Orioles go the college route in draft's 2nd day; 6 pitchers, 3 outfielders chosen - BaltimoreBaseball.com
2023 MLB Draft

Orioles go the college route in draft’s 2nd day; 6 pitchers, 3 outfielders chosen

Photo Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

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The second day of the Orioles’ draft featured more pitchers selected—and exclusively college players.

Each of the nine players picked in rounds 3-through-10 were college players. Six are right-handed pitchers and three are outfielders.

Before the Orioles took Jackson Baumeister with the 63rd pick on Sunday night, they’d never selected a pitcher on the first day of the draft. On Monday, they doubled down and took pitchers in the third, fourth, sixth, seventh rounds, eighth and ninth rounds.

“We were able to walk away today with guys who have some ability as far as their pitches,” Brad Ciolek, the Orioles’ director of draft operations, said in a Zoom call. “Whether it’s the metrics, the velocity, the breaking balls, but also the ability to add or potentially to refine some of these guys’ deliveries to maximize their arsenals … Pretty excited about the group we got here, and we’re really looking forward to getting them going, getting them down to Florida.”

In the first two days of the draft, the Orioles have chosen 12 players — seven right-handers and five outfielders. Each of the three players taken on Sunday night were college players, too. Burmeister and outfielders Enrique Bradfield and Mac Horvath.

“We do have a lot more data to go off of,” Ciolek said. “Whether it’s historical data as far as the guys’ performance, year-in and year-out, but summer leagues, but also at school. We also have a lot of data we get from third-party vendors that we like to key and hone in on that’s always at our disposal as well to add to our conviction in addition to what our scouts see on the field.”

Washington right-hander Kiefer Lord, who was 6-5 with a 6.19 earned-run average in 16 starts, was taken in the third round. During the pandemic, when he was still in high school in California, he visited a local park each day to pitch after watching instructional videos, and he increased his velocity.

“It’s a tremendous story in the fact that he’s pretty much self-made in terms of developing his velocity,” Ciolek said. “The fact that he was able to build velocity like he did.”

Ciolek said Lord threw his fastball about 70 percent of the time, and the Orioles plan to encourage him to throw his slider, curveball and changeup more often.

Texas State’s Levi Wells was the Orioles’ fourth-round pick. Wells was 8-4 with a 5.02 ERA in 14 starts.

In the sixth round, the Orioles took Jacob Cavey, who was 9-2 with a 3.10 ERA at Samford University. In the seventh, they went for a reliever, Teddy Sharkey, who was 7-2 with a 2.90 ERA at Coastal Carolina. Sharkey struck out 74 batters in 49 2/3 innings.

“Hopefully, in Teddy’s case, we’d like to extend him and let him go a couple of innings,” Ciolek said.

Braxton Bragg, a right-hander from Dallas Baptist who went 9-2 with a 4.19 ERA and who struck out 92 and walked 17 in 86 innings, was selected in the eighth round.Right-handed reliever Zach Fruit, from Troy University, was taken in the ninth round. Fruit, who’s 23, was 6-1 with a 6.46 ERA and five saves in 2023.

“Four of the guys we drafted, we met at the draft combine. It allowed us to get an opportunity to talk to them, see the work they put in on their own, and also the things that they need to continue to work on,” Ciolek said.

With the 100th pick near the end of the third round they received as compensation for their failure to sign pitcher Nolan McLean last year, the Orioles selected Arkansas outfielder Tavian Josenberger, who hit .287 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs with a .904 OPS.

University of North Carolina Charlotte outfielder Jake Cunningham, who hit .267 with 11 homers and 41 RBIs and an .878 OPS, was taken in the fifth round.

“We actually had Jake out here at a workout here at Camden Yards a few weeks back,” said Ciolek, who was impressed with his 111 mph exit velocity. “We were ultimately excited to get Jake where we did.”

Southern Mississippi outfielder Matthew Etzel was the choice in the 10th round. Etzel hit .317 with seven home runs and 51 RBIs and an .853 OPS with 23 steals in 28 attempts.

“If there is one theme here it is that these guys are all very skilled defenders in center field,” Ciolek said. “They have plus-speed. They can run extremely well. They have the instincts to play center field. We want these guys to be able to track down the ball quickly in gaps and get the ball back to the infield as quickly as possible. Very excited about the upside as far as the upside is concerned in the outfield.”

Players must be signed by July 26th,.

On Tuesday, the draft concludes with rounds 11-through-20 beginning at 2 p.m. on MLB.com.

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