A number of draft picks have been signed by the Baltimore Orioles and are already suiting up for their new affiliate organization. The big names are on the way.
The draft is over, short-season rookie ball is underway, and childhood dreams of playing professional baseball are becoming reality for many new rookies across minor league baseball. For the Baltimore Orioles, around half of their 2019 draft picks have been signed and reported, with many more official announcements on the way shortly.
As of Friday morning, more than 20 of the Orioles’ 41 draft picks have been signed and officially reported by the organization. For those players selected within the first ten rounds, signing bonus numbers are rolling in and early reports show positive savings for the O’s. Why is this important? Gunnar Henderson.
Among those selected in the first ten rounds, the Orioles have come to terms with IF Joey Ortiz (4th round- New Mexico State), OF Johnny Rizer (7th round-TCU), RHP Griffin McLarty (8th round- College of Charleston), and C Jordan Cannon (10th round- Sam Houston State).
Baltimore inked Ortiz to a $450,000 signing bonus, just over $88,000 below slot value. McLarty singed the dotted line and earned himself $170,000, more than $16,000 below slot value. With just these two deals made public, the Orioles have pocketed more than $100,000, and have more expected savings on the way.
Baltimore should have savings coming from both Rizer and Cannon’s deals, with both players being college seniors. Dollar amounts haven’t been reported, yet. My best guess would also assume that 9th round pick RHP Connor Gillispie (VCU) comes in at under slot. OF Zach Watson (3rd round out of LSU) and C Maverick Handley (6th round out of Stanford) are also likely candidates to come in slightly below their slot value.
*Since publishing, Gillispie has signed for $125,000 ($159,200 slot value) and Rizer’s $15,000 bonus has been announced ($235,100 slot value). This brings the total amount of savings to more than $358,000.
It is widely assumed Gunnar Henderson will sign with the Baltimore Orioles.
A deal for Adley Rutschman appears all but done. As pointed out in Steve Melewski’s piece for MASNsports.com, “As I’ve said all along, I’m very optimistic with Adley (Rutschman). He’s got a lot going on right now and is completing his finals, I think today. And then he’s got a slate of awards (to attend) including the Golden Spikes and the Dick Howser (award). There are a few others too. Sometimes it’s best to let the players participate in those types of things, prior to deeply engaging. But everything is going to go smoothly there, is my expectation”
There has never been any concern around Rutschman, except for those few hours before the draft where fear began to creep into the mind of O’s fans about the organization taking a different direction with their draft selections. Don’t worry, Birdland. It wasn’t a dream, Adley Rutschman is a Baltimore Oriole (almost officially).
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The one pick among those selected in the first ten rounds with any questions surrounding him is high school infielder Gunnar Henderson. A 17-year-old left-handed hitting infielder out of Alabama, Henderson was viewed by some major publications as a potential first-round draft pick.
Fangraphs gives Henderson future value grades of 50+ (20-80 scale) on his hit tool, power, speed, fielding, and arm, with his 60 FV arm grade being the highest of the five. MLB Pipeline is a little more generous in their grading of Henderson’s tools, but largely shares the same views- he’s one of the top high school prospects from the 2019 draft class with all the tools to be a solid offensive performer and quality defender on the left side of the diamond.
Every major outlet agrees that Henderson likely makes a move to third base as he grows and develops physically. Either way, the Orioles don’t possess a lot of prospect talent at either position.
I haven’t followed the MLB draft for very long, with 2019 being just the second season of really diving into the process and players, however, I don’t believe Mike Elias makes this pick if he didn’t think Henderson begins the 2020 season with the Auburn Tigers. He’s just going to take a little more work, a few extra crab cakes, and some extra cash. The slot value for the 42nd overall pick is $1.77 million.
At the end of the day, fans of the Baltimore Orioles should prepare for not one, but two stellar new prospects in a farm system which has been viewed as an empty pit for a long while.