Productive off-day sees O's move closer to first, two top draft picks agree to terms

While the Orioles enjoyed an off-day Thursday, the Detroit Tigers beat Boston 4-3 on Jhonny Peralta's two-run walkoff homer in the last of the ninth.

The homer came off Andrew Bailey and it was his fourth blown save of the year.

That Red Sox loss moved the Orioles to within one game of first place in the American League East. It is the closest the Orioles have been since May 12 as they begin a series in Toronto tonight against a Jays team that has won eight in a row.

The Blue Jays have been on an amazing pitching roll. They have allowed two earned runs or less over the last seven games, pitching to an ERA of 0.86 in that time. Their team ERA is 1.99 over the last 15 games and Toronto is 12-3 in that stretch.

Should be quite a test for an Orioles team that scored 18 runs in the last two games at Comerica Park.

Meanwhile the Orioles scouting staff has been busy getting draft picks signed. On Thursday, the O's reached agreement with their top two picks, high school pitcher Hunter Harvey and high school outfielder Josh Hart.

Harvey agreed to a deal at the slot value of $1,947,600 for the 22nd pick. Hart agreed to sign for $1.45 million, just under the slot value of $1,508,600 for the 37th overall pick.

The Orioles agreed to terms with their second-round pick, high school catcher Chance Sisco for $785,000, which is under the slot value of $913,300 for the 61st pick.

The Orioles can now use the combined savings of $186,900 on other players. The one pick in the top 10 rounds they have yet to reach an agreement with, seventh-rounder Drew Dosch, a third baseman from Youngstown State, is reportedly seeking a deal over the slot value of $163,800 for the 219th selection.

As reported here right after the draft, the O's selected two high school pitchers that they expected to be tough to sign in lefty Daniel Ayers (round 25) and right-hander Robert Tyler (round 28).

Perhaps some of this money could be used to make a run at one or both of those players. Ayers was taken with the draft's 759th overall selection, but was ranked as the draft'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 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 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. Don't expect to see any team do that.

So between the $186,900 savings on the Hart and Sisco picks, and the ability to go over their allotted budget by $319,395, the Orioles may have some dollars to maneuver here. They did reportedly go about $50,000 over slot on their sixth-round pick, catcher Alex Murphy out of Calvert Hall in Baltimore.

No matter how all this ends up, the good news is that scouting director Gary Rajsich and his staff got all the top picks signed and they all should be out playing soon.

That is so big for young players. They will get to experience pro ball this summer and begin to see what it takes to play at this higher level. It also allows them to start in the O's conditioning program and put in a full winter with that as they head into their first full seasons of pro ball in 2014.

The Orioles have now agreed to terms with 25 draft picks. They only announce signings as official once the players pass their physicals and actually sign their contracts. The Orioles have agreed to terms with 11 of their first 12 picks and with 15 of the top 18.

Round 1: RHP Hunter Harvey
Round 1S: OF Josh Hart
Round 2: C Chance Sisco *
Round 3: LHP Stephen Tarpley
Round 4: C Jonah Heim
Round 5: LHP Travis Seabrooke
Round 6: C Alex Murphy *
Round 8: 1B Trey Mancini *
Round 9: LHP Mitch Horacek
Round 10: C Austin Wynns *
Round 11: LHP Steven Brault *
Round 13: RHP Jimmy Yacabonis *
Round 14: OF Mike Yastrzemski
Round 16: 1B Randolph Gassaway *
Round 17: RHP Caleb Kellogg *
Round 19: RHP Dylan Rheault *
Round 20: RHP Nick Cunningham *
Round 24: SS Jared Breen *
Round 27: LHP Donnie Hart *
Round 29: OF Conor Bierfeldt *
Round 33: SS Jeff Kemp *
Round 36: LHP Eric Green *
Round 37: SS Justin Viele *
Round 39: LHP Augey Bill *
Round 40: RHP Garrett Cortright *

* Players whose signings have been announced by the Orioles


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