Some questions and answers about the Orioles' draft - BaltimoreBaseball.com

2020 MLB Draft

Some questions and answers about the Orioles’ draft

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

Because of the absence of live baseball, Wednesday night’s draft has generated much more interest than in the past. Here are some frequently asked questions.

Why is this year’s draft shorter? In 2020, the draft will be just five rounds, down from the customary 40. Teams are looking to save money, and there’s no minor league baseball for draftees to play.

Next year, the minor leagues are likely to be radically different with the Orioles and the other 29 teams losing an affiliated team. It didn’t make sense to add the 30-plus players usually signed of the 41 drafted to a minor league system.

Who will the Orioles draft? The consensus top selection in the draft is Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson, who is expected to be selected by the Detroit Tigers.

In his Monday video conference call, Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias sounded as if he expected the Tigers to take Torkelson.

“Usually when the same player is pegged to the same team in the same list over and over, there’s an outcome that tends to happen,” Elias said. “We’re preparing for all possibilities. The level of mystery surrounding that pick this year seems lower than average.”

With Torkelson off the board, the apparent favorite for the Orioles is Vanderbilt third baseman/outfielder Austin Martin.

If the Orioles go for a pitcher, Texas A&M left-hander Asa Lacy is the top-rated one.

They could also select New Mexico State middle infielder Nick Gonzales or Florida high school outfielder Zac Veen, pay them slightly less than the slot bonus of $7,789,900 and use the savings for a player later in the draft.

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Are the Orioles looking for players at specific positions? No, that’s not how Major League Baseball teams draft. Since no player goes directly from the draft into the major leagues, there’s no sure way of telling what the Orioles’ situation at say, third base, will look like in two or three years.

Last year’s draft was light on pitchers, and the Orioles didn’t take one until the eighth round, right-hander Griffin McLarty.

This year, if the Orioles take Martin with the second pick, they could choose pitching with the draft’s 30th pick or with their second round pick, which is 39th overall.

In 2020, besides taking catcher Adley Rutschman with the first overall pick, the Orioles took two other catchers, Maverick Handley (6th) and Jordan Cannon (10th) in the first 10 rounds. They also took Harris Yett in the 32nd round.

With only six selections, it’s probably a safe bet that the Orioles won’t take another catcher in this draft.

Last year, the Orioles also selected three shortstops, Gunnar Henderson (2nd), Joey Ortiz (4th) and Darrell Haraiz (5th) in early rounds. They also loaded up on centerfielders, Kyle Stowers (competitive balance pick), Zach Watson (3rd) and Johnny Rizer (7th).

That doesn’t mean the Orioles will shy away from additional middle infielders or centerfielders. If a player can play shortstop, they likely can play other infield positions, and the same for centerfielders.

Looking to the future, teams are often looking for catchers, shortstops and centerfielders in trades, so it’s not a bad strategy to have a surplus.

Where will those drafted play this year and in 2021? Elias talked about trying to find them competitive games. Perhaps there will be an extended spring training setup, and there’s also been talk about an expanded Arizona Fall League.

It would be interesting to see where a college player drafted in a high round would begin 2021, assuming next year’s schedule is back to normal. If there’s only one short-season team, as is the conventional wisdom, perhaps the high draftees would begin in Low-A.

If high schoolers are drafted, they might be kept in extended spring training in Sarasota next year and then play in short-season ball a year from now.

Of course, we don’t know what the affiliate setup will be for the Orioles.

How many undrafted free agents are expected to sign? That’s hard to say, but Elias indicated the Orioles will be aggressively recruiting undrafted players in a signing period that begins 48 hours after the draft ends on Thursday night.

These players can sign for a maximum of $20,000. If in a normal year, the Orioles sign 30-to-35 players, and perhaps they’ll sign as many as two dozen this season.

High school players who aren’t drafted have the option to go on to college ball, and since the NCAA season was canceled this year, an extra year of eligibility was added, giving college juniors and seniors some leverage.

How quickly can a draft class be evaluated? It takes at least five years. In 2015, the Orioles drafted outfielder DJ Stewart (1st), first baseman/outfielder Ryan Mountcastle (compensation pick), outfielder Ryan McKenna (4th), outfielder Cedric Mullins (13th).

They also have a late-blooming right-handed pitcher, Gray Fenter, whom they picked in the seventh round and has yet to play above Low-A Delmarva because of Tommy John surgery.

Another pitcher, Ryan Meissinger, was an 11th-round pick and made it to the Orioles  in 2018 before he was claimed on waivers by St. Louis after the season.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. cedar

    June 10, 2020 at 8:30 am

    Rich – Last year’s draft was touted as light on pitchers and this year as heavy on pitchers. Other than Lacy I haven’t hears/seen much on pitchers for this shortened 5 round draft. Are most of the quality pitchers not expected to go in the first 5 rounds? Could that be advantageous for the orioles if those pitchers are available as undrafted free agents?

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 10, 2020 at 8:42 am

      Cedar, I read MLB.com’s mock draft this morning, and their two experts, Jim Callis, who I recently interviewed here, and Jonathan Mayo linked 14 different pitchers to teams in the first round.

      I would think the Orioles go for pitching with their 30th and 39th picks.

      Hard to say what the Orioles will go for with undrafted free agents.

