Draft signings nearly complete, Orioles' Mike Elias turns attention to trades, international market - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Draft signings nearly complete, Orioles’ Mike Elias turns attention to trades, international market

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

BALTIMORE—Mike Elias has nearly finished signing his first draft class as Orioles’ general manager. There are still a few picks left unsigned, and next month comes with two more important dates: July 2 and 31.

Tuesday marks the beginning of the international signing period, a time when the Orioles, who have long eschewed the high-dollar foreign players, will attempt to plunge back into the market.

On July 31, it’s the trading deadline, and while Elias hopes to add talent by trading away some of his veterans, he’s not focused on it, yet.

After a press conference to introduce the newly signed second round choice, Alabama high school shortstop Gunnar Henderson, Elias spoke about next week’s international signing period.

“Most of the prep work happens before July 2,” Elias said. “We still have to get the kids signed, physicalled and get their visas processed. It’s a lot of work. Our people have been doing that behind the scenes.

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“I just think it’s going to be a very fun day for this organization to have an infusion of Dominican and Venezuelan and even guys from the Bahamas. There’s going to be a lot of international talent coming in, and it’s going to be inspiring.”

Don’t expect immediate help from the international players. They’re often just 16, spend two years in the foreign academies before coming to the United States to play in the Gulf Coast League.

“Because we hadn’t been particularly active in the July 2nd market, we’re in a little bit of arrears in terms of these guys coming up and helping the GCL clubs,” Elias said. “We’re playing catch-up a little bit, but we’ll get caught up.”

With Henderson signed, the highest remaining unsigned player in LSU outfielder Zach Watson, chosen in the third round. He’s the only player among the top 11 choices who has yet to sign. Overall, the Orioles have signed 31 of their 41 draft choices.

“Knocking out our first two picks puts us in really good shape,” Elias said. “We’ve got some players left to sign in this class, some high picks and some a little later down, and we’re working on that right now.”

Henderson, who will begin his professional career with Gulf Coast in Sarasota, Fla. took batting practice with the team on Wednesday. He was chosen 42nd overall.

“This is somebody who was viewed as a talent who could have gone a little higher in the draft than he did,” Elias said. We had to pay over slot to sign him, but we were able to make it work and fit in the pool without compromising too much talent. It was a really good outcome.”

Elias has been running the Orioles’ baseball operations for seven months, and the draft was a huge step towards putting his imprimatur on the team.

“I think it’s a good start,” Elias said. “We’re looking to add talent to this organization. We’ve done that with this draft as I said yesterday, and as I remind myself, we’re not the only team that gets to draft players, so we’re going to see how our guys stack up over the years, but I think this was a really good draft for us, a lot of different type players and it’s going to improve our system.”

Elias will now step back from the scouting process until 2020. In the past when he was running Houston’s scouting department, he looked at prospects in summer leagues. In fact, he saw Henderson an estimated 30 times last summer. Now, his scouting director, Brad Ciolek is doing that.

“I’m getting out of that business,” Elias said. ““I’m trusting Brad and our scouts to handle that. Once the spring rolls around, we’re going to be picking high from the looks of things. I’ll be out in the spring, evaluating those players.”

After the international signing  period begins, it will be time for Elias to focus on improving the major league club more quickly.

“I think it’s going to slowly take up more and more of our front office’s time,” Elias said. “Now that the draft’s over, we can really devote more front office and scouting resources to that, but I can’t say the trade season has picked up in the full swing from what I’ve been able to glean.”

The Orioles entered Wednesday’s game with a 22-57 record, by far the worst in the majors. They’ve lost 12 of 13 and are just 9-29 at home.

“I don’t feel great about it,” Elias said. “This has been the probably the worst two-week stretch that we had, not in terms of losses, but just the play has been rougher. The pitching’s barely making it through games. We’ve had more lapses, I think than we had in the early part of the year.

