The 2016 MLB Draft looms ever closer, now a little more than a week away. With the Orioles not having a pick until #27, there's only so much excitement to muster for it. They will not be among the teams who get their pick of the five best players in the draft.
Still, even their compensation pick for losing Wei-Yin Chen can find them a useful future Oriole if they get their hands on the right player, so it's interesting to see who some assorted writers of the scouting-industrial complex think the O's might be focusing on at this point in time.
In the week since my last mock draft roundup, three of the publications have updated their picks. Every one has a different name than they had before. Go figure.
It was in mock drafts about a week before the draft last year that there started to be a notion that the Orioles might take their eventual first round pick, D.J. Stewart. So maybe one of these will be right this time around too. Of course, we won't know which (if any) until draft night.
Eric Lauer - LHP - Kent State
Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com puts forth this lefty starter for the Orioles, noting that a strong performance in his conference tournament may have done something to move him up draft boards.
They rate him as the 36th best prospect in the draft. His scouting capsule includes the following:
Lauer has four effective pitches and mixes them well. His best offerings are a low-90s fastball that reaches 94 mph and features some cutting action and nice downhill plane, and a solid 78-83 mph slider. Lauer also possesses a mid-70s curveball and a changeup with some sink and fade
They also note that while he lacks "a true out pitch or a lofty ceiling, he may have a higher floor than any left-hander in the 2016 draft." That's a story I've heard before. Maybe it'll be true this time - getting a mid-rotation guy with a late first round pick would be OK.
In Baseball America's mock draft, Lauer is taken at #26 and not available for the O's. ESPN's Keith Law has Lauer going at #33 to the Cardinals.
Previous mock: William Benson, OF from a Georgia HS, now going at #30 to the Dodgers
Alex Kirilloff - OF - Plum HS (PA)
Law links the O's to this Pittsburgh-area prep bat. He adds that the Orioles are looking "best player available" - encouraging news - but that they don't presently have a good idea of who is going to make it down to their pick in the draft.
Sure enough, Kirilloff, rated by Law as the #22 prospect in this draft, is long gone by the time the O's pick in other mocks. MLB.com sends him to the Indians at #14. BA puts the Angels on him at #16.
Their scouting capsule on Kirilloff does include a couple of warning signs about what they call an "idiosyncratic nature of the swing" potentially causing problems in pro ball. After picking Stewart and his strange swing last year that description makes me a little nervous... but it sounds like he'll be gone before it becomes the O's problem anyway.
Previous mock: Anthony Kay, LHP from UConn, now going at #31 to the Mets
Although it's two different mocks from two different publications, it is interesting the O's have twice been linked to a college lefty starter, and could be an indication of some of their thinking.
Nolan Jones - SS - Holy Ghost Prep (PA)
BA connects the Orioles to another high school bat in their approximate area of the world, as Jones is from a Philadelphia-area high school. They comment that the O's appear to be focusing on high school hitters in this general area - their previous mock selection was Joe Rizzo, a Virginia high school third baseman.
Would Jones even make it to the Orioles? Again, this is a guy who is long gone from the board in the other mocks. BA rates him as the 19th best prospect in the draft, while Law has him as high as 11th. That would be good guy to get at #27, but it probably won't be happening. Law sends Jones to the Red Sox at #12, while Mayo has the Pirates pick him off at #22.
Fellow SB Nationer John Sickels at Minor League Ball has a scouting report on Jones that makes it understandable why he would be desirable:
Jones has always shown a good swing and fairly polished hitting approach but now has the strength to drive the balls hard to all field and over fences, projecting 20 homer power. He's a decent fielder at shortstop but given his size most teams project him as a third baseman, where the bat will certainly play.
If everything develops along current lines, Jones will be an offensive force at third base, hitting for both average and power and adding a solid glove.
Don't get your hopes up too much about this guy coming to the Orioles, though it sounds like whoever does draft him can feel free to dream a bit about Jones.
Previous mock: Rizzo, now not present in any mocks (through pick 34)
Maybe none of these three guys will even be on the board by the time the Orioles pick and they end up going with somebody else. Maybe one of them falls to the O's and they grab them just like one of these mock drafts suggests.
There will be a lot of moving parts between now and draft night. If the O's don't take one of these players specifically, this is the kind of player they'll be aiming for. That's who you get at #27 - a guy with some promise but also some potential flaws.
The trick is to pick a guy whose flaws can be worked around or through.