just lining them up now and we feel good about how we are preparing for this. Take the (top) pitchers for example. We've probably seen all of their starts for the last three months," he said.
Rajsich has spent a lot of his time recently scouting all of the top players in person. "Oh, absolutely. That was a priority for me (to get in-person looks at the top players)," he said.
With his background in player development, Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette figures to play a key role in what the Orioles do in the draft.
"He certainly has his input, no doubt about it," Rajsich said. "With his background, he is very interested in the draft and he still has a passion for it."
Rajsich said Duquette has personally done some amateur scouting of his own in recent weeks.
So will Rajsich be the one actually making that fourth pick or will Duquette want input on that?
"I think there is some input coming," Rajsich said. "I am trying to put out different scenarios in talking to agents and getting options. We're going to base our strategy on that and in getting the best player we can."
Under the new draft rules starting this year, which were set in the new collective bargaining agreement between the players and owners, each team will be allotted a set budget for its picks in the top 10 rounds.
The Orioles are allotted $6,826,900 for 10 picks over the first 10 rounds and they are allotted $4.2 million to sign their first-round pick. If a team can save money on a pick, they can spend it elsewhere in the draft.
This year, according to Rajsich, finding out some exact signability amounts for players who may be taken in those 10 rounds is pretty critical.
"We are going to try and take the best guy unless the signability is skewed so far out of whack that it just becomes a non-factor for us," Rajsich said. "But so far, I haven't seen that or heard that on anyone. The signability for some of these players is changing every day. They say one thing to one club and something different to another. It's an evolving process.
"You can try and save money with your first pick but you are probably not taking the best player available to you and that is risk number one. Risk number two would be, the guy you are saving the money for might not be there when you pick next. It's risky."
Coming later today: I'll post a story with quotes from Dan Duquette with his take on the Orioles' draft prospects.