The draft season is about to kick off and the Orioles system is ranked anywhere from 1-7. They’re firmly in the top tier as they move to add another superstar in June’s amateur draft where they pick first. The system is churning out talent in full gear looking to graduate some stars to the big league club with Grayson Rodriguez and Adley Rutschman poised to cross that line very soon. There will be others to follow throughout this season and next where the priority will shift to getting enough talent moving upward to stay in that elite group annually.
What the Past Tells Us
Looking at their recent history, it’s hard to think that the O’s would take a high school star at the top no matter how good they are. The administration that picked Dylan Bundy is long gone, but the recent regime goes under-slot early and spreads the savings out over several rounds maximizing value for lots of picks. It’s not exactly tradition, but there’s been a consistent pattern even when the circumstances change and the whole thing only lasts 5 rounds.
This is the year I expect that to change somehow. One of Elijah Green, Druw Jones or Terrmarr Johnson should prove too good to pass up by the time the team is on the clock and force them to do something a little different. I’ve seen Termarr play in person and he’s an exquisitely gifted contact creator. He’s also able to create lots of power due to a burst of core strength fueling that cut despite only being about 5-foot-8. There are slight concerns over his true place on the diamond, but more legitimate ones about his frame staying elite athletically as he adds weight developing into adulthood.
Jones has a more well rounded skill set, blessed with defensive acumen and bloodlines. His strides in the outfield are measured and graceful separating him from most players of his age. Jones seems like more of a ceiling pick with whoever takes him estimating he’ll reach an MVP type level like his dad and maybe even more. Like Johnson, if you watch the damage he does with an aluminum bat it’s easy to dream.
Then, to an even higher level of both power and upside is Elijah Green. Another outfielder, his routes are confident and his arm accurate. But where his strength is on display is with a bat in his hands. It only took one game for the broadly built Green to hit a home run that left the stadium at 108mph. Swing critics have begun to pick apart his cut but we’ll see what he does between now and the draft, it could be a lot.
If they go the college route which consensus seems to favor, it looks like Cal Poly SS Brooks Lee and James Madison OF Chase DeLauter could be early favorites. Perhaps signability will influence both the pick and the process but if ownership’s on board (could be a big if)the front office should go for it all. They’ve been rebuilding and have hit several milestones throughout the minor league resurrection that take some pressure off this or any single pick.
Also, a key factor is next year’s class and strategy for the 2023 draft. The format may be a bit different but it appears that a low finishing Orioles team will have a high pick again. The forthcoming HS class does not seem to have the standout talent that this year’s does, so if they want to go back to picking a proven college performer those types will be there for the taking. This year the talent looks to be laid out a bit differently. It’s time to have a different philosophy on who they draft to match it.