Draft notes, plus a look at the bullpen and Boras' comments on Baltimore

They had the No. 1 overall draft pick in 1989, 2019 and 2022 but the Orioles will not have that pick next summer in the MLB Draft.

The first six picks were determined for next year's draft in last night's draft lottery at the Winter Meetings. The Orioles had a very small chance at the No. 1 pick or to be among the top six, but they didn't land there.

They will hold the No. 17 pick in round one of the next MLB Draft. The last time they picked that far down the board or lower, they selected lefty DL Hall No. 21 overall in 2017.

In the last four drafts, the Orioles selected first, second, fifth and first. 

Pittsburgh was the big winner and has the No. 1 overall pick next summer with Washington to pick No. 2 and Detroit No. 3.

Speaking of the draft, did you ever wonder, as I did, what guidance the Orioles give their new draft picks heading into their first winter in the organization? Draft picks from the class of 2022 like Jackson Holliday, Dylan Beavers and Jud Fabian.

Brad Ciolek, the Orioles' director of draft operations provided this explanation in our recent interview.

“I think one thing we do remarkably well here - and it may sound minor, but in the grand scheme it’s immensely important - is the overall communication relationship we have with our player development department and the coaches,” he said. “In terms of getting everyone on the same page, we do a lot of work prior to the draft with our hitting coaches, and also our infield and outfield coaches. We watch a lot of film, and just exchanges ideas and thoughts such as, 'If we were to get this guy, what are some changes we would eventually want to make and what are some things we maybe wouldn’t want to touch?'”

Ciolek said that helps coaches better know players before they take the field on the O’s farm. Now those players are heading into an offseason in advance of their first full pro seasons.

“A lot of the heavy lifting is done by player development,” Ciolek said of how the club keeps tabs on the players now. “They’ll continue to stay with and talk to these guys throughout the offseason about their individualized player development plans. Strength and conditioning is also a part of that. Our scouts are kind of hands off and we let our PD staff do their jobs. But we are there as support. Our scouts have built great relationships with the players and talk during the offseason. But for the most part we trust our player development staff to do the job, and they’ve done a remarkable job thus far.”

Recently in this space I took a closer look at last year’s draft class and how well they fared in plate-discipline skills.

They need the ‘pen to be good again: The Orioles bullpen was certainly a big reason for the club’s big win improvement in 2022. The bullpen was good and needs to be again as the Orioles chase the playoffs in 2023.

While executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias himself admits bullpen acquisitions are not a priority right now, that ‘pen could get bolstered by adding a young pitcher who doesn’t make the starting rotation.

“We’ve got some young pitchers that could possibly, if they don’t make the Opening Day rotation, could slide into the bullpen,” Elias said Monday at the Winter Meetings. “So, definitely would not rule out a bullpen acquisition, particularly of the veteran variety with our young group, but fair to say as I sit here today, we’re probably having more conversations about position players and starting pitchers.”

Could right-hander Tyler Wells be a pitcher that slides into the ‘pen?

If the O’s opening day rotation includes, let’s say, in some order, Kyle Gibson, Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer, Grayson Rodriguez and a pitcher still yet to be signed but likely coming, Wells could get bumped. Even though he threw quite well as a starting pitcher last year.

But in the American League having a pitcher or pitchers that you can pitch multiple innings in the middle innings can be big. Someone bridging the gap between a starter getting, say, only five innings and late-inning relief.

O’s worst innings in 2022

Third inning: A 5.44 ERA and .845 OPS against

Fifth inning: A 4.83 ERA and .778 OPS against

First inning: A 4.39 ERA and .731 OPS against

As a reliever in 2021, Wells produced a 4.11 ERA, 0.912 WHIP, a 1.9 walk rate and 10.3 strikeout rate. His ERA was 4.25 as a starter and his strikeout rate dropped to 6.6. So did his average fastball velocity, from 95.2 mph in 2021 to 93.6 last year.

Wells figures to be a key pitcher on the ’23 Orioles and it very well could be in the rotation. But he could also be among several young pitchers - including Mike Baumann, DL Hall and Noah Denoyer to name three - who could be big in the important middle innings as well.

Boras speaks: A challenge for O's media and fans alike is to try to decipher what is happening with the Orioles behind the scenes. What rumors are there about the Orioles? Good luck with that. The team protects such information and they seem to do it very, very well.

But agent Scott Boras must have some handle on it. He is more well-connected than the rest of us, to say the least, and counts top lefty free agent pitcher Carlos Rodón among his clients.

He said the Orioles have "an amazing young core" and added, "They really feel like they’re ready to compete.”

Added Boras of the Orioles: "They've been very aggressive. Mike has been in constant contact. The Orioles are in a different place, and Mike's made us all very aware of that."

Can Orioles find Rule 5 success again later in fir...
Rule 5 draft next up at Winter Meetings

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