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Orioles mock draft roundup with about two weeks to go

The Athletic’s Keith Law has the Orioles taking Florida high school shortstop Arjun Nimmala

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2022 Major League Baseball Draft
The Orioles pick won’t be at the top of the draft board this time around.
Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The start of the All-Star break also now marks the beginning of the MLB Draft. Day 1, when the Orioles will take their shot with the 17th selection of the draft, is set for the evening on July 9. That’s now a bit more than two weeks away until we’ll find out who the O’s have the opportunity to take at their spot and who they want out of that group.

With this far left to go until the draft comes along, a lot can still change. What’s not going to change, with a couple of college teams worth of exceptions, is the public perception of players based on their performance. The College World Series is down to just two teams who will play for the championship next weekend, and everybody else has been done with their games for a little while.

Whatever teams will decide about who to take is going to come down to stuff that’s either already happened, or private information that’s gathered between now and the draft. There are a number of private interviews and workouts that we’ll never find out about unless the Orioles or one of the players they pick talk about it after the draft has happened.

Guesses about what the Orioles would do with their top choice have not hit the mark over the last few years. Mike Elias and company have managed to decide things without tipping their hand when picking in the top five. Assorted prospect writers try their best to guess with information they know from sources about who will go where in the draft.

Whether they end up nailing an individual pick or not, it’s a good way to get a sense of names that might be in consideration, and what the writer thinks about who the Orioles like. The mock draft selections surveyed below are all recent since the start of this week. We’ll see if any of these folks have gotten it right in two-plus weeks worth of time.

Arjun Nimmala - SS - Strawberry Crest HS (Fla.)

Nimmala is the mock selection made for the Orioles by The Athletic’s Keith Law. This is a fun pick for me because Nimmala is the player I’ve landed on where I hope he might last until the Orioles draft choice and that the O’s take him, because the stuff that the prospect writers say about him makes him an intriguing player for me.

Law rates Nimmala as his #7 prospect in the draft class. That would be a fun player to slip down to #17. Law’s assessment of Nimmala that gets him that high in the class:

Nimmala added some good weight his past winter, resulting in harder contact to go with what was already a pretty swing and potentially plus defense at shortstop. He’s also one of the youngest players in the draft class, as he won’t turn 18 until October, so model-heavy teams will be falling all over themselves to take him. There’s some concern about swing and miss, but given his age, I think that’s easy to forgive, especially with the potential upside in the bat and glove.

The Orioles are known to be one of those model-heavy teams who might give Nimmala a boost for still being just 17 and performing the way he is. The last time the Orioles took a high school shortstop who had not yet turned 18 on the draft, that was Gunnar Henderson. That one seems like it’s working out OK. Law calls the #17 pick the “absolute floor” for Nimmala. In the other two mocks I’m looking at today, Nimmala is selected at #13 by the Cubs and #15 by the White Sox, and not available to the Orioles.

In Law’s estimation, the Orioles are also interested in two-way Virginia high schooler Bryce Eldridge, and potentially Wake Forest third baseman Brock Wilken. He believes there is no sign of interest by the Orioles in a first round pitcher, which seems like a safe bet based on Elias’s Orioles draft history.

Bryce Eldridge - 1B/RHP - James Madison HS (Va.)

This is not the first time Eldridge has come up with the Orioles in the mock drafts this year. He was the O’s choice by Law last time. This week, it’s CBS Sports with the mock that puts the O’s on Eldridge at #17, noting:

The O’s have had a lot of success developing hitters with premium ball-tracking data and Eldridge, who owns perhaps the best raw power in the high school ranks this draft, fits the mold. He is considered a better hitting prospect than pitching prospect, though Eldridge has pro potential on the mound, and he’s reportedly told teams he wants to give being a two-way player a try.

Will Eldridge be there when the Orioles pick comes along? The third of today’s mocks thinks not, having him selected at #11 by the Angels. In Law’s mock this time, Eldridge is available until #25 by the Padres.

Eldridge is the #24 prospect in the class in the CBS prospect ranking. About him, they write: “Eldridge generates plus power thanks to his natural strength and the loft in his swing. Batters this tall (6’7”) are often scrutinized for exploitable swings, particularly against velocity; he keeps the barrel tight to his body throughout the operation, though, limiting excess length.”

I certainly don’t hate the idea of the Orioles getting themselves a large adult son who can hit the ball hard and far.

Hurston Waldrep - RHP - University of Florida

Waldrep is the Orioles choice in the mock by MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis from earlier this week. Waldrep is Pipeline’s #20 prospect in the draft class. On the possibility of the O’s selecting Waldrep, he said:

Waldrep has some of the nastiest stuff in the Draft and has posted his best back-to-back starts of the spring, allowing one run and striking out 25 in 15 innings in consecutive NCAA tournament victories. ... Other potential fits for the Orioles include Nimmala, (Aidan) Miller, Eldridge, (Blake) Mitchell and Florida Atlantic first baseman Nolan Schanuel.

I don’t know what kind of intelligence Callis has to have Waldrep here. Maybe it’s just his feel for where a player with that level of talent should go. As mentioned above from Law’s pick, one only need to look at Elias’s drafting history with the Orioles to be skeptical that they would take a pitcher.

In the other two mocks, Waldrep is still available at #17, so it does seem like the opportunity will be there to take him if the O’s go against recent patterns. The CBS draft has Waldrep going at #21 to the Cardinals, while he lasts until #28 in Law’s draft, with Law writing that Waldrep “hasn’t had the results to match (his pitch quality), so he’s clearly sliding.”


One other player who, along with Nimmala, is on the list who I hope maybe make it to the Orioles pick is University of Maryland shortstop Matt Shaw. It’s expected that Shaw will be a second baseman as a professional, and I just like reading scouting reports like this one from Pipeline, who put Shaw as the #18 prospect in the class:

Shaw might be one of the better college hitters in the Draft class. He rarely strikes out and draws walks while making consistently hard contact. He can drive the ball to all fields and he showed off impressive opposite-field power last year for Maryland, with many of his homers going out to right and right-center field. He’s a plus runner who is a legitimate basestealing threat.

Yeah, sign me up for that. However, none of these three mocks have Shaw lasting until #17. He goes at #13 to the Cubs, #14 to the Red Sox, and #16 to the Giants. If that’s an accurate sense of teams who are interested in Shaw, we probably shouldn’t get our hopes up for him. I’m going to try not to get my hopes up too much for Nimmala either, as between the first set of mocks I looked at a month ago and this one, only Law’s mock this time has Nimmala lasting to the O’s pick.

We’ll find out in a couple more weeks who the next first round pick to be added to baseball’s preseason #1 farm system will be. The better this year’s first rounder ends up looking as a prospect, the higher that ranking will remain on into the next couple of seasons.