Over the last five years, one of the biggest strengths of the Baltimore Orioles has been there ability to draft quality players. Mike Elias and company will enter the coming draft with three picks (22, 32 and 34) before the second round. The first pick is the Orioles regular first-round pick, the second pick was awarded to the O's as a result of Gunnar Henderson winning the Rookie of the Year and the third pick is in competitive balance round A.
The 22nd pick will be the longest Elias has waited to make his first-round pick, but Bird fans should have all the confidence in the world in him as his track record speaks for itself. Elias himself probably does not know who he will be picking at this point, but MLB.com released its top 100 draft prospects for 2024, which could provide us with some hints. I understand that there is practically a zero percent chance that the draft will play out exactly in line with the prospects, but what if it did?
Really early Orioles draft pick projections for 2024
In that highly improbable scenario, the 22nd ranked draft prospect is Drew Beam, a right handed pitcher out of the University of Tennessee. At 6'4 and 208 pounds, Beam already has good size for a major league pitcher, but at only 20 years old he's likely to still be filling out.
He has two impressive seasons with the Volunteers going for a combined record of 17-5 with a 3.20 ERA and 150 strikeouts against 44 walks. Beam features a mid 90's fastball that has topped out at 98mph and a good curveball that sits in the low 80's, but his best pitch is his mid 80's change-up.
He also has a slider/cutter that he has been working into his pitch repertoire. Elias hasn't taken many pitchers early in drafts but with the O's overflowing with offensive talent, Beam could be Elias' first pitcher taken in the first round. He was projected to be taken by the Orioles in MLB Pipeline's mock draft.
The 32nd ranked draft prospect is Griff O'Ferrall, a shortstop from the University of Virginia. Elias has stated that he likes to take athletic middle infielders early in drafts and his draft history backs that up. O'Ferrall fits just about every part of the Elias mold. He's an established collegiate hitter with great plate discipline, he's just not a left handed hitter.
The biggest knock on O'Ferrall is his lack of power, but what he lacks in power he more than makes up for with his bat to ball skills. In two years of college and summer ball, O'Ferrall had 588 at bats which is about as many as an average major league starter. In that time he had a .356 batting average, .431 OBP and he walked more times (67) than he struck out (64).
O'Ferrall may not possess top tier tools but he has a very good baseball IQ that allows him to play above what his skill set appears to be. He used that IQ to be a successful base stealer swiping 33 bases in 37 attempts. O'Ferrall has average arm strength and could transition to second base but again can perform better in the field due to strong footwork. He would fit right in in the Orioles system.
The 34th ranked draft prospect is Joey Oakie, a right handed pitcher out of Ankeny Centennial High School. Elias has typically preferred college players but has drafted high school players that he feels are ready to make the leap to professional baseball (see Jackson Holliday).
Oakie is a two pitch pitcher at the moment so he would be a project if he were to remain a starter, but he is only 17 years old. His two pitches are a fastball that usually sits in the low to mid 90's but has topped out at 97mph and a slider that already grades as a plus pitch. Oakie might not be the type of player the Orioles typically take that early in the draft but he certainly deserves some consideration.
The draft is not until July and things are going to change between now and then, but I can't wait to see what Elias and the Orioles can pull off with their picks.