After the Orioles selected Oklahoma high school shortstop Jackson Holiday as the first overall pick of the Major League Baseball draft Sunday night, field scout Ken Guthrie put up an improved-version of the team’s home run series, acknowledging his involvement in a decision. The organization felt it hit while doing it out of the park.
As Baltimore made each of its next 21 challenges during the three-day draft, the series made its way from scout to scout, spending much of the game in the Orioles’ dugout – held together by duct tape and zip ties. With link gone – passes from player to player after home run. As much as the major league team enjoyed its surprising first half of the season, the Orioles’ amateur scouting department took advantage of the opportunity to reintegrate talent into the organization’s lower rungs.
“We’re a very calm, relaxed group,” said Brad Siolek, the Orioles’ director of draft operations. “We love working together, whether it’s our analysts or our scouts, and it’s been a tremendous ride, with the last four drafts [executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias and assistant general manager of analytics Sig Mejdal] riding. We are a very relaxed casual group.
“We had a lot of fun. We enjoy it.”
Those good times came when Baltimore created a collection of picks that are different in some ways than previous years, but still show the same types of players they’ve targeted since Elias left the Baseball Operations Division in November 2018. had handled.
Here are three excerpts from the Orioles’ 2022 draft:
maybe for the last time
The holiday marked the fourth straight top-five pick made by Elias in Baltimore, and hopefully there won’t be any more soon.
The Orioles finished the first half 46–46, leaving them with the 13th worst record in baseball. In previous years, being in that spot at the end of the season would have meant that he would receive the 13th overall selection in the 2023 draft, but with MLB setting up a draft lottery for the first six selections, it is possible that they will still be selected. Find your way Top of the board without the dramatic drop-off. All 18 teams that miss the playoffs will be part of the lottery, although there is less than a 2% chance of topping the better half.
The Orioles are seemingly turning a corner and are pushing the products of these recent drafts to major league opportunities, the only reason choosing Baltimore near the top of the draft for years to come, rather than playing on poor ground luck. Is.
That said, a later pick will not change how the club operates. The Orioles will target still position players who profile the middle, hit the ball hard and don’t swing and miss much. They will be looking for pitchers who produce those blows and a pitch or two the Orioles believe can play against major league hitters with at least some refinement. All they have to do is target them later in the first round and have a smaller bonus pool to work with throughout the draft.
“For me, it’s always been the same throughout the year, regardless of how the major league club is doing,” Siolek said.
Draft board in final alignment for pitching
There is a belief that the Orioles avoided preparing pitchers under Elias, but this is not true. While he picked 12 pitchers with 22 this week’s picks, the highest number through 20 rounds in this front office’s four drafts, it’s not a runaway total. He took nine pitchers last year and 10 in the first half of the 2019 draft, which was the last to feature 40 rounds.
What was remarkable this year is how quickly they took them on, with Baltimore’s Five Day 2 pitchers surpassing the number selected in the first 10 rounds of the last three drafts. (It is worth noting that the 2020 draft was of only five rounds amid the coronavirus pandemic.)
It has long been clear that the Orioles rule that, in their estimation, pitchers carry more risk than position players. Elias recently said “there are innumerable paths to bring” [major league] In the pitcher If you are concerned about an overabundance of position players such as a lack of pitching, there are likely to be trades coming up that will balance the scales.
The organization targets pitchers with certain traits, specifically one or two weapons within their arsenal, the Orioles believe they can maximize through player development. For example, Siolek alludes to “hop on the fastball, sweep on the slider or depth on the curveball”. The strikeout, and thus the ability to generate swing-and-miss, has always been the front most position to pay attention to.
In recent drafts, the Orioles have not taken as many pitchers either because there is a hitter they prefer or because the hand they were likely targeting was only chosen first. Ciolek said his approach to pitching has not changed this year. It’s simply how the board put restrictions.
“It’s always been good luck to draw here,” Siolek said.
The term “signability” is not often thrown around in relation to Elias’s orioles. High school students taken in the 34th to 40th rounds of 2019 were the only election among those who did not sign on in the first three drafts.
They have been precise in their efforts to “maximize the draft”, as Elias often put it, and require signing every player taken through the 10th round, as they would otherwise have lost their bonus. Will lose the slot value of that pick from the pool. The most notable example came in 2014 when Elias Houston was the Astros’ amateur scouting director. The club was unable to sign first overall pick Brady Aiken, and as a result Houston did not have enough pool space to finalize the overslot deal agreed with fifth rounder Jacob Nicks.
With the second-largest pool in modern draft history after the 2015 Astros — who had two top-five picks as a result of not signing Aiken — the Orioles are looking to capitalize on this year’s crop, and about their dozen through 10. I have very little. The round shows that their pool is in danger.
But in an effort to take full advantage of the opportunity, the Orioles are taking a chance when it comes to signing three of their Day 3 picks. Right-handed Jack Showalter, his 11th rounder, was the only high school player he picked apart from Holiday; The Florida native is committed to the University of South Florida. Shortstop Carter Young was seen as a potential first-rounder coming out of an impressive first full season for Vanderbilt, and despite struggling in 2022, Baseball America named him among the top 200 players available. A future LSU transfer lasted until Baltimore took him in the 17th round. A pick later, the Orioles took Miami (Fla.) closer to Andrew Walters, who was ranked as a worthy first four rounds to Baseball America and MLB Pipeline.
It is unclear how much flexibility the Orioles will have to sign these players, who can sign up to $125,000 without counting against the bonus pool with all others Tuesday’s draft. Holiday isn’t expected to get the full $8.85 million or more in the slot, but could still exceed $8 million. Preston Johnson, a senior right-hander out of Mississippi State, was not ranked among Baseball America’s top 500 draft prospects, finished 197th overall in the seventh round, and it is doubtful that his bonus was worth his $249,200 slot. approached.
Ciolek admitted it could be difficult for the Orioles to go 22-for-22 after signing all his picks in the last two drafts. Teams have until August 1 to sign the draft.
“Obviously, intent is a sign of all these people,” he said. “That’s what we’re hoping to do. … If you were to ask me if I’m optimistic we’re going to sign them all, I’m probably not as optimistic as I would have been in previous years, But obviously the intention is to sign all these people because we want them in the system. So we took them.”
Not making deals would not be inherently harmful, as USF or Young or Walters’ school-going Showalter’s Orioles would not affect the pool. But signing them adds potential impact talent to a system that is constantly on the lookout for it. In that sense, these selections come with the relatively low risk and possibly high reward some teams are always seeking in the draft.