When a top draft pick is officially signed and introduced by his new team, as Vanderbilt outfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. was yesterday by the Orioles, it is a big day for a lot of people. The player of course and his family, the organization and also the signing scout.
Orioles' area scout Trent Friedrich was at the podium yesterday with Bradfield and O’s executive Mike Elias on the big day for the highest draft pick Friedrich has had as an O’s scout. He joined the organization after the 2019 season.
That scout puts in a massive amount of time compiling volumes of information on a player that his club may not even draft. But in this case, they did. Friedrich’s guy was the No. 17 overall selection by the Orioles and this week signed an exact slot bonus amount of $4,169,700.
Bradfield and the O’s second-round pick, UNC outfielder Mac Horvath, who has now also signed, will report to Sarasota, Fla. for orientation and then likely play some games in the rookie-level Florida Complex League. They could advance to join Low Single-A Delmarva before this season ends.
“It’s gratifying,” Friedrich said to put in so much time scouting a player that his club then actually does select and sign. “And to get a special kid like that. To know where our team is now and where it can go with a guy like him with it, it just makes me really excited for the future.”
In three years at Vandy, Bradfield hit .311/.426/.447 and stole 130 bases. He added 31 doubles, 11 triples and 15 homers. As a sophomore he was 46-for-46 in steals. Friedrich discussed Bradfield's biggest gains from this past season.
“I think just defensive instincts continued to take a step forward,” he said. “And on the bases, especially. Those two things, he’s made other adjustments but the defensive side and the baserunning side have just taken off for him.”
Bradfield was ranked as the No. 16 player in this draft by Baseball America which gave him 80 grade top-of-scale running and fielding tools.
The Orioles have taken several players in recent drafts from the power conferences and went back to the SEC for their top selection this time.
“I think it just comes down to he sees the best pitching that is out there," said Friedrich, who is based in Louisville, Kentucky. "He plays against the best players and that is essentially what we are looking for. That gives us the most confidence when we try to get them into the pro setting.”
Friedrich scouted and signed two players from the O's 2021 draft in third round outfielder John Rhodes and catcher Connor Pavolony in round seven. Last year he was the scout for pitcher Cameron Weston in round eight and infielder Carter Young in round 17.
Elias noted during Tuesday’s press conference how the Orioles have to always excel in the draft.
“This is the lifeblood of our organization, what we do and it’s showing up on the field here for the Orioles," he said. "The importance of the draft and the strength of our drafts. And this year is no different. We are very excited to be sitting here today with Enrique. Trent did a great job following him. Brad Ciolek is here, our director of draft operations, and is busy signing the rest of our picks right now. He and his group were a huge part in evaluating this player and putting ourselves in a position to take him.
“It is important for us to keep feeding the (talent) pipeline. Because I know how good our competitors are at doing the same thing. To me this is the path for this franchise to continue to be successful is doing a great job with scouting and player development. This is our type of player, our type of kid. Really thrilled that he fell to our pick.”
Bradfield said he is excited to join a club with the No. 1 farm in the game.
“I’m truly looking forward to being able to get to work and help this organization grow and compete at the top of the game.
“I’m really excited when I look around and see the younger guys on the team in the major leagues. Everybody is maximizing their potential. I feel like with the coaching staff in this organization I’m going to be able to find that next step and maximize my potential. Really excited to see what that journey looks like.”
Friedrich discussed how the Orioles scouts work with the club's player development staff even before a player is drafted. They come to a consensus of sorts on players and begin to set development plans for them even before they may be drafted.
“I can’t speak to the other teams, but I know for us, we have such good communication between our player development and scouting staff,” said Friedrich. “And even amongst our staff, we had 10 scouts see Enrique this year. So, we had a very high comfort level of what we thought he could do and what his abilities were. And then we pass on that information to player development, and we can already even start to develop our (future) plan before they get into our organization. Our communication is strong, and we do such a good job between the two departments."
Trying to avoid the sweep: The Orioles have lost by 6-4 and 10-3 the last two nights against the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers and the Dodgers can sweep this three-game series this afternoon at 1:05 p.m.
O's pitching has allowed 24 hits and 16 runs this series and O's starters have allowed nine runs in seven innings to the Dodgers.
The good news is that Tampa Bay has lost the last two nights to Texas and the Orioles remain just one game back in the AL East standings. The Rays (60-38) have lost 10 of their past 13 games.
The Orioles have not been swept all year and not since losing three in a row at Detroit May 13-15, 2022. The Orioles have not been swept at home since Aug. 27-29, 2021, by Tampa Bay.