As fans around Birdland noted yesterday that the Orioles have taken just one pitcher so far in this draft, I will take a moment to point out a few things to consider.
For one, the Orioles do have several pitchers in the minor league pipeline they like, to include several among their top 30 prospects list and two in overall top 100 lists in Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall. Also - and we have heard this so many times over so many drafts - you don't select for current need in the First-Year Player Draft.
Players selected this year could take a year on the short end and maybe even five or six on the long end to get there. If they make it at all. The O's current roster could look very different then, maybe completely different. Thus, most teams go with best available within the framework of what Major League Baseball allots them to spend.
"It's one of those things where we always have pitchers lined up, you know, up and down our board, and ultimately we have to make a decision and take the risk into account. But we will be looking extensively at some arms (today)," O's supervisor of domestic scouting operations Brad Ciolek said in a Zoom interview last night.
Ciolek did note the club has a comfort level with the data and analytics they get on college hitters. Do they lack the same comfort level with pitchers?
"We do extensive research on our pitchers, and we started preparing, looking at the analytics on the pitchers probably a month and a half ago," he said. "But ultimately with each spot that we're at we have to try and figure out, 'OK is taking this guy worth the risk over a position player or bat?' So, that is a very extensive process, and like I said, we will be looking to target some pitching here on day three coming up."
The Orioles continue to show how much they value contact skills in their young players. They selected several players who walk as much as they strike out, if not more.
"We always are looking for guys that have quality at-bats that won't chase outside of the zone, and ultimately guys that have tools all around that will play at the next level," Ciolek said. "A lot of these guys do have the ability to stay within the zone and don't expand when they are pitched outside of the zone. So we're pretty happy with all those guys we got," he said.
While good contact hitters are valued, Ciolek said, defense is pretty important too.
"Absolutely," he said. "We took a lot of guys that have the ability to move well laterally in the outfield and we also have some guys that have some versatility. Collin Burns (shortstop drafted in round six) is an excellent example of that. He moves very well in the dirt, has excellent instincts and a big league clock. We take a lot of pride in our defensive evaluation as well, and we're pretty happy with the number of guys we got and we're excited about it."
Along those lines, Ciolek said, outfielder Reed Trimble, taken third by the club with the No. 65 overall pick, is projected as an outfielder. But with a caveat.
"He is a very athletic kid with plus bat speed from both sides of the plate," he said. "He moves extremely well in center. But he has played some second, some shortstop. We will kick the tires on that, potentially, but we did draft him first and foremost as a center fielder. But the key thing here is we do like guys that are versatile, and he fit that mold as well."
In the eighth round the O's took high school catcher Creed Willems. He also pitched in high school, touching 93 mph.
"We will look to develop him as a catcher," Ciolek said. "We actually had him here at Camden Yards and he hit about three to four balls onto Eutaw Street. He has prodigious raw power that we are excited about."
The one pitcher they did draft so far was righty Carlos Tavera from Texas-Arlington in round five. This year he went 3-4 with a 3.04 ERA, a .177 average against and with 12.7 strikeouts per nine.
"As for Carlos Tavera, this year he was up to 96 (mph), settling around 92-94 with feel for a slider and a plus changeup," Ciolek said. "So, seeing in addition to what our scouts saw at UT-Arlington and also having the data to cement those findings with our scouting reports, we feel good about the overall stuff we have in that package there with Carlos."
Ciolek said he is "pretty confident" the club will sign everyone they've drafted through the 10th round. He added that today could provide the Orioles some overslot opportunities.
"Yeah. So, I'm always careful to comment on these things because negotiations are still ongoing," he said. "And some have not started, to an extent. But we are always looking to get creative wherever we can, and we'll try to, obviously, see what we can do (today) as well."
A thrilling competition: The Home Run Derby competition last night was simply thrilling to watch. Pete Alonso of the Mets won the competition but Trey Mancini won the night and again won the hearts of O's fans everywhere.
He did a great job to advance to the final round, but could not take down Alonso, who has won the Derby twice in a row, as he also won in 2019. There was not an All-Star Game or Derby competition last year.
Mancini was sensational, and is such a great representative of this town and this team. He made us proud yet again last night.
Click here for more on last night's derby. Click here for more on yesterday's draft by the Orioles with stats, notes and quotes on each player they selected.
So unbelievably proud.-- Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) July 13, 2021
You just inspired a whole lot of people, @TreyMancini. pic.twitter.com/Wk3hP1ckvs
Shoutout, @TreyMancini.-- MLB (@MLB) July 13, 2021
An inspiration to us all. #HRDerby pic.twitter.com/wpkFfhwtTk
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