Hard as it is to remember five years later, fresh off having two Orioles playoff teams as part of three straight winning seasons, things were very dark for the franchise early in the summer of 2010. On this day in 2010, the Orioles had a walkoff win in extra innings against the Royals to raise their record to a scorching 13-27. They were already 15.5 games out of first place in the American League East with only 40 games played.
There would still be farther to fall. Before the 2010 draft rolled around, the Orioles fired their manager, Dave Trembley, in the midst of what eventually came to be a ten-game losing streak that ended early in June. The starting rotation had Jeremy Guthrie, who was good, Kevin Millwood, who was bad, and then the young cavalry, all of whom ranged from the below average side of "sorta OK" to "disaster."
The present didn't look so good - Cesar Izturis and his .545 OPS got 500+ PA that year, for crying out loud - and with the heralded crop of pitchers not putting it together yet, the near future didn't seem so bright either. The only thing worth getting excited about over the summer months, at least until Buck Showalter showed up, was the draft. The fun thing about the draft is players have not yet had a chance to disappoint us.
Owing to a 64-98 record the year before, which was the worst record the Orioles accumulated in any of the losing seasons, the Orioles had the third pick in each round of the draft. Thirty teams played baseball and the 2009 Orioles were a worse team than 27 of those teams. That sounds about right, doesn't it?
The draft was held June 7-9, 2010.
1st Round, 3rd Overall - Manny Machado - Brito Miami Private School (Miami, FL) - SS
Although the Orioles were a terrible baseball team in the 2009 season, painful and unwatchable, they were not so terrible as to be the winners of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes. They would have had to lose six more games for that. I can't even imagine it.
Luckily for O's fans, the third pick wasn't such a bad prize. He signed for a bonus of $5.4 million.
Machado is now in his fourth year with the Orioles and it's safe to say that the playoff drought wouldn't have ended in 2012 without the team aggressively calling him up to play third base even though he'd been a shortstop in the minors. That almost makes the pick worth it in and of itself. According to the Defensive Runs Saved statistic, Machado has saved 51 runs since he joined the team.
What else might have been other than the O's picking Machado? A glance through the Camden Chat archives shows that the O's probably got their third-rated player, after Harper (#1 overall) and Jameson Taillon, a big righty from a Texas high school (#2 overall). When Machado was the one who fell to them, that was the easy pick. That has worked out OK, topping off with a 6.2 fWAR season in 2013.
Machado's recent defensive struggles are freshest in our mind at this moment, what with him having an MLB 3B-leading nine errors so far this season. So far in 2015 is not the best of Manny, but there's no reason to doubt that he'll turn things around and keep being a strong defensive player. His bat is coming around so far this year, too. Put those two things together and that is a special Oriole.
Even if, heaven forbid, Machado ends up being a disappointment, the fact is that he's already the fourth-most valuable player in his draft class and only one player seems likely to have a chance of passing him.
Other possible picks: Matt Harvey (#8 overall); Chris Sale (#13 overall); though I wouldn't like to imagine the Orioles without Manny, Sale is one of the players with more career WAR to date and Harvey is the one who might pass him if he retired tomorrow
Second Round - No One (forfeited #53)
The Orioles did not have a second round pick in this draft because then-GM Andy MacPhail thought that it would be a good idea to forfeit the pick in order to sign reliever Mike Gonzalez. Even these many moons later, the name is enough to fill one with rage. What a disaster of a signing. He blew two saves in the first four games in 2010, including Opening Day and the home opener. Things didn't get much better from there, although the O's eventually traded him to the Rangers for Pedro Strop.
Other possible picks: Andrelton Simmons (#70 overall); I'm not saying the Orioles would have picked Simmons at #53 if they had that pick, but they could have. Imagine that infield! Also, Drew Smyly (#68 overall), if only so the O's would never have to face him
Third Round, 85th overall - Dan Klein - UCLA - RHP
The Orioles really liked Klein. They drafted him before he started college in 2007 but he did not sign then, so they drafted him again after he was eligible as a junior.
At one time there was some imagination that Klein might be the Orioles closer of the future. Unfortunately, the reality was that Klein was a risky pick because he had suffered shoulder problems, and after the O's drafted him he continued to have some shoulder problems. He only ever appeared in 21 games for the O's over two seasons. Klein was very good in those two seasons, with a 0.93 ERA across three levels. He finally retired in 2013.
Other possible pick: Addison Reed (#95 overall)
Fourth Round, 118th overall - Trent Mummey - Auburn - CF
There are no perfect prospects once you get to the fourth round. Mummey was a possible future fourth outfielder competitor for a couple of years, only he was never exactly healthy either. He played in only 119 games from 2011-2013 and never broke above Frederick because of various injuries. He retired shortly after the start of the 2014 season.
Other possible pick: James Paxton (#132 overall)
Fifth Round, 148th overall - Connor Narron - Charles B. Aycock HS (NC) - SS
You're probably noticing a trend here, which is that not only have none of these picks ever made it to the majors, they also aren't even still in baseball. Narron never made it above Frederick. The best season he had, such as it was, was a .232/.300/.353 in 119 games for Delmarva in 2012. It's hard to make it as a fifth round pick. That's why you're a fifth round pick.
Other possible pick: Matt den Dekker (#152)
Others still in the system
There aren't very many.
Wynston Sawyer (8th round): Was hurt to start out the season but recently made his 2015 debut for Frederick. He was there last year too and doesn't seem to have burst up the franchise's catching depth chart.
Parker Bridwell (9th round): The enigmatic Bridwell is a lot like Jake Arrieta in that there's a lot of potential but he's never quite put it all together. He's not like Arrieta in that he hasn't put things together enough to force his way into the big league picture. He's still working on things in Bowie. If he can somehow pull off improvement, he'd be a surprise addition to the O's future pitching plans. At present they probably aren't counting on him for much.
Sebastian Vader (18th round): If not for his name, I'd probably never remember him. After five years in the system, he finally made it to Frederick at the end of last year and for one start this year, only to be kicked back down to Delmarva. He has a respectable 3.31 ERA but I guess they just don't think his arsenal will play at higher levels. It'd be nice if they at least gave him a chance.
It's not very good if you only get one major leaguer out of a given draft. The O's missing out on a second round pick gave them one fewer lottery ticket. Still, if you're only going to get one big leaguer out of a draft, if that big leaguer is Manny Machado, you've done OK.
Check back tomorrow to see how things have gone for the 2011 Orioles draft class.