Mike Elias' first Orioles draft begins with 'a good blend' - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Mike Elias’ first Orioles draft begins with ‘a good blend’

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

Early Tuesday morning, Mike Elias sounded happy as he reviewed his first three draft choices as Orioles general manager. Elias’ first pick was one that most mock drafts had on top of their lists, Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman.

But Elias, who ran drafts for the Houston Astros before coming to Baltimore, was also delighted with his second-round pick, Alabama high school shortstop Gunnar Henderson, and Stanford outfielder Kyle Stowers, who was selected in the Competitive Balance B round.

“It’s a good blend,” Elias said in a conference call. “This is the start of our draft, a very important night. We view tomorrow as almost equally important.”

This afternoon, rounds 3-10 will take place. On Wednesday, it’s rounds 11-40.

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Most of the attention will be on Rutschman, who was one of the four players Elias said he was considering on Friday for the top pick.

“We arrived at Rutschman. We’re thrilled to make that decision,” Elias said. “It was not a decision that we took lightly and didn’t examine from multiple angles.”

Rutschman’s season ended on Saturday in an NCAA regionals and he’s available to sign with the Orioles immediately.

“I’m not anticipating a lot of drama there, hopefully,” Elias said. “It’s still a process we have to go through. We’re still running the draft.”

Elias hasn’t decided where and when Rutschman will begin his professional career.

“He’s coming off a long season, and the first summer for these types of players is just kind of about getting your feet wet in pro ball,” Elias said.

Elias acknowledged that he and his staff discussed the possible timing of Rutschman’s arrival in the major leagues and whether it would coincide with what he hopes is the Orioles’ turnaround.

Perhaps if the Orioles had taken Texas high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., who was selected second by Kansas City, his ascension to the major leagues could be slower than that of Rutschman, who’s 2 years older.

“We had a little bit of that discussion,” he said. “It does come up. I don’t think it was a reason to pick one guy over another when you’re looking for tiebreakers.

“The top of the draft went very much in order of prediction … It was very similar to what our board might have looked like at the top. We really liked a lot of these guys. The first four picks were all pretty heavy discussion from us.”

Elias traveled to Corvallis, Oregon in January to meet with Rutschman and came away impressed.

“He strikes you as intelligent and present and [with] thoughtfulness, which are traits I’ve seen to be very important for these types of players,” Elias said. “He’s got a good mind for the game, a good motor to him, his energy level is strong.”

This wasn’t considered a pitcher-heavy draft. For the first time in draft history, position players were taken with the first six picks. The Orioles need pitching, but Elias didn’t seem in a hurry to grab any.

“I can’t guarantee that we’ll take a pitcher tomorrow,” he said. “Obviously, we have to take a whole bunch of pitchers. Odds are we’ll be taking a few pitchers tomorrow, but it’s known to be a position-heavy draft, and we had pitchers on the board for our [later] picks, but we just had Henderson and Stowers higher than them.”

It’s the first time since 1997 the Orioles didn’t choose a pitcher with any of their three picks.

Henderson, who is 6 feet 3, 195 pounds, has the option of attending Auburn. He could be moved to third base if he grows, Elias said.

“He’s got plus-power, and he hits well,” Elias said. “He fits the third base profile, but If he ends up staying at shortstop, I think that would be icing on the cake.”

Henderson, who was named Gatorade Player of the Year in Alabama, batted. 559 with 11 home runs and 75 RBIs for Morgan Academy in Selma.

Stowers, who was drafted during Stanford’s NCAA regional win over Fresno State, batted .304 with seven home runs and 35 RBIs in 49 games this season.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. bigdaddydk

    June 4, 2019 at 8:25 am

    I like these picks so far. Defense up the middle, but players that could change positions if necessary. I’m keen on the idea of drafting a SS that could be a 3B too. Rutschman is obviously the crown jewel of the draft for us, at least at the moment. I’m as impressed by his character as I am by his playing, having read that his character is very high and that he comes from a family that is highly respected in the state of Oregon. Very optimistic about our future with these picks.

  2. Fareastern89

    June 4, 2019 at 8:59 am

    I know you don’t draft for need, and you can never have too many shortstops, but a shift of Henderson to third could actually work out better for O’s, given the presence of several promising shortstops (Hall, McCoy, Grenier) in the system, and fewer third basemen. See where the chips fall. And while Rutschman may reach the majors before the team is ready to contend, he might hasten the team’s ascent by improving pitchers’ performance. Also, he’ll provide fans with a reason to believe, and should help attendance whenever he arrives.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 4, 2019 at 9:04 am

      Fareastern, the Orioles need talent everywhere. Looking forward to monitoring Rutschman’s progress.

      • Fareastern89

        June 4, 2019 at 9:56 am

        No argument there, Rich. Interested to see how day two unfolds — whether there will be a discernible pattern in the next round of picks.

  3. Hallbe62

    June 4, 2019 at 9:24 am

    So far, so good.

  4. BirdsCaps

    June 4, 2019 at 9:28 am

    Was this considered a non- top heavy draft. Until a few months ago, I never heard of any of the 1st rounders. Usually there are a few players who are at least hyped by ESPN or MLB network. Harper and Strasburg were super hyped, but the current draft had almost none (a little bit about Witt last year and very little on Rutschman this year). This obviously means very little (except in super cant miss prospects such as Harper and Strasburg), but it just seems a little strange. I wonder if it was due to the lack of cant miss players or the small markets of KC and Baltimore.

    • Orial

      June 4, 2019 at 10:20 am

      Baseball PERIOD is not hyped by ESPN anymore.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 4, 2019 at 10:49 am

      BirdsCaps, according to one longtime draft observer, Rutschman is the best player to come out in several years. College and high school baseball are low down on the sports coverage chain, and I didn’t know anything about any player other than Rutschman or Witt until very recently.

      I realize that Bryce Harper was originally a catcher, but generally catchers aren’t considered glamorous prospects.

      I think fans are so used to the non-stop hype of the NFL and NBA drafts that the baseball draft sneaks in. Besides, we have a team to keep track of every day.

  5. Bancells Moustache

    June 4, 2019 at 9:51 am

    I have to admit I am far more optimistic about the Baltimore Orioles this morning than I was yesterday.

    So, tell me about Spencer Torkelson…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      June 4, 2019 at 2:54 pm

      I can help with this one BanMo. He plays for Arizona State, has been known to sport a 70’s porn-style mustache, (though not nearly as big as Richie’s) and has a funny name.

  6. Bman

    June 4, 2019 at 10:21 am

    I think they made the right choice with Rutschman. The other two pics seem intriguing, I was a little surprised they took an outfielder but I guess go where the talent is. Let’s see how they do today..

  7. Orial

    June 4, 2019 at 10:23 am

    Rich I see and believe there’s an interesting list of Puerto Rican players eligible(Lugo especially) for this draft. Do you see the O’s refocusing their attention down there?

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 4, 2019 at 10:50 am

      I don’t know, Orial. When I first started watching baseball, Puerto Rican players were a much greater presence in the big leagues than they are today. I hope you’re right and more Puerto Rican players are added to the mix.

  8. cb

    June 4, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    I’ll be interested in seeing how well Rutschman hits from either side of the plate. I hope he’s not like Mullins and is only good from one side.

  9. ButchBird59

    June 4, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    Pollyanna, Pollyanna, Pollyanna prediction for the next pick: The beginning of the new philosophy in Baltimore. It will be a slider/sinkerball pitcher. The era of the Fly Ball, Bye Ball pitcher is over.

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