Baltimore Orioles: MLB Draft Day Two Standouts And Impressions
Who did the Baltimore Orioles select on day two of the MLB draft? What does each player bring to the organization? We break down each pick below.
Spending three days watching and listening to 40 rounds of MLB draft coverage doesn’t sound like an idea of fun for most people, but it’s one of my favorite times of the year on the sports calendar. As a Baltimore Orioles fan, patiently waiting through a massive rebuild in Birdland, the 2019 draft has provided that much more intrigue.
For the most part, the only college baseball I watch is that of my alma mater. If the Orioles draft a player out of James Madison University, I have a massive library of videos I’d be happy to share around. Other than that, odds are I haven’t watched a lot of these players play on the field. But the research on each new selection is what I find most fun about the draft process, as a fan.
So, who did the Baltimore Orioles add? What do they bring to the organization? Does anyone stand out?
Throughout the day on Tuesday, I’ve scoured the internet to find as much information as I can on each new pick of the Baltimore Orioles, relying on the experts who spend countless hours out at college and high school baseball fields around the country. Luckily, I am highly familiar with two of yesterday’s picks, but for everyone else, I extend my sincerest gratitude to the men and women out grinding away on the amateur circuit and spreading your wealth of information for the masses to consume. You can find any referenced reports linked throughout this piece.
Day two MLB draft selections for the Baltimore Orioles.
Round 3: OF Zach Watson (JR), LSU, RHH
Speed and defense. Every resource cites the same two things when discussing Watson, his top-notch speed and reliable defense in the outfield. Watson is part of a pattern employed by Mike Elias through the first ten rounds of the draft- strength up the middle (catcher, middle infield, center field). Watson hit .313 in three full seasons with the Tigers while recording a .369 OBP, 21 home runs, and 37 stolen bases in 171 games.
"He can turn around a fastball and posts excellent exit velocities when he squares a ball up, but he struggles to recognize and hit breaking balls and he currently hits a lot of ground balls, which explains his relatively modest power numbers. He’s likely a fringe-average hitter at best, which limits his likely ceiling, but as a center fielder who can run, Watson provides value at a premium defensive position."
Fangraphs gives Watson a 35 FV grade, meaning Watson likely develops into a fourth/fifth outfielder or 4-A type player. However, his elite speed and defensive grades make him intriguing. Both Cedric Mullins and Ryan McKenna are struggling with the bat this year; Watson will now join the mix as a speedy outfielder who we hope finds his swing.
Round 4: SS Joseph Ortiz (JR), New Mexico State, RHH
When describing Ortiz after the Baltimore Orioles made him the highest-drafted player in New Mexico State history, MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis remarked: “he will stick at shortstop.” Pipeline gives Ortiz a 50 grade hit tool, 50 arm, 60 field, and 45 overall.
If you want to put an asterisk next to some of his offensive numbers due to playing at a high altitude, that’s fair, but you can’t overlook his 73/62 K/BB ratio, 34 stolen bases, 38 doubles, and 18 triples across three seasons as an Aggie. He was also successful in the Northwoods League last summer (a collegiate wooden bat summer league), walking more times than he struck out (21 BB, 19 K) and hitting .282 with six extra-base hits.
If Ortiz can continue to make contact and hit for average as he moves up the organizational ladder, he becomes the top-ranked shortstop prospect in the Orioles’ system. Every current shortstop in the system has major questions surrounding either their bat or ability to play short at the major league level; Ortiz could provide both for the Orioles.
Round 5: SS Darell Hernaiz, Americas HS (Texas), RHH
From the El Paso Times after the Orioles selected Hernaiz in the fifth round of the draft:
"Hernaiz hit .404 this past season for the Trailblazers with six doubles, seven homers and 30 walks. He worked out for several teams leading up to the draft. In addition to the Orioles, he worked out for the Houston Astros, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers."
This selection gave Elias one catcher, two center fielders, and three shortstops with his first six picks of the draft. What little video there is on Hernaiz shows that he is an athlete. Jim Callis called him a “shortstop starter kit” which I absolutely love. He appears to be the type of player you draft based on his athleticism and you just wait and see where his development takes him. You see the San Diego Padres using this strategy recently, drafting athletic shortstop after athletic shortstop, even though Fernando Tatis Jr.has the position locked down for as long he wants. If the 17-year-old Hernaiz develops, there will be room for him, somewhere.
