It will take years to evaluate Orioles' draft -

2021 MLB Draft

It will take years to evaluate Orioles’ draft

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

For the first time, Major League Baseball scheduled its draft to begin the night before the Home Run Derby as part of All-Star Game festivities. In previous years, the draft was held in early June.

There was a lot happening on Sunday. It was the final Orioles game of a disappointing first half, the Futures Game and Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Still, MLB succeeded in getting more attention for the draft

Combined with Trey Mancini’s outstanding performance in the Home Run Derby and Cedric Mullins’ start in center field for the American League, it was a busy few days for Oriole fans.

MLB didn’t want players distracted by the draft during the College World Series. By moving the draft by five weeks, they succeeded.

It gave fans more time to familiarize themselves with prospective draft choices, and to grade the Orioles’ draft.

Everyone wants to know how the Orioles did. Check back in 2027.

If you think I’m being flip, let’s review the 2015 draft, which looks different now than it did even a year ago.

Seven of the Orioles’ 41 draft choices have played in the major leagues: outfielder DJ Stewart, first baseman/designated hitter Ryan Mountcastle, who were both first-round picks; left-handed pitcher Garrett Cleavinger, 3rd ,outfielder Ryan McKenna, 4th; right-handed pitcher Jay Flaa 6th, right-hander Ryan Meisinger, 11th; and Mullins, 13th.

A year ago, Mountcastle and McKenna had yet to play in the majors and Mullins hadn’t established himself. Fans would have fixated on Stewart and labeled the draft a bust.


Cleavinger was sent to the Philadelphia Phillies in July 2017 along with outfielder Hyun-Soo Kim. He pitched in one game for the Phillies last season and has a 2.25 ERA in 18 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers this season.

Meisinger was 2-1 with a 6.43 ERA in 18 games for the Orioles in 2018, and is in the Chicago Cubs’ organization.

Flaa pitched in one game for the Orioles on April 27th, was waived and last week was outrighted to Triple-A by Atlanta last week.

Getting Mountcastle, McKenna and Mullins in one draft is impressive, but if you evaluated the draft in 2018, 2019 or even 2020, the result doesn’t look as good.

Also drafted in 2015 were right-hander Gray Fenter and left-hander Nick Vespi. If one or both makes the majors, that draft looks even better.

Even though this year’s draft can’t be evaluated for five or six years, there were some interesting patterns.

Twenty of the 21 picks were college players, and the only high schooler, catcher Creed Willems, taken in the eighth round, announced on Twitter he was signing with the Orioles.

Another was a junior college player, outfielder Trendon Craig, from Louisburg College, where Mullins played.

Only one pitcher was taken among the first 11 picks, and eight were grabbed among the final 10.

The Orioles apparently believe they can develop college pitchers quickly within their system, and that they’re far less risky than high school pitchers. A year ago, they took Iowa high school right-hander Carter Baumler in the fifth round, and he had Tommy John surgery in November.

In several of their trades — Dylan Bundy and José Iglesias to the Los Angeles Angels, and Miguel Castro to the New York Mets — they brought back a number of high-end pitching prospects. Perhaps they believe that pitchers with at least some professional experience are less risky than drafting high-schoolers.

It will be interesting to see where some of the prospects are placed. With two teams this year in the Florida Complex League, some can start there, but that level has historically been for high school players. Many of the players on those teams are young international prospects from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

Historically, most college players began at Aberdeen when it was a short-season team, but the New York/Penn and Appalachian Leagues are gone, and some may start at Low-A Delmarva.

Notes: Keegan Akin will start Friday night as the Orioles begin the second half of their season with a three-games against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. The Orioles haven’t named their starters for Saturday and Sunday. … Tuesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays will be televised exclusively on YouTube. Orioles broadcaster Melanie Newman will be joined by’s Sarah Langs and field reporter Alanna Rizzo for the first all-female broadcast crew. You can watch at … John Means allowed a run on five hits in three-plus innings for Triple-A Norfolk in Memphis. Means struck out four and walked three while throwing 74 pitches. It was Means’ third rehab start, and he should rejoin the Orioles next week.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. Buzz1979

    July 16, 2021 at 7:51 am

    I think it’s safe to say, Stewart is a bust?!

    • jimcarter

      July 16, 2021 at 8:36 am

      Stewart looks every inch a player–in a church softball league.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      July 16, 2021 at 8:57 am

      I’m not sure I’m ready to label DJ a bust. He may not have proved to be a start, but he did make the league. I have a feeling he’ll be hanging around somebody’s lineup for several more years at least.

      Is that a bust? Even a 1st rounder?

      • Orioles20

        July 16, 2021 at 1:56 pm

        Would he be playing on any other team in the league? Probably not.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 16, 2021 at 9:42 am

      Ken, there are so many first rounders that don’t make the majors at all.

      First-rounders who make it and aren’t regulars shouldn’t be considered busts.

      Look how many later round draft picks, Mancini, Means, Mullins have been successes.

      As you well know, the MLB draft is the hardest to evaluate.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        July 16, 2021 at 1:04 pm

        I agree Rich. He’s a major leaguer in some capacity. I was questioning Buzz’s assesment of him being labeled a bust.

        Heck…I’ve heard people around here call Matt Wieters a bust. That’s just crazy talk.

    • Horncall

      July 16, 2021 at 10:28 am

      Let’s hope Stewart makes it to another team. I cringe every time a fly ball comes toward him.

      • Buzz1979

        July 16, 2021 at 1:57 pm

        The Jose Canseco school of outfielding!

