Among yesterday's draft picks by the Orioles were two high school pitchers that may be tough to sign. The Orioles like the duo, however, and may even be willing to go over their allocated draft pool money to get them.
They are Daniel Ayers, a left-handed pitcher from Columbus, Ind., who was drafted in Round 25, and right-hander Robert Tyler from Cordele, Ga., taken in Round 28.
Ayers was taken with the draft's 759th overall selection but was ranked as the nation's 177th-best player by Baseball America.
Tyler was drafted with the 849th selection and rated No. 194 by Baseball America. Both of these kids probably have perhaps top-five round potential talent.
Under the new draft rules, any team can go up to 5 percent over its draft budget and they would pay a 75 percent tax on the overage.
The Orioles allotted budget to sign their picks this year is $6,387,900, meaning they could go over by $319,395 to stay at 5 percent or less. Any team going more than 5 percent over their allotted budget will lose a first-round pick next year. I don't expect to see any club do that.
I asked O's scouting director Gary Rajsich about the possibility of signing Ayers.
"It is a potential tough sign," Rajsich said. "There are ways that we can maneuver within the system that we are trying to do. If we are able to sign some of our guys at a reasonable rate and we have some extra, or if we are willing to go over the bonus pool amount and stay under the 5 percent cap, maybe we are willing to do that.
"It depends on the player and circumstance. It is future pending and we don't have to make the decision at this time. But we draft those players for their upside and we draft for the option to do that if we decide to do that."
"I think (Ayers is) a future starting pitcher with a good delivery and live fastball. We are very interested or we would not have taken him."
For now, the club will concentrate on signing its picks in the top 10 rounds and Rajsich is confident the club can get every one of those picks signed. Last year, the Orioles signed all but one of their top 10 round selections.
According to Baseball America, Tyler was the best prep pitcher in Georgia this year and consistently throws his fastball from 90 to 93, touching the mid-90's.
"He's 17 years old and has a power arm that we would very much like to sign if it works out," Rajsich said. "Both these guys are down-the-line guys. We are going to focus on signing the guys we chose up above them but if there is money remaining when we are done, we'd like to target them."