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Thursday Bird Droppings: Where the Orioles pulled off a draft surprise

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The Orioles did not do what everyone expected in the draft on Wednesday night.

2020 Major League Baseball Draft Photo by MLB Photos via Getty Images

Hello, friends.

In the parallel universe where everything is exactly the same as this one except that there was no need to shut down anything and the baseball season could go on unimpeded, the Orioles would have played 67 games by now. Instead, well, you know.

The days surrounding the draft were probably always going to be one of the most exciting things about the 2020 season for the Orioles. This has become even more true now that there is absolutely nothing else sports related happening.

Last night, the Orioles made what will hopefully prove to be key parts of their continuing rebuilding effort by taking Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad with their #2 pick in the draft. To close out day 1, the Orioles selected Mississippi State shortstop Jordan Westburg at #30 overall. If you want to know more about these picks, check out my posts last night reacting to the Kjerstad and Westburg selections.

The Kjerstad selection was a big draft surprise. Every publication’s last mock draft before the proceedings began had the Orioles picking Vanderbilt shortstop Austin Martin, generally believed to be the #2 prospect available in the draft. Instead, Martin did not get picked until #5 by the Blue Jays.

Kjerstad, meanwhile, was somewhere in the 7-10 range of prospect rankings - the kind of guy any fan of a team that won 70-75 games last year would be excited to get to draft. Maybe not so much excitement for fans of a 54-win team.

My knee-jerk thought about the Kjerstad pick was that maybe it was made with the eye of taking overslot talent later in the draft. That could still end up happening, though the next opportunity the O’s had to choose a player, they went with Westburg, who appears to be a guy who would get about #30 slot money.

I don’t know how the Orioles are going to pull off some grand overslot caper from here. There is still at least one first round caliber high school talent that’s gone undrafted so far, Texas righty Jared Kelley. There’s also 6’6” Oklahoma lefty Dax Fulton, who’s probably slipped because he had Tommy John surgery last summer.

University of Georgia righty Cole Wilcox and Westburg’s Mississippi State teammate J.T. Ginn are the best remaining college pitchers on the draft rankings. It seems like it would be good value if the Orioles got either of these guys with the #39 selection, though again, there wouldn’t be a sudden sense of validating why they swered away from Martin in favor of Kjerstad.

The Orioles have another four picks to make today as teams go through rounds 2-5 of the truncated draft. That gets underway at 5pm. Hopefully Mike Elias and company find some future Orioles All-Stars.

Around the blogO’sphere

New Oriole Kjerstad confident in himself and his new club (Steve Melewski)
A prospect saying the right things is only worth so much, but when it’s the only thing you know about them, it’s not a bad start. There are some great quotes here.

Draft day 1: Pick-by-pick rundown and analysis (MLB.com)
MLB’s Jim Callis says of Kjerstad that “his swing is built for Camden Yards, and he should get there very quickly.” And Westburg “is an offensive-minded shortstop with the potential to hit 20 or more home runs per season.” That would be nice.

Five things to know about Orioles No. 2 overall pick Heston Kjerstad (Baltimore Sun)
Some people on the Internet got very excited when the Kjerstad family dog was in the middle of the celebration. The dog is named Oreo, which is a very good Orioles player’s dog’s name if you think about the stereotype of a Bawlmer accent.

Elias calls Kjerstad “the best left-handed hitter in the country” (School of Roch)
It’s a little easier to feel a little better about what happened in the draft last night after reading what Mike Elias has to say about the guys he got, especially the #2 pick.

Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries

Of all of the players to ever play in a game for the Orioles, not a single one was born on this day.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: trailblazing Congresswoman Jeannette Rankin (1880), aqualung co-developer Jacques Cousteau (1910), football legend Vince Lombardi (1913), football legend Joe Montana (1956), actor Hugh Laurie (1959), and basketballer Diana Taurasi (1982).

On this day in history...

In 1184 BC, the city of Troy was sacked and burned in the Trojan War, or at least, this is the best guess of the historians who think that there was a real event something like the Trojan War.

In 1509 AD, Henry VIII of England married his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, who had previously been married to Henry’s older brother.

In 1776, the Continental Congress appointed a five-person committee, including future presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, as well as Benjamin Franklin, to draft a declaration of independence from Great Britain.

In 1940, Italian planes began bombing British-controlled Malta, launching a nearly 2.5 year siege that ended in defeat for the Axis.

In 1970, Army Generals Anna Mae Hays and Elizabeth P. Hoisington officially received their new ranks, becoming the first women to serve as generals in the U.S. armed forces.

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And that’s the way it is in Birdland on June 11. Have a safe Thursday.