2013 MLB Draft Preview: Positional Players

Could Austin Wilson be the heir to Nick Markakis' RF duties? - Melina Vastola-US PRESSWIRE

A glimpse at some of the names the Orioles could target with their first two selections

The 2013 MLB Draft commences on Thursday, June 6th when Rounds 1 & 2 will take place. Rounds 3-10 will occur on Friday, June 7th. Followed by the remaining rounds on Saturday June 8th. Former Outfielder Al Bumbry will represent the O's when they make their first selection, #22 overall. Thanks to the newly instituted Competitive Balance Draft Lottery, the O's will make their second selection at #37 overall, followed by their Round 2 selection at #61 overall, their Round 3 selection at #98 overall, Round 4 selection at #129, and then every 30 picks after that.

This Draft class is widely considered to be relatively weak overall, though there is some depth to it. That is to say, there does not project to be any 'generational' talents at the top of the draft, but there are a fair amount of quality players to choose from, even at the tail end of the 1st Round, which is where the O's select this year thanks to their improbable playoff run in 2012. This will mark the first Draft that the O's have picked outside of the Top 10 since 2005 when they selected Brandon Snyder out of a Virginia high school. The O's haven't selected this late into the 1st Round since 1998, when they drafted Rick Elder, an outfielder from a Georgia high school. FWIW, the last time the O's had the #22 selection was 1997. They drafted a not-yet-bearded Jason Werth.

It's super difficult to project who the O's will draft this year due to their having such a late pick as well as the similarities of many of the players who will be available to them. Here, I want to take a look at a couple of positional players, both prep-level and college, who project to be available at or around Pick #22.

High School Positional Players

One of the strengths of this draft class is prep catchers. 4 players in particular have received some manner of buzz as being potential 1st Round talents: Reese McGuire, Jon Denney, Nick Ciuffo, and Chris Okey. McGuire has separated himself from the pack, and now projects as a Top 15 pick. Nick Ciuffo's name has come up as the O's possible selection in two early mock drafts (Jim Callis' at Baseball America and Kiley McDaniel's at Scout.com. With Matt Wieters not yet signed to an extension, and the O's relative weakness at the catching position in the minors, Ciuffo could be a solid addition to the O's farm system.

Billy McKinney is one of the better regarded prep bats in the country. A LHB from Plano, Texas, McKinney is not considered a great all around athlete, as both his arm and his speed rate at below-average. But he does do the single most critical thing a hitter needs to do: he hits. His ability to put the barrel of the bat on the ball projects him to have a plus (or possibly better) hit tool, and could result in plus power as well, something the O's system is sorely lacking.

Fitting the same pattern mentioned above, the prep SS class does not feature any tremendous 'can't miss' talents this year, but there are a number of intriguing players who will be available at the end of the 1st/beginning of the 2nd round. The top talent is J.P. Crawford out of California, but he projects to be a mid-teens pick and likely won't fall all the way to the O's. Travis Demeritte, of Georgia, is viewed as more likely to end up at 3B long-term, as he is very raw yet projectable. He could be a nice high-risk play for the O's if coupled with a safer player taken with the #37 pick.

Other names to know: (SS) Oscar Mercado, (OF) Ryan Boldt, (OF) Josh Hart

Collegiate Position Players

Aaron Judge, 6'7" 255lbs RHH OFer at Fresno State. #rig #beef #hodor. I'm developing quite a crush on this player as he offers a skill sorely lacking in the O's system at the moment: raw power. Judge 'Dredd' is similar in ways to Adam Dunn, he's a) gigantic (he'd be the tallest outfielder in MLB history) b) yet still quite athletic for his size c) likely to strike out 150+ times a season. His arm is solid and he projects to be able to handle RF defensive duties in spite of his size.

Austin Wilson of Stanford was one of the most highly regarded collegiate hitters coming into the season. But an elbow injury has depressed his stats so far this season. Like the aforementioned Judge, Wilson projects to have Plus-Plus (70 Grade) power (think 30 HR potential) and a Plus arm more than capable of handling RF duties. There are concerns however, particularly about what is known as a 'Stanford Swing', a specific style of swing mechanics the coaches there impose on players.

Eric Jagielo, (3B) Notre Dame, has solid skills with the bat but concerns over his ultimate defensive home due to his size (6'3", 215lbs). He could provide the O's with another solid corner infield / corner outfield prospect who should move through the system quickly and contribute at the major league level by 2015.

Other names to know: (SS) Tim Anderson, (1B) D.J. Peterson, (OF) Michael Lorenzen

Of these names, the collegiate duo of Judge & Wilson intrigue me the most as I am currently enraptured by the prospect of adding a 70 Grade power bat to the O's system. It's the system's current most glaring hole, as neither Christian Walker or Nick Delmonico (currently the O's 2nd and 3rd best positional prospects) offer that kind of potential. Someone is going to have to hit 3rd or 4th in the lineup in the future. Perhaps one of Judge or Wilson could be the heir to Chris Davis.

In the next installment of this series, I'll take a look at some pitchers worth knowing about.

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