Going into the 2015 MLB Draft, one thing that the prospect-industrial complex seemed to agree on about the Orioles is that they would be looking to get some college-level talent into their system that might be able to move quickly. The rationale for this would be to have some prospects who could get into the high minors or the big leagues soon, since they're presently bereft of much to write home about, especially when it comes to position players at Bowie and Norfolk.
On day one, they started with a college player, Florida State outfielder D.J. Stewart, before moving on to high schoolers. The second day of the draft proceeded much the same for the Orioles, who tabbed University of Oregon closer, lefty Garrett Cleavinger, before moving on to grab a couple of high school players who interested them.
When all was said and done, the Orioles had 11 picks over the first two days. Four were from the college ranks, with two juniors and two senior signs. The other seven were all high school players.
That's a big difference compared to last year, when they had eight picks through the end of the tenth round and only one of those was a high school player. Four of the seven college players in their top 10 rounds last year were senior signs. Those picks tend not to have much in the way of potential upside. They are what they are.
A high school player, on the other hand, might have some chance to develop into something that they aren't already showing. That doesn't mean they will develop. It's hard to make it to the big leagues. But if even one of them, hopefully two or three, develops, that will be a success for the franchise.
Orioles Draft Picks Rounds 1-10
|1 (25)||D.J. Stewart||OF||Florida State University||Yulee, FL||11/30/93||6'0"||225||L||R|
|1 (36)||Ryan Mountcastle||SS||Hagerty HS (FL)||Winter Springs, FL||2/18/97||6'3"||180||R||R|
|2 (68)||Jonathan Hughes||RHP||Flowery Branch HS (GA)||Flowery Branch, GA||1/8/97||6'2"||190||R||R|
|3 (102)||Garrett Cleavinger||LHP||University of Oregon||Lawrence, KS||4/23/94||6'1"||220||L||L|
|4 (133)||Ryan McKenna||CF||St. Thomas Aquinas HS (NH)||Berwick, ME||2/14/97||5'10"||180||R||R|
|5 (163)||Jason Heinrich||LF||River Ridge Middle HS (FL)||Spring Hill, FL||6/7/96||6'1"||190||R||R|
|6 (193)||Jay Flaa||RHP||North Dakota State University||Mandan, ND||6/10/92||6'3"||220||R||R|
|7 (223)||Gray Fenter||RHP||West Memphis HS (AR)||West Memphis, AR||1/25/96||6'1"||210||R||R|
|8 (253)||Seamus Curran||1B||Agawam HS (MA)||Feeding Hills, MA||9/6/97||6'6"||240||L||R|
|9 (283)||Jaylen Ferguson||CF||Arlington HS (TX)||Arlington, TX||7/21/97||6'2"||180||R||R|
|10 (313)||Reid Love||LHP||East Carolina University||Dunellon, FL||5/15/92||5'11"||195||R||L|
To learn a bit about Stewart, Mountcastle, and Hughes, you can read my article from Monday night. If you'd like to read about Cleavinger, McKenna, and Henrich take a look at my article from Tuesday afternoon. Cleavinger, a left-handed reliever, is figured to be the player from this class that could hit the big leagues first.
You kind of have to love a list of players that hits Kansas and Arkansas, plus those baseball hotbeds of New Hampshire and North Dakota. How do you think the conversation goes in the draft room that ends up with North Dakota State University being a serious topic for discussion?
Flaa, the player picked from North Dakota State, is one of the two college seniors who have been drafted with the Orioles picks so far. Love, the tenth round pick, is the other. So the conversation at those times probably involved who would sign for very little money.
Senior signs are generally believed to get signing bonuses ranging from $5,000-10,000. The difference between that money and the slot values for those picks - $232,600 and $149,700 for Flaa and Love's spots, respectively - can be used to help sign some of the other players drafted by the Orioles. With the Orioles having a high school heavy draft, that bit of money will probably prove helpful in signing everyone away from his college commitment.
Prior to Tuesday's game against the Red Sox, Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich spoke with media about the draft so far. Rajsich sounded confident about being able to sign all of the picks. "We did our homework and talked to the advisors," he said. "We want to make sure we can land the player once we pick them."
Grey Fenter - 7th round, 223rd overall
One player who is likely earmarked for some of the money directed from other spots is the seventh round pick, Fenter. Rajsich said that the Orioles viewed Fenter as a player who potentially could have gone in the top three rounds. Other teams may not have felt the Mississippi State commit was signable for when they'd draft him, but Rajsich said the O's, based on who'd been drafted ahead of him, "realized we were going to have the funds to (sign Fenter)."
