The Orioles will make eight picks today in the First-Year Player Draft as the clubs complete rounds 3-10 on the second day of the draft. Check back here often today and hit refresh for updates.
In round 3: The Orioles selected LSU junior outfielder Zach Watson with selection No. 79, the first pick of the round. Watson, 21, has outstanding speed and this year he hit .310/.377/.476 with 17 doubles, seven homers, 41 RBIs, 52 runs and 11 steals in 12 tries. He was a draft-eligible sophomore last year and was selected by Boston in round 40. He is rated as the No. 90 prospect for this draft by Baseball America and No. 111 by MLBPipeline.com.
Baseball America on Watson: He’s a plus defender in center field (some scouts grade him as a 70 defender) with an average arm. He’s also a 70 runner who was 10-for-10 on stolen base attempts as of mid-May. He’s been one of the focal points of LSU’s offense for the past three seasons, hitting better than .300 in each of his three years in Baton Rouge while living up to the billing as the next in a long list of successful LSU center fielders.
The slot amount for that pick is $780,400.
More on Adley: The Orioles top draft pick, Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman, was drafted in round 40 out of high school in 2016 by Seattle. But he went on to college then and hit .234 as a freshman in 2017. But then he batted .408 in 2018 and led Oregon State to the college World Series title. He was set a CWS record with 17 hits and was named the Most Outstanding Player.
The Pac 12 Player of the Year this year, Rutschman led the nation in OBP and walks. Over 57 games he hit .411/.575/.751 with 10 doubles, a triple, 17 homers and 58 RBIs. He walked 76 times, struck out 38 and threw out 13-of-26 trying to steal on him.
Back in January, Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias went to Corvallis, Oregon to meet with Rutschman in person.
“I watched him work out and met with him in the baseball offices. He strikes you with his presence, his intelligence and thoughtfulness which are traits that I’ve seen be very important for these types of players. These high draft picks. He’s got a good mind for the game, a good motor and energy level you can see watching him play. Whether it is official or not, he is the captain of that team. That just comes through when you meet him. It was very impressive,” Elias said.
After the Orioles selected him, Rutschman held a press conference at Oregon State. A reporter asked him what the Orioles can expect from him.
“OK, I’ll tell you what I’d like to think they are getting. For me, I always pride myself on how I carry myself every day. And the things that I can control. My grandpa likes to say, ‘Control the controllables.’ I think that is exactly what you need to do as a player. There are so many things out of your control. For me, I play hard every day and I’m going to give my best effort. Maybe I’m not doing it offensively one day, but that doesn’t mean I still can’t help the team win on defense. So that is how I view it and my perspective. I think it is a true honor to be selected No. 1 overall. It is one of those things you dream about it and it is extra special,” said Rutschman.
Elias has expressed confidence that he can sign Rutschman pretty quickly. He has not yet announced where he would begin his pro career after that signing.
Delmarva’s All-Stars: The Single-A Shorebirds are sending a whopping total of eight players to the June 18 South Atlantic League All-Star game. They are pitchers Grayson Rodriguez, Drew Rom, Ofelky Peralta and Zach Matson along with catcher Daniel Fajardo, shortstop Adam Hall, outfielder Doran Turchin and designated hitter Seamus Curran.
In round 4: The Orioles drafted a college shortstop Joey Ortiz, a junior from New Mexico State with pick No. 108. Ortiz is one of five finalists for the Brooks Wallace Award, which goes to the nation’s top shortstop. He was also named the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year after batting .422/.474/.697 with 25 doubles, 10 triples, eight homers, 85 runs and 84 RBIs. The righty hitter was never previously drafted.
“He can play short,” said MLBPipeline.com’s Jonathan Mayo on today’s draft broadcast of Ortiz. “We talk all these college shortstops - maybe they’ll move, maybe they won’t - he’s going to stay at short long-term. He’s a plus defender with really good hands. Good first step quickness and enough arm to stay there. He’s hit, he’s got a good overall approach. Excellent contact skills. I think he’ll hit for average at the next level. I don’t think the power will translate to the next level, considering he’s kind of undersized (5-11, 175) . But he’s a plus work ethic, plus makeup kind of guy with a chance to outplay his tools at a premium position.”
The slot amount for that pick is $538,200.
