The 2012 draft was the first under the regime of Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette and his staff, headed by scouting director Gary Rajsich. It was also the first under the new hard slotting system that Major League Baseball implemented to tamp down on contracts being handed out to amateur players. For Orioles fans, it was the first draft in several years where there was more excitement for the baseball season being played than for the ideal future the draft represented.
Owing to their 69-93 record the year before, the Orioles picked fourth in the 2012 draft, behind only the Astros, Twins, and Mariners. Since the 2011 Orioles were a terrible baseball team with no free agents they wanted to keep, they did not receive any compensatory picks. They also did not lose any picks because signing big-time free agents was not in the arsenal of Duquette early in his Orioles tenure.
The draft was held June 4-6, 2012. The team had an off night when the first round took place and beat the Red Sox on the other two days, taking possession of first place in the American League East at that time. Man, that year was fun. They selected 11 high school players, five junior college players, 23 four-year college players, and 35th round pick Duke Porter, who somehow came from no school. Weird.
1st Round, 4th overall - Kevin Gausman - Louisiana State University - RHP
Before the 2014 season began, Gausman was rated the 10th-best prospect in MLB by Baseball Prospectus. The players selected above him were Carlos Correa (#5 prospect), Byron Buxton (#1 prospect), and Mike Zunino, who has already lost his rookie eligibility. Other players they were linked to at the time were believed to be USF righty Kyle Zimmer (ultimately the #5 pick) and high school lefty Max Fried (#7 pick).
Gausman signed for $4.32 million, which was $120,000 above the slot value of the pick. He moved quickly through the minors and made his debut last season, which, the sooner we forget about it, the better. The yo-yoing between majors and minors, rotation and bullpen... I hope they're not about to do it again.
Wednesday's unfortunate first MLB start of the season notwithstanding, his future is bright. BP's summation of his talent is this: "Gausman is a beast, with a near-elite fastball, a plus-plus changeup, and the makings of a plus slider." That sounds fun. Let's hope we see that guy before too much longer.
2nd Round, 65th overall - Branden Kline - University of Virginia - RHP
The Orioles signed second round pick Kline for the slot value of $793,700. Kline had been previously drafted in the sixth round out of high school by Boston and was the 87th-ranked prospect in the 2012 draft, according to Baseball America. He missed significant time in 2013 due to an ankle fracture. Despite that, the Orioles moved him up to Frederick for 2014, where he has a 2.64 ERA in 44.1 innings over eight starts.
The 6'3" righty is from Frederick, Md. Everyone likes a local kid. At the time he signed with the organization, BA's Jim Callis succinctly described Kline's arsenal as "low-90s fastball, flashes hard slider." The fastball can now reach as high as 95. As a college draftee, he is 22, still younger than the average player in his High-A league, so his success there is not necessarily due to advanced age. He's not one of the team's top-tier pitching prospects, but he hasn't crashed into his ceiling yet.
3rd Round, 99th overall - Adrian Marin - Gulliver Prep (Miami, FL) - SS
Marin also signed for the slot value of his pick, which was $481,100. John Sickels of SB Nation's Minor League Ball rated him the #15 prospect in the system before the season, noting him as an "excellent defensive shortstop with range, arm strength, and reliability all standing out." Well, that sounds good. Let's see how he's hitting for Frederick this year: .241/.276/.310. Oh, dang.
Still, for a high school draftee of two years ago to already be at High-A, that's worth something. If he develops as a hitter, which is always a big if - even for more highly-touted prospects, as we know - then he will keep working his way towards the big club.
Other possible pick: Brett Mooneyham (pick #111; prospect status irrelevant, has an awesome last name)
4th round, 132nd overall - Christian Walker - University of South Carolina - 1B
The Orioles dipped into the college hitter ranks with their fourth round pick in 2012, taking Walker, who was a part of two national championship-winning teams in his three NCAA seasons. He signed for the slot value of $349,900. They liked his performance enough in 2013 that he went from Delmarva to Frederick to Bowie all in one year. He only had a .641 OPS in the 17 Bowie games, but so far in 2014 he's hitting .309/.350/.483 for the Baysox.
Considered limited to first base defensively, the big question scouts have about Walker is whether he will have enough home run power to fit the profile of the position in the big leagues. Seven in 36 games this season is a nice start in showing that. At 23, he's not young in prospect years, but he's not old either, and you might have heard that the Orioles could have first base open up in two more seasons' time.
Other possible picks: Someone will probably emerge as a sleeper from this round, but not enough time has passed for them to wake up
5th round, 162nd overall - Colin Poche - Marcus HS (Flower Mound, TX) - LHP, UNSIGNED
The O's drafted Poche but were unable to pry him loose from a commitment to the University of Arkansas, although on draft night he sent out the standard tweet about officially being an Oriole, and also being #blessed. That's life. He has since branched out from #blessed to #shoplifting, as he and a teammate were arrested last January for stealing two cases of beer and deli sandwiches from a Walmart. I think that might be what they call makeup issues. Maybe he's nice and got caught doing something dumb. I don't know the guy. I hope it was good beer.
Other picks of note
Torsten Boss - 8th round - Michigan State University - OF
Traded to the Indians for current 40-man reliever Preston Guilmet in April. Guilmet appeared in a couple of games for the Orioles over the weekend, allowing no runs in 1.2 innings of work. He will probably be back.
Derick Velazquez - 15th round - Merced College (Merced, CA) - RHP, UNSIGNED
The Orioles reportedly took a run at signing Velazquez with some pool money that could have taken them into the tax level, but he chose to attend Fresno State instead. He'll be draft-eligible again this year.
Josh Hader - 19th round - Old Mill HS (Millersville, MD) - LHP
Maryland kid who gained some velocity after being drafted and made enough prospect noise for himself that other teams wanted him. Traded to the Astros in the Bud Norris deal.
Ryan Ripken - 20th round - Gilman - 1B, UNSIGNED
You might have heard of his Uncle Billy.