On Sunday night, probably not long after 7 p.m., the Orioles will officially be on the clock to make their third overall No. 1 MLB Draft selection in team history. They selected pitcher Ben McDonald 1/1 in 1989 and 30 years later it was catcher Adley Rutschman. Now for the second time in four years, the Orioles will make the first pick in the draft.
And it remains true today and may hold true until we get the actual pick – no one knows which direction the Orioles will go. They are as usual, not tipping their hand in any way and if they have made or even narrowed their decision, there is just no credible information out there on what the Orioles might do.
We know the same five names that have apparently been on their short list for a while now – high school outfielders Druw Jones and Elijah Green and high school infielders Jackson Holliday and Termarr Johnson with college shortstop Brooks Lee.
MLBPipeline.com ranks them this way: Jones, Holliday, Green, Johnson, Lee.
Baseball America ranks them this way: Jones, Lee, Holliday, Johnson, Green.
MLB.com and MLBPipeline.com’s Jim Callis was nice enough to grant me an interview on Wednesday, before he heads out to Los Angeles to cover several events, including the Futures Game Saturday and the draft starting on Sunday night. He was part of the MLB Network draft broadcast.
So I asked one last time as we close in on draft day - which player does Callis believe will be the O’s No. 1 pick?
“Well, we’ve heard five guys (are on their final list),” he said. “I don’t think they are taking Elijah Green, who has probably the highest ceiling in the draft but comes with some swing and miss issues. He comes with more risk than the other top high school guys. And I think Brooks Lee is the only college guy, so I’m slicing it down to those four and I don’t think they are taking Brooks Lee No. 1. Because his profile as a college guy with Termarr Johnson, a high school guy is very similar. They can both really hit, they both probably wind up at second base. Lee has proven more in college, Termarr Johnson is graded slightly better as a hitter but it's close, and Lee will cost more.
“So if they are the same profile and about the same guy and I like Termarr Johnson better than Brooks Lee anyway and he is going to cost less, I’m taking Johnson over Lee, so I think it’s (really down to) three guys."
And Callis sized up those final three players.
“I think it’s Druw Jones, son of Andruw Jones, the high school outfielder from Georgia, consensus best player in the draft. But not an Adley Rutschman type situation where everyone is like, this is obviously the guy. But he reminds you of his dad at the same age. It’s uncanny. So he is in there and I mentioned Termarr Johnson, who is probably the best high school hitter to come along in years, in terms of the pure hitting ability. Yes, he probably winds up at second base and is listed at 5-foot-10 and might even be shorter than that, but if you are buying into Termarr Johnson you are thinking he could be a Robinson Cano-type profile. That works. He’d be the first player you project at second base to go 1/1, but he can really hit, so he’d be legit. And the third guy is Jackson Holliday, the son of Matt Holliday, who is a potential five-tool shortstop that could stay at shortstop. Probably not quite as high a ceiling as Druw Jones, but probably a higher floor.
“Druw Jones is the best player in the draft. The Diamondbacks would probably take him No. 2 (if he's there), so you are not getting a huge discount with him, relative to other guys. Termarr Johnson, if he doesn’t go No. 1, might go No. 4 or might go (as low as) No. 8. You might be able to save a couple of million dollars on Termarr Johnson. He’d be the big discount. Jackson Holliday is kind of in-between. He wouldn’t cost as much as Druw Jones, but Holliday has a chance to go No. 3 if he doesn’t go one. You could get a discount with him, but probably not a lot.
“I go back and forth on this and my gut, because again we don’t know or have any inside information and no one does on the Orioles. But, I think they go Termarr Johnson.
“I just think if you take Termarr Johnson and save a million and a half more than by taking Druw Jones, you get a really, really good player and also save some. On our MLB podcast the other day that we did, I think I went 33 percent Druw Jones, 33 percent Termarr Johnson, 30 percent Jackson Holliday and four percent Brooks Lee.
“I could finish this interview and text three guys in baseball that are picking high Sunday or are up on the all the draft gossip and have the three all say something different on the Orioles. Like nobody knows," Callis stated.
The Orioles have a pretty big chance to add to the so-called “elite talent pipeline” in this draft, also making selections at No. 33, 42, 67 and 81. They have a whopping $16.924 million bonus pool, the second-largest since the bonus pool era began in 2012.
The 20-round draft starts Sunday night and goes through Competitive Balance Round B, so the O's will make their first four picks on Sunday night. Then the draft resumes Monday at 2 p.m. ET with rounds 3-10 and then at 2 p.m. Tuesday with rounds 11-20.
The intervals between selections during round one and the first compensation round (picks 1-32) will last three minutes, followed by two-minute intervals between picks in Competitive Balance Round A (picks 33-39), and one-minute intervals between selections for the remainder of day one.
The Orioles' MLB Draft club representative at the event in Los Angeles will be Rick Dempsey, the 1983 World Series MVP.
And that's 10: The O's win streak reached 10 games and they moved over the .500 mark (45-44) with Wednesday's 7-1 win over the Chicago Cubs.
This is the longest in-season win streak for the Orioles since they took 13 in a row from Sept. 7-22, 1999. The team record is a 14-game win streak from Aug. 12-27, 1973.
This was the most lopsided win during the streak, which has come by 22 total runs over the 10 games.
The O's were a season-worst 11 games under .500 at 24-35 on June 10 and they are 21-9 since that date. They are 45-44 now and last year at one point they were 45-94.
O's pitching has allowed two runs or less in 15 of the last 25 games with a team ERA of 2.59 in that span. In the 15 games of allowing two or less, the Orioles are 14-1.
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