The 2019 Orioles, like the 2018 squad before them, are a very bad baseball team. The only stakes that they will have in any game that they play for the rest of the year are whether or not they manage to secure the #1 pick in the 2020 draft. Since they were 47-115 last season, the worst team in MLB by 11 wins, they have the #1 pick in tonight’s draft, making this the most exciting day of the year for Orioles fans.
The success or failure of the Mike Elias-led Orioles rebuilding project will not be determined by the first pick in this year’s draft. It only feels like everything is riding on this to fans because most of the things involving the MLB team, and even the Triple-A team, stink. Prospects have made strides farther down on the farm this season, and hopefully whoever the O’s pick over the next three days will add themselves to the list of solid Orioles prospects.
For tonight, the Orioles select at #1, #42, and #71. Those are their picks at the top of the first and second rounds due to their having the worst record in MLB last season, as well as a selection in the competitive balance round B. The total amount of money slotted to their bonus pool in this draft is $13,821,300, with $8,415,300 of that representing the money in the slot for the #1 pick.
Draft broadcast info
- Time: 7pm Eastern (pre-show at 6pm)
- TV: MLB Network
- Online: Stream at MLB.com
Day two of the draft will go through rounds 3-10 beginning at 1pm tomorrow. That will be streamed online only, because at this point the draft is literally nothing more than a conference call. Day three of the draft, for the true junkies, will plow through rounds 11-40 starting at 1pm on Wednesday.
Draft prospect rankings
It would be a surprise if the Orioles stray from these lists in making their three picks tonight. The baseball draft being the semi-crapshoot that it is, feel free to irrationally hope that the Orioles end up picking any one of these players based on whatever criteria you devise.
In my ongoing hope for the O’s to have a good player who is also named Brown, I’m pulling for Canadian high school center fielder Dasan Brown and Wayne State righty Hunter Brown... but since they’re Law’s 93rd and 94th ranked prospects, we may not hear their names tonight.
The first round of the draft is expected to be very position player-heavy because there is not a strong crop of pitchers, especially college pitchers, available.
The guy “everyone” says the Orioles should/will take
The final wave of mock drafts published this morning all have the Orioles selecting Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman with the #1 pick. Note that Rutschman is the draft’s #1 prospect according to Law, Fangraphs, and MLB Pipeline.
Pipeline’s scouting report on Rutschman:
The switch-hitting backstop is the complete package at and behind the plate. He has an advanced approach at the plate, walking more than he’s struck out at Oregon State, with the ability to make consistent, hard contact and drive the ball from both sides of the plate. He’d been more of a gap-to-gap doubles hitter, but the over-the-fence power started to show up more during his junior season. ... Rutschman is also outstanding behind the plate, with excellent hands, agility and a very strong throwing arm. He’s even a better runner than some give him credit for.
There is no guarantee that Elias will go for this seeming slam dunk. In a chat last week, Law suggested that the odds of the O’s taking Rutschman are only 50/50. Fangraphs put it at 80% this morning. Earlier in their draft coverage, they suggested the possibility that Rutschman could run afoul of the Dreaded Orioles Physical due to an old high school football injury.
Other names to know
Just in case the Orioles end up selecting someone other than Rutschman, you may want to familiarize yourself with the other reported options from my “What if the Orioles don’t take Adley Rutschman?” preview series:
- Texas high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr.
- University of California first baseman Andrew Vaughn
- Vanderbilt outfielder J.J. Bleday
It’s hard to get super invested in the baseball draft because a maximum of one of these players will be on the Orioles in five years time, barring an extremely strange development.
Extra names: In a two round mock draft last week, Fangraphs guessed that the Orioles would use the #42 pick on Florida high school lefty Hunter Barco, who has one of those names that’s made for a Baltimore accent. At #71 in that same mock, the guess was Butler righty Ryan Pepiot, also a solid Baltimore accent name, assuming the ‘t’ is silent.
They are also believed to be interested in California high school shortstop Kyren Paris, who may not make it to their #42 pick without being selected first. Paris is my birthday buddy, giving me another player to irrationally hope the Orioles draft based on no personal knowledge of his baseball talent either individually or relative to any other draft prospect’s talent.
The best-rated player with any local connections in this draft is Navy right-hander Noah Song. Rated #49 on the Fangraphs draft board, #68 on Pipeline’s, and unranked on Law’s 100, Song is a senior who is anticipated to have to honor a two-year military service commitment before embarking on his pro career, making it somewhat complicated to assess his draft stock.
Are you hoping that the Orioles take Rutschman? Me too, but don’t despair if they don’t. Do you have another player you’re hoping that they get to take later on in the draft? Drop into the comments and follow along in the action tonight.