In this year’s three-day MLB Draft, the Orioles made news, some of it very good for locals, with the selection of Mike Flacco, and some very unexpected, like the selection of Matt Hobgood with the fifth overall pick. There were also some local Maryland products taken. This post will take a good long look at both of those elements of this year’s draft.
Orioles Draft Recap
First off, let me say that the Draft is probably my second or third favorite event in baseball every year (behind opening day and the All-Star Weekend). This year, I was excited for the O’s draft because of the success of recent drafts. 2005’s first round pick, Brandon Snyder, is quickly becoming one of the system’s best hitters, if not the best, now that Wieters and Reimold are both with the big club. Billy Rowell, from 2006 is starting to show some signs of a breakthrough, but has struggled so far in the minor leagues. Just like Brandon Snyder. 2007’s first rounder, Matt Wieters, well, we don’t even need to talk about him. Brian Matusz, last year’s 1st rounder is starting to look like the system’s best pitcher, which is a very hard thing to be. So, with that success of only the first-round picks, this year, the team could draft for potential, and not for immediate impact.
To understand why this year’s draft unfolded the way it did, you have to look not only at the first-rounders but the other selections. In 2007, the team not only drafted Baseball’s #1 prospect, but also Jake Arrieta, a fifth-round pick who took a lot of money to sign, but has the best stuff of any pitcher in the Orioles’ organization. In 2006, the O’s got four promising players, shortstop Blake Davis, who is in AA, Zach Britton, a LHP who is in High A, and Ryan Adams, a slugging infielder who is starting to pull a Brandon Snyder, now in High A. With all these successes, the Orioles were able to take risks on the riskiest position of all, high school pitcher. At #5, Matt Hobgood was the Gatorade National High School Player of the Year. He’s big, strong, throws hard and reminds me a ton of Joba Chamberlain. He doesn’t carry much injury risk, and frankly, watching more highlights of him, I don’t know why he was projected in the late first round. Miychal Givens shows promise as a shortstop or from the mound. The first two rounds went along with Andy MacPhail’s strategy that you “draft the arms, and buy the bats.”
The third round was a make-or-break round for the team, I thought. They needed a college hitter to balance out Day 1’s selection of two high schoolers. On my paper where I wrote down the names of players that I really wanted the team to draft, I had third baseman Chris Dominguez out of Louisville and shortstop Ryan Jackson from Miami. On the Live Blog, I was telling Michael that if they didn’t draft one of those two, especially Dominguez, than I thought the pick would be a waste. Well, let me just say that I said that a little prematurely. The pick came, and it was Tyler Townsend, a first basement from Florida International. Standing at 6’3″, he’s a prototypical first basemen, with a big frame, good for hitting for power and reaching errant throws. I went to bed early, tired from a day of worry and stress. Yeah, I care about the draft that much. The next morning, I decided to look up Townsend and see what he was like as a player. He was the first player selected who didn’t have scouting video on MLB.com. I’m seeing scouting video in the 37th round, but a third-rounder has none.
First stop: the FIU official site. Went to baseball, then to statistics, then finally to the season statistics page. Found Townsend right away, and here was his line for the 2009 season: .434 average, 16 2B, 24 HR!!!!, 77 RBI!!!!, 182 total bases, team-leading 26 walks, a .512 OBP, 14 HBP and only 14 K’s. Wow. I then went to check the nation’s leaders in those categories, and his average was good for 6th in the nation, although the NCAA listed him as a .426 average, because of postseason play, which was 13th in the country. He was 7th in the country in home runs, behind other high-profile draft picks Rich Pohtyress, Tom Mendonca, Kent Matthes and Mark Krauss, in addition to the national leader, super soph Bryce Brentz, who also leads the country in average. He ranked 20th in RBI, 5th in total bases, 27th in OBP, and surprisingly, only 73rd in HBP. I started to like this guy, and realized that he was a better pick than anyone available at that time, according to my obsession with college hitters. Day 1 was a success.
If Day 1 was a success, Day 2 was a bigger success than I could imagine. The day started with Randy Henry, a 6’3″ righty who has great mechanics, and almost no injury risk because of that. Then came Ashur Tolliver, a total steal in my opinion, a lefty who was ranked in Baseball America’s top 10 of LHP, from Oklahoma City U, an NAIA school with a very good baseball program. Then Justin Dalles, a college catcher from South Carolina with a great arm, a high school lefty named Aaron Wirsch who looked very deceptive in the scouting video and Devin Harris, East Carolina’s left fielder who has a very nice swing. Then came the steal of the draft for the Orioles. and maybe any team.
Ryan Berry was thought of as a probable first round pick before this season, but fell because of a disappointing season compared to his incredible sophomore campaign, but he wasn’t expected to fall to the 9th round. He knows how to win, and has pitched with the USA National Team in the Pan-Am Games and other tournaments over the summer. In seven appearances against mostly professional players, Berry went 2-1 with a 1.88 ERA. He and Tolliver could be either one step ahead, or at the same level with Matt Hobgood, and become a very good trio of pitchers for the O’s. He projects as a closer if his career as a starter doesn’t succeed, with a low 90’s fastball and great breaking stuff. Probably the most excited I was about an O’s pick since Wieters, because of the impressive track record that he’s put together and the potential that he offers to the organization. RYAN BERRY, PLEASE SIGN!!!!!
