On Draft Day 2, Orioles select Norby, nation's hit leader, and 1 pitcher - BaltimoreBaseball.com

2021 MLB Draft

On Draft Day 2, Orioles select Norby, nation’s hit leader, and 1 pitcher

Connor Norby
Photo credit: AP Photo - Mark Humphrey

After the Orioles selected Sam Houston State outfielder Colton Cowser with the fifth overall selection on Sunday night, it was natural to think they would take several pitchers in the second day of the Major League Baseball draft.

However, the Orioles again surprised observers by taking only one pitcher among the 10 players they picked on Monday.

“Bottom line is, we’re looking to take the best available player,” Brad Ciolek, the Orioles’ supervisor of domestic scouting said. “Granted there is a lot of data and analytic insights with the college bat demographic that we feel very strongly and comfortable with, so we went ahead to target those guys early and often through the top 10 rounds.”

In the three drafts preceding the arrival of executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias, the Orioles chose pitchers Cody Sedlock, DL Hall and Grayson Rodriguez with their first picks from 2016-2018. In Elias’ three drafts, the Orioles have picked only four pitchers in the first 10 rounds while selecting 10 outfielders, nine infielders and five catchers.

“We want to make sure we find guys that we think are going to perform well at the next level,” Ciolek said. “That have the ability to put the bat on the ball, to take walks, to get on base, but also we want guys that show glimpses of power potential.

“It makes sense in the natural progression of the rebuild. We also feel that a lot of these guys will be fast movers. Obviously, the number one goal here is to continue to not only supplement, add more talent to the minor league system, but add guys that might be able to climb the ladder rather quickly.”

University of Texas Arlington right-hander Carlos Tavera was the Orioles’ pick in the fifth round.

“We do extensive research on our pitchers,” Ciolek said. “Ultimately, with each spot that we’re at, we have to sit here and try to figure out, ‘Is taking this guy worth the risk over a position player or a bat?’ We will be looking to target some pitching on Day 3.”

Most of the players they picked were college position players. The most notable was second baseman Connor Norby, from East Carolina, who led the nation in hits with 102 and hit .415.

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“Norby has tremendous feel for the barrel,” Ciolek said. “He has the ability to adjust well from the fastball to the breaking ball to the offspeed stuff. It’s a lightning-quick bat, and he’s shown that he can hit elite pitching.

“We really like what we’re getting here in terms of the offensive potential. He’s a very athletic kid, so we were very excited that we were able to get him in the second round.”

Between Norby and Tavara, the Orioles selected three outfielders — Southern Mississippi’s Reed Trimble in Competitive Balance Round B, Kentucky’s John Rhodes and Arizona’s Donta’ Williams in the third and fourth rounds.

“We always are looking for guys that have quality at-bats that won’t chase outside of the zone and, ultimately, guys that have tools all around that can play at the next level,” Ciolek said. “A lot of these guys do have the ability to stay within zone and don’t expand when they’re pitched outside the zone.”

Two more college players, Tulane shortstop Collin Burns and Tennessee catcher Connor Pavolony, were chosen in rounds six and seven.

In the eighth, the Orioles went the high school route, picking catcher Creed Willems, from Aledo, Texas. He has committed to Texas Christian University.

They concluded the draft by selecting infielder Ryan Higgins, from Fresno State, in the ninth and outfielder Billy Cook, from Pepperdine, in the 10th.

The draft concludes with rounds 11-20 on Wednesday.

“We always have pitchers lined up, up and down our board,” Ciolek said. “Ultimately, we have to make a decision. We have to take the risk into account. We will be looking extensively at some arms tomorrow.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    July 12, 2021 at 6:34 pm

    Rich, I know this is nit picking,but let’s not confuse the University of Texas at Arlington where Tavara played, with the real deal U.T. located in Austin.

    So Rich, up to this point … who do you see being the over-slotted (or is it under?) beneficiary of the $2 million Elias hopes to save with the 1st round pick?

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 12, 2021 at 7:12 pm

      Ken, thank you. I realized the error when I double checked the team’s draft list and if you look at the updated story with Brad Ciolek’s quotes, it’s correct.

      I would guess the high school catcher, but let’s see who they pick tomorrow.

  2. Bman

    July 12, 2021 at 6:59 pm

    I’m not seeing overshot here, maybe they have to pay extra for Trimble?

