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Sunday Bird Droppings: Draft day is finally here

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As the major league team continues to wilt, it’s time to dream about the young talent the O’s can add to the organization the next three days.

Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles
You know Mike Elias has been eagerly awaiting this day.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

It’s here! It’s here! Tonight, the 2021 MLB draft will get underway, with the Orioles holding the fifth overall pick.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t used to care much about the draft. Back in the day, when the O’s were competitive and interesting, I devoted my attention to the team on the field instead of high school or college players I’d never heard of who were years away from sniffing the majors.

And now? Well...I still haven’t heard of most of these players until a couple of weeks before the draft. But I’m much more invested. I’m poring through prospect profiles, wondering which young star-in-the-making could develop into the centerpiece for the next great Orioles team. And with the major league club being such an unwatchable mess — with another loss last night that you can read about in my familiar-looking recap — it’s only natural that O’s fans are more focused than ever on building a stockpile of talent for the future.

Day 1 of the draft (the first round and competitive balance round A) is tonight, followed by rounds 2-10 and competitive balance round B on Monday afternoon, then rounds 11-20 on Tuesday starting at noon. The O’s will have 21 picks total, with the most important one happening tonight.

What do you think, Camden Chatters? Which draft prospect do you think the Orioles will land with the #5 pick tonight?

Links

Eshelman leaves early in Orioles’ 8-3 loss to White Sox - BaltimoreBaseball.com
“We’re definitely struggling in our rotation,” said Brandon Hyde, in one of the biggest understatements of the year.

2021 MLB Mock Draft 3.0: Kumar Rocker to the Rangers, Jack Leiter to Tigers in Keith Law’s Latest – The Athletic
Keith Law’s final mock draft is a bit surprising in that he has Kumar Rocker going second overall, where most mocks have him dropping to sixth or lower. The resulting domino effect would give the O’s their choice of three highly-ranked prep shortstops, of which he thinks they’d choose Kahlil Watson.

Connolly: If the Orioles have a shot to draft Jack Leiter or Kumar Rocker, they can’t whiff – The Athletic
Leiter is generally thought to be a more prestigious draft prospect than Rocker, but Connolly would gladly take either one if they’re available to the Orioles. My hunch is that Rocker will be available to the O’s and they’ll disappoint Connolly by not picking him.

Watkins was ready to walk before pitching for Orioles - School of Roch
In case you’ve forgotten what makes baseball awesome, Roch Kubatko’s story about Spenser Watkins’ perseverance is a must-read.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Your lone O’s birthday buddy is right-hander and UMBC alum Zach Clark, who was a feel-good story for the Orioles, toiling eight years in the Birds’ minor league system before finally making the majors at age 29. His MLB career lasted just one game, which came on May 1, 2013.

On this day in 1968, Earl Weaver managed the first game of what became a legendary career, taking over the 43-37 Orioles after the All-Star break when Hank Bauer was fired. Weaver’s debut was a 2-0 Orioles win, with Dave McNally tossing a two-hit shutout against the Senators. Weaver won his first six games as O’s skipper, and he’d ultimately collect 1,480 victories and a World Series championship on his way to induction into Cooperstown.

Another O’s manager had a big moment on this date nearly 20 years later. In 1987, Cal Ripken Sr. became the first skipper in MLB history to manage two of his sons, as Billy Ripken made his MLB debut alongside his star brother, Cal Jr. The Ripkens went 0-for-7 in a 2-1 loss to the Twins.

The last time the Orioles won a game on this date was in 2014, when Nick Hundley’s RBI single in the 10th walked off the Yankees, 3-2. The game was played in front of a sellout crowd of 45,389 at Camden Yards and kept the Orioles in first place by three games. Sigh. Those days seem so long ago now.

Perhaps the Birds’ most dramatic win on this date came in 1985 against the White Sox at Memorial Stadium. The O’s trailed by three runs with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth, seemingly doomed to defeat. But a Lee Lacy single, Cal Ripken walk, and Eddie Murray RBI single brought up Fred Lynn, who crushed a game-winning, three-run homer for a 7-6 victory.