The start of the 2019 MLB draft is hours away. Nobody outside of the Warehouse knows for sure who the Orioles are taking, and maybe they don’t even know inside of the Warehouse yet. However, all of the people whose job it is to guess who the Orioles are going to take are sticking with the player they’ve said in their mock drafts all along: Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman.
That is the unanimous take from ESPN’s Keith Law, from the Fangraphs prospect duo of Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen, from Baseball America’s JJ Cooper, and from MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo. They all say the same thing: Rutschman, Rutschman, Rutschman, Rutschman. Better start to learn how to spell it to be safe so you don’t end up like the Orioles fans still remarking about Matt “Weiters” years after he has left.
Even as they’ve been saying Rutschman all along, there has been hedging, though, and that continues even into the day of the draft. Law describes there being “still a chance” that the O’s could take University of California first baseman Andrew Vaughn and try to make him a third baseman, or that they might take Texas high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr.
In his mock draft, Mayo writes that “the chatter has been loud” that the O’s could go in a different direction, believed to be either Vaughn or Vanderbilt outfielder J.J. Bleday. When these reporters are writing about “chatter” of this nature, they’re talking about what other teams, or even what players advisors, are speculating about the Orioles based on what they think they know to be true.
Fangraphs goes into a bit more detail about what went into their prediction:
This crew keeps a tight lid on things, and may not call someone’s adviser to really get down to brass tacks until sometime late this afternoon. Even the advisers of those potential backup options don’t yet know if they’re going 1-1, or how to handicap it. Contact hasn’t been made with Rutschman’s reps for weeks, which is also to be expected to maximize leverage.
In Ben Reiter’s Astroball, there is a whole chapter about the team’s selection of Carlos Correa with the #1 pick in the 2012 draft. No one other than Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, Mike Elias, or Sig Mejdal knew who the Astros were going to select until about 30 minutes before the draft. Their own scouts did not know. Other teams did not know. Even the team’s PR department, which had pre-written bios of several likely picks, had nothing prepared about Correa.
So when they write about “this crew keeps a tight lid,” that means that Elias has probably carried over the kind of secrecy that the Astros had with Luhnow. Elias and Mejdal are not likely to be exchanging texts with Law or Callis or McDaniel or any of those people, and if the writers have been talking to other O’s scouts, those scouts probably don’t know what will happen.
Reporters might call someone with the Royals or the White Sox or the Marlins, who pick 2nd-4th, to see what players those teams believe they will be choosing from. They might call the advisors for Rutschman, for Witt, for Vaughn, for Bleday, and ask if they have heard from the Orioles, and when, and what was said.
Maybe those calls would provide reliable information and maybe they don’t. A team source or an agent might not know the truth but speculate anyway. They might know the truth and choose not to reveal it, or choose to say something that they know to be untrue. That’s what these writers have to figure out.
For their part, the Fangraphs writers put it at an 80% chance that the Orioles will draft Rutschman. Law, in a chat on his personal blog last week, assessed it as more of a 50/50 chance of the O’s taking Rutschman. A coin flip is not very certain. 80% is a bit more certain, if not so certain that you should already be making plans for a custom Rutschman Orioles jersey purchase. I mean, you don’t know what number he’ll wear as a pro anyway, right?
Which player would you prefer that the Orioles draft with the #1 pick in 2019?
This poll is closed
Bobby Witt Jr.