With less than 24 hours to go now until the first round of the First-Year Player Draft, the Orioles appear to be centering on a list of four players to choose from with their No. 4 overall selection pending, of course, what the three teams that select ahead of them do with their picks.
In the latest mock draft published on its Web site Friday, Baseball America projected that Houston, picking first, would take Stanford pitcher Mark Appel. Minnesota, at two, would take high school outfielder Byron Buxton. Seattle, selecting third, is projected to take University of Florida catcher Mike Zunino.
If those players go in the top three, industry sources indicate the O’s then may have pared their list to four for that fourth pick.
In alphabetical order they are: Puerto Rican high school shortstop Carlos Correa, high school lefty pitcher Max Fried, LSU right-hander pitcher Kevin Gausman and University of San Francisco right-hander pitcher Kyle Zimmer.
Scouts say Correa projects to hit for average and power and will become the highest drafted player ever from Puerto Rico. He has been compared to Troy Tulowitzki and Ryan Zimmerman.
Fried pitches for Harvard-Westlake High School near Los Angeles and can touch the mid-90s with his fastball, has a very good curveball that is said to be his best pitch and a solid changeup. He could turn out to be a pitcher with three plus pitches, according to scouting reports.
Gausman pitched LSU to a 7-1 win yesterday over Oregon State in the NCAA regionals, going eight innings and allowing seven hits and one run. In 16 starts this year with the Tigers, he is 11-1 with an ERA of 2.72 and 128 strikeouts in 115 2/3 innings.
Zimmer is said to have solid command of four pitches that include a fastball that sits from 94 to 96 mph and touches 99, along with an excellent curveball, an average slider and a changeup that scouts say has a chance to be a future plus pitch.
In appears that the Orioles are not likely to select California high school pitcher Lucas Giolito with their pick, and that Arizona State shortstop Devin Marrero, a player they have been linked to, is not as highly rated as the other four right now on their draft board.
If Appel or Buxton slip to the fourth pick, that could be the player the Orioles would take, while it seems less likely they would take Zunino if he is available at four.
Check here often tomorrow for draft coverage throughout the da, including notes and quotes after the Orioles make their first-round pick.