  2. Orial

    July 16, 2021 at 8:48 am

    Correct– the MLB draft for all the hyper-tension and emotion it causes us diehards is actually a crapshoot compared to other professional sports. I’ve seen 2 grades given out(C+ and C) while most got A’s and B’s. Reason–Cowser of course. I’ve come to accept the #5 pick for signability and arrival in 2023 maybe. Speaking of Baumler will he be ready in 2023?

    • Bozman

      July 16, 2021 at 9:36 am

      Draft grades are also a crap shoot. Most of the time, the people give you a bad grade when you don’t take the player they wanted you to take. Jim Calis of MLB network seemed to like our first and second day picks.

    • Orial

      July 16, 2021 at 10:08 am

      Actually I meant will Baumler be ready in 2022? Minor leagues of course.

  3. Hallbe62

    July 16, 2021 at 12:30 pm

    YES ! More Melanie please

    • Buzz1979

      July 16, 2021 at 2:38 pm

      Candles in the rain, or brand new key?!

      • jimcarter

        July 16, 2021 at 5:20 pm

        Excellent and over the heads of most! Especially those who believe Stewart resembles a major league quality outfielder.

      • Hallbe62

        July 16, 2021 at 8:21 pm

        Both of those are good songs but I’m really impressed with Melanie “Newman”. She calls a great game. Not to mention that voice…

  4. Paulie

    July 16, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    Stewart is definitely a bust. .216 career average, .325 OBP for a guy who was supposed to have a great batting eye, and a -.04 WAR. The guy can’t stay healthy, is out of shape and is horrible outfielder!

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      July 16, 2021 at 1:08 pm

      Say all you want about DJ….he’s not out of shape. If here were wearing a football uniform, you wouldn’t call him out of shape. He’s thick and more likely than not, mostly muscle.

      • Jersery O

        July 16, 2021 at 4:34 pm

        But he’s still a horrible fielder

        • jimcarter

          July 16, 2021 at 5:24 pm

          Thank goodness my mid section doesn’t match his thickness. I recently observed an outfielder bare hand a carom and fire the ball to the cutoff man in one smooth motion. If Stewart could master that skill with balls off his body…

    • Icterus fan

      July 16, 2021 at 7:00 pm

      Agree he’s not out of shape. Heck he lost weight and trimmed up from last year to this year. He’s just prone to bungling fairly routine plays.
      I like his hustle and work ethic but what’s his future?
      A DH? Prolly not.

  5. Buzz1979

    July 16, 2021 at 2:40 pm

    But Akin is thick, but not in a good way!

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      July 16, 2021 at 7:20 pm

      There is no socially acceptable way to reply to that comment.

  6. dlgruber1

    July 16, 2021 at 2:40 pm

    What criteria is most important in looking back at a draft some years later? Would it be a better draft if more players made it to MLB or if fewer did but became bigger stars? I personally prefer quality over quantity. In 5 years if say only 3 of the 20 picks are in the majors but 2 of them have become everyday successful players I’d consider that a successful draft.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 16, 2021 at 4:07 pm

      Dave, 11 players from the Orioles’ 2013 draft made it to the majors, but only Trey Mancini has had a notable career. Hunter Harvey and Austin Wynns are the only others still in the organization.

      The others are Donnie Hart, Stephen Tarpley, Steven Brault, Jonah Heim, Chance Sisco, Stefan Crichton, Mike Yastrzemski and Jimmy Yacabonis.

      I vote for 2015.

    • CalsPals

      July 16, 2021 at 4:46 pm

      Yaz was 8th in the NL MVP voting & was named 2nd team all MLB team last yr, I’d think that was notable, same age as Trey & respectfully Trey has yet to do either of those two things…go O’s…

    • ClayDal

      July 16, 2021 at 5:52 pm

      Yastrzemski turns 31 in August. Trey is only 29. Yastrzemski didn’t make his MLB debut until he was 28 years old and 275 days ( per Baseball Reference). By the time Trey was 28, he had already hit 86 HR’s and finished 3rd in Rookie of the Year balloting. Yastrzemski finished 8th in the MVP in a 60 game season. Trey was busy battling cancer. So Trey has had a more successful career so far and he is almost 2 years younger

    • CalsPals

      July 16, 2021 at 7:06 pm

      Opinion, I just wouldn’t call Yaz career as un-notable, understand it wasn’t Treys fault he didn’t play last as it wasn’t Mikes fault he did, all MLB players had abbreviated seasons, as much as it has been covered the 2020 season did not have an asterisk…go O’s…

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 16, 2021 at 7:21 pm

      Ray, my intent was to evaluate it for what the player had accomplished with the Orioles, not elsewhere.

    • CalsPals

      July 16, 2021 at 8:17 pm

      Appreciate the clarification, just wasn’t stated that way…go O’s…

  7. Triandos 11

    July 16, 2021 at 4:52 pm

    You never know in drafting how a player will turn out, nor if you acquire a prospect via trade ,waivers, etc.So far with our highly rated pitching prospects this year has been a bust at this point. Makes you wonder about all the hype about the other guys down in the minors. Makes me wonder anyway. There is an incredible difference in talent and mindset between major leaguers versus a minor leaguer. Just hoping thise

  8. jimpalmer65

    July 16, 2021 at 6:18 pm

    Rich, you are right it most likely will take 5-6 years to know how the 2021 draft was.

  9. CalbuytheOs

    July 16, 2021 at 10:34 pm

    This is crap. This is Elias cementing his job security. Get rid of potentially quality players and get high schoolers in return. With that mindset, they have no chance of signing quality free agents, and little chance of selling season tix. Then tell fans, “This’ll take time.” Nice.

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