After taking a JuCo pitcher and a high school catcher, the Orioles took Steven Bumbry, the son of former Oriole Al Bumbry. I remember Steven’s days at Dulaney, and the various events I played with or against him while he was there. Also, a football player, he’s a great athlete, but instead of speed being his best asset, he’s balanced with all five tools. He hit a team-leading 10 home runs this season, stole 9 bases in 14 attempts, and although his .283 average looks low at first glance, he managed to have a .422 OBP, showing his patience at the plate. He’s a good outfielder, but will stay in left instead of center.
After a few high school pitchers, a college righty, and a college infielder, the O’s took another lefty, this one from a community college, who was in my opinion, an absolute steal. It seems like some teams, like the Red Sox, Dodgers and Indians, get these mid-to-late round picks who develop into major leaguers. This is what I think could happen with the O’s this year. The lefty’s name is Jarrett Martin, and he was drafted by the Orioles in the 19th round last season. He was supposed to go to Cal State Fullerton this season, but for whatever reason, went to Bakersfield Community College, which might have been why scouts and organizations didn’t draft the pitcher who Baseball America called the 40th best freshman this season, and at 19 is eligible only because he is at Bakersfield. Martin is 6’3, 200 lbs, but looks smaller than that with an odd delivery. He consistently throws in the high 80’s, topping out at 91, and has a very good breaking ball. Should be fun to watch whether this guy turns out to be the guy Baseball America thought in February or the guy who 535 players are apparently better than.
The Orioles got a huge high school lefty with good stuff, Cameron Coffey, in the 22nd round, some other lefties and then two center fielders to end day two. The first pick of Day 3 was Mike Flacco, and BirdsWatcher was the first to break the news. After Flacco, a lot of high schoolers were taken, probably a lot of whom are unlikely to sign. The only player that we can be mostly sure will sign is Josh Dowdy, a RHP from Appalachian State. Will we see a major leaguer emerge from these late rounds? Maybe, but it’s pretty unlikely. If we do, I didn’t see it coming.
Local Players Drafted
Multiple players from Maryland were taken in this year’s draft, some even from Baltimore. The first Marylander off the board was Branden Kline, a RHP from Thomas Johnson HS in Frederick, picked by the Red Sox at #198. Next Marylander off the board was Steven Bumbry, who is from, as I said, Dulaney High, and went to the Orioles. The Nationals took a lefty from Cecil Community College, Chad Jenkins at #502. Josh Squatrito, a Towson Tigers product, went to the Cardinals at #759. Mike Flacco played at CCBC in Catonsville, and Baltimore products were drafted!!!! Robbie Harris, a shorstop from Cardinal Gibbons was selected by the Angels with pick #1071, after a First Team All-MIAA season and Scott Krieger, from Calvert Hall went to the Brewers. Also, another Calvert Hall alum, Joe Vellegia was taken by the O’s. Here’s a full list of Maryland Players drafted:
- #178, Boston: Branden Kline, RHP, Thomas Johnson HS
- #356, Baltimore: Steven Bumbry, OF, Virginia Tech
- #365, Oakland: Connor Hoehn, RHP, St. Petersburg JC (From Damascus)
- #502, Washington: Chad Jenkins, LHP, Cecil CC
- #554, New York Mets: Cody Holliday, OF, Wilmington College (From Havre de Grace)
- #586, Milwaukee: Scott Krieger, OF, George Mason (From Towson)
- #759, St. Louis: Josh Squatrito, RHP, Towson U
- #926, Baltimore: Mike Flacco, 3B, Catonsville CC (CCBC)
- #1071, LA Angels: Robbie Haris, SS, Cardinal Gibbons HS
- #1153, Chicago White Sox: A.J. Casario, OF, Maryland
- #1252, Washington: Dan Cropper, RHP, UNC-Wilmington (From Snow Hill)
- #1256, Baltimore: Joe Vellegia, C, Old Dominion (Calvert Hall)
- #1258, Atlanta: Josh Conway, OF, Smithsburg HS
- #1363, Chicago White Sox: Harold Baines, OF, McDaniel (Yes, that Harold Baines’ son)
- #1376, Baltimore: Scott Swinson, RHP, Maryland
So, in summary, it was a good three days. The Orioles took who they wanted, took some guys who were surprisingly good, and got some steals. We’ll see who signs, and how they play when they do. So, back to normal Oriole fanhood for me, time for more praise of Mr. Wieters. He’s really starting to hit, you know.
So, my 3-day paradise is over, and I don’t know how I’m going to get back into the regular swing of life again. Speaking for Michael and myself, we are proud to have given you the best Orioles Draft coverage of any blog, and we are looking forward to it next year. Adios