A few dozen new players will join the Orioles’ minor league system this weekend.
The 2016 Major League Baseball first-year player draft will take place Thursday evening through Saturday. The first two rounds will be televised Thursday on MLB Network, starting at 7 p.m., while rounds three through 10 can be viewed on MLB.com on Friday, beginning at 1 p.m. The draft will wrap up with the final 30 rounds on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at noon.
The Orioles have three picks Thursday – Nos. 27, 54 and 69. They gained the 27th overall pick, in the compensatory round, for losing left-hander Wei-Yin Chen to the Miami Marlins in January and forfeited their initial first-round selection (14th overall) when they signed right-hander Yovani Gallardo in February. The 69th pick is compensation for not signing their second-round pick last season, right-hander Jonathan Hughes, who enrolled at Georgia Tech instead.
It’s hard to predict the Orioles’ pick because we can’t say for sure which 26 players will go before it’s their turn. But it’s still fun to look at the various mock drafts from experts.
Leading up to the draft is like the week before your birthday or Christmas.
You know you’re going to get a gift from your parents. You’ve given them a wish list of the five or 10 things that you want. But what they actually get you depends on what’s sold out, how much everything costs, whether they would rather go to college to increase their draft stock down the road… wait, what? I think I just mixed that up.
Anyway, here is what a few draft experts have said about the Orioles’ pick at No. 27…
Baseball America’s John Manuel: Nolan Jones, SS, Holy Ghost Prep (Pa.)
“Baltimore is thought to be in on the prep bats and has local options such as eastern Pennsylvania’s Nolan Jones and Virginia’s Joe Rizzo. This pick could help kick off a run of high school hitters.”
MLB.com’s Jim Callis: Will Benson, OF, The Westminster Schools (Ga.)
“[Louisville right-handed pitcher Zack] Burdi wouldn’t get past Baltimore, but is probably a pipe dream at No. 27. Barring someone else unexpectedly dropping, this could come down to Benson versus [Virginia catcher Matt] Thaiss or perhaps a college arm.”
ESPN’s Keith Law (insider access required): Eric Lauer, LHP, Kent State
“I’ve heard them on everything here, meaning it’s probably a best-player-available situation rather than any specific player or type.”
Basically, there isn’t a consensus among the experts on what the Orioles will do with their top selection. We’ll find out Thursday which direction the team goes – whether it’s college or high school, pitcher or position player. And it’ll probably take at least a couple of years for the player to make it to the major leagues anyway – gasp, if he makes it at all.
But that’s what I think makes the draft so exciting. By the end of the week, Orioles will have a few dozen new gifts to follow for the rest of this season and beyond.
If you’re new to “The Dean Jones Report” this week, know that it’s my way to keep Orioles fans updated every Tuesday on the performance of the club’s top prospects, according to Baseball America, over the previous seven days.
Right-handers Dylan Bundy, Mychal Givens and Mike Wright are not included because they’re currently in the major leagues – though Wright almost joined the list this week before being called back to the Orioles quickly after his demotion. The remaining seven prospects each receive a bullish (rising stock) or bearish (falling stock) rating, based on their recent performances. For each player, I’ve listed some notable statistics and a link to his MILB.com Player Page.
I’ve also selected a handful of players who are either surging or falling in the Orioles’ minor league system. And, at the bottom of the post, I’ve listed the upcoming schedules for the club’s affiliates. The Rookie-level Dominican Summer League started over the weekend. While I won’t track the Orioles’ two teams in the league – or the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League when it begins – I’ll monitor those teams for any potential additions to our “surging” and “falling” categories. And, of course, when short-season Single-A Aberdeen opens its season June 17 at Hudson Valley, I’ll include the IronBirds players.
Now, let’s see how the prospects have fared in the past week…
No. 2: Hunter Harvey, RHP, extended spring training
MILB.com Player Page
Harvey, 21, is now into the low end of the initial recovery timetable of four to six weeks from the sports hernia surgery he underwent early last month. But the 2013 first-round pick (22nd overall) doesn’t appear to be close to returning to game action. Buck Showalter told reporters last Sunday that the right-hander was throwing from 90 feet and doing conditioning drills in the pool, but the Orioles manager said before Monday’s game at Camden Yards that Harvey has yet to progress to throwing from a mound. Sure, it’s frustrating that the club’s top minor league pitcher hasn’t appeared in a game that counts in almost two years. But, at this point, there is no reason to rush things.
