Adam McInturff is the assistant director of pro scouting for 2080 Baseball. He has worked in the Orioles’ operations department. He talked with BaltimoreBaseball.com’s Rich Dubroff about the draft and his observations of the Orioles’ minor league system.
Question: What did you think about the Orioles’ draft?
Answer: “I felt pretty positively about the last three drafts, and this one was certainly like it. I think there’s no doubt that it’s a little different at the top because the last two of [former scouting director Gary Rajsich’s] drafts focused on high school pitching at the top.
“I think anytime that you do what they did, which is, they brought in easily the number one player on the board, in my opinion in [Adley] Rutschman. We’ll see if they get him signed, but I’m pretty sure they will, given where they took him.
“Moving a guy like Gunnar Henderson down the board to 42, who really was a back of the first round type of talent … when you come away with those two players, they certainly think, not to mention the rest of the group, I think they’re excited about the rest of the class. But because of what they did at the top, specifically, and the way that guys like [DL] Hall and Grayson Rodriguez have performed already in the organization, I think they’re adding two premium talents to a group that’s already getting better.”
Q: One of the things that general manager Mike Elias has said is that he’s not used to having a farm system that isn’t highly ranked. Will this draft class change that low ranking?
A: “I think it gives them a big boost. I’d have to think probably a little bit harder whether it was truly in the top 10, but it pushes them … out of the bottom 10, for sure. I also imagine the way Rodriguez and Hall have pitched helps a lot, too. I think you’re now looking at a farm system that probably has four top 125 guys, in my opinion in Rutschman, Hall, Grayson, and then you could probably put [Ryan] Mountcastle with the way he’s played and his proximity. Maybe Yusniel Diaz. That’s four if not five, and that’s pretty much on par with the better systems in the game.
“They’re certainly close. They’re in the neighborhood of the top 10 when you consider who’s running the organization, the track record that they have of cultivating prospects and outstanding player development and the amount of high picks that Baltimore is going to continue to have. I certainly think that down the road … you’re going to see them place in the better farm systems in baseball at this rate.”
Q: How soon can fans see discernible improvement in the major league team?
A: “I think it depends what type of fan you are. If you’re the type of fan that’s a fairly casual fan worried about wins and losses, I think if we use the Houston blueprint and we assume that Mike and that [assistant GM Sig Mejdal] and the rest of the front office is trying to enact, I think you’re probably looking at another three, four years. But, if you’re the type of fan that’s listening to podcasts or reading this type of work, and you’re really watching this team, day-in and day-out, I think you’re going to start to see progress … as soon as some of these young guys come up.
“I think what’s tough is, and this is just my opinion, what’s really hard about the first half of a season like this one for Baltimore, when everyone knew it was going to be tough, everyone knew they weren’t going to be good, is you’re oftentimes in the early portions of a rebuild without the young players that you’re cultivating to ultimately compete. That’s definitely difficult, and it’s hard for a fan. There’s been a lot of ugly stuff to watch.
“I think the baseline wins and losses, I think it’s going to take a while to turn this ship around. I think that’s partially because they’re dedicated to doing it the right way and taking their time. I certainly think if they wanted to half-measure this thing and have the team win 82, 83, 84 games and spend reckless money and Band-Aid stuff in the offseason like the Orioles have done in years past, they could do that in one or two years, but I think they’re much more dedicated to creating a sustainable, contending team. The Orioles really haven’t had that commitment to a sustainable infrastructure in a long time. That’s what’s most exciting.”
Q: In the previous three drafts, seven of the top nine picks were pitchers, including DL Hall and Grayson Rodriguez. Besides those two, are any of the other pitchers showing promise?
A: “Absolutely. A guy that I like a good amount, and I know that’s he taken his lumps, I’m a big Keegan Akin guy. I think at the very least, he’s a back-of-the-rotation lefty. He’s kind of quietly made his way through the organization, which is funny because he was the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year last year, and the organizational pitcher of the year. That’s to me the first name that comes to mind.
“Akin has certainly been a guy to me in the past that I’ve always liked, maybe No. 5 for a good team and maybe a 4 for a bad team. Another one I’m excited about is Zac Lowther … He’s pretty funky. He’s not a traditional hard-throwing guy, but I think the deception and the spin. He’s kind of the TrackMan darling, how deceptive he is, the amount of strikes he throws. I think Lowther has a chance to be a No. 5 starter as well … Michael Baumann is another one who’s had a good year this year.”
Q: One of the areas the Orioles haven’t done well at in recent years is producing infielders. Is there any help coming along?
A: “I don’t think that some of the infield help is very high up in the organization. I think that if you want to look down on the farm, maybe you go to an Adam Hall and the season that he’s having in Delmarva … He’s kind of an undersized, contact and speed-oriented type of shortstop … He’s a player that’s performed a little better than I thought he was going to be.
“I think of Trea Turner when I see him because I missed on Turner. I missed on Turner because I thought he was too small. I didn’t really think his arm was going to play across the infield, and I underestimated how his speed plays his game up, and I think Hall is starting to turn into a similar type of player.”
Q: The Orioles seem to have a lot of nearly major league ready outfielders. Who do you like among them?
A: “I think that’s one of the strengths of the system. That’s one of the strengths I highlighted in our organizational review this winter for 2080. That really going into this year, especially … was the strength of the system. Yusniel Diaz and Austin Hays … Ryan McKenna, I think, played himself into one of the better and more notable prospects in the organization. He’s in the outfield as well.
“Then you look at this draft, and I think they added two more in Kyle Stowers from Stanford and Zach Watson from LSU, so you kind of pair that with, they already have Cedric Mullins, [Trey] Mancini, [Anthony] Santander, so there’s a lot of outfield options for them, and I think long-term, they’re going to be able to put together a competitive group with all the depth they have at that position.”