In round 5: The Orioles nabbed a 17-year-old prep shortstop, taking Darell Hernaiz from Americas High School in El Paso, Texas. The 6-1, 170 Hernaiz has a Texas Tech college commitment. He was not ranked among the top 200 prospects by MLBPipeline.com.
Per a Fangraphs tweet - Orioles 5th rounder Darrell Hernaiz is good-bodied SS, athletic, raw bat speed. Was rumored as early as round 3.
Said MLBPipeline.com’s Jim Callis: “He’s really interesting. Kind in the four corners area of Texas, so not as seen as some of the other kids. But he did make the rounds on some of the showcases. He does a lot of things. He’s an athletic shortstop with potential with the bat. He’s got some bat speed. I still think it will be hit (tool) over power, but it’s not going to be like no power at all. He can get 10, 12, 15 home runs in there. He can run a little bit and has solid arm strength. You’ve got all the tools you want here. It’s a nice little shortstop starter kit. I like this pick.”
The Orioles were rumored to have some interest in Navy right-handed pitcher Noah Song, but he was taken with the pick before this one, No. 137 by Boston.
In round 6: The Orioles added Stanford junior catcher Maverick Handley from Lakewood, Colorado. He was an all Pac 12 selection after a year where he hit .293/.399/.451 with 13 doubles, three triples, five homers and 24 RBIs. He threw out 13 of 19 trying to steal on him.
Said Mayo: “He’s all about getting on base, draws a ton of walks. Didn’t hit in the Cape over the summer but again high on base. A high baseball IQ and a good leader behind the plate. Good catch and throw. Going to have to hit a little more for him to be more than sort of a defensive-minded backup. But there are some good skills, both behind the plate and at the plate.”
Through this pick, the Orioles, Detroit and San Francisco were the only three teams to have not taken a pitcher yet.
In round 7: With overall pick No. 198, the Orioles selected TCU senior outfielder Johnny Rizer. In 59 games he hit .313/.382/.543 with 16 doubles, two triples, 11 homers, 47 runs, eight steals and 39 RBIs. Rizer, from Cypress, Texas, previously played at Blinn College and at Louisiana-Lafayette.
Typically college seniors taken in rounds 7-10 sign for under slot, usually well under slot, which allows a team to both add a player and save money for another player that may command and get an overslot bonus. The slot value for this pick is $235,100.
Note: Though their first eight picks in this draft, the Orioles selected zero pitchers. Last year they took pitchers with six of the first eight selections, a group that included Rodriguez, Rom and Blaine Knight.
In round 8: The Orioles selected a pitcher for the first time in this draft. They drafted College of Charleston junior right-hander Griffin McLarty. This season he went 8-4 with a 1.87 ERA and two complete games. In 101 innings he allowed 66 hits and issued 20 walks with 116 strikeouts and a .183 average against. He went seven innings or more in nine of 15 starts. As a sophomore last season he was 7-2 with a 3.32 ERA.
Said Callis: “He had great numbers in college this year. Intersting thing is - he was 88-91 (mph) for a lot of the season, kind of topping out at 93, because he can add and subtract and command it. But it was 90-94 later in the year. That got people a little more interested. His slider went from an average-ish pitch to a more solid offering down the stretch. Got a changeup as well. Throws a ton of strikes. High three-quarters guy that can throw downhill with a really good feel for pitching. This would have been a pitchability right-hander going late into the season, then the stuff ticked up.”
In round 9: The Orioles made it back-to-back pitchers selecting VCU junior right-hander Connor Gillispie. In 20 starts this year he went 5-3 with a 2.50 ERA. Over 86 1/3 innings he allowed 58 hits with 24 walks, 118 strikeouts and a .189 batting average against. Mayo said his fastball tops at 92 mph and he has good spin rates on his slider. He might project eventually pitching out of the bullpen.
In round 10: The Orioles took another catcher, selecting senior Jordan Cannon from Sam Houston State. In 53 games this season he hit .372/.455/.521 with 12 doubles, two triples, four homers, 14 steals and 37 RBIs. From Centerville, Tex., he hit .311/.404/.462 in 130 career games.
Two-day tally: The O’s have made 11 picks through two days of the draft, taking nine college players and two from high schools. They selected three catchers, three shortstops, three outfielders and two right-handed pitchers. They drafted college seniors in rounds seven and 10. The draft concludes Wednesday with rounds 11-40.