BALTIMORE–Mike Elias’ first draft as Orioles general manager is on Monday, and three days before the draft, he says he hasn’t decided who the team will take with its first No. 1 pick in 30 years.
“Nothing’s really changed,” Elias said Friday. “The draft is still three days away, and we have a lot of time. A lot of the players we’re considering for the first pick are playing this weekend, and we’re going to monitor that and take it down … There’s no reason to make the decision prior to when we have to make the decision.”
Elias said the Orioles are considering four players, and according to various mock drafts and reports, they appear to be Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman, Texas high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., University of California first baseman Andrew Vaughn, and Georgia high school shortstop C.J. Abrams.
Elias said that last summer, when he was Houston’s scouting director, he watched each of the four play “dozens” of times and this year has seen each of them two or three times, in addition to voluminous video.
The Orioles have $13,821,300 to spend on the first 10 draft picks. The recommended slot bonus for the top overall pick is $8,415,300.
“It’s a big advantage,” Elias said. “If we end up using every dollar of it just kind of straight up, meaning for each player that it’s slotted for, great. That means we really like those guys and we got them.
“And if it ends up to where we’re pushing some of that money around and maybe signing a high school player later in the draft as his talent dictates or a college sophomore with a little bit of a price tag, that would be good, too. It’s impossible to predict. It just depends where guys go in the draft. But we do anticipate using the full pool.”
Even though pitching is always in short supply, none of this year’s top prospects is a pitcher.
“It’s a pretty hitting-heavy draft at the top,” Elias said. “I don’t know if it’s an aberration or what, but, yeah, there’s a lot of good hitters this year and fewer pitchers who are first-round material.”
The Orioles have the first pick of the second round, the 42nd overall, and that slot value is $1,771,100. They’ll also have a competitive balance selection on Monday, the 71st overall.
“It’s important to have a real clear idea of what that’s going to look like, especially in the top 10 rounds, because your bonus pool is so precarious,” Elias said.
“So, we do a lot of advance work with that and usually the area scout will get on the phone with the player’s camp and just make sure we have a pretty clear understanding and sometimes later in the draft on the third day you’ll take guys on fliers with no idea if they’re going to sign, or kind of a hope and a prayer that they’re going to sign at the end of the summer. But that’s becoming rarer and rarer just because the signing deadline is earlier than it used to be and there’s only like a month where you’d have the kid under control, so not a lot changes in a month.”
On Tuesday, rounds 3-10 will take place; Wednesday will feature rounds 11-40.