[UPDATE: The Baltimore Orioles used their first pick (pick #27 overall) on 6″4′, 210 lb. right-handed University of Illinois pitcher Cody Sedlock.]
The 2016 MLB Draft will take place today in Secaucus, New Jersey, and the Baltimore Orioles management has made it clear they want to get the best out of the proceedings despite the fact that the MLB’s draft structure is working against them, reports The Baltimore Sun.
Because they traded away their first round draft pick, which would have given them the 14th overall pick, for the chance to sign Yovani Gallardo, the Baltimore Orioles’ first selection will fall at No. 27 overall. They do have four picks in the first 90 selections, though, and Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich is confident Baltimore can score at least one future star in those picks.
“Independent of what other teams do, there should be players there that we like, which is good. So rather than have the draft determine who we get, we’ll be able to get a player that we like.”
Rajsich continued that the Baltimore Orioles are actually in a better situation than in the past few seasons, when they have perhaps overdone it a bit in terms of trading away high draft picks from the next year in exchange for instant gratification that could help the Orioles to contend that season.
He gave the example of the 2014 draft, when Baltimore missed out on its first two draft picks because it had traded them in exchange for signing Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz. Neither of the contracts has really worked out for Baltimore, what with Jimenez’s Orioles performance having been sub-par since he joined the team and Cruz leaving the Orioles at the end of the 2014 season, and they resulted in Baltimore’s 2014 MLB Draft pick being the 90th overall selection.
The Baltimore Orioles have really struggled to keep their draft picks while staying competitive as of late, and they have not had a first round draft pick in two of the past three seasons.
So, even though Baltimore forfeited their first pick for Gallardo, the 2016 MLB Draft is looking better for the Orioles than past years have, Rajsich explained.
“We’ve had a wider group of players to see this year. I’ve seen maybe 80 to 100 players this year, whereas when we’re picking 90 for our first pick, we won’t see that many. But with the way the picks are spread out, we need to widen our scope.”
Dan Duquette, Baltimore’s executive vice president who is heading up the Orioles front office, elaborated on the primary reason Baltimore has not been presented with many good drafting opportunities for the past few years in a league where the worst teams get the first draft picks — and vice versa.
“When you have a competitive team like we have — we’ve had a good record compared to other American League teams the last several years, so our record is as good as anybody’s at the major league level — you don’t have the luxury of drafting early in the draft because of the way the draft is set up,” Duquette said.
He continued that he enjoys the challenge of drafting later — it makes things more interesting for both the Orioles organization and the Baltimore fans if the team is forced to locate sleepers rather than the big name prospects.
“I think our fans would prefer we pick later in the draft and make the most of those choices to build the team. From that perspective, I hope it continues because that would mean we’ve had a decent year in the big leagues,” Duquette postured.
When MLB Network asked Duquette about what kind of sleepers in particular the Baltimore Orioles would be focusing on during the 2016 MLB Draft, he revealed that young arms are a top priority for the Baltimore squad this year.
“We always look to add to our club and rank the players by their overall value, but over half the players we take will be pitchers. We put a lot of value on that, obviously… We’ve done a good [job] of identifying some pitching in the late rounds to come up and help our team or to help us in a trade, and we’re going to look to do the same thing again this year.”
Hopefully, Baltimore Orioles fans will not be disappointed in the coming years with whoever the team selects later today.
The draft is currently streaming for free on MLB.com and showing on MLB’s TV network. The Orioles have used their first pick on Cody Sedlock, a right-handed pitcher from the University of Illinois.
[Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images]