Latest mock draft links Orioles to high-heat pitcher drawing Paul Skenes comparisons

The Orioles could take a risk on Brody Brecht, a dominant arm with questionable command, with their first-round pick.
Brody Brecht (14) of Iowa throws strikes as the Florida International University Panthers play the Iowa Hawkeyes in a three-game series at Principal Park in Des Moines on Thursday, May 16, 2024.
Brody Brecht (14) of Iowa throws strikes as the Florida International University Panthers play the Iowa Hawkeyes in a three-game series at Principal Park in Des Moines on Thursday, May 16, 2024. / Lee Navin/For the Register / USA TODAY
facebooktwitterreddit

With the ascendancy of their homegrown stars, the Orioles have built a reputation on drafting and developing college and prep bats. Recent mock drafts, though, link the club to a prominent college arm who is drawing comparisons to Paul Skenes instead.

In MLB Pipeline’s most recent mock draft, Jim Callis predicts Baltimore will select Iowa right-hander Brody Brecht with the 22nd pick. Considering the Orioles’ farm system has a relative lack of pitching (only 10 of the top 30 prospects), investing in a developed, experienced arm would complement the farm system as it stands now. A college pitcher that hits triple-digits and features a nasty slider? Even better.

Brecht, a junior, features stunning swing-and-miss stuff, finishing fifth in D-1 with 14.71 strikeouts per nine innings. He relies mostly on the fastball and slider, but also has been working on a splitter and cutter that could be developed in the minors.

MLB Mock Draft: Orioles could be tempted by Brody Brecht's stuff, but the high heat comes with a risk.

The biggest knock on Brecht is his command. He walked 5.6 batters per nine innings this season, but his command improved over the final third of the year. Over his final six starts of the season including the conference tournament, Brecht walked 17 batters over 38 innings, a 4.03 walks per nine rate. He struck out 55 over that span. Brecht’s command has improved each season in college with a noticeable jump as a junior, potentially due to his decision to drop football and focus solely on baseball.

The two-sport athlete’s build and athleticism could keep him in the rotation conversation through the lower levels of the minors. He regularly pitched into the seventh inning in college (even though he was on a pitch count late in the season). If Brecht expands his repertoire, he could be a huge asset to the pitching-thin system.

One look at Brecht shows why he could easily profile as a power closer. Mason Miller has been dominating opponents with essentially two pitches: a four-seam and a slider. Aroldis Chapman had a BB/9 rate north of 4.5 in three of his six All-Star seasons. The Orioles could certainly use a dominant reliever as Craig Kimbrel moves toward retirement, and a strong right-hander could complement lefty Keegan Akin down the line.

The last time the Orioles selected a pitcher in the first round was in 2018, when they took Grayson Rodriguez out of high school. Rodriguez turned into a top prospect and valuable member of the big league rotation. Baltimore’s last first-round pick spent on a college pitcher did not pan out quite as well. The Orioles picked Cody Sedlock out of the University of Illinois. He made one three-inning appearance for Baltimore in 2022, and now the injury-prone right-hander plays in the White Sox minor-league system.

There is still a high chance that the Orioles will play by the familiar rulebook and select a college bat like Billy Amick or Tommy White, but a gamble on Brecht could pay off as Baltimore looks to the future.