No. 3: Chance Sisco, C, Bowie
Statistics: .312 average, 0 HRs, 18 RBIs, 11 2Bs, 20 runs in 46 games
MILB.com Player Page
The 21-year-old catcher still hasn’t hit a home run through 157 at-bats this year after going deep about once every 69 at-bats over the previous two seasons. But Sisco did have three multihit performances in a four-game series against Akron at Prince George’s Stadium over the weekend. And his team-high 11 doubles are just five shy of his total in 337 at-bats between Frederick and Bowie last season. He had a career-high 27 doubles in 426 at-bats for Delmarva in 2014. In six games so far this month, the 2013 second-round selection is hitting .350 (7-for-20) with one double and three RBIs. Through Monday, Sisco ranks second in the Eastern League in average behind Richmond outfielder Austin Slater (.317).
No. 4: Jomar Reyes, 3B, Frederick
Statistics: .222 average, 4 HRs, 20 RBIs, 23 runs, 46 Ks in 52 games
MILB.com Player Page
Before going 0-for-3 with a walk in the Keys’ 11-3 loss to Carolina, the 19-year-old third baseman had hit safely in five of his past six games. Reyes had five hits – all singles – in his first seven at-bats in June and is hitting .320 (8-for-25) overall this month. Although he hasn’t homered since May 15, it’s encouraging to see Reyes showing signs of snapping out of a slump that saw him bat .183 (15-for-82) with just three extra-base hits and three multihit performances in 23 games last month. I’m marking him as bullish this week, but hopefully he doesn’t allow the hitless game Monday to stop his momentum.
No. 6: Chris Lee, LHP, Bowie
Statistics: 5-0, 2.98 ERA, 19 Ks, 1.05 WHIP in 51 1/3 innings
MILB.com Player Page
The organization scratched the 23-year-old left-hander from his scheduled start on Memorial Day due to what officially was called fatigue. And then Sunday, Lee was placed on the seven-day disabled list at Double-A Bowie. Although it’s listed as a shoulder injury, Dan Connolly wrote Monday that it’s actually a lat-muscle strain in the upper part of his back. As I told you last week, the organization seems to just be taking a cautious approach. It’s never good when one of your top pitching prospects is out of action – especially when your top pitching prospect hasn’t played in a year – but let’s see how Lee responds to the rest. Remember, he won his first five decisions this year and is only allowing just more than one baserunner per inning.
No. 7: Ryan Mountcastle, SS, Delmarva
Statistics: .261 average, 2 HRs, 12 RBIs, 8 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 18 runs in 42 games
MILB.com Player Page
The 2015 first-round pick (36th overall) – who missed eight games last month with a bruised knee – had been struggling since his return to the lineup May 28. But he broke out with five hits in the Shorebirds’ 9-5 win in 13 innings at West Virginia on Monday night. With two outs in the fourth inning, Mountcastle connected for his second home run of the season – and first since Opening Day. He also walked, doubled and scored three times for Delmarva in the game. Because of that, I’m staying bullish this week. Before establishing a career high for hits in a game, though, the 19-year-old shortstop had just one hit in 15 at-bats (.067) with four strikeouts in his previous five games.
No. 8: Trey Mancini, 1B, Norfolk
Statistics: .271 average, 6 HRs, 15 RBIs, 8 2Bs, 42 Ks in 40 games (at Norfolk)
MILB.com Player Page
The 24-year-old first baseman’s eight-game hitting streak came to an end Monday as the Tides managed only one hit – Mike Yastrzemski’s two-out double in the seventh inning – in a 6-0 loss to Durham. In that span, Mancini batted .406 (13-for-32) with two home runs, five RBIs and five multihit outings. The 2013 eighth-round selection has adjusted nicely in Norfolk after being promoted from Bowie in late April. Mancini easily leads all Orioles minor leaguers with 13 home runs between the Double-A and Triple-A levels this season. He’s doing everything he needs to do in order to force his way into the major leagues.
No. 9: D.J. Stewart, OF, Delmarva
Statistics: .232 average, 4 HRs, 21 RBIs, 35 BBs, 46 Ks, 13 SBs in 50 games
MILB.com Player Page
Before Monday night, I was ready to put the 22-year-old outfielder in the bearish category this week. But Stewart convinced me to rate him as bullish for the second consecutive update by going 4-for-7 with a double, two RBIs and three stolen bases in the Shorebirds’ extra-inning victory. The 2015 first-round pick (25th overall) has reached base safely in 14 of his past 15 games. In that span, he is batting .310 (18-for-58) with two home runs and seven RBIs. One quirky tidbit on his splits: Stewart is batting just .148 (12-for-81) at home and .310 (27-for-87) away from Perdue Stadium so far this year.
