The Orioles drafted three high school catchers in the first six rounds of this year’s draft and have taken four catchers among their first 11 picks so far.
Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich said tonight that was not necessarily to help a position that some consider lacking in depth in the organization.
“Well, I know what it looks like, but really, in a year like this where there is so much good catching depth in the draft, you kind of have to get it while it’s there,” Rajsich said. “Catching is something every organization needs and we feel like we got four good catchers that are going to have value and we’re excited about it. It wasn’t that we were targeting it.”
He added that there is a shortage of high school middle infielders in this draft.
“You have to draft to the strengths of a particular year,” he said.
Rajsich said there have not been any negotiations yet with any of the club’s top draft picks.
The Orioles took six high school players among their first seven picks of this draft. Was that an effort to pump some younger talent into the O’s system?
“There wasn’t a predetermined effort to do that,” he said. “It was just the way the draft board fell. Some of the players we had targeted were taken in front of us and we were looking to make the best value selection at that time.”
The Orioles made eight picks in rounds three through 10 today.
“I feel good about it,” he said. “I’m a little disappointed some of the guys we had targeted weren’t available. That is going to happen in every draft. But at the same time, we feel all the way through we got players with talent.”
Rajsich talked about 20-year-old left-handed pitcher Stephen Tarpley, taken in the third round out of Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College, where he went 3-2 with an ERA of 2.35 this season.
“Stephen Tarpley is a left-handed pitcher with a fast arm and we think he has a tremendous upside. We like him as a future starter. He has a fastball, curveball, slider and changeup,” Rajsich said of a pitcher expected to start his pro career at short-season Single-A Aberdeen.
Rajsich drafted catcher Jonah Heim out of Amherst (N.Y.) High School in round four. The Michigan State signee hit .522 this year and attended a pre-draft workout at Camden Yards.
“Tremendous upside,” Rajsich said. “He’s a 17-year-old switch-hitting catcher with power, little bit of power from the right side. He’s got a plus arm and looks real comfortable behind the plate.”
Rajsich added he was a bit surprised that Heim was still around when they took him with the 129th pick of the draft.
Rajsich said the O’s seventh-round pick, Youngstown State third baseman Drew Dosch, had ACL surgery this week.
“He had a great year in the Cape (Cod League) last summer, hitting over .300 and was one of the better hitters in the Cape, but had that knee injury late in the season and that dropped him some in the draft,” Rajsich said. “We are really pleased to get a good college bat in the seventh round.
“The team doctor for the Pittsburgh Pirates performed the surgery and our doctors were able to view the operative notes and they said it went fine. He’ll miss the rest of this year for rehab but next spring should be a full 100 percent recovered and ready to go.”
After two days of the draft, the Orioles have selected 11 players overall - four pitchers and seven position players, with five of the selections being college products. The Orioles selected one right-handed pitcher, three left-handed pitchers, four catchers, two infielders and one outfielder. The draft will conclude Saturday with rounds 11 through 40 beginning at 1 p.m.
Click here to read more on today’s picks.
Click here to read the story on Baltimore area product catcher Alex Murphy of Calvert Hall, who told MASNsports.com he has agreed to terms with the team tonight.