There was one school of thought that amateur players that signed after the draft would get scooped up by the best teams. While a case could made for that based on what we’ve seen so far, it is the Kansas City Royals that have signed the most players off the pre-draft Baseball America top 500 list of ranked players.
We should point out that some of the “signings” may really be agreements and have not yet been announced and become official. But some teams may have officially announced some of the players.
The Orioles have agreements - but no announcements yet - with six undrafted players so far, although none were ranked in the Baseball America top 500. That in itself doesn’t mean you can’t get a good player after the draft. Last year, there 1,217 players taken in a 40-round draft. There were only 160 selected in the recent five-round draft.
With the signing limit for these players just $20,000, some players that could have gotten much more through a draft longer than five rounds will choose not to sign now. Some may want to get a jump at what should be a draft with plenty of talent available in 2021. That draft, we know now, will be at least 20 rounds.
Nine teams have added more players than the six players signed by the Orioles. This is via the Baseball America tracker (subscription may be required):
12 - Boston
10 - Cincinnati
9 - Chicago Cubs, Houston
8 - Philadelphia, St. Louis
7 - Kansas City, New York Yankees, Texas
6 - Orioles
5 - Atlanta, New York Mets, San Diego
4 - Minnesota, Seattle
3 - Cleveland, Miami, Milwaukee, Oakland, Toronto, Washington
2 - San Francisco
1 - Chicago White Sox, Colorado, Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh, Arizona
0 - Detroit, Los Angeles Angels, Tampa Bay
The latest agreement by the Orioles, according to Baseball America, is with a two-way player, Isaiah Kearns, from Pitt-Johnstown. He played and pitched at West Virginia in 2017-2018 before transferring. The right-handed hitter and pitcher had a strong 2020 season at bat and on the mound, a season that lasted just 17 games.
He batted .400/.507/.764 for the Division II school with eight doubles, four homers, 15 runs and 17 RBIs. He walked nine times and struck out eight. He made four starts on the mound, going 3-1 with a 1.61 ERA. Over 22 1/3 innings, he allowed 12 hits with four walks and 27 strikeouts.
No word yet on whether the Orioles see the Lewistown, Pa., native as a pitcher, hitter or both in pro ball.
The Orioles also have agreed with Auburn senior right-hander Ryan Watson, a reliever. In five games this year, he pitched to a 1.23 ERA over 7 1/3 innings. In his four-year career, he went 2-2 with a 4.67 ERA. In 90 2/3 innings, he allowed 100 hits with 35 walks and 79 strikeouts.
The O’s also added Radford first baseman J.D. Mundy, who played his first two years at Virginia Tech and last two nearby at Radford. In 17 games in 2020, he hit .385/.468/.662 with four homers and 19 RBIs. He led the Big South in homers, RBIs and slugging.
The club also agreed with senior right-hander Brandon Young from Louisiana-Lafayette. The 6-foot-6 Young was 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA in four games in 2020. Over 24 2/3 innings, he walked nine and fanned 37. He ended his year not allowing an earned run in 19 1/3 innings. He ranks seventh among NCAA active pitchers in strikeouts/nine innings at 12.42.
Junior right-hander Thomas Girard from Duke agreed with the Orioles. He pitched in eight games this season, going 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA and four saves. In 11 2/3 innings, he gave up just three hits with one walk and 19 strikeouts. In his Duke career he went 2-5 with a 2.74 ERA.
The O’s also added redshirt junior infielder TT Bowens from Central Connecticut State. The right-handed hitter played in 12 games in the shortened 2020 season, batting .234/.308/.404 with two homers and six RBIs. He was second-team all-Northeast Conference in 2019, batting .376/.459/.640 with five home runs and 26 RBIs in 32 games.