The Orioles can’t believe their good fortune. They never thought that Vanderbilt centerfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. would be available with the 17th pick in the first round.
Brad Ciolek, the Orioles’ director of draft operations, said he was “ecstatic” about the first day of the draft, which included not only Bradfield but North Carolina outfielder Mac Horvath and Florida State right-hander Jackson Baumeister taken with the 53rd and 63rd picks.
“Getting a guy that can play double-plus defense in center field, blazing speed on the basepaths, high contact,” Ciolek said in a late Sunday night video conference call.
“I think whenever you have a player that comes from the SEC and walks more than he strikes out for three consecutive years, that’s the type of guy you want hitting at the top of your lineup so the fact that he’s very disciplined, has elite contact skills and 80-grade speed to go with it.
“I know in the past we’ve taken some guys who have power production and this is a little bit different look. Having that guy at the top of the lineup to wreak havoc on the basepaths and play a double-plus grade in center field really makes you feel good about the entire package you’re getting. He’s probably the kind of guy you hate playing against but love having him when he’s on your team.”
Adding an SEC outfielder and two ACC players made Ciolek’s day, he said.
“Really happy with how things turned out on the first night,” he said.
Horvath has intrigued the Orioles since last year.
“I think the first thing that stands out about his game in general is how good of an athlete he is,” Ciolek said. “He’s a plus-runner. He has a plus-arm. He split some time this year between third base and center field and we ultimately are going to look to capitalize on his athleticism. Give him some reps out in center field, but also make sure he’s getting reps at third base as far as versatility is concerned.
“As far as the production this year offensively with North Carolina, over 20 doubles, 20 home runs, 20 stolen bases. That’s just kind of shows you the type of athlete we’re getting here. We’re real excited to add him to our farm system.”
For the first time in Mike Elias’ five drafts, the Orioles selected a pitcher on the first day of the draft.
“We’ve been monitoring Jackson for a while now, ever since high school,” Ciolek said. “We’ve always liked the arm that he’s had. He runs up to 98 [mph], sits at 93, 94. I think the thing that made us intrigued with Jackson is how the fastball plays. We think that we can maximize his arsenal by having him pitch farther up in the zone with his fastball.
“He also has a complete repertoire as far as a starting pitcher is concerned, a sweepy slider that’s conducive to getting chases for right-handed hitters, curveball is a little bit of a softer breaker, but we think we can add some velocity to that, and we’re also going to look to up his repetition of his changeup. Just really intrigued overall as far as the arm strength and the secondary weapons are concerned.”
Rounds 3-10 are Monday beginning at 2 p.m. The draft can be followed on MLB.com.