Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft is just two days away. The draft begins at 7 p.m. Thursday night and the Orioles have four of the first 91 picks. They will select at Nos. 27, 54, 69 and 91.
After having very high picks, ranging anywhere from No. 3 to No. 5 overall, every year from 2007-2012, producing the likes of Manny Machado and Matt Wieters, the Orioles have picked lower in the draft since they started winning more in 2012. That presents a different challenge on draft day according to O’s vice president Dan Duquette. He joined me on my radio show Sunday on 105.7 the Fan to talk about the draft.
“If the club continues to do well and we are in the first division in the standings, we have additional challenges drafting later in the draft to identify the best prospects,” Duquette said. “Of course the idea is to have a good team every year and if we do that we will draft lower. We know that and our scouts just have to get a little more focused on acquiring what we need.
“Primarily everybody needs pitching right? There will always be a lot of pitchers drafted and I think that is where Gary (Rajsich, Orioles scouting director) is focusing a lot of his work this year.”
The Orioles lost a pick that was then No. 14 overall when they signed Yovani Gallardo. In 2014 they did not select until the third round after losing picks to sign Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz. But this time they have a decent haul of selections in the top 100.
“Four picks in (the first) 91 should give us a pretty good group of talent to come into the organization,” Duquette said. “We always go after the best player, whether it is a position player or pitcher.
“The last times the club has drafted high, the Orioles did well. We have (Dylan) Bundy who is on the club that is a high pick, so were Kevin Gausman, Manny Machado and Matt Wieters. So the club got good return for those picks, but it is a lot more difficult when you are drafting later on to get that type of impact talent out of the draft.”
Another Orioles win: Since the Orioles started this long homestand and lost the first two games of the Boston series by 7-2 and 6-2 scores, the Orioles are 5-1. They have scored 44 runs in those six games and finally the last two days held their opponents down on offense, giving up just one run to the Yankees on Sunday and one run to Kansas City in last night’s 4-1 win.
With a home mark of 22-11, the Orioles’ overall record is back at 10 games over .500 at 33-23. They lead Boston, which did not play last night, by a 1/2-game atop the American League East. Toronto lost 11-0 to Detroit last night and is 3 1/2 games out in the division.
Probably the best news the last two days is that the Orioles got back-to-back quality starts. Gausman and Mike Wright allowed one earned run over 15 innings in those two games. Before Sunday, O’s starters had just one quality start the previous 10 games with an ERA of 8.18 and just five the previous 19 games with an ERA of 6.68. The Orioles would sure love to see their rotation take a turn for the better at a time when their bullpen is without Darren O’Day.
After allowing 13 home runs in the series against Boston and 19 homers over a six-game stretch, O’s pitchers have not allowed a homer over the last three games. Meanwhile O’s batters have hit 14 homers over the last five games and 46 in their past 27 games.
On the farm: The Orioles’ Single-A Delmarva affiliate beat West Virginia 9-5 in 13 innings last night as the club’s top two 2015 draft picks, Ryan Mountcastle and D.J. Stewart, combined for eight of Delmarva’s 17 hits. Mountcastle went 4-for-6 with a double, homer, three runs and an RBI. The homer was his second of the year and his first came on opening day. Mountcastle hit .162 in April and is batting .341 since then.
Stewart went 4-for-7 with a double and two RBIs. Over his last 11 games, he is batting .357 (15-for-42) with two homers and seven RBIs. This run has raised his season average from .190 to .232.