This year's edition of the MLB draft is now a bit more than two weeks away. The first round will take place on Thursday, June 9.
In recent years, the draft has become a much less exciting event for Orioles fans. Now that they don't stink every year, they don't get a high pick every year, so there's no more salivating over the top names in the draft. I like this way better.
The first pick that the Orioles get this year won't come up until #27 overall. That's the pick they received as compensation when Wei-Yin Chen signed with the Marlins. The Orioles forfeited what would have been their own top pick at #14 when they signed Yovani Gallardo. It's not looking like one of their best decisions.
Still, even if they had their top pick, they wouldn't be getting their hands on any of the players seen as the absolute best in the draft. No Florida lefty A.J. Puk for them, or Kansas high schooler Riley Pint.
Who they will pick is someone none of us have probably ever heard of before now, who if we're lucky will get to be known for positive things as he ascends up through the O's system towards the major leagues.
Various parts of the prospect-industrial complex weigh in on possible picks with mock drafts. One of them may even end up being right. A lot can change in two weeks time - the O's might focus on different players, or another team drafting before them might take a player the O's really like.
With that in mind, here's a mock draft roundup, not so much to suggest the O's might take one of these guys as to say they'll probably take a player of the general caliber of one of these guys.
William Benson - OF - The Westminster Schools (Atlanta, Ga.)
MLB.com's Jim Callis lists Benson as the Orioles pick at this point in time. His general description of "toolsy lefty outfielder" brings to mind such O's draft picks as Xavier Avery and Josh Hart, but Benson doesn't fit totally in their mold: He's 6'6". The scouting capsule they have on him actually suggests a Jason Heyward comparison.
Benson's bat speed and strength give him well-above-average raw power, and the fact that he's more aggressive than Heyward bodes well for Benson's chances of tapping into it. He's at his best when he uses a short stroke, though he falls into the trap of trying to do too much at times.
Benson, ranked #34 on the MLB.com top 100 list, is committed to Duke. Again, keep in mind the O's could very easily not draft Benson, either because someone takes him first or because the O's just decide to take someone else.
The Orioles shouldn't take him because they need an outfielder in the system - although they do - but if an outfielder is their best possible pick, that's OK... as long as the outfielder actually works out.
Anthony Kay - LHP - University of Connecticut
ESPN's Keith Law connects the Orioles to this college lefty in his initial mock draft. Kay is rated 37th on Law's Big Board, which would make him seem to be a small reach, but not too much of one.
Kay's scouting report includes the following:
While a low-to-mid 90s fastball and plus changeup are a terrific foundation for any pitching prospect, Kay will have to progress in more areas than are typical for a college arm. The curveball will have to progress; otherwise, Kay will have to add a fourth pitch ... Some scouts think a cutter would suit him.
Ahh, the dread pitch cutter! Kay is listed at 6'0" and 187 lbs., so you could expect to hear questions about his height being a downside. There will be flaws no matter who the Orioles take, though. It's a question of which flaws they think they can work through in the system.
Joe Rizzo - 3B - Oakton HS (Vienna, Va.)
Baseball America connects the Orioles to the vaguely local Rizzo - Vienna is located in Fairfax County. Notably, and perhaps not encouragingly, Rizzo's name does not come up in any of these other mock drafts. The O's being the one team reaching on a guy makes me a little nervous.
BA's own ranking puts Rizzo in at #40. MLB.com feels similarly - he's 38th there. Law likes him much less, putting him 69th.
I'll quote from the ESPN capsule on Rizzo, which makes him sound like a bad pick at 27th but maybe good for the O's next pick at 54th:
Rizzo's frame is essentially maxed out at 5'11", 215 lbs., and he's already a below-average runner. Scouts aren't sure if he stays over at third base ... his footwork is inconsistent and slow at times. ... He has shown the ability and strenth to drive balls all over the field. ... He's not flashy or projectable but he's confident and hits everywhere he goes.
BA comments that the O's have "had success when they've bet on bats" and names Trey Mancini and Chance Sisco. I would point out that neither of those guys were first rounders. They call him "a stroker with a less-than-ideal body and defensive question marks," much like last year's first rounder D.J. Stewart.
That particular pick hasn't looked great to date, though Rizzo at least doesn't have questions about his stance. Rizzo is committed to South Carolina.
Taylor Trammell - OF - Mt. Paran Christian HS (Kennesaw, Ga.)
Our friends over at SB Nation's Minor League Ball have Trammell going to the O's at #27. In each of the other mocks I've listed, Trammell is gone before the Orioles have picked. So unless that thinking shifts over a couple of weeks, it'd probably be a surprise to see him last until the O's pick.
Trammell, 6'2", is expected to stick at center field, so he's probably more in the vein of past O's picks like Avery (2008 draft) and Hart (2013). Whatever team picks him will be hoping he develops better than those other players have done to date. He's a Georgia Tech commit.
Anyway, the Orioles probably won't end up picking any of these guys, but you never know. It could mean something that 3/4 of them have the O's taking a high school position player with their top pick, or that could mean nothing at all.
The various mock drafts will update with fresher information as the draft gets closer, and we'll round up the latest when there's something new to say.