The Orioles finished their first day of the draft with a pair of picks at #60 and #74 overall. At #60, they went with another high school player in drafting shortstop Alex Hall from the A.B. Lucas Secondary School in Ontario, Canada. They followed that up in the competitive balance round B at #74 by adding Zac Lowther, a left-handed pitcher from Xavier University.
What may be more noteworthy than who the Orioles actually drafted at #74 is the fact that the Orioles did not trade that pick, which they have done with their competitive balance pick for each of the last three seasons.
Taken along with their selection of D.L. Hall, a left-handed pitcher from a Georgia high school, the Orioles picking a different high schooler named Hall doesn’t exactly do a whole lot to diversify their portfolio. At least they’re not both pitchers. That would get confusing.
The shortstop Hall wasn’t the same kind of value pick as D.L. Hall. The Canadian Hall was rated as the 99th best draft prospect by Baseball America, 115th on MLB Pipeline, and didn’t appear on Keith Law’s Big Board of the top 100. A bit of a curious reach, but then again, by the time you’re this far down, it’s tough to say what’s the difference between the 70th prospect and the 100th, anyway.
Adam Hall is committed to Texas A&M. MLB.com, noting that Hall only turned 18 last month, has this scouting report to offer for him:
He has a decent approach at the plate for his age and experience level, with a natural feel to hit. There should be some power in the future as well. Hall is a plus runner and uses that speed well on the basepaths. He is capable of making the spectacular play defensively and while his arm might grade out as average, he can reach back for more when needed and he's usually very accurate. He will struggle at times with the backhand play, but most feel he can stick at short. If not, he'd make an outstanding second baseman and has enough arm for third.
Sounds at least somewhat similar to current Orioles prospect Ryan Mountcastle, except that based on this profile there’s more thought that Hall will stick at shortstop or at least the infield based on his arm strength. Obviously, there’s a long way between Hall and the big leagues.
The slot value for pick #60 is $1,068,700.
Lowther, at #74, looks like a slight reach as well, as he does not appear on Law’s 100, ranks 112th on the Baseball America rankings, and 127th on the MLB Pipeline rankings. Perhaps they’re grabbing a little savings against the slot value of $779,500.
Here’s the folks at MLB.com on Lowther’s strengths and weaknesses:
The amazing thing about Lowther's success is that his best pitch is a fastball that sits at 87-89 mph and tops out at 93. It plays well above its mediocre velocity because it features running life, he commands it well and the deception in his delivery leads to a lot of uncomfortable swings. He's unlikely to throw much harder because he's already physically mature at 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds.
Lowther pitches off his fastball well, increasing the effectiveness of a curveball and changeup that range from fringy to average. His control hasn't been as sharp this spring as it was a year ago, though he has been more unhittable than ever. He'll have to prove that his modest arsenal will work in pro ball, though his track record suggests that it would be foolish to bet against him.
On the MLB draft broadcast, Lowther was summarized as “a guy who will probably have to prove himself at every level.” Not the most exciting words to read about a relatively high draft pick like a second rounder, of course. Another way to look at that is that Lowther might be a hard-working overachiever who knows he can’t skate by on raw talent.
It’s interesting and possibly intentional design that two of the first three Orioles draft picks are left-handed pitchers