Round 6: C Maverick Handley (JR), Stanford, RHH
The Most Outstanding Player of the Stanford NCAA Regional, Handley was also named the 2019 Pac-12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year, along with a guy we know pretty well in Adley Rutschman.
Handley threw out 10 baserunners in the regular season and also hit .299 with a .394 OBP and 18 extra-base hits in 49 games for Stanford. With Handley behind the plate, Stanford went 97-23. He even stole 12 bases this season, good for second on the team behind Kyle Stowers (who the Orioles in the second round of the draft).
You can never have too many catchers in your organization and very few backstops currently on the farm provide much intrigue. Brett Cumberland will surely be moved from behind the plate and Martin Cervenka is severely struggling to hit AA pitching. There’s really no one else worth mentioning, outside of the most obvious catcher of them all. The focus is now on Rutschman, but keep an eye on Handley every now and then. He has enough tools to surprise us.
Round 7: OF Johnny Rizer (SR), TCU, RHH
Rizer was the first college senior selected by the Orioles and continued their trend of drafting athletes up the middle. Rizer hit .311 with 11 home runs this season and has made just two errors in his college career as a Horned Frog. He also made this absurd play in center field.
This pick appears to be a money-saving selection, but he can clearly cover some ground and play defense. Injuries cost him some time during his two seasons at TCU, however, his defensive abilities have been the common thread here. One thing is for certain, it won’t matter which affiliate stadium you go to, you are sure to see a show out in center field.
Round 8: RHP Griffin McLarty (JR), College of Charleston
This was my favorite pick of day two. McLarty is an arm I have had the opportunity to watch multiple times in 2019; impressing me more and more with each start. Overall, McLarty went 8-4 with a 1.87 ERA and 0.85 WHIP in 15 starts for the Cougars. His low-90s fastball is aided by his ability to mix-up his deep repertoire and keep hitters guessing on what’s coming next.
In 101 innings, McLarty struck out 116 hitters and gave up just four home runs. He has room to grow a bit, has a simple delivery that he can repeat well, and can locate his pitches. The framework and tools are there to work with and continue to develop. McLarty was the first pitcher taken in the draft this year by the O’s. Is it because the pitching talent is bleak, as pointed out every major scouting outlet? Possibly, but you have to believe that this draft is all about grabbing the best player available and stockpiling the farm system with as much talent as possible (regardless of position)
Despite being a college junior, McLarty will likely be the type of pitcher the O’s bring about very slowly. He’s a project, but a fun one that might pay off in the long run.
Round 9: RHP Connor Gillispie (JR), Virginia Commonwealth University
Gillispie is another guy who I’ve had the opportunity to watch live, but it was back in 2017 during his summer ball stint in the Valley Baseball League. The slider was good then (struck out eight in seven shutout innings) and all reports indicate that it’s even better now.
He made 18 starts his sophomore season, posting a 2.57 ERA, 11.85 K/9 rate, 2.44 BB/9 rate, and a 1.11 WHIP (73.2 innings). He bettered those numbers as a junior, posting a 2.58 ERA, 12.10 K/9 rate, 2.35 BB/9 rate, and 0.95 WHIP (80 IP).
Gillispie is listed at 5’11” and has never been a guy to work deep into games (averaging just over 4 IP per start). While I think McLarty gets every opportunity to start, Gillispie could be a perfect candidate to fit a relief role as a fastball/slider option.
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I reached out to a former teammate of his who used the word “grinder” to describe the newest Oriole. “Whatever he needs to do to get the job done, he’s going to do it. When something doesn’t go right, he’s going to fix it. Gillispie is dedicated to his craft and it’s one of the first things his teammates will notice about him.”
Round 10: C Jordan Cannon (SR), Sam Houston State.
A third catcher? Probably not. As Jim Callis pointed out in the draft broadcast, Cannon provides versatility, having played the outfield and third base in college. He also pitched 50 innings in college, but don’t expect him to pitch anytime soon. His senior season numbers are impressive, .372/.455/.521, 27/18 K/BB ratio, but those are against Southland Conference pitchers. He was just 4-14 in caught stealing attempts.
The fact that he is the third catcher selected by Elias means nothing. He’ll likely bounce around the minor leagues, staying with the organization a little longer if he can continue to be a versatile option on defense.
The MLB draft concludes on Wednesday with rounds 11-40 on MLB.com. Follow us on Twitter @BirdsWatcherFS as we recap each pick of the Baltimore Orioles throughout the day!