After picking in the top five of the MLB Draft the last four years – and picking No. 2 or higher in three of those four years and selecting No. 1 twice – the Orioles will find this coming draft very different.
They have the No. 17 pick in round one of the draft, which begins a week from tonight. It will take place over three days and 20 rounds beginning next Sunday evening.
Along with picking No. 17, the Orioles will also select at No. 53, No. 63, No. 86 and No. 100, so five of the top 100 selections.
“It’s a very deep draft,” Orioles director of draft operations Brad Ciolek said Saturday at Camden Yards. “I would say, in terms of the composition, a lot of folks saw what the power arms did in Omaha (at the College World Series). Whether it’s Hurston Waldrep (of Florida), Paul Skenes (of LSU), Rhett Lowder (Wake Forest). There is a lot to like on that front. The college hitting board is also good as well. I know that’s been our flavor the last few years here. And then the high school infield demographic is very good. Lot of very polished high school hitters in terms of plate discipline.”
The draft prep for the Baltimore scouting staff has been intense as always in the buildup to draft day.
“The best way to sum it up is long days, long nights. Lot of travel, lot of flights. Lot of rain delays. Some snow-outs. Now it’s going to be a lot of discussions, lot of debates going back and forth and some long nights down here in the Warehouse,” said Ciolek.
The Orioles picked No. 1 overall last year and selected high school shortstop Jackson Holliday. Ciolek said the prep is very different when they are picking No. 17.
“Definitely have to cast a wider net. Last year, I would say, when picking at the top of the draft you are typically looking anywhere from six to 10 guys. This year we are really looking closely more towards 20-22. Just because of the fact that we have to have some dominos fall before we pick,” he said.
Read much more from Ciolek in this space over the coming days, and I will also provide some draft insights from Jim Callis of MLBPipeline.com.
Ortiz’s props for the Tides: Infielder Joey Ortiz, ranked as the No. 66 prospect in the sport by MLBPipeline.com, is back now at Triple-A Norfolk. But when the Tides clinched the first-half International League championship on June 21, he was still with the Orioles. He was happy to be in the big leagues then, of course, but missed out on the celebration after the Tides clinched.
But he has played in 36 games for the Tides this year, producing a .354 batting average and .997 OPS, so he has been a big part of their first-half success. The day after Norfolk clinched, Ortiz talked about their strong play this year in the O's clubhouse.
“It was great to see,” he said. “I have been there for a good amount of the year. Definitely cool to watch them win. Great camaraderie there, and guys on that team really want to win and work so hard and bring it every day. I think it’s great to have a group as talented as we have in Norfolk. We want to win. It’s only a matter of time.”
Several players, when they have come up from the farm and joined the O’s roster during this season, have said that yes, the talent in Norfolk is strong, but also there is great chemistry with that club this season.
“I think that developed over time,” said Ortiz. “Guys moved up together and that is good for that. You get to know your teammates and that helps the winning process.”
Tides manager Buck Britton has said it has been special how his players in Norfolk root hard for each other’s success, even knowing they are also competing to get jobs in Baltimore.
“We do root for each other. As far as I’m concerned, it’s guys that want to see each other succeed," Ortiz said. "For me, I believe God is going to lead me on the correct path whether I am in this organization or another. So it’s about working hard, and we want each other to succeed. However it works out, it will work out.”
And Ortiz told me that, with a first-half title under their belts and their first playoff berth since 2015 secured, Norfolk’s team will still be hungry to win.
“Absolutely. Might as well win the second half now. Just keep winning,” he said.
The Tides are now 51-27 after a 3-2 loss to Charlotte last night in 10 innings that featured a three-hit game by Ortiz. On his rehab assignment, Ryan Mountcastle went 4-for-5 with four singles. He is 7-for-14 his last three games.
Need a win today vs. Twins: After scoring just one run over the last two games and losing 1-0 Saturday, the Orioles (48-33) need to win today or they will be a swept by a Twins team that came to town at 40-42.
The Orioles have their first four-game losing streak of the season and first four-gamer since June 28 to July 2, 2022. Following that skid the Orioles won 10 games in a row.
The Orioles have scored two runs or fewer six times the last 12 games. They have scored one or fewer three times the last four games, and four times in eight games.
They have not been swept three in a row since May 13-15, 2022 at Detroit.
Props to the great crowd Saturday of 40,012. I thought it was easily the loudest crowd of the year.