  2. Bman

    June 10, 2020 at 9:54 am

    I’m expecting Martin, pitcher, pitcher for their first three picks. Any baseball news is good at this point.

  3. NormOs

    June 10, 2020 at 10:35 am

    Callis said Martin “may be too evpensive for the O’s taste”?? What! 12 dollars and a half and a ’86 Falcon won’t do the job? Genius1 will surely figure something out…….. right! Competative baseball and the O’s in the same sentence? It ain’t gonna happen!

    • Bancells Moustache

      June 10, 2020 at 11:32 am

      I think that’s code for “Scott Boras Client”

  4. Buckler89

    June 10, 2020 at 10:57 am

    Still seeing speculation that the Os might try to get cute and go with a surprise pick to sign under slot and then use that money to go after guys later in the draft. My money is still on Martin and while I trust Elias, I just don’t think this is the year to overthink anything. Martin seems well agreed upon to be the 2nd best player in the draft, so just snag him.

    Rich, is losing minor league teams a done deal? I know it seemed to be going that way, but nothing seemed finalized, though I haven’t seen anything on it in a while. Wouldn’t shock me if MLB uses COVID as a way to push it over the edge.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 10, 2020 at 11:01 am

      Buckler, it’s assumed that the minor leagues will be vastly different next year. MLB is occupied with negotiating this season’s parameters before it works with MILB on 2021 and beyond.

  5. Boog Robinson Robinson

    June 10, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Ya know …. how smart do you really have to be to follow the chalk from the top 10 or 20 picks in the MLB draft?

    I’ve only been watching this process for the past 5 years or so, but it seems pretty obvious that there never seems to be any surprises at the top of the draft board. The mock drafts pretty much seem to be spot on lately. I’m thinking that the real brains and homework would be more valuable from 3rd round on.

    (just a layman’s opinion Os#1…don’t get all riled)

  6. Bancells Moustache

    June 10, 2020 at 11:34 am

    I think I like the Gonzalez kid out of New Mexico.

  7. dlgruber1

    June 10, 2020 at 4:47 pm

    I e never followed the MLB draft closely until recently. I’d love it if the O’s could get Lacy and Martin. My question is this. Is it unusual for teams to trade up to get higher picks? I’m thinking the O’s could offer their #’s 30 and 39 picks, plus DJ Stewart and maybe even a reliever to get the #3 pick. That way they could get both of them. Do teams do that often in MLB?

    • ClayDal

      June 10, 2020 at 5:17 pm

      Draft choices in baseball can’t be traded. Maybe in the next CBA it will be allowed but not now

      • WorldlyView

        June 11, 2020 at 2:42 pm

        I stumbled upon a narrow exception to the no-trade rule for MLB draftees. According to two websites, Competitive Balance Round slots can be traded during a period of time starting December 2nd and up until two hours prior to the MLB First-Year Player Draft (MLB Rule 4 Draft). The slot cannot be traded for cash unless it is a financial adjustment made to offset the salary of one or more of the players involved in the trade. Also, a Competitive Balance draft slot can be traded only once (by the club that was awarded the pick). Once traded, the slot cannot be “flipped” to a third club.

        • Rich Dubroff

          June 11, 2020 at 3:27 pm

          Right you are, Professor Cohen.

    • dlgruber1

      June 10, 2020 at 8:39 pm

      Thanks ClayDal, I wasn’t aware of that. I wonder why, when it’s a common occurrence in every other sport.

      • Rich Dubroff

        June 10, 2020 at 9:23 pm

        Draft picks in the NFL and NBA are expected to produce immediately. MLB draft picks take much longer.

  8. Boog Robinson Robinson

    June 10, 2020 at 6:46 pm

    Harold Reynolds just sold me on Zac Veen.

  9. Boog Robinson Robinson

    June 10, 2020 at 7:21 pm

    Who? Kjersted? Arrrrrrrghh! The boy genius drops the ball. Playing games with $$ instead of taking the best player available.

    Grandstanding GM…..sheeeeesh. “Dig me” he says.

  10. CalsPals

    June 10, 2020 at 7:22 pm

    Kierstad (so)…shocker, heard no one mention his name w/this pick…go O’s…

  11. ClayDal

    June 10, 2020 at 7:54 pm

    Well I’m speechless. I figured if they passed on Martin, they would have gone for Veen, Gonzales, Lacy or even Hancock. But Kjerstad? Guess will have to wait and see. Maybe they think his left handed power will play at Camden Yards. So naturally Martin fell to the Blue Jays where in a couple of years, he will get to face the Orioles 19 times a year. If Kjerstad is a bust and Martin becomes a star in Toronto, Mike Elias can begin working on his resume. This will be a make or break move.

  12. dlgruber1

    June 10, 2020 at 9:55 pm

    Seeing O’s fans reaction to the Kjerstad pick, one thing is very obvious, Elias honeymoon in Baltimore is over.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 10, 2020 at 10:31 pm

      It doesn’t help that the team isn’t playing.

  13. Mikepete73

    June 11, 2020 at 6:27 pm

    no idea what elias is doing in this draft. if we took hjerstad to save money for players later that we could use the savings for why did they reach for Westburg and now in the 2nd rd they just really reached for another OF. this is a cheap Angelo’s draft. you cant waste when picking high like this. this article makes it out like they probably wont draft OF or middle infielders since we loaded up last yr and that’s what they pick

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