In this year's MLB draft, which gets underway on June 8, the Orioles will get to make their first pick of the draft at #25 overall. Turns out that when you have a really good team the year before, you pick later on in the first round. I like division titles a lot better than picking fourth in the draft, especially since it's not like the Orioles have managed to turn their #4 picks into stars.
The thing about picking at #25 overall is that it's hard to know who the Orioles might be interested in who will actually make it down that far in the draft. It's not exactly like throwing darts at a board full of names, but there are a lot of variables at play. Those dedicated people, like ESPN's Keith Law, who put time into doing mock drafts, can have the whole thing thrown into cascading failure by just one team doing something differently than expected.
That said, it's still interesting to look at who pops up for the Orioles in a mock draft if only because it gives a decent idea of the kind of talent that is expected to be available for the O's by the time they get to pick. They won't be waiting as long as #90 like last year, which is good, but they won't be picking from the expected stars either. There are a couple of 21st century success stories at pick #25: Mike Trout especially. Matt Cain also. Rather less successful is Hank Conger. Hopefully the O's can exceed the median outcome.
In Law's two-weeks-out mock, the Orioles are set to take...
RHP Cody Ponce - Cal Poly Pomona
Ponce is a 6'6" right-handed pitcher who is summarized as having "as deep a repertoire as any pitcher near the top of the draft," with the drawback that he's "viewed as unrefined by scouts because of how inconsistent he is from pitch to pitch." Well, if there's anything I have confidence in the Orioles doing, it's sorting out a pitcher's issues. That was sarcasm just there. But that's what you get at #25 - if a player was a sure-fire star he'd be going higher in the draft.
Another flag on Ponce is that he was described as having shoulder soreness earlier in the season, but, "if everything comes together, we're looking at a potential No. 3 starter" - and if you hit on that late in the first round you have done well for yourself.
Law also notes that the Orioles have interest in this player:
3B Ke'Bryan Hayes - Concordia Lutheran HS (Tomball, TX)
Law projects that Hayes will be off the board to the Dodgers at #24 but the Orioles also like him as he is seen as "one of the draft's premium defensive players." I like defense! Hayes is the son of a former big leaguer, Charlie Hayes, with "an advanced feel for hitting ... the ball seems to jump off his bat no matter where pitches are located." Not bad for a high school player.
If you're thinking that the Orioles are already set at third base, that is true, but on the other hand, drafting a high school third baseman this year would set them up well to replace Manny Machado if the O's don't end up signing him to an extension some time between now and the end of the 2018 season. If the O's were to pick Hayes and he turned into a real 3B prospect even if Machado's locked up, then they would have a good trade piece to get talent elsewhere.
Having a bunch of good players you're trying to find room for is a good problem to have. Just don't confuse that situation for having a bunch of mediocre players and you have to pick out which ones you like the best - otherwise you get the 2015 Orioles outfield.
In all likelihood the Orioles won't be drafting either one of these players, but they probably will be drafting someone like them. Rather than a future star, the O's will probably end up with a player who has strengths and some weaknesses and it'll be up to the team to develop them into the best player that they can be. That's who you get to pick at #25, because you're probably not going to luck into the next Trout. You might, though.