Two days of the First-Year Player draft provided the ideal distraction from the back and forth between ownership and the Major League Baseball Players Association.
Barely a peep about the length of a proposed season, percentages of prorated pay and an expanded playoff format that could shove 16 teams into October.
And now, back to our regularly scheduled bickering, already in progress.
Selecting players from the college and high school ranks is followed by negotiations on contracts, with the Orioles possessing the deepest draft pool at $13,894,300. The assignments to minor league affiliates would be next, except that the season is expected to be canceled.
Perhaps baseball will allow for extended spring training. Seems the least it can do under the circumstances.
Blaine Knight, a third-rounder in 2018 out of the University of Arkansas, allowed only two runs and 11 hits with four walks 33 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings at low Single-A Delmarva. He surrendered only one home run in his five starts and earned a bump to high Single-A Frederick in May.
Knight discovered how each step up the ladder can be shaky. He went 1-12 with 6.13 ERA and 1.530 ERA in 83 2/3 innings. The Orioles want to work with him on maintaining a more consistent feel for his slider and curveball. They want to work with all of their minor leaguers. To keep introducing them to the latest video technology and data.
To make the summer feel a little more normal.
“It’s been different, that’s for sure,” Knight said Wednesday night, after the Orioles selected former Arkansas teammate Heston Kjerstad with the second overall pick.
“We’ve all been through a lot of stuff in baseball and this isn’t one of them. It’s been a learning curve, but all you can do is stay ready until we get that phone call to go back. So that’s what I’ve been doing. Been working out, been throwing and just trying to stay in the best shape I can so if and when we do get a call, I’m ready to go.”
The draft picks are waiting to learn how they’re going to remain active over the summer.
“I haven’t been told anything yet,” said shortstop Jordan Westburg, taken Wednesday night with the 30th overall pick out of Mississippi State. “I’m just trying to take it day by day.
“My last few months have been kind of crazy, just like everybody else’s have been. I’ve moved back home here to New Braunfels, Texas, and I’m blessed enough to have a cage in my backyard and we have a shed out back that has enough weight room equipment for me to be able to work out and stay in shape. I’ve been able to throw with a few teammates of mine.
“I’ve been able to do everything that I need to do to stay in baseball shape. I know that just trying to stay healthy is the biggest thing for me and getting ready to take that next step, whenever that may be, is what I’m looking forward to.”
The Orioles were expected to take a pitcher with their 30th overall pick. Certainly with the 39th. Then again, they also were supposed to take Vanderbilt third baseman/outfielder Austin Martin at second overall and kept stiff-arming the experts.
I was told about their interest in prep pitchers Jared Kelley and Daxton Fulton, the latter recovering from Tommy John surgery in December. Both were available with the Orioles on the clock in the second round, along with Mississippi State’s J.T. Ginn, and they chose Tulane outfielder Hudson Haskin.
The Orioles didn’t draft a pitcher until the fifth round, selecting right-hander Carter Baumler from Dowling Catholic High in Iowa. He has a commitment to TCU, but told the Des Moines Register that “the plan is to sign.”
“We had pitchers all up and down our board that we thought we had in good spots and for whatever reason we either liked the position player at that point in time better or the fact that the pitcher went right before our next selection,” Brad Ciolek, supervisor of domestic scouting operations, said late last night on a Zoom call with the media.
“Unfortunately, that’s sometimes how the draft works and that’s ultimately what ended up happening here, so we ended up taking Carter with our last selection.”
University of Mississippi shortstop Anthony Servideo, taken in the third round, has ties to Baltimore. His grandfather was former Orioles outfielder and 1965 American League Rookie of the Year Curt Blefary.
Fourth-rounder Coby Mayo, a third baseman from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, is viewed only as a third baseman rather than a two-way player. The plus arm won’t tempt the Orioles to put him on the mound.
Ciolek said Mayo shows 70-grade power in batting practice on the 20-80 scouting scale.
The Orioles will reconvene today and begin compiling a list of undrafted free agents that could be impactful signings, but they must wait through the 48-hour quiet period.
Update: The Orioles have a deal with Mayo for $1.75 million, as reported by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.
I heard $1.7 million yesterday, but couldn’t get it confirmed from anyone in the industry.
Ciolek expressed confidence last night that the Orioles would be able to sign both high school players. An agreement with Mayo already was in place.