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Monday Bird Droppings: The Orioles have a shiny new outfielder

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The Birds selected Colton Cowser with the fifth overall pick in the MLB draft. Will it work out? Ask me in five years.

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles
Mike Elias is not the Orioles’ new outfielder, but there are precious few pictures of Colton Cowser available in our photo collection.
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

It was quite the eventful day in Birdland yesterday, huh?

In the start of last night’s 2021 MLB draft, the Orioles added a talented youngster to their stable — assuming they sign him, which seems likely — by drafting center fielder Colton Cowser from Sam Houston State with the fifth overall pick.

Although the O’s passed on some more high-profile names — such as Vanderbilt righty Kumar Rocker (who fell to 10th) and prep shortstops Jordan Lawlar (sixth), Brady House (11th), and Kahlil Watson (16th) — Cowser looks like a solid pick, an exceptional college hitter who plays quality defense at an up-the-middle defensive position.

Mike Elias and the Orioles’ front office will of course hear some criticism from fans who decry Cowser as an underslot pick who wasn’t the best player available. But if Cowser was the top player on the Birds’ board, at least of those who hadn’t already been picked in the top four, then I’m putting my trust in Elias, who knows a heck of a lot more about this kind of stuff than you or I do. And if the O’s can grab a talented player and save a little money to spend on intriguing players in the later rounds, then that’s a perfectly valid strategy. We’ll see how the next two days of the draft play out.

Meanwhile, the major league Orioles (although the term “major league” is debatable in their case) wrapped up the first half of their season in the most fitting way: by getting swept. Trey Mancini’s dramatic two-out, two-run, pinch-hit homer in the bottom of the ninth provided a brief moment of euphoria for Orioles fans, only for the joy to be washed away moments later in a 7-5, 10-inning loss. Harrison Jozwiak recapped the sad first-half finale.

As Stacey pointed out, only the Orioles could find a way to screw up what should have been an inspiring, momentum-shifting moment. It’s something straight out of a storybook — a cancer survivor and team leader, who’s made an incredible comeback this season, coming off the bench to hit a clutch homer the day before he participates in the Home Run Derby. It’s the kind of thing that would galvanize a more competent team. In the Orioles’ case, it only gave them a painful new way to lose. It’s like “Rudy,” if instead of sacking the quarterback on the last play, Rudy had gotten knocked unconscious and carted off the field.

The O’s now head into their four-day break with a 28-60 record and no end in sight to the suffering. But hey, how about that Colton Cowser?

Links

Orioles select college outfielder Colton Cowser in first round - School of Roch
Not sold on the Cowser pick? The glowing quotes from Mike Elias might change your mind. I mean, obviously Elias is going to speak positively about the guy he just chose fifth overall, but I do get a tingle when I read things like “five-tool player.”

What the Baltimore Orioles are getting in Sam Houston’s Colton Cowser, a natural hitter who keeps getting better – The Athletic
Still not sold on the Cowser pick, even after that last link? This detailed bio about Cowser’s prolific college career should help.

O’s Adley Rutschman bats cleanup in Futures Game (O's lose) - Steve Melewski
Speaking of Orioles draftees, their #1 overall pick from 2019 flashed his potential at the prospect-studded Futures Game yesterday. With any luck, it will be far from the last time Rutschman participates in an All-Star Week.

The state of the Orioles after the first half - Orioles.com
Joe Trezza breaks down what we’ve learned about the Birds at the halfway point. Basically, anyone whose last name doesn’t begin with M has been a disappointment.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Your lone Orioles birthday buddy is the late Jack Harshman (b. 1927, d. 2013), a right-hander who was a workhorse in the O’s rotation in 1958 and also a pretty decent slugger for a pitcher, bashing seven home runs in his two-year Birds career.

On this day in 1969, the Orioles’ Mike Cuellar threw a three-hit shutout against the Red Sox in which all three hits were by one batter (Tony Conigliaro). Bizarrely, it was Cuellar’s second consecutive start in which one batter had three hits against him while the rest of the lineup was hitless. The same thing happened July 8 against the Yankees, when Ron Woods had all three hits.

On this day in 2005, O’s shortstop Miguel Tejada was named MVP of the All-Star Game in Detroit, cracking a second inning home run off Hall of Famer John Smoltz en route to the AL’s 7-5 victory. The O’s were well represented in the game, with Tejada and second baseman Brian Roberts both starting, third baseman Melvin Mora coming off the bench, and closer B.J. Ryan getting two outs in the ninth.

And on this date in 2016, the Orioles’ Zack Britton — who would go a perfect 47-for-47 in save chances that season — also notched a save in the All-Star Game. He worked past a leadoff single by Daniel Murphy by inducing two groundouts, including an inning-ending double play from Nolan Arenado, to nail down the AL’s 4-2 win over the National League.