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Weekend Bird Droppings: Orioles draft mania!

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The draft news is coming thick and fast, and there is absolutely nothing else to talk about.

2020 Grape Fruit League Media Availability Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Good morning, Birdland!

We have reached the final weekend prior to this year’s amateur draft. It is getting down to crunch time. So, let’s get everyone up to speed!

The draft starts on Wednesday, June 10 at 7 p.m. ET. The first 37 picks (Round 1 plus Competitive Balance Round A) will air that night on MLB Network and ESPN. Then, the remainder of the five-round draft will begin at 5 p.m. ET on June 11. Those picks can be seen on MLB Network and ESPN 2.

The Orioles will make six total selections (2, 30, 39, 74, 103 & 133). You can find the entire draft order over at ESPN.com.

Right now, it is unclear who the Orioles will target with the second overall pick. The only player that is thought to be a no-brainer in the entire draft is Arizona State’s slugger Spencer Torkelson. There is some very limited talk that the Tigers could take Texas A&M lefty Asa Lacy with the first pick of the draft instead to save some money, but Torkelson remains the heavy favorite. If Torkelson does fall to the O’s at two, he figures to be the pick.

If the expected happens and Torkelson becomes a Tiger, then the Orioles have a ton of options at number two. Our very own Mark Brown has been going through some of the candidates:

Austin Martin, third baseman/center fielder, Vanderbilt
This is who most scouts expect to go to the Orioles. He’s got good tools across the board and has been called “the best pure hitter in the 2020 draft” by MLB Pipeline, and is expected to stick at a premium position in the big leagues.

Asa Lacy, left-handed pitcher, Texas A&M
If pitching is what the O’s are after then Lacy would be the preference. He is widely regarded as the best pitching prospect in the draft. He is a big southpaw with four above-average offerings. College pitchers tend to move quickly through a system, so this could be a player who is in Baltimore by 2022.

Nick Gonzales, shortstop/second baseman, New Mexico State
When the talk of the Orioles picking “under-slot” comes up, Gonzales is the name most frequently referenced. He has a skill-set similar to Martin’s, but everything is just a notch below. Some compare him to the BrewersKeston Hiura, who made his big league debut last year and slashed .303/.368/.570 with 19 home runs in 84 games.

Zac Veen, outfielder, Spruce Creek High School (Florida)
This draft is dominated by college players early. Veen is the only high schooler in MLB Pipeline’s top 10 prospects in this draft. He is one of only two in a similar list over on FanGraphs. He is getting compared to Cody Bellinger, which would be real nice. However, he is not expected to stick in center-field long term, so he will need to hit.

Heston Kjerstad, outfielder, Arkansas
This is likely a longshot. However, Keith Law reported that Kjerstad is in play at number two overall. As a college hitter, this would be a pick where the O’s are looking to save some money to then use later in the draft to get a player with sign-ability concerns. Of course, he is no slouch. The guy has big power and a right fielder’s arm.

Links

Two more names to toss into the draft mix - School of Roch
This is where Kjerstad gets mentioned. But it still seems to be a discussion around Martin, Lacy and Gonzales. As a fan with limited knowledge in this realm I will talk myself into loving whomever the Orioles add here.

Who will Orioles take with No. 2 Draft pick? - Orioles.com
No news here. Orioles domestic scouting supervisor Brad Ciolek seems to be making the local media rounds this week. He provides some background on what draft preparations look like for the O’s and their treasure chest of a signing pool. It’s lots of video calls and studying of the “tape.”

The case for drafting lefty pitcher Asa Lacy - Steve Melewski
I know next to nothing about many of the players eligible for next week’s draft. By most accounts, Texas A&M’s Asa Lacy is the top arm available. Mark did a deep dive on him yesterday. Selecting Lacy remains as one of the three most likely scenarios for the Orioles at number two overall, just behind picking Vanderbilt’s Austin Martin and New Mexico State’s Nick Gonzales.

Despite Pandemic, Orioles Continuing To Make Strides Internationally Under Koby Perez - Press Box
The Orioles, as an organization, are trending upward. But perhaps the one facet of the club with the most room to grow remains their international presence. It has already progressed by leaps and bounds in the last 18 months, and the upcoming international signing period gives them a chance to continue on that path.

Orange you glad to see lots of orioles this spring? - ThisWeekNews.com
Apparently, the actual oriole birds had a fantastic month of May. According to this specific writer’s account, he has never seen so many orioles as he has this spring. His belief is that it is a result of less human activity due to the ongoing pandemic. It made the birds migration from South American to the northeastern United States much easier on the population.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is it your birthday this weekend? Happy birthday!

Former O’s outfielder Merv Rettenmund turns 77 this weekend. He played part in six seasons for the Birds from 1968 through 1973, including a standout 1971 season in which he hit .318/.422/448 with 23 doubles, 11 HR and 5.9 bWAR, which generated him a tiny about of MVP buzz that year.

Chris Richard turns 46. The left-handed outfielder/first baseman played for the O’s from 2000 though 2002 after being acquired from the Cardinals in exchange for pitcher Mike Timlin. Richard would later be dealt to the Rockies for slugger Jack Cust.

Heathcliff Slocumb will be 54. The former relief pitcher spent a decade in the big leagues, of which only 10 games came with the Orioles during the 1999 season.

Finally, it is the 76th birthday of righty Roger Nelson. He played just one season with the O’s, appearing in 19 games for the 1968 team.

1967 - In the secondary phase of the amateur draft, the Orioles select 19-year-old pitcher Mike Adamson. He would sign on June 27 and make his big league debut on July 1, becoming the first player to completely skip the minor leagues.

1993 - Cal Ripken Jr. consecutive games played streak is in jeopardy. In a game against the Mariners, Ripken’s spikes get stuck in the grass, causing a twisted knee.

1998 - The Orioles retire Eddie Murray’s uniform number “33.” The 2003 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee had spent 13 seasons with the Orioles, during which time he was named 1977 AL Rookie of the Year, won the 1983 World Series, three Gold Gloves, two Silver Slugger awards and was named to seven All-Star teams.

2010 - Orioles interim manager Juan Samuel earns his first MLB win as his O’s beat the Red Sox 4-3 in extra innings.

2010 - The Orioles select high school shortstop Manny Machado with the third overall pick of the amateur draft. The two picks in front of him were freshman college outfielder Bryce Harper at first overall by the Washington Nationals and high school pitcher Jameson Taillon at number two by the Pittsburgh Pirates.