“I think some of that is just the ebb and flow of the season, but we’re in  a difficult spot in terms of roster depth and talent. I do see these guys continuing to grind and play hard and run out every ball and pour out their heart and soul in each game every night, and that’s important, but we knew this was going to be a tough season, but it’s still tough to go through it on a day-to-day basis and navigate it and deal with the injuries and the roster up and downs.”

It’s possible that  both Dylan Bundy and Andrew Cashner will be on the market, but without them, the Orioles would be even less competitive.

“If we were to lose one of those guys, even to injury or something, how  we backfill right now is not very obvious. We’ll take that as it comes, and we’ll do what’s right for the organization, but they’re carrying us.

“I think our record when either Cashner or [John] Means or Bundy is throwing is a lot different than when they’re not. I think the [Alex] Cobb injury hurt us quite a bit. Every team is looking for starting pitching, too, even the good ones. It just makes it hard to find these guys.”

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Jbigle1

    June 26, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    Looks like the orioles have 370K left to sign players. My bet is Watson wants all of it. He should get it. Other than that the highest guy is an 11th round pick 1B. Probably not such a big loss if we can’t ink him. I wonder if Watson may go back to LSU even if we did at this point because 370K is well under slot value. Hopefully not. He is already 22.

    • Hallbe62

      June 26, 2019 at 7:59 pm

      Watson went undrafted out of High School. And after his sophomore year at LSU was drafted in the 40th (final round) round by the Red Sox.

      A year later we draft him in the 3rd round.

      That’s considerably more love than his previous 2 drafts. Yet he remains unsigned. I don’t know who is advising this young man but I don’t think he should be expecting an “above slot” signing bonus.

      • Jbigle1

        June 26, 2019 at 9:22 pm

        If we gave him every dollar we had that would be half the slot value. He was ranked somewhere between the 75-90tb best prospect in the draft. I’m sure he was expecting at least half the slot value.

        • Hallbe62

          June 26, 2019 at 11:00 pm

          Yeah he was the 79th player selected with a slot value of $ 780,400.

          I have no idea how much $$ we had left in our pool to sign him with. I would think they have the 780K. LSU’s site (tigerdroppings.com) is reporting only that he signed with no details.

          I’m glad we got him signed. He looks like a great athlete.

          • Jbigle1

            June 27, 2019 at 12:38 am

            Sorry that’s my fault. Dan Connolly had tweeted we had 350K over the slot value available. Not 350K total. I was going to say there’s next to no chance we’d sign him if that were the case. I wonder if we take a run at one of the HS guys with that 350K? Could be enough to entice one of them.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 26, 2019 at 9:35 pm

      Watson signed today.

      • Hallbe62

        June 26, 2019 at 11:07 pm

        Thanks for the update Rich.

      • Robinson Robinson Boog

        June 27, 2019 at 2:33 am

        Walk with Elias!!!!

        • Hallbe62

          June 27, 2019 at 12:34 pm

          Yes, let’s all walk with Elias, Boog

  2. Orial

    June 26, 2019 at 5:45 pm

    Elias has done well locking the majority up. Especially Henderson. He looked iffy. International market is a key. Agree about keeping Cashner/Bundy. What they’d get(mid to mediocre prospects) would not outweigh the gutting of a desperate pitching staff. It’s becoming mandatory that these young guns at Delmarva/Frederick succeed. Our only hope.

    • Robinson Robinson Boog

      June 28, 2019 at 12:37 am

      Exactly and as it looks increasingly like they will have the top pick next year that will be a crucial hit as well when we make that pick

  3. Robinson Robinson Boog

    June 27, 2019 at 2:33 am

    Walk with Elias!!!

  4. Mikepete73

    June 27, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    it would be good if they had more international money considering they have the Phillies 750,000 dollars last year for Jack Zoellner who they let have 4 at bats this season just to cut him. he was a power hitting 1b and we could use some power hitters in minors. I just don’t understand giving that much money for a guy and only give him 4 ab

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