The Orioles have whiffed on their second round pick of the 2015 draft. With the signing deadline for picks approaching later on Friday, MLB.com's prospect specialist Jim Callis reported that the O's will not be reaching an agreement with #68 overall pick Jonathan Hughes, a right-handed pitcher from a Georgia high school. Hughes will be instead honoring his commitment to attend Georgia Tech.
That's the highest pick that the team has failed to sign since the current draft slotting system was unveiled in 2012. Their previous highest unsigned pick was 2012 fifth rounder Colin Poche. One bit of silver lining to come out of the non-signing is that the Orioles will receive the #69 overall pick next year as compensation for failing to sign Hughes.
Since they won't sign Hughes, they will lose the $907,000 slot value for that pick from their draft budget. Fortunately for the Orioles, there shouldn't be any reverberations towards future years because they have kept all of their other signings within a budget that they won't be exceeding even without the slot money from the Hughes pick.
The Orioles have already signed all of their other top 10 round picks and in fact they've signed nearly all of their draft picks from all 40 rounds.
What makes this non-signing a disappointing outcome is that Hughes, at least based on how the rest of the industry saw him, seemed to be something of a reach to begin with. He was ranked #137 on Fangraphs' draft prospect list, did not appear in the Top 125 on Baseball Prospectus, #188 on MLB.com's top 200, and #255 on Baseball America's top 500. It's a pretty good bet that the Orioles wish they would have picked a different player.
Maybe they always should have picked a different player. This was from MLB.com's scouting capsule on Hughes, a 6'2" righty:
Hughes will show a 94-96 mph fastball early in games before settling in at 89-93 mph with some cut and sink. His low-80s slider is his No. 2 option and features good tilt at times. His upper-70s curveball is effective when he stays on top of it, and he also exhibits some feel for a changeup with fading action.
A Georgia Tech recruit, Hughes has the athleticism to deliver strikes but little projection remaining in his 6-foot-1 frame. Scouts aren't fond of his high-three-quarters delivery and long arm action, which gives hitters a good look at his pitches.
I don't know why he's listed at 6'2" but this says 6'1". Anyway, you can see why he is something of a question mark... and the Orioles at that point in time could have had their pick of top 100 talent in the draft, but they reached to pluck Hughes and ended up doing nothing with that pick.
Why didn't it work out? People seldom tell why. It could be that the two sides had a wink-and-nudge pre-draft agreement at a certain dollar figure and either the player's side or the team's side then turned around and decided not to honor that agreement because they wanted it to be for a different amount of money instead. Perhaps the Orioles did a poor job of judging Hughes' firmness of his college commitment when they made the selection. If so, that's a big misfire.
It could be a lot of things and in the end it doesn't really matter which one it is. The Orioles completely missed on a top 100 pick and that's a tough thing to do when they already have a farm system that is not stacked. As fans, all we can do is hope they do better with next year's high draft picks.