I've seen many of us often state that the draft philosophy of the Orioles should be to take the best available player, regardless of position, signability, or skillset, in the draft. Since, outside of the first couple of rounds, no one ever drafts this way, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to see what a draft that truly did select the best player available would look like.
Obviously, there can be a lot of debate about which player truly is the best player available. In order to take preference out of the picture, I'll use Baseball America's Top 200 to rank the players. I'll select the player with the highest ranking on BA's top 200 from among the picks between the current O's pick and their next pick, and show their ranking in the top 200 along with who the O's selected.
Round 1 : Manny Machado, SS 3rd overall (real pick - same)
Round 3 : A.J. Cole, RHP 16th overall (real pick - Dan Klein - 119th overall)
Round 4 : Garin Cecchini, SS 47th overall (real pick - Trent Mummey - unranked)
Round 5 : Jason Adam, RHP 54th overall (real pick - Connor Narron - 198th overall)
Round 6 : Jesse Hahn, RHP 31st overall (real pick - Dixon Anderson - 177th overall)
Round 7 : A.J. Vanegas, RHP 46th overall (real pick - Matt Bywater - unranked)
Round 8 : Tyler Green, RHP 120th overall (real pick - Wynston Sawyer - unranked)
Round 9 : Zach Weiss, RHP 132nd overall (real pick - Parker Bridwell - unranked)
Round 10 : Clay Schrader, RHP 180th overall (real pick - same)
Round 11 : Kyle Waldrop, OF 138th overall (real pick - Alex Gonzalez - unranked)
Round 12 : Austin Wilson, OF 27th overall (real pick - Riley Hornback - unranked)
So, if the Orioles had used a true best player available strategy in the draft, they could have theoretically selected three players in the top 30 overall, six of the top 50 overall, seven of the top 100, and would never have selected a player ranked outside the top 180 through the first 388 picks of the draft. Using their actual strategy, the Orioles obtained five of the top 200, and only one of the top 100.
Obviously, the Orioles would rank the players somewhat differently than Baseball America. But what this shows is that there still is a tremendous opportunity waiting for any team that is willing to truly embrace a strategy of selecting the best player available.