    • OhMy!

      July 12, 2021 at 7:35 pm

      Depends which rankings you look at. MLB ranking only Higgins was drafted lower (257) than ranked (230, over slot). But if you look at FanGraphs rankings, both Norby and Trimble were drafted lower than ranked. Norby ranked 25th drafted 41st, Trimble ranked 44th drafted 65th. Should be interesting to see how things play out. And as Rich mentioned above, HS catcher/pitcher Creed Willems may need some over slot $$$ to convince him not to go to TCU.

  3. OhMy!

    July 12, 2021 at 7:36 pm

    Great draft by Elias et al, minors are stocked with talent. 2023 the Os contend for the playoffs!!!

  4. Orial

    July 12, 2021 at 8:51 pm

    One thing we can all agree upon is we have no idea if this is a successful or disappointing draft. Impossible to predict the future of baseball players. Most difficult sport to master because of it’s multiple skill-sets. That being said Elias has put a lot on the line by not focussing a little more on pitching. So I’ll,with a little hesitancy,salute him and say “trust the system”. You’ve got guts Mr. Elias. My Dark horse candidate—Norby. He’ll be the next Gunnar Henderson and ride coat-tales to success(Gunnar in Adley’s shadow).

    • Bmoreravens3

      July 13, 2021 at 7:51 am

      Btw the 3 successful O’s we have right now (Means, Mullins & Mancini) were all drafted between 2013-2015 & in rounds 8-11. We may not see these guys pan out, if at all until the end of the decade & we sure as hell better start paying some players that do pan out for us

  5. Buzz1979

    July 12, 2021 at 8:54 pm

    Let’s just hope nobody turns into the net Billy Rowell!!!

    • BirdsCaps

      July 13, 2021 at 3:02 am

      That’s a blast from the past. Don’t forget matt hobgood. Then there’s loewen, Riley, Penn, and a bunch of other non performing top prospects. I hope player development starts to improve.

      • Phil770

        July 13, 2021 at 12:47 pm

        The trades made by Elias have been heavily pitching oriented, 6 or 7 that I can think of. Plus a few in Dan’s fire sale. Maybe that is the plan instead of drafting pitchers. May not be a great plan, but organizationally, adding pitching, hasn’t been ignored.

  6. Bmoreravens3

    July 13, 2021 at 8:01 am

    With the way we’ve been drafting the last 4 years we better have 9 all star caliber hitters & 2 or 3 Free agent starting pitchers that we pay. Don’t forget about the bullpen

  7. Baltimore Castaway

    July 13, 2021 at 8:34 am

    Being a strong defender of this new regime I am having a hard time rationalizing JUST WHY they aren’t taking any pitching….

    It makes no sense that there will be m(any) “sleeper” pitching prospects available today after the sheer volume of players already selected. No sense at all.

    Have been taught that it always is good to bestow the benefit-of-the-doubt to people in given situations, so I will here also—but this is crazy.

    It causes me to conjure-up theories of other factors that could be going on;

    – does Elias have trades already lined-up for pitching prospects for this Trade Deadline?

    – has he already signed some lights-out prospect(s) in the International Market?

    Of course, I have no idea, but there better be a damned good reason for this semi-erratic behavior by our team’s leadership..

    That’s right—I said it.

    • willmiranda

      July 13, 2021 at 10:47 am

      I appreciate your candor and reasoning, BC.

  8. Bman

    July 13, 2021 at 9:14 am

    It sounds like they could overslot today for some pitching. But, clearly they have been extremely shy from using high draft picks for pitching the last three years. Maybe Elias doesn’t want to get burned like in Houston. It also does not inspire confidence in our current crop of outfielders. Players like Diaz have not lived up to expectations so far. I’m glad they focused on toolsy college players who make strong contact. The org has a lot of good position players now who can hit for average and prob some power. Now, let’s grab some pitching today too.

    • Baltimore Castaway

      July 13, 2021 at 11:37 am

      From your mouth to God’s ears Bman….

      Elias has a “Plan” I’m sure, but it is surely an unorthodox one…

      We should know a lot more after today.

  9. VegasOriole

    July 13, 2021 at 11:18 am

    I guess they are betting on their International pitching, or plan to trade for front line pitching with all these prospects? Also, who is going to be pitching in the minors the next three years?

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