There was no announcement or press release from Major League Baseball. But numerous outlets this week reported that the order of the First-Year Player Draft is set for 2021. The Orioles will have the No. 5 pick in the first round. After speculation that MLB would use the reverse standings, as always, for the draft order, several outlets confirmed this week that will be the case.
After selecting No. 1 overall in 2019 and No. 2 in June, the O’s will pick after Pittsburgh, Texas, Detroit and Boston next summer. Following them at No. 6 comes Arizona, then Kansas City, Colorado, the Los Angeles Angels and New York Mets rounding out the top 10.
The Orioles had a record of 20-21 on Sept. 8. Had the season ended that day, they would be selecting No. 14 next year. But they finished tied for the fifth-worst record at 25-35 with Arizona and will select No. 5. The tiebreaker is 2019 record. The Orioles went 54-108 and Arizona was 85-77.
Surprisingly, the Orioles have held the No. 5 overall pick just twice with very different results. They selected catcher Matt Wieters No. 5 out of Georgia Tech in 2007. In 2009, they selected right-hander Matt Hobgood No. 5 out of California’s Norco High School. How many times between now and the draft will we hear that the O’s last No. 5 pick was Hobgood? Too many to mention, probably.
Just so you understand that most No. 5 picks don’t top out at Double-A, as Hobgood did, Dale Murphy was a pretty good No. 5 pick from 1974. Other selections in that spot include Dwight Gooden, Jack McDowell, J.D. Drew, Ryan Braun, Mark Teixeira and Buster Posey. So a team can score big there. Toronto took Vanderbilt’s Austin Martin No. 5 last year. Too soon?
Pittsburgh will have the No. 1 overall pick for the fifth time. The last was in 2011 when they took UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole. Boston will be picking No. 4, its highest selection since the No. 3 pick in 1967.
For the first time since the draft began in 1965, it will not be held in June next year. The 20-round draft (it could end up being longer) will be held during All-Star week. It will run over three days starting on July 11 after the All-Star Futures Game. It will end before the All-Star Game in Atlanta on July 13. More details of the draft are still to come.
In its way too early mock draft for next year, Baseball America has the top five picks going this way:
* Pittsburgh takes Vanderbilt right-hander Kumar Rocker.
* Texas takes University of Miami catcher Adrian Del Castillo.
* Detroit takes Georgia High School shortstop Brady House.
* Boston takes Dallas High School shortstop Jordan Lawlar.
* Baltimore takes University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian.
That is quite a name. Baseball America says this about Fabian:
“Fabian is the top-ranked outfielder in a college class that’s deep at the position. Fabian has all-fields power and on-base skills, and he also performed well in the Cape Cod League in 2019 as an 18-year-old. Fabian will still be 20 years old on draft day and is the second-youngest college player ranked among the current top 100.”
Fabian, who has been the starting center fielder for the Gators, bats right and throws left. He turned 20 on Sept. 27. In 17 games for Florida in the shortened 2020 season, he batted .294/.407/.603 with six doubles, five homers, 13 RBIs and an OPS of 1.010. In the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2019, he hit .290/.350/.500 with an OPS of .850 for Bourne.
After scoring big in Houston with high-pick position players in Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman, is general manager Mike Elias looking to do something similar with the Orioles? He has already taken Adley Rutschman and Heston Kjerstad with his two first-round picks. Is another position player on deck?