Orioles complete 2023 draft with 20 college players among 22 selections (updated)

The 2023 baseball draft started Sunday night with the Orioles picking Vanderbilt center fielder Enrique Bradfield at No. 17 overall and concluded this afternoon with their selection of North Greenville (S.C.) University shortstop Jalen Vasquez in the 20th round.

The next steps are getting as many signatures on contracts as possible, figuring out minor league assignments, and making cuts to create room.

Twenty-two players were drafted, only two out of high school. The first 16 were college players.

The Orioles selected 13 college pitchers, five outfielders, one shortstop and one catcher. They also picked a high school outfielder and shortstop.

"In terms of what we're looking to accomplish, I think a lot of our resources are dedicated toward the college crop," said director of draft operations Brad Ciolek. "However, we did extensive work on a lot of high school players, a lot of junior college players. ... But yeah, we do focus a majority on the college crop because that's a lot of the data that we do get and allows us to do a deep dive on those players."

Day 3 began with the Orioles taking Seattle University left-hander Nestor German, 21, in the 11th round.

German had a 6.37 ERA and 1.585 WHIP in three collegiate seasons totaling 47 games, including 33 starts. He posted a 5.97 ERA and 1.430 WHIP this season in 17 games (15 starts), and his strikeout total jumped from 35 in 57 2/3 innings the previous year to 74 in 78 1/3.

German tied a school record with 12 strikeouts against Utah Valley on March 18.

The run on LSU pitchers and players continued in the 12th round with the Orioles’ selection of right-hander Blake Money, 21, who was born in Sarasota, grew up in Tennessee, and is listed at 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds. And with 270-pound left-hander Riley Cooper in the 13th.

Money made 51 appearances, including 16 starts, in three seasons at LSU and had a 6.26 ERA and 1.456 WHIP with 118 strikeouts in 123 2/3 innings. He came out of the bullpen for 18 of 20 appearances this season and registered a 5.97 ERA and 1.356 WHIP in 34 2/3 innings.

Reports on Money include how he has a low-90s fastball and an advanced feel for his changeup. He made the 2022 and 2023 SEC Academic Honor Roll.

Cooper, 21, transferred from the University of Arizona following the 2021 season. He registered a 4.44 ERA and 1.339 WHIP in 91 college games, only six of them starts, and surrendered only 11 home runs in 133 2/3 innings.

Cooper, listed at 6-feet-2, had a 4.38 ERA and 1.346 WHIP this season in 32 games. He struck out 63 batters in 61 2/3 innings. The California native recorded a win and three saves in this year’s College World Series, registered a 0.93 ERA in 9 2/3 innings.

"Anytime you have the opportunity to add power arms, guys that have some pitchability from the SEC, that's always a focal point for us," Ciolek said. "As far as Blake is concerned, we do envision him as a starter. The fastball and slider play extremely well. We're going to look to stretch him out, get him more innings. Riley Cooper is what you could say is a fierce competitor. We do like his pitchability. His changeup is very effective, as well, and he's got a four-pitch mix.

"Just the fact that those guys have been on a championship club, the championship pedigree that goes along with that, and they're fierce competitors, we think that will carry over well here in our system."

The 14th round brought pitcher Michael Forret of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, which is located in Bradenton.

The 19-year-old right-hander spent this season with the Falmouth Commodores in the Cape Cod League and allowed two earned runs (four total) and nine hits with three walks and eight strikeouts in six innings over his two starts. That’s the extent of his statistics on Baseball-Reference.com.

The streak of college players ended at 16 with the selection of Lowndes (Ga.) High School outfielder Qrey Lott in the 15th round.

Lott is a right-handed hitter with a commitment to Northwest Florida State College. Perfect Game gave him a 500 national ranking, 91 among outfielders, and a 52 ranking in Georgia.

"Qrey is a quick-twitch athlete," Ciolek said. "There's a lot of upside here. He is a slam-dunk center fielder. He can really run, he's got a plus arm, and we think that there's some more projection down the road to add some weight and strength to his frame and tap into some power."

The Orioles chose a catcher in Round 16 – Cal State Fullerton’s Cole Urman.

Urman, 21, hit .254/.296/.329 in three college seasons totaling 132 games. He appeared in 49 this season and batted .270 with a .687 OPS, nine doubles, four home runs and 30 RBIs.

In the 17th round, with the draft increasing to 511 players overall, the Orioles selected right-hander Zane Barnhart of Division II Hillsdale College in Michigan.

Here’s a local angle. Barnhart was born in Towson.

Here’s another angle: He could transfer to West Virginia and stay in college if he doesn’t sign.

Barnhart has a 3.48 ERA, 1.093 WHIP and 12 saves in 45 college games, with only one start. A big-time strikeout pitcher who’s amassed 110 in 75 innings and allowed only eight home runs. He struck out 61 batters this season in 43 2/3 innings.

Barnhart also got noticed in the MLB Draft League, allowing two earned runs and six hits and striking out 30 batters in 18 innings with Mahoning Valley.

The 12 pitchers chosen through 17 rounds matched the Orioles’ total haul last summer. They exceeded it with their next selection, University of Texas right-hander Tanner Witt in the 18th round.

Witt, ranked by Baseball America as the No. 56 prospect and MLB Pipeline at 76th, underwent Tommy John surgery in 2022. His fastball touches 97 mph and his curveball and slider are graded as plus pitches, but he was viewed as a first-round talent before his elbow injury and might be a tough sign.

Today is Witt’s 21st birthday. His father, Kevin, was the Blue Jays’ first-round selection in 1994.

Witt, who’s listed at 6-feet-6 and 225 pounds, made six starts this year and allowed 13 runs with eight walks in 10 2/3 innings. He pitched in the Cape Code League and allowed six runs in five innings.

"Obviously, the goal for us is to try to put our best foot forward and sign each and every one of these guys," Ciolek said. "I won't specifically go into any negotiation talks, as we try to keep all of that under wraps until a deal is done, but I'll just say that the goal obviously is to try to sign each and every one of these guys."

The second high school player arrived in the 19th round, left-handed hitting Atoka (Okla.) High School shortstop Kollin Ritchie, the No. 214 player on MLB Pipeline’s top 250 prospects list. He has a commitment to Oklahoma State University.

Ritchie worked out for the Orioles before they drafted him. Ciolek described him as having plus power.

"He's got great bat-to-ball skills and also has a pristine eye at the plate," Ciolek said. "I believe he broke the Oklahoma state high school record for walks."

And finally, in the 20th round, the Orioles grabbed Vasquez at 601st overall.

"As far as the group is concerned, it's a dynamic group as far as athleticism is concerned," Ciolek said. "There's a lot of upside with all these guys. And as far as the makeup is concerned, it's a very strong group. So, we're very excited to add to the crop that we have and continue to bolster our farm system.

"The biggest difference with this year's class is the collaboration that we had on multiple fronts with player development. Each and every year it's kind of been a focus for us to extend their involvement, and I have to say as far as getting our pitching coaches involved, hitting coaches, strength and conditioning, it was a much more efficient collaborative effort than I would say the last few years. And we're really excited to see how that pans out for the guys we have selected."

Notes: The Orioles released outfielder Ben DeLuzio from Triple-A Norfolk’s roster and activated outfielder Heston Kjerstad following his appearance in the All-Star Futures Game.

The Royals drafted IMG Academy catcher Stone Russell, son of former Orioles bench coach John Russell, in the 18th round.

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