It's possible that there will be a bit of money shifted from the slots of Mountcastle and Hughes towards this pick, as those looked to be overdrafts relative to their consensus. Fenter, rated as the #135 prospect in the class by Baseball America, represents a nice value at #223 overall. The slot value for this pick is $178,300.
Rajsich described Fenter as a "mature kid with a strong, durable body," but that he was also "a baby in terms of pitching, only pitching the last couple of years." Fenter spoke with the website Baseball Essential last month about being new to pitching.
His inexperience as a pitcher didn't stop Fenter from being on Team USA last year. Rajsich said that appealed to the O's: They know he's faced some competition and been tested by better players, which is an important consideration for the team.
He offered the comment that Fenter's ceiling is "right out here," gesturing towards the field of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
With the standard reminder that everyone sounds good when you highlight their best in a scouting report, here's what the MLB.com capsule had to say about him:
Fenter can hit 96 mph with his fastball and he generates a lot of sink and groundouts when he works at 88-93. He also has good feel for spinning a curveball, giving him a second solid pitch. His fading changeup should continue to get better as he uses it more often at the next level. Though he's not projectable, Fenter has a strong frame and repeats his sound delivery well, which bodes well for throwing strikes and staying healthy.
It comes with some video:
Seamus Curran - 8th round, 263rd overall
Curran was another one of the later-round high schoolers who had Rajsich excited. The Orioles had Curran in Baltimore for a workout back on June 1. Teams are way more thorough than I thought if eighth round pick possibilities get their own workout in Baltimore. What they liked about him is that he's a "big giant of a kid, with a really strong, live bat."
A 6'6" 240 lb. first baseman is indeed a giant, and you'd hope he could hit the ball very far. Curran caught the Orioles' attention for doing just that last year. Rajsich said the area scout called them up and said, "You gotta see this guy for next year." They must have liked what they saw. Curran rated as the #302 prospect on Baseball America's list.
An ESPN Boston writer who focuses on high schools profiled Curran back in April, observing that he's part of a group of big lefty power hitters from New England who've gotten prospect attention in recent years. They're the ones who've overcome the baggage of hitters from places which tend to have cold winters and rainy springs, limiting time to practice and time to be seen by scouts. The profile includes this description of Curran: "A jolly lumberjack with a menacing scowl whose bat speed has crept into the triple digits on rare occasions."
He might be my new favorite player just on the basis of his being called a jolly lumberjack. Don't the Orioles need a jolly lumberjack? Exactly! He also played hockey in high school. They went to the state finals this year.
There is a video in that ESPN profile of Curran hitting a 404 foot home run. What's notable about the video is you can only see Curran swinging and running, and the pitch and swing kind of look like the kind of thing that would poke into right field for a single. Instead it went 404 feet. A lumberjack indeed.
Curran lost a lot of time in front of scouts last summer due to a bout of mononucleosis, the ESPN profile also notes. Perhaps that made other teams tune him out while the O's kept on him and liked what they saw. No one is guaranteed success at the next level, let alone an eighth round pick, but if there was going to be a, "Wow, where did that guy come from?" prospect pop out of the eighth round, one with a story like Curran's would probably be the kind of guy to do so.
Curran is committed to the University of Rhode Island. We can guess that the Orioles are probably going to shift some bonus money from elsewhere for this signing because the slot for this pick is only $166,400, which probably isn't enough to convince a player not to go to college.
The draft concludes with rounds 11-40 starting at noon today. Yes, that is a lot of rounds. What you get in those very late rounds is a lot of filler and a number of players who are high school kids who won't sign because they're going to college, then if they develop in college a different team will draft them three drafts from now.
The potential exists for an intriguing sign among that number, and, if you want to dream, you never really know who might show up in your system and turn into something. Three-time MVP Albert Pujols was once a 13th-round pick. A whole lot of teams passed on him a whole lot of times. The Orioles had four of the first 23 picks that year. They picked Mike Paradis, Rich Stahl, Larry Bigbie, and Keith Reed. Yeah, exactly.
Here's hoping that some day we will get to see a few of these guys take the field for the Orioles at Camden Yards. Best of luck to each and every one of them in becoming the best baseball player that they can be.