The Orioles finished off their 2023 draft class over the All-Star break with a total of 22 players selected over the draft’s 20 rounds.
In the five-round draft in 2020 and in the first 20-round draft two years ago, the Orioles signed every player they chose. That did not happen last year, as the O’s drafted a few late-round speculative players who they probably figured would go back to school. The O’s seem to have drafted similarly in 2023. They ended up with 19 signed out of 22 players.
The Orioles total bonus pool
The most important thing for who the Orioles will or won’t sign is MLB’s slot value system. Each pick in the first ten rounds is assigned a dollar value. Add them up and you get a team’s total bonus pool. Talk about over slot or under slot is relative to each pick’s value. Players with more leverage - just-graduated-from-high school kids and college sophomores - are more likely to get over slot. Players with less, like college seniors or players drafted in excess of a consensus view of their talent, tend to get under slot.
The first round Orioles pick at #17 had a slot value of $4,169,700. That tapers all the way down to slot value for the tenth round pick of $167,000. In all, the Orioles bonus pool is $10,534,800.
Unsigned picks in the first ten rounds result in the team losing that amount of its bonus pool. For each player taken after the tenth round, the first $125,000 of signing bonus does not apply to the pool. A team can exceed its pool by up to 5% with only a tax on the overage. There are stiffer penalties beyond that, but no team has ever chosen to pay them in a decade. With the 5% on top, the Orioles have $11,061,540 in the pool to play with.
The official signings
Reported bonuses in parenthesis where available. MLB’s Jim Callis has done a lot of the work in reporting the bonuses.
- Round 1, #17: Enrique Bradfield Jr. - OF - Vanderbilt (Full slot)
- Round 2, #53: Mac Horvath - OF - North Carolina ($1,400,000 - $182,900 under slot)
- CB Round B, #63: Jackson Baumeister - RHP - Florida State ($1,605,100 - $361,800 over slot)
- Round 3, #86: Kiefer Lord - RHP - Washington ($760,000 - $48,200 under slot)
- Round 3, #100: Tavien Josenberger - OF - Arkansas ($630,000 - $41,800 under slot)
- Round 4, #118: Levi Wells - RHP - Texas State ($500,000 - $63,600 under slot)
- Round 5, #154: Jake Cunningham - OF - UNC-Charlotte ($375,000 - $21,700 under slot)
- Round 6, #181: Jacob Cravey - RHP - Samford ($300,000 - $12,300 under slot)
- Round 7, #211: Teddy Sharkey - RHP - Coastal Carolina ($215,000 - $29,400 under slot)
- Round 8, #241: Braxton Bragg - RHP - Dallas Baptist
- Round 9, #271: Zach Fruit - RHP - Troy
- Round 10, #301: Matthew Etzel - OF - Southern Mississippi (Full slot)
- Round 11, #331: Nestor German - RHP - Seattle University
- Round 12, #361: Blake Money - RHP - LSU
- Round 13, #391: Riley Cooper - LHP - LSU
- Round 14, #421: Michael Forret - RHP - State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota ($450,000 - counts $300,000 vs. pool)
- Round 16, #481: Cole Urman - C - Cal State Fullerton
- Round 17, #511: Zane Barnhart - RHP - Hillsdale College
- Round 20, #601: Jalen Vasquez - SS - North Greenville
Based on the reported bonuses, the Orioles went under slot by $399,900 across their initial signings in the top ten rounds. Most of that under slot amount ultimately went to Baumeister on the day of the signing deadline. As Baumeister was a sophomore with extra leverage, this was not a surprising development. He is the highest drafted and signed pick of the Mike Elias era. The O’s also struck a modest overslot deal with the 14th rounder Forret on the last day to sign players.
The Baltimore Banner’s Andy Kostka reported that the Orioles ultimately did not go into the 5% overage. That is likely due to further under slot money saved on the eighth rounder Bragg and ninth rounder Fruit that has not been reported. Those players, one a senior and one a graduate student, likely received tiny bonuses in the $5,000-$10,000 range.
Undrafted free agents
- Jack Maruskin - RHP - Frostburg State
- Ty Weatherly - RHP - Ball State
Maruskin had also recently been playing for the Frederick Keys in the MLB Draft League.
Did not sign
- Round 15, #451: Qrey Lott - OF - Lowndes HS (Georgia)
- Round 18, #541: Tanner Witt - RHP - Texas
- Round 19, #571: Kollin Ritchie - SS - Atoka HS (Oklahoma)
Witt tweeted “unfinished business” the day after the draft, which is generally a sign a player is returning to college. Unlike last year, where the Orioles had a late surprise signing of 17th round pick Carter Young, there was no surprise reversal for Witt.
Lott tweeted on July 18 of his plans to forego signing and attend Northwest Florida State College, a junior college.