When examining an MLB Draft class, or any professional sports class for that matter, it’s unfair to analyze in the years immediately following the event. Sure, collectively as sports fanatics we’re a bit more reactionary than your average person, but it’s important to allow a Draft class breathing room before truly discussing the overall contributions from the group as a whole.
Especially in the game of baseball, prospect development takes time. Payoff is a waiting game and many times, teams won’t ever get to see the overall picture of what their class would look like in the long-term (injuries, off-field issues, etc.). Because of that, it’s likely wise to wait roughly five years to analyze what went right and what went drastically wrong.
Today, we’ll do just that with the 2011 Orioles Draft class, one that has had plenty of time to develop and provide help at the big-league level.
When it comes to the Draft, I generally don’t look much further than the top-300 in terms of hoping for long-term development. Of course, just a few hits inside of those 10 or so rounds makes a class a golden one, so keeping expectations tempered is wise. But in the long run, top-300 selections are generally fair game in terms of analyzing their contributions to the game.
With that said, here’s a look at how 2011 went for the Orioles over the first 10 rounds.
Round 1, Pick 4: RHP Dylan Bundy
You know the story here. It’s taken him a bit of time, but Bundy has looked every bit the superstar during the 2017 season and the entire city of Baltimore certainly hopes he can be the face of the rotation for years to come.
It’s interesting to see how long the road was for Bundy to reach this point, but as long as the payoff continues to be rich, I’m not sure many will remember it took more than five years for Bundy to shine on the big stage.
Round 2, Pick 64: 3B Jason Esposito
Now 26 years old, Esposito is out of the game completely. This was pre-Manny Machado, so there was obviously some hope that Esposito would become the man of the future at the hot corner. Obviously, that didn’t happen.
In 2015, Esposito hit just .190 at Bowie in 47 games, retiring mid-season. Safe to say, this was a significant second-round disappointment.
Round 3, Pick 94: RHP Mike Wright
Before doing this research, I had forgotten that Wright and Bundy were in the same class! For a while there, it seemed as though Wright would be able to be a potential option in the Orioles rotation, at-least as a reliable fourth or fifth starter. Obviously, his career with the team isn’t over quite yet, but his time in Norfolk early this season has been ugly.
This is a classic case, perhaps, of a team falling in love with a “looks the part” tall right-hander with a great fastball. Unfortunately for both sides, the pick doesn’t seem as though it’ll ever be profitable.
Round 4, Pick 125: RHP Kyle Simon
Simon is now out of baseball — but, for a fourth-round selection, I was surprised that I had never heard of him before. It turns out, he was a trade piece in the 2012 Jim Thome trade with Philadelphia! You could say the Orioles won that deal, considering Simon isn’t playing any more and Thome helped a bit in the 2012 run.
Simon pitched his last MiLB inning in 2014.
Round 5, Pick 155: LHP Matt Taylor
Taylor battled walk issues and injuries during his short time in the system, one that actually saw him post a not-terrible 3.97 ERA in 378.1 innings.
The highest he ever advanced was Frederick in 2015, pitching in a handful of games there before being injured prior to the 2016 season. He officially retired from the game on April 1st of this year.
Round 6, Pick 185: IF Nicky Delmonico
At 24-years-old, Delmonico is impressing in the minors, appearing to have an opportunity to make his Major League debut at some point in this season. Unfortunately, it won’t be with the Orioles.
Last year between AA and AAA, Delmonico — now with the White Sox — slashed .279/.347/.490 with 16 home runs as a corner infielder.
If you remember, Delmonico was traded to the Brewers back in 2013 for Francisco Rodriguez. They proceeded to release him 2015, and he’s emerged for Chicago.
Round 7, Pick 215: LHP Trent Howard
We’re getting into the tricky part of the Draft here, but we’re still within the top-300 Draft eligible players, so it’s worth taking a look.
Unfortunately, Howard hasn’t been playing baseball since the 2013 season. He made it as high as Bowie for a game, but he was released by the organization prior to 2014.
Round 8, Pick 245: OF John Ruettiger
Ruettiger played at AAA Norfolk for one game in 2015, but that’s as high as he would make it in Minor League Baseball. He stuck around the organization as an average hitter through the end of that season, but never found a home after being released in September 2015.
Round 9, Pick 275: RHP Devin Jones
Jones never worked out with the Orioles and is currently out of baseball, but you might be intrigued about who the Birds got in return for the right-hander in a 2013 trade. You might have heard of him — Brad Brach.
Absolutely true. In the player-for-player deal, the Orioles won and won in grand fashion.
Round 10, Pick 305: RHP Tyler Wilson
At 305, I’d argue that the Orioles made a pretty good selection here. Granted, Wilson hasn’t been consistently ready to work productively in the big leagues, but he’s done pretty well for a 10th round pick.
Who knows, perhaps a mid-season trade featuring Wilson’s name is in the cards in the coming months.
26th round pick Zack Davies is currently doing his thing in Milwaukee, working in the big leagues but struggling early in 2017. Otherwise, there isn’t much to speak of in terms of late-round sleepers than turned into talent. And overall, that’s pretty unfortunate when taking a look at the totality of this Draft class.
It’s a lesson on the value of the MLB Draft — every year, you might get a few hits that end up emerging in the Majors. Some years are luckier than others, but for the most part the life of a baseball minor-leaguer is brutal and quite frankly, often times a dead end.
Here’s hoping that more recent classes perform a bit better than the 2011 Draft, or should we say the event that provided Baltimore with Dylan Bundy’s talents.