The Orioles were granted the first pick in the draft for just the third time in team history. The club went with the consensus choice in 2019, but there was not a clear-cut favorite like Adley Rutschman this time around. Mike Elias indicated that the Birds had narrowed their list to five potential options shortly before the draft, but everyone was left guessing when Rob Manfred stepped to the podium.
The Orioles selected Jackson Holliday, a shortstop from Stillwater High School (Oklahoma) over Druw Jones, Termarr Johnson and others. Jackson, the son of former All-Star Matt Holliday, had been one of the five players the Orioles were linked to throughout the process.
Still, the selection came as a small surprise. Elias and the Orioles had been particularly drawn to college players in previous drafts, but a majority of the top options were from the high school ranks this year. Holliday, a potential five tool player, fit the mold of a top pick.
Holliday matched one pattern as a prospect that plays up the middle. Early reports indicated that he could potentially play center field if he did not stick at shortstop. However, the Orioles kept Holliday at short and second base in 2022.
Holliday made his professional debut in the Florida Complex League. The 18-year-old hit .409/.576/.591 in 33 plate appearances before getting a bump to Low-A Delmarva. Holliday slashed .238/.439/.333 in the final 12 games of the season for the Shorebirds.
Holliday dominated in the Rookie League before holding his own with Delmarva. He managed only one homer, but made up for the lack of power with an impressive batting eye. Holliday walked 10 times compared to two strikeouts in the FCL, and took 15 walks opposite 10 strikeouts with Delmarva. His patience at the plate allowed him to reach base at nearly a 50 percent clip.
The Birds pivoted back to the college ranks with their next three picks, as Baltimore selected Dylan Beavers from Cal, Max Wagner from Cal and Jud Fabian from Florida.
Beavers, a 6-foot-4 outfielder, immediately drew comparisons to Houston’s Kyle Tucker. Beavers primarily played center field for the Bears in 2021 but shifted to right field in 2022. It’s unlikely that he will play center on a daily basis, but he has the arm strength for right field.
Beavers recorded one hit in 12 trips to the plate in the FCL, but the Birds still bumped the 21-year-old to Delmarva. He slashed .359/.468/.531 in 16 games for the Shorebirds before getting a cup of coffee at Aberdeen to end the year.
Beavers went without a long ball in 2022, but he slashed a combined .322/.438/.460 across three levels. It’s fair to expect him to pick back up at Aberdeen with a quick promotion to Bowie on the table in 2023.
The Birds nabbed Wagner after he tied the Clemson single-season record with 27 homers as a sophomore. The 20-year-old made just one appearance in the FCL before jumping to Delmarva. He slashed .250/.403/.438 and went deep once in 48 at bats with the Shorebirds. Wagner went 3-for-18 at Aberdeen to close the season.
Wagner entered the system has a power hitting third baseman and exclusively played the hot corner in 2022. It’s fair to expect Wagner to join Beavers at Aberdeen next season.
Jud Fabian emerged as a household name after he rejected the Red Sox and returned to school last year. Boston selected Fabian in the second round last season, but failed to come to an agreement with the college outfielder. The Orioles were said to be interested in Fabian before Boston made their pick, but the Birds got another opportunity to select him with the 67th pick in 2022.
Fabian tallied at least 20 homers in his final two years in college. He lived up to his powerful reputation by tallying three homers in 10 games at Delmarva. He slashed .386/.481/.841 with the Shorebirds before moving up to Aberdeen at the end of the year.
Fabian struck out in eight of his 24 at bats with the IronBirds, and there is some swing and miss concern. He played all three outfield positions this season, and appears to have a legitimate chance to play up the middle long term.
Previously: Fallen prospect roundup, Jean Pinto, Darell Hernaiz, Drew Rom, international prospect roundup, César Prieto, Mike Baumann, Hudson Haskin, John Rhodes and Reed Trimble, Cade Povich and Chayce McDermott, Joey Ortiz, Terrin Vavra, injured pitcher roundup, Coby Mayo, Kyle Stowers, Heston Kjerstad, Jordan Westburg
Tomorrow: Connor Norby