When the Orioles were bad, the June draft was a temporary refuge from another lost season. A terrible season that resulted in a top 5 pick meant that you could actually get excited about getting one of the top names in the upcoming draft, someone who could immediately become one of the best prospects in the system, a name with a bright future in baseball. Or so it seemed at the time. As we look back on top 5 overall picks like Matt Hobgood or even Brian Matusz, we know that not even top picks work out how they're supposed to.
The Orioles were not bad in 2013. Thank goodness for that. Still, that does make the draft a less exciting affair. Players who are going at the very top of the draft, like Brady Aiken, Carlos Rodon, and Tyler Kolek, will interest someone, but not Orioles fans.
Thanks to the signings of Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz, as well as the competitive balance pick sent to Houston in the Bud Norris trade, the Orioles won't even pick in the upcoming draft until the third round, at #90 overall. Not only can you forget about the big names, but you can skip right over the next Hunter Harvey, too. The awesomely-named Touki Toussaint? Forget about him. Max Pentecost? Nope. Just keep on going.
One consequence of giving up those picks is that in MLB's new draft slotting system, the Orioles have the smallest bonus pool out of all teams. They will only have $2,204,400 available to spend on picks, which is the lowest by far. The team in 29th is the Yankees, who have almost $1 million more in their bonus pool. The possibility of signing earlier picks for below slot to go over-slot later is not likely to be available to the Orioles this time around. The slot value of the #90 pick is only $594,200.
Who will be there for them to take? Trying to do a three-round mock draft would be a foolish endeavor. You can at least get a sense of what kind of talent might be available by scanning assorted prospect lists to see who's there at #90. It's still not likely the Orioles will take exactly one of those guys at #90, but they'll probably get someone they see as a similar level of talent.
MLB.com - J.J. Schwarz, C, Palm Beach Gardens HS (Fla.)
Other ranks: 71st (Law), 54th (Baseball America), 49th (Minor League Ball)
After taking three high school catchers with their first seven picks in the 2013 draft, it would be something of a surprise if the Orioles targeted a high school catcher with their first pick in this draft, especially since it's a third round pick. Then again, you can never have too many catchers, something the Orioles are discovering for themselves this year.
You also never know who might turn out to be better than what you've got. In 2007, the Orioles drafted Matt Wieters in the first round. He was to be the vanquisher of all evil in Baltimordor. One year later, picking high, another catcher, Buster Posey, was available. The Orioles were never much linked to him. Why would they be when they had Wieters? Posey has gone on to win a Rookie of the Year Award, National League MVP Award, and has been a part of two World Series championship teams. The Orioles took Matusz one pick before the Giants selected Posey.
Here is what MLB.com says about Schwarz: Schwarz is a solid defender behind the plate. His arm is slightly above average, and he is a steady receiver. Offensively, he has an advanced approach and a balanced, level swing. He creates good bat speed and projects to have at least average power.
Well, that sounds like fun. There's also the underrated name aspect, in that his name would provide a vehicle for countless Spaceballs jokes. Since the other evaluators all have Schwarz ranked higher, it seems like some team will probably pop him before #90 comes along. He is committed to the University of Florida.
ESPN's Keith Law - Wyatt Strahan, RHP, University of Southern California
Other ranks: 98th (MLB.com), 93rd (Baseball America), 123rd (Minor League Ball)
Strahan, the Friday starter for USC, looks to be a name much more likely to be on the board at pick #90. Of course, that's no guarantee the Orioles care the slightest bit about him. There are a lot of players out there and they only get to pick one.
Most of these lists don't include any individual comment on Strahan. The 90th-best prospect in a given draft doesn't matter until he develops into someone who does.
MLB.com, in that way that they can make anyone sound exciting, offers this: With a big, strong, durable frame, Strahan looks well built to eat up a lot of innings in the future. He's added velocity and touches the mid 90s somewhat consistently with a fastball that also features a good amount of sink. His hard curve has the chance to be an out pitch, and he shows good deception and sink with his changeup at times as well. He gets praise for his mound presence, though he does need to improve his control in the future.
He is listed at 6'3", 225 lbs. on the USC website. That's a guy who probably eats more than just innings. They aren't kidding about the control, either. He walked 49 batters in 104.1 innings this season.
Nickname potential: Wyatt Earp
Baseball America - Daniel Gossett, RHP, Clemson
Other ranks: 87th (MLB.com), 51st (Law), 128th (Minor League Ball)
If someone like Law thinks Gossett ranks as high as 51st, you have to figure at least one MLB team will have him in their top spot when they draft some time before pick #90. You never know, though. He could be the kind of guy sitting there, too.
The MLB.com optimism about him: Gossett often works in the low 90s with his fastball and tops out around 94 mph. He does a good job of commanding his heater, which is crucial because it's fairly straight. His best offering is a hard slider, and his changeup gives him a reliable third pitch.
They also note the possibility that, at 6'1" with a thin frame, he could be more suited for relief in the big leagues rather than as a starter. While that was a disappointing outcome for a #4 overall pick like Matusz, getting a bullpen arm for a third round pick sounds fine to me.
Nickname potential: Goose? There is already a Goose. This could get confusing.
Minor League Ball - Bobby Bradley, 1B, Harrison Central HS (Gulfport, Miss.)
Other ranks: 60th (MLB.com), 58th (Law), 84th (Baseball America)
You are probably noticing the common pattern here, that these names will probably be gone before pick #90 comes up for the Orioles. There is not much point getting attached to a name that will either be gone or uninteresting to the Orioles.
Our SB Nation compatriots are the lowest of the bunch on Bradley, who gets this glowing MLB.com capsule: Bradley has an extremely advanced bat for a prep player and the power to match. He has a sweet left-handed swing with plenty of bat speed, as well as a willingness to use the entire field. He focuses on making hard contact rather than selling out for home runs, though he still can hit the ball out of any part of any park.
Well, heck, when you put it that way, why isn't he going first overall? Probably because he has a bunch of flaws. By the time you get to #90, they all have flaws, meaning it's up to player development to polish them into something. The Orioles have such a great track record of developing hitters and pitchers in recent years. That was sarcasm just there. He is committed to LSU.
Nickname potential: BB? If he ever took a walk, which, if the Orioles draft him, he probably wouldn't. With Troy Patton having been traded, Bradley would replenish the supply of O's players sharing a last name with a famous World War II general.
Not even the Orioles know who they'll be taking at #90 in the upcoming draft, because there is no way to know what players will be available at the time they draft. If the Orioles had higher picks, we would not even notice or care who they took in the third round. Since this is the first one they get in the draft, it will feel more important than it would otherwise.
The draft begins on June 5 with rounds one and two, but the Orioles won't even get to pick on day one. Do they still have to send someone to the studio? They will make their first selection on June 6, when rounds 3-10 take place beginning at 1 o'clock in the afternoon.