Orioles' top draft picks enjoy Baltimore visit; Hyde hopes Akin, Santander return next week; Franco off injured list - BaltimoreBaseball.com

2021 MLB Draft

Orioles’ top draft picks enjoy Baltimore visit; Hyde hopes Akin, Santander return next week; Franco off injured list

BALTIMORE—Colton Cowser and Connor Norby, the Orioles’ first two draft picks, enjoyed their day in Baltimore and seemed comfortable with their new team.

“I enjoyed lunch with my family, and have been treated with nothing but hospitality,” said Cowser, who was the fifth overall pick from Sam Houston State University.

The outfielder, who signed for a reported $4.9 million, said the signing process moved quickly.

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“There were a couple of days where I was decompressing, and then contacted me, and I got up here pretty quickly,” Cowser said.

Cowser and Norby, who’s a second baseman from East Carolina University, have already been to the Orioles’ spring training headquarters at the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota, Florida. They’ll work out there for a few days, play some games in the Florida Complex League and finish the regular season with Low-A Delmarva.

“You can always improve on everything,” Cowser said. “That’s something I’m looking to do, is improve each tool that I have, and get better at it. Power is something that I’m looking to improve as well.

“That’s how I was raised to play the game, kind of an old-school player, be able to contribute on both sides of the ball. Say you’re not having a good day at the plate and you go out on the field and you take away some [hits]. There are always ways to contribute.”

Norby led the nation in hits with 102 and batted .415 for East Carolina.

“I bring a lot of fire,” Norby said. “I play hard all the time. I can do anything. I consider myself a jack of all trades. I can do everything. I want to be good at everything. There’s a lot of improvement in my game that I want to work on, and that’s what I’m looking forward to most.”

Norby has been a second baseman, but the Orioles move their top prospects around the field.

“I have played third. I have played second. I’m open to playing the outfield,” he said. “I want to play as many positions as I can. I want to be as good at as many positions as I can. I want to be versatile, and that just increases everyone’s value.”

Draft signings: The Orioles announced the signings of outfielder Reed Trimble, who was their competitive balance round pick as well as fifth-round pick, right-handed pitcher Carlos Tavera, catcher Creed Willems (8), infielder Ryan Higgins (9), outfielder Billy Cook (10), right-handed pitcher Dylan Heid (11), right-hander Jacob Armbruester (12), infielder Jacob Teter (13), right-handers Keagan Gillies (15), Peter Van Loon (16) Ryan Long (17), Conor Grady (18) and Alex Pham (19).

According to MLB’s Jim Callis, Willems, the only high school player drafted by the Orioles, signed for $1 million, far above slot value of $187,770.

On Friday night, the Orioles signed outfielder John Rhodes, their third-round pick. They’ve now signed  17 of their 21 draft picks. The unsigned are infielder Collin Burns (6), catcher Connor Pavolony (7), right-handed pitcher Daniel Lloyd (14) and outfielder Trendon Craig (20).

Akin, Santander in protocol: Left-hander Keegan Akin and outfielder Anthony Santander remain in Covid-19 protocol and manager Brandon Hyde said that he hoped that they returned by the middle of next week. The players did not remain in St. Petersburg, Florida, Hyde said. No other players are affected.

Notes: Maikel Franco, who was on the injured list because of a sprained right ankle, was reinstated and is in the lineup for Friday night’s game against the Nationals. … Hyde hopes that infielder Freddy Galvis (quadriceps) will be back at the end of next week and left-hander Bruce Zimmermann (biceps tendinitis) can return by the middle of August.

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