The Orioles went college-heavy on Monday in rounds three to ten of the MLB Draft. Will there be any big leaguers among this crop?
The 2022 MLB Draft continued on Monday afternoon, with the Baltimore Orioles making eight selections in rounds three to ten. The event moved along at a very brisk pace, with the eight rounds concluding in about three hours. As the team that finished with the worst record last season, the Orioles picked first at the beginning of each round.
None of their selections are famous, but you might recognize a few if you follow college baseball. Mike Elias and the rest of draft operation continued their preferences from previous years by drafting all college players on Day Two. Also significant is that most of them went to big schools, meaning that the front office takes performance against tough competition seriously. Of the twelve picks so far, eleven played for a college team, and of those eleven, ten played in a major conference. Of course, the one high schooler was the first pick of the draft.
What the Team Says
Orioles Draft Director Brad Ciolek, who probably knows more about these draftees than anyone, made a few notable comments. Since the Day One picks will likely sign close to slot, most of the Day Two picks will as well, as the Birds only took two college seniors who have no signing leverage. Ciolek said that “[a]s far as where we got each and every one of these guys in the rounds they were taken, we’re really excited about the fact that they were there”. Any scouting director would obviously be happy about their picks, but this tells us Ciolek thinks many players would have been gone already.
Pre-draft rankings might disagree with that sentiment, as only three of the Day Two picks show up in MLB Pipeline’s Top 250. It is important to remember that one list, even from very knowledgeable insiders, is not The Ultimate List. Every scout has their own board, and the further we get into the draft, the more they vary from one another. There is a good chance the Orioles are higher on these players, and there might be other public lists that agree with them.
Ciolek also said that they had some pitching targets on Day One but were gone by their next pick, meaning the Orioles did not plan on a hitter-only first night. They took five pitchers on Day Two, which is certainly more than they have taken in previous years to this point. With all that said, let’s meet the newest members of the farm system.
Nolan McLean, Two-way, Oklahoma State
The very first pick of the day became the player with the strongest arm in the draft, which is usually the case for players who pitch and play the field. Scouts agree that Nolan McLean is better on the mound, as he struck out more than any other Division One player ever. As a multi-inning reliever, he showed a hard fastball that touches 98 and a wipeout slider in addition to an above-average curveball. Ciolek said that all five pitchers will get the chance to start, and McLean will get to DH, as well. Here’s to hoping he can hit enough to be pinch hitter version of Shohei Ohtani.
Silas Ardoin, Catcher, Texas
Matt Holliday is not the only baseball dad now rooting for the Birds, as Danny Ardoin was a catcher in the Majors, including five games for the Orioles. Silas Ardoin, as a fourth rounder, beat his father by one round with a very similar scouting report. He is arguably the best defensive catcher in the draft, with a 60 arm and 60 fielding. But much like the other defensive catchers who went in the middle rounds, he improved at the plate this season to give him a fighting chance at rising through the minor league ranks.
Some fans online were bothered that the front office made a depth pick so early, especially with Adley Rutschman playing well, but the front office must believe he can be more than that. It is also good to remember that organizations need many catchers in the minors, so there is no such thing as taking one too early, and teams should never draft for need at the Major League level.
Trace Bright, Pitcher, Auburn
Rather remarkably, Bright was the third Auburn pitcher taken in the draft, as the team evidently had a strong staff to reach the College World Series. Like McLean, he will likely find a future home in the bullpen. He is a senior sign.
Douglas Hodo III, Outfielder, Texas
While Ardoin might be the best defensive catcher, Doug Hodo might be the best defensive outfielder. He uses his comfortably plus speed and strong instincts to run down balls in center, and he run around the basepaths when coaches let him. He will also need to hit more to profile as a big leaguer, but that is true of any pick at this point. He tied for the college lead in doubles.
Preston Johnson, Pitcher, Mississippi State
The other senior sign, Johnson is a generic SEC performer who draws in scouts and models but lacks quality stuff. His big-game experience will certainly help after being part of the 2021 Men’s College World Series championship team.
Cameron Weston, Pitcher, Michigan
Weston might have some upside remaining since players from cold-weather schools often develop later due to a lack of reps. He absolutely shoved in the Cape Cod Baseball League this summer with a 0.84 ERA in over 21 innings. That is how you get on a scouting radar.
Adam Crampton, Shortstop, Stanford
The Orioles continue the theme on defense, as Crampton might be the best defensive shortstop in the college class. He evidently doesn’t hit much to be available in the ninth round, but he is fun to watch. He also has an unusual journey as someone born in Taiwan played college ball.
Wyatt Cheney, Pitcher, McLennan CC
The last pick of the day was the only player from a small school, as McLennan is a community college in Texas. Wyatt Cheney, member of the double last name gang, had a 3.20 ERA with 122 strikeouts this season. That is a high number of K’s regardless of competition.
Hopefully some of these guys become useful contributors to the big league club someday, or at least part of a trade package. Check back tomorrow for our roundup of rounds ten 10-20.