Draft countdown: O’s making final preparations for First-Year Player Draft

After three days of meetings in Dallas last week with his area scouts, Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich and his top staff members are in the final stages of their preparations for the 2016 First-Year Player Draft.

The 40-round draft will begin at 7 p.m. on June 9 with picks through Round 2 and the Competitive Balance Lottery Round B. It will resume June 10 with selections in Rounds 3-10 and conclude June 11 with picks in Rounds 11-40.

The Orioles have five picks in the top 100 at Nos. 27, 54, 69, 76 and 91. They will have 12 picks over the first 10 rounds. They have one first-round pick, two in Round 2, a competitive balance round B pick and one pick in each round starting with Round 3.

Last week’s meetings were the start of the home stretch in draft prep.

“It was a chance for the area scouts to tell us about their players,” Rajsich said. “All the information we need about their ability and their makeup. They tell us which players they really like in the draft.”

Now soon comes the task of trying to land some future major league talent with five picks in the first three rounds.

“There is pressure every year,” Rajsich said. “We want to get it right and get the best players we can get. It is hugely important to win at the major league level and we do that mainly though the strength of our farm system. It is a good opportunity for us to help stock the farm system with talent. We have a strategy for those (first five) picks and we’ll see how that works out and if we can pull it off.”

Rajsich said that strategy includes targeting specific players they hope to get at each spot among those first five selections. They had an initial list of 12-15 players they were targeting with their first pick and now that list is down to about six players for the 27th overall selection. Rajsich took 21 position players and 20 pitchers in the draft last year and he said to expect a similar breakdown this year.

This will be the fifth draft for Rajsich as the Orioles scouting director since he selected right-handed pitcher Kevin Gausman fourth overall in 2012.

“This draft looks stronger than the previous four that I’ve been through with the Orioles, just in its depth. There is something for everyone. This draft is really in the eye of the beholding club - what their philosophies are and what they’d like to take. There is college pitching and college bats and same with high school.

“This is the deepest draft of the five I’ve been involved with. As far as impact guys at the top, maybe it is not too deep, but down through the draft there are some guys that could surprise. We have looked at college, junior college and high school players. We have really looked at a wide range of players this year and we feel like we’ve combed it pretty well this year.”

How much impact will executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter have in the draft picks?

duquette-showalter-talking-sidebar.jpg“They will let us know their ideas, of course,” Rajsich said. “They are mostly hands off. Dan will watch some video and see some players and have an opinion on a few guys. The team will be in town during our (upcoming) draft meetings, and I’m sure Buck will sit in on some of our meetings and let his thoughts be known. But as far as the actual picks that we make, that is pretty much on our shoulders.”

Rajsich and his staff begin their final pre-draft meetings June 3 at the Camden Yards warehouse. That is when they will finalize their draft board. Competitive balance picks are the only selections that can be traded, so the O’s No. 76 pick could be dealt right up until the start of the draft.

Here is a look at the Orioles’ top 10 round picks and the slot value allotted to sign each selection. Teams can go over the slot amount, but that overage must then come from the amount slotted for another selection or selections. The Orioles’ total draft pool for their top 10 round picks is $7,545,800, the 15th most among all major league teams.

No. 27 (first round) - $2,097,200
No. 54 (second round) - $1,177,200
No. 69 (second round) - $934,400
No. 76 (comp. balance round B) - $838,900
No. 91 (round three) - $665,800
No. 121 (round four) - $487,100
No. 151 (round five) - $364,700
No. 181 (round six) - $273,100
No. 211 (round seven) - $204,700
No. 241 (round eight) - $179,000
No. 271 (round nine) - $167,100
No. 301 (round 10) - $156,600

Here are a few players that mock drafts from Baseball America and MLBPipeline.com have linked to the Orioles for the No. 27 pick:

* Joe Rizzo, 3B, Oakton HS (Vienna, Va.)
* Matt Thiass, C, University of Virginia
* Drew Mendoza, SS/3B, Minneola (Fla.) High School
* Jordan Sheffield, RHP, Vanderbilt University
* Robert Tyler, RHP, University of Georgia

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