Since Andy MacPhail's arrival in 2007, the Orioles have prided themselves on having good drafts. From Tuesday, June 9th to Thursday, June 11th, the MLB Draft took place. The hyped prospects like Stephen Strasburg, Dustin Ackley, Aaron Crow, Grant Green, and Tyler Matzek were all selected early, and it was certainly an entertaining draft.
The O's had 50 selections, taking 30 pitchers, adding to their already stacked farm system. Let's analyze these O's draft picks, shall we?
Round 1 (Pick 5)—Matt Hobgood, RHP, Norco HS
The Orioles had a tough decision to make. With the fifth overall pick, they would choose between some great pitchers, like Hobgood, Aaron Crow, Tyler Matzek, Kyle Gibson, and Matt Purke. They decided to add Hobgood, a right-handed starter who flew up draft boards over the past few weeks.
He's not a power pitcher, as his fastball maxes out at 92, but he has solid movement and exceptional poise. Not only can he pitch, he also hit .475 with 21 home runs, winning the Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year award.
2 (54)—Mychal Givens, SS, Plant HS
Nobody credible can doubt Mychal Givens is athletic. He plays an outstanding defensive shortstop, but his bat concerns some, and because of the fact that he throws 97, people see him more as a pitcher.
"He's going to have a bat and there's power there,'' Orioles director of amateur scouting Joe Jordan told the Baltimore Sun. "We think there's potential for both. He throws 96, 97 [mph] off the mound, [but] because of the position he plays, that's something we will definitely try first.'' At 54, he's actually a steal, and right away, he projects as the O's future shortstop.
3 (85)—Tyler Townsend, 1B, Florida International
Statistics don't always tell the story, but they have some kind of indication. Last year for FIU, Townsend was fantastic, hitting over .400 with 24 homers and 77 RBI, making the first team All-America squad—and the O's got him in round three.
Townsend grew up in Lewes, DE, which had a lot of O's fans, and Townsend sounds excited to get started with his major league career. In a phone interview, he said: "I am 100 percent sure I am going to sign with the Baltimore Orioles," something O's fans should be ecstatic about.
4 (116)—Randy Henry, RHP, South Mountain CC
You don't often hear about relief pitchers going early, especially not ones from an unpopular baseball school like South Mountain Community College, but the O's decided to draft Henry with their fourth-round pick.
Henry pitched in just nine games last year, but definitely made the most of it. In 11 innings, he allowed just five hits, notched three saves, and had a 0.82 earned run average. He fires his fastball from 90-93 MPH, so he doesn't have dominant closer stuff, but he could be a solid set-up man.
5 (146)—Ashur Toliver, LHP, Oklahoma City
Last year, the O's selected a stud left-handed pitcher named Brian Matusz, who is 4-2 with a 2.16 ERA for the Frederick Keys this year. The O's decided to take their first left handed pitcher of the 2009 draft in the fifth round, when they selected Toliver.
In 2009 for Oklahoma City University, Toliver was 10-1 and posted a 3.74 ERA. "He throws a 90 mph fastball with a changeup and a slider," OCU head coach Denney Crabaugh said of Tolliver. "He has command of all three pitches. He is a fierce competitor."
6 (176)—Justin Dalles, C, South Carolina
It seems odd that the O's would select a catcher, especially knowing the top prospect in baseball, Matt Wieters, a catcher, has arrived in Baltimore and is making his presence felt. However, Dalles is the best player available, so the O's have no choice but to grab him.
If I'm Dalles, I don't sign. Unless Dalles hits his way through the minors and becomes a designated hitter in the future, there's no way he'll get much playing time for the O's in the future. For what it's worth, Dalles hit .324 with 15 homers and 47 RBI last year.
7 (206)—Aaron Wirsch, LHP, El Toro HS
The O's decided to use their seventh-round pick on a left-handed pitcher, this one being the athletic Aaron Wirsch. Wirsch is a big kid (6'6", 205 pounds), and can hit and pitch. At the plate, he batted .346, hit 12 home runs, drove in 31 runs, roped nine doubles, and that production came in a mere 78 at bats.
But it's delivering to the plate where he got attention. In 12 starts, Wirsch finished 11-0, had a 1.54 ERA, and tossed eight complete games.
8 (236)—Devin Harris, LF, East Carolina
The Baltimore Orioles don't have a clear future left fielder. While Nolan Reimold is off to a fantastic start, his bat may propel him into a DH role instead of left field. The Felix Pie experiment was an absolute disaster, and the O's could use some candidates like Harris to compete with Xavier Avery for the future left field job. Harris, a 6'3", 227-pound power hitter, hit .344 with 14 homers and 48 RBI.
9 (266)— Ryan Berry, RHP, Rice
Steal. That's all I can say about this pick. Ryan Berry has been inconsistent, but was more dependable as the year went on, going 7-2 with a 2.42 earned run average for a prestigious Rice baseball program. Some even thought he'd be a first day pick, falling somewhere in between the second and third round.
However, the O's were able to get him early in round nine, a true steal. The more pitchers in the farm system, the merrier.
