Back for another round, welcome to the seventh installment of the Completely Pointless Draft Exercise! This year there is a nice mix of optimism both in the major league team and the chance to add some top tier talent through the draft, a nice change from the past few years. The goal is to take a look at what has happened previously at the positions the Orioles will be selecting at through the first few rounds. We'll be using the Baseball-Reference draft archive, and all WAR totals are bWAR unless otherwise noted.
This is all just in good fun, as there is obviously no practical purpose to guessing which number picks will contribute at the major league level. A bit of nostalgia and dreaming of the future. If you're interested in last year's version, here's a link.
Let's dive in!
1st Overall Pick
We've covered this one recently (2019 CPDE) so I won't do a deep dive here. Ben McDonald lands pretty firmly in the middle of the list of 1st overall picks with 20.8 WAR for his career, and it's nice to still have him involved with the organization. We can also now add Adley Rutschman to the list of these picks to make the major leagues. I'd say that selection has been a success thus far.
At this point 52 of 56 number one picks have seen time in the majors, including the 2019 and 2020 choices. Like I mentioned last time, it's not that the bust potential isn't there, but these guys will get shots. Guys like Matt Bush and Mark Appel get chances long after later picks would be forgotten.
It's still unclear which direction the O's will go, but it's likely we'll see them on a major league diamond at some point.
33rd Overall Pick
Baltimore has been here once before, in 1989, when they selected RHP Tommy Taylor from the Virginia high school ranks. This was a compensation pick from the Mariners for signing reliever Tom Niedenfuer. Taylor hung around in the minors through 1996 with a career 5.01 ERA, mostly in the O's system. He then moved on to indy ball through 2004.
It has not been the most exciting spot in the draft. The high player here is 2B Mike Gallego in 1981 who put up 17 WAR with the A's, Yankees, and Cardinals across a thirteen year career. There's some recent positive history who could give Mike a run for his money though. Dylan Carlson (2016) and Michael Kopech (2014) are both off to nice starts in their careers, and Zach Eflin (2012) has been a regular in the Phillies rotation for several years.
42nd Overall Pick
So, I'm going to go ahead and put in an order for a repeat performance from the 2019 draft, okay? The O's have two previous picks here, Brian Sackinsky, RHP out of Stanford in 1992, and some kid named Gunnar Henderson in 2019. I know it's easy to wear the orange colored glasses right now, but boy am I excited about the potential for Henderson and Rutschman to play together in Baltimore for many years.
As mentioned back in the 2019 edition, the top three players here are Dennis Leonard (1972), Mookie Wilson (1977), and Clay Buchholz (2005). Come on Gunnar, take them down please.
67th Overall Pick
There's no direct Orioles history at this pick, so we're on new grounds for this selection. It is a spot with previous success, however! The top player here is Rick Reuschel in 1970 who put up 69.5 WAR pitching for the Cubs, Yankees, Pirates, and Giants over a nineteen year career. I'll be honest, I was not that familiar with his career until a couple years ago looking at Hall of Fame cases. By JAWS, Reuschel is the 32nd (!) best starting pitcher of all time, and flies pretty far under the radar as far as I can tell. Right now, other than Clemens and Schilling, it's only active players ahead of him on the list (Verlander, Kershaw, Greinke, Scherzer) who are not in the Hall. He is, perhaps unsurprisingly, right next to Kevin Brown on the list. I hope they both get a look at some point.
Other big names here include Ron Guidry in 1971 (47.8 WAR) and Wally Joyner in 1983 (35.8). More recently, Jordan Zimmermann (2007; 22.1 WAR) and Kurt Suzuki (2004; 19.6) were also chosen in this spot.
81st Overall Pick
The last pick in the top 100 for the O's this year, they have chosen in this spot twice before. In 1996 they picked up outfielder Daren Hooper from the University of Arizona. Daren never made the majors, and never made it past Delmarva in four minor league seasons. A more familiar name, L.J. Hoes was chosen from St. John's HS in D.C. back in 2008. Hoes did end up getting 337 plate appearances in the majors, mostly with Houston. He did make an appearance on the 2012 Orioles squad though, and so will always live fondly in my memory.
Now, if I told you that L.J. Hoes is tied for the 8th highest WAR total in the 81st overall pick slot with -0.1 career WAR you might be surprised. The draft is hard folks. The only player to put up some numbers here is Jerry Mumphrey, a Texas HS shortstop picked up by the Cardinals in 1971. He amassed 22.3 WAR in his fifteen year career. He received some down ballot MVP votes for the Yankees in 1981, and was an all star in 1984 for Houston.
Five picks in the first three rounds is another great chance for the O's to grab some lottery tickets. If they can repeat the success of 2019 it would be an amazing accomplishment and could set the organization up for a bright future. I'll go make some sacrifices to the draft gods.