The 2015 First-Year Player Draft resumes this afternoon and I strongly advise that you continue to breathe normally.
Talk about an inexact science. Look up the first-round picks in any year and see how many names are recognizable. How many players actually reached the majors, let alone had long and productive careers?
The biggest bust for the Orioles? There are plenty of candidates, just like the other teams, but any top five list should include left-hander Chris Smith.
Smith was a tremendous reach with the seventh-overall pick in 2001 out of Cumberland University in Tennessee. I remember the beat writers scrambling to find any nugget of information on him. We were frozen by the selection, as if caught looking at a two-strike, knee-buckling curveball.
A shoulder injury ruined Smith’s career before it really got started. He never pitched above low Single-A Delmarva and was done after going 4-5 with a 6.12 ERA and 1.918 WHIP in 49 games over four minor league seasons.
Don’t get me started on the 1999 draft. Clemson pitcher Mike Paradis at No. 13, Newton County (Ga.) High School pitcher Richard Stahl at No. 18, Ball State outfielder Larry Bigbie at No. 21, Providence outfielder Keith Reed at No. 23, Jefferson (W.V.) High School pitcher Josh Cenate at No. 34 and Royal (Cal.) High School pitcher Scott Rice at No. 44.
That draft set back the franchise for many years.
The Orioles failed to sign pitcher Wade Townsend after taking him eighth overall in 2004 out of Rice University, but he was a legitimate selection and they received a compensatory pick (48th overall) after he re-entered the draft. I don’t include him among my top five busts.
I have no idea whether Florida State’s DJ Stewart will pan out after being taken with the 25th-overall pick last night, but he gets my approval. The Orioles need more position prospects and they were smart to focus on a corner outfielder.
A shortstop would have worked, too, but six were chosen before the Orioles took their turn.
Stewart started 177 games in three years at Florida State and batted .344/.481/.570 with 218 hits, 54 doubles, four triples, 27 home runs, 168 RBIs and 157 runs.
Also today, the Orioles will add outfielder Nolan Reimold to their 25-man roster. Do they remove a pitcher and go with a four-man bench and six-man bullpen? Do they remove another outfielder?
The Orioles begin an eight-game homestand tonight by hosting the Red Sox. They’re 4-3 against Boston this season, taking two of three at home on April 24-26.
The Orioles scored a season-high 18 runs against the Red Sox in the final game before the back-to-back postponements caused by rioting in the city.
Miguel Gonzalez will make his 12th start tonight and his third against the Red Sox. He’s allowed seven runs and 13 hits in 11 innings while going 1-0 with a no-decision.
Gonzalez is 5-1 with a 3.17 ERA in 10 career games (eight starts) against the Red Sox. Hanley Ramirez is 3-for-6 with two home runs against him. Former Oriole Alejandro De Aza is 2-for-5.
Mike Napoli is 2-for-13 with five strikeouts and Xander Bogaerts is 1-for-10 with four strikeouts.
David Ortiz won’t have to worry about reliever Brian Matusz, who has five games remaining on his suspension. Ortiz is 3-for-26 with 13 strikeouts against Matusz.
Major league hitters have totaled one run and five hits in 14 2/3 innings against former Orioles farmhand Eduardo Rodriguez, who starts tonight for the Red Sox. He’s walked four and struck out 14 in his two outings.
The Orioles traded Rodriguez to the Red Sox last summer for reliever Andrew Miller, in case you somehow forgot about it. The Tigers also wanted Miller and Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette tried to hold onto Rodriguez during trade talks. The Red Sox wouldn’t budge and Duquette finally relented.
Rodriguez was 3-7 with a 4.79 ERA in 16 starts at Double-A Bowie before the Orioles dealt him. Not the same guy who’s dominated since going to the Red Sox. I think the trade served as a wake-up call for Rodriguez. Some scouts thought he became too “comfortable” and lacked motivation. The results certainly were lacking.