Jayson Aquino, LHP, Bowie: The Eastern League named the 23-year-old left-hander as its Pitcher of the Week on Monday after he went 2-0 with 15 strikeouts and seven hits allowed in 15 scoreless innings over his past two starts. Aquino, who came to the Orioles from the St. Louis Cardinals in April, is 3-4 with a 3.42 ERA in 55 1/3 innings overall.
Pedro Beato, RHP, Norfolk: The 29-year-old right-hander hasn’t given up an earned run in his past 12 appearances, dating back to May 12. In that span, Beato has lowered his season ERA to 1.27. Right-handed hitters are batting just .154 against him this season, while lefties are hitting .250.
Jason Garcia, RHP, Bowie: I’ve ripped the 23-year-old right-hander through much of the season. He’s 1-6 with a 5.33 ERA in 10 starts for the Baysox, so much of it has been deserved. But Garcia, the Orioles’ Rule 5 player in 2015, deserves some credit for his performance Saturday against Akron. For the first time this year, he didn’t allow a run. Garcia held the RubberDucks to two hits and one walk in six innings.
Matthew Grimes, RHP, Frederick: In his past five starts, the 2014 18th-round pick has allowed just one run in 35 2/3 innings. That’s a 0.25 ERA if you’re counting at home. Because of that success, the Orioles named Grimes as their Pitcher of the Month for May. He is 7-2 overall and leads the Carolina League with a 1.08 ERA in 66 2/3 innings.
Aderlin Rodriguez, 1B/3B, Frederick: The Orioles selected the 24-year-old infielder as the organization’s Player of the Month for May. During the month, Rodriguez batted .333 with five home runs and 18 RBIs in 25 games. Overall, he ranks second in the Carolina League with 10 homers and tied for first in total bases (101).
Trevor Belicek, LHP, Frederick: Acquired two weeks ago in the deal that sent left-hander Brian Matusz – temporarily – to the Atlanta Braves, the 23-year-old left-hander has struggled in his first three starts for the Keys. In 10 1/3 innings with Frederick, Belicek has given up 14 runs (13 earned), 16 hits and four walks. Not a good start with the new organization.
John Means, LHP, Bowie: The 2014 11th-round selection excelled in nine starts for Frederick earlier this year, earning the promotion to Double-A. But Means is 0-2 with a 5.56 ERA in his first two starts for the Baysox. In those two games, the 23-year-old left-hander has allowed seven runs, 18 hits and four walks in 11 1/3 innings. After striking out more than a batter per inning at Frederick, he has just five since moving to Bowie.
Christian Walker, OF, Norfolk: The 25-year-old outfielder has slumped since getting a season-high four hits, including a three-run home run, in the Tides’ 8-6 victory over Lehigh Valley last Tuesday. In his past six games, Walker is only batting .150 (3-for-20) with six strikeouts. He was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in a 5-3 loss to Lehigh Valley on Wednesday.
THE WEEK AHEAD
June 7 – vs. Durham, 12:05 p.m.
June 8 – at Durham, 7:05 p.m.
June 9 – at Durham, 7:05 p.m.
June 10 – at Gwinnett, 7:05 p.m.
June 11 – at Gwinnett, 7:05 p.m.
June 12 – at Gwinnett, 2:05 p.m.
June 13 – at Charlotte, 7:05 p.m.
June 7 – at Portland, 7 p.m.
June 8 – at Portland, 7 p.m.
June 9 – at Portland, 7 p.m.
June 10 – at New Hampshire, 7:05 p.m.
June 11 – at New Hampshire, 7:05 p.m.
June 12 – at New Hampshire, 1:35 p.m.
June 13 – OFF
June 7 – vs. Carolina, 11 a.m.
June 8 – OFF
June 9 – at Potomac, 7:05 p.m.
June 10 – at Potomac, 7:05 p.m.
June 11 – at Potomac (doubleheader), 5 p.m.
June 12 – at Potomac, 1:05 p.m.
June 13 – at Myrtle Beach, 7:05 p.m.
June 7 – at West Virginia, 7:05 p.m.
June 8 – at West Virginia, 7:05 p.m.
June 9 – vs. Lakewood, 7:05 p.m.
June 10 – vs. Lakewood, 7:05 p.m.
June 11 – vs. Lakewood, 6:35 p.m.
June 12 – vs. Lakewood, 2:05 p.m.
June 13 – vs. Kannapolis, 7:05 p.m.