10 (296)—Jacob Cowan, RHP, San Jacinto College North
In Nov. 2008, right-handed pitcher Jacob Cowan announced he would commit to the University of Texas from SJCN. However, on June 10, his decision got harder, as the O's drafted him with their tenth round pick.
Last year, Cowan was 2-1 with a 3.34 earned run average as a reliever, and was 9-2 as a senior in high school. Cowan will be a tough sign, as he is committed to a good Texas program.
11 (326) - Michael Ohlman, C, Lakewood Ranch HS
Another catcher here is an odd pick. However, Ohlman is the best player available, and it never hurts to add depth. Ohlman played for a Lakewood Ranch Mustangs team that was just 8-11 last year, but hit .597 with three homers and 21 RBI.
The thing that impresses me the most: In 24 games, he walked 22 times and struck out only eight times. He's sort of an unnecessary sign at this point. If the O's can sign him, the added depth would be nice, but if not, it's not devastating at all.
12 (356) - Steven Bumbry, OF, Virginia Tech
During the O's glory years, Al Bumbry marshaled the outfield—and well, at that. The O's decided to make a public relations move by drafting Steven Bumbry, Al's son, a kid who hit .283 with ten homers and 40 RBI for the Virginia Tech Hokies last year.
As shown by statistics, it's not all PR. Bumbry can flat-out play. He's not as speedy as his father, but has the raw power that can propel him to future success.
13 (386)—Tyler Kelly, 2B, UC Davis
The O's decided to give Brian Roberts his payday this offseason, signing him to a four-year, $40M extension. When the contract expires, he'll be 35, at which point he'll likely retire.
The O's don't have much second base depth in the minors, or at any infield position, for that matter. It's nice to add a guy like Kelly, who hit .307 with four homers, 40 RBI, and a .465 slugging average on a 13-42 UC Davis squad.
14 (416)—David Baker, RHP, Hemet HS
The O's decided to add yet another right-handed pitcher into the mix, this one being David Baker, who can pitch and play the outfield, which he did at Hemet High School for the Bulldogs.
In 25 games, he batted .310, hit eight homers, drove in 18 runs, and scored 21 runs - in just 58 at bats. On the mound, he draws more attention. He went 8-1, posted a solid 3.12 earned run average, and struck out 70 in 12 games.
15 (446)—Garrett Bush, RHP, Stanton Prep HS
Garrett Bush is another right-handed pitcher who, because of size and arm strength, has a very high ceiling. He has a sharp breaking ball and heavy sink on his fastball. As a junior, he hit .392 with 17 RBI, and also went 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA in six appearances.
His signability may be somewhat of a concern, as it is with all draft selections; he does have a commitment to Auburn University.
16 (476)—Ryan Palsha, RHP, Diablo Valley College
Last year for Diablo Valley College, Ryan Palsha appeared in 16 games, starting 12, going 5-2 with a 4.06 earned run average. Throughout the year, he struggled with command, as shown by his 11 hit batsmen, leading the team.
Palsha is a fill-in pick here. I'm sure the team doesn't find signing Palsha to be too significant, but if they can and fill him in for a bullpen role, it's a plus.
17 (506)—Jeffrey Walters, RHP, Georgia
The O's apparently need right-handed pitchers. Walters was exclusively a reliever last year, going 2-0, posting a 4.64 ERA, and striking out 46 in 42.2 innings of work. The O's have built up on their bullpen this draft, by adding Walters, Palsha, Bush, and Cowan. Walters also may be an insignificant sign, because it's not always in the team's minds to sign a 17th-round relief pitcher who posted a 4.64 ERA.
18 (536)—Jarret Martin, LHP, Bakersfield College
The last few drafts, the O's have stocked up on pitching, and Martin is just another one of those arms added. In 36 games last year, Martin hit .331, drove in 35 runs, hit 11 homers, and had 44 hits.
However, he draws more attention on the mound, where he posted a 3.95 ERA as a reliever. We're beginning to see that the O's want to build up on the bullpen, which has struggled mightily throughout the year, surprisingly enough.
19 (566)—Kipp Schutz, OF, Indiana
When he was in high school, the O's drafted a young outfielder named Kipp Schutz. Years later, the O's draft the same guy, just one who now has college experience. Schutz hit .392 last year, drove in 34 runs, hit five homers, and had an unbelievable .449 OBP for an Indiana squad that finished with a 32-27 record.
Schutz is a guy who adds depth in left field for the O's, and that's about it, but depth never hurt anything.
20 (596)—James Brandhorst, RHP, Lamar
As you're seeing, the O's continue to build up on relief pitching. Last year, Brandhorst was 3-0, posted a 3.59 ERA, and batters hit a measly .208 against him. Clearly, team president Andy MacPhail and scouting director Joe Jordan see the struggles the bullpen is having, so they add all these relievers into the mix, even one in the fourth round. Solid pick by Andy and crew here.
21 (626)—Kevin Landry, RHP, William & Mary
The O's decide to grab yet ANOTHER right handed pitcher in Landry. Last year, Landry's velocity wasn't fantastic, but he could fire in the high 80's, peaking at 91 MPH. For the Tribe, he was