A lot of fans were excited when the Orioles signed pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez and outfielder/DH Nelson Cruz to free agent contracts. But the club had to give up its 17th and 55th picks in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft to get that duo.
The Orioles had already parted with the 35th overall pick in the Bud Norris trade last July, so the O's could have had three of the first 55 picks this June. Now they will not draft until the third round with the 91st overall pick.
They are not punting the draft, but the Orioles' scouting staff is basically taking one for the team this year.
"Whatever brings a championship to Baltimore, I'm all for it. That is what we're all trying to do," Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich said of the lost picks.
The draft is over three days now and the the first two rounds will be held on June 5. On the first day of the draft last June, the Orioles selected pitcher Hunter Harvey with the 22nd pick, outfielder Josh Hart at No. 37 overall and catcher Chance Sisco with selection No. 61.
On the first day of the 2014 draft, the Orioles will not make a pick.
Rajsich knows Dan Duquette is a big believer in the draft, but this year felt the moves that cost the team those picks had to be made. Rajsich said Duquette called him before word of the Jimenez signing got out (a story first reported right here on MASNsports.com by Roch Kubatko) to let him know the 17th pick would be lost.
So after drafting Kevin Gausman and Harvey in the first round the previous two years, Rajsich now has to develop a strategy for a draft where he will not pick until the third round.
"I think we will try to identify all the players we think will be gone," Rajsich said. "We will focus on second- and third-round guys and try to sign an undervalued player there.
"Every area scout will still scout the top guys in their area, but they will not spend a lot of time on the ones they think are definitely first-round guys. I would say we may be able to eliminate as many as 45 or 50 players."
O's area scouts are already busy watching players as college baseball has started and high school games are under way in some states, including areas that produce a lot of players, like Florida, California and Texas.
So what is the strategy for this draft?
"It is still in the works," said Rajsich, who expects to meet with Duquette at spring training to talk draft strategy in early March.
"I'm sure we'll have several strategies depending on what we are faced with on that second day of the draft when it's our turn to pick 17th (in the third round)."
Last year, the Orioles were allotted $6,387,900 to sign their picks and they spent a total of $6,345,000. The Orioles signed 11 picks over the first 10 rounds last summer. They had a supplemental pick between the first and second rounds that was used on Hart, the Georgia high school outfielder. The O's signed 15 picks over the first 14 rounds.
This draft, the Orioles will be allotted less money due to not having a pick in the first two rounds. They will likely have a total budget of $3-4 million to sign picks in rounds three through 10. All clubs can sign players for up to $100,000 from rounds 11 through 40.
The Chicago White Sox had the 91st pick last June and took Coastal Carolina outfielder Jacob May, who was signed to a bonus of $525,000 and that figure is about what the O's are likely to be allotted this year to sign the 91st pick.
May, if you are wondering, played in 66 games last summer between rookie ball and low Single-A, batting .303 with eight homers and 35 RBIs.
Rajsich is aiming high with that first O's pick.
"I hope you get an impact player, you always hope for the best," he said. "Hopefully we get a good major league regular. You'd be happy with that."
I told Rajsich that in researching the list of players that were selected 91st overall, I noticed the name Wil Myers. He was drafted with that pick by Kansas City in the 2009 draft.
"That would do. Rookie of the Year in that spot," he said. "That would be good. You can get major league players in any round. They come from everywhere."
Click here for a list of players taken 91st in the draft.
Note from Aberdeen: The Orioles short-season, Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds today issued this press release announcing details of the hiring of a new general manager. At the minor league level the GMs run the club's business operations while the Orioles supply the team's players.
* Ripken Baseball today announced the appointment of Joe Harrington as General Manager of the Aberdeen IronBirds. Harrington will lead all ticket sales efforts, oversee the front office and game day operations, and further engrain the IronBirds in the Harford County community and Baltimore region.
"Â“Joe'Â’s vast experience in professional sports, coupled with his strong commitment to customer service and passion for baseball make him a valuable addition to our team,"Â” said Glenn Tilley, President of Ripken Baseball. "Â“We look forward to the new ideas Joe will bring to the club as we continue to create the best experience for our fans, the Ripken Way."Â”
As the franchise's new General Manager, Harrington will manage the daily business operations of the team and facility at Ripken Stadium. Additionally, Harrington will be charged with developing and maintaining a strong relationship with the local community, while creating additional revenue streams that support the team.
"Â“I am excited to join such an outstanding and well-respected organization,"Â” Harrington said. "Â“Our main focus will be continuing to provide affordable, family entertainment to the region. I look forward to improving the game day atmosphere and making IronBirds baseball a fantastic experience for everyone."Â”
Harrington previously served as Assistant General Manager, Ticket Sales for the Lakewood BlueClaws, the Philadelphia Phillies single-A affiliate.