They were on competing teams in the College World Series finals, which ended Thursday night. But very soon, Oregon State shortstop Cadyn Grenier and right-handed pitcher Blaine Knight of Arkansas will be on the same team. They will be Orioles and start their pro careers on the O’s farm.
The Orioles have reached an agreement on a signing bonus with Grenier. He was their second draft pick, taken No. 37 overall in Competitive Balance Round A. The slot value for that pick is $1,923,500. The Orioles are very close to an agreement with Knight, their third pick. He was selected in round three with the No. 87 overall selection. The slot value for that pick is $663,200.
Grenier and Knight are in the process of getting and completing their physicals. This could be concluded by Monday or Tuesday.
The Orioles have also reached an agreement with Central Florida right-handed pitcher J.J. Montgomery, taken in the seventh round with the No. 205 selection. That slot value for that pick is $213,700. When the club completes and announces these three agreements, it will have signed every pick through round 12 and have agreements with 18 of their first 19 selections.
At this point they have not signed Sam Houston State infielder Andrew Fregia from round 13 and Texas Tech right-handed pitcher Caleb Killian from round 20.
The Orioles have signed and/or agreed with 29 draft picks and the final tally will likely fall between 30 and 33 signed selections.
The Orioles signed their first round pick, prep pitcher Grayson Rodriguez, very early in the process for a slightly underslot bonus of $4.3 million. He will make his pro debut this week in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
The Orioles appear unlikely to sign prep right-hander Slade Cecconi, who was taken as a “contingency sign” in the 38th round. He was taken with the No. 1,135 pick but was ranked as the draft’s No. 79 prospect by Baseball America. He has a college commitment to the University of Miami. July 6 is the deadline to complete draft pick signings.
Grenier’s Oregon State Beavers lost the first game of the best-of-three College World Series finals, but won the next two games over Arkansas to claim their third championship. In 68 games this season, Grenier hit .319/.408/.462 with 17 doubles, two triples, six homers, 70 runs, nine steals and 47 RBIs.
Grenier won the 2018 Brooks Wallace Award, presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate shortstop by the College Baseball Foundation. He follows in the footsteps of previous recipients, including Dansby Swanson (2015, Vanderbilt), Trea Turner (2014, N.C. State) and Alex Bregman (2013, LSU). Grenier is also the first player from the Pac-12 Conference to win the honor.
Earlier, he was named the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Year in May and was also selected to the conference’s first team. He was also recognized by Baseball America as a second-team All-American and by D1Baseball.com as a third-teamer. Academically, he was selected as an Academic All-Region First-Teamer by CoSIDA and was also named First-Team All-Academic by the Pac-12.
The night the Orioles drafted him, on an Oregon State conference call, Grenier talked about his strong defense at short.
“I owe it all to the preparation that I put in day in and day out,” Grenier said. “I take every ground ball in practice like it’s a Game 7 World Series clincher. And that is just the way I go about my business on defense. I know my athleticism and my arm, and I expect to make plays that people can’t even dream of and I expect to make them routinely. So it is all the mindset and preparation I put in and it pays off.”
Knight had a remarkable season for Arkansas. Over 19 starts, counting the postseason, he went 14-0 with a 2.80 ERA, 25 walks and 102 strikeouts in 112 1/3 innings. Knight went 4-0 with a 2.88 ERA in the NCAA playoffs and he went 2-0 with an ERA of 2.45 in two starts in the College World Series. He pitched Arkansas to a Game 1 win over Oregon State, allowing one run and seven hits in six innings.
Knight has a live fastball that sits between 90 and 94 mph often and has topped at 97 mph along with a plus slider, solid curveball and a changeup. He has one of the best spin rates in college baseball on his breaking pitches.
After the Orioles selected him, scouting director Gary Rajsich expressed surprise that Knight lasted until the O’s pick in round three.
“We never though Blaine Knight would be there,” Rajsich said. “That is someone we talked about (taking) on day one. Very dynamic starter and we think he could be a quick mover through the organization. Undefeated in the SEC this year. He beat six guys this year that were drafted higher than he was, including (Casey) Mize, (Brady) Singer, all those guys.
“He is a fierce competitor with a great delivery. He has timing and balance, which is rare for college pitchers to have in their delivery. That makes it easier for him to use his body to get the most out of his arm. He commands four average to plus pitches and is a bulldog on the mound that doesn’t like to lose.”
As for the big club: After the Orioles 6-2 loss last night to the Los Angeles Angels, they completed the month of June going 6-20, which included an 0-15 record versus American League teams. Every win during the month came in interleague play.
At 23-59, the Orioles have lost 17 of their last 18 home games and are 11-29 at Oriole Park. Today they try to avoid being swept in a series of three or more games for the 10th time this season. The Orioles’ current losing streak has reached seven games. It’s the seventh streak this year of five or more losses and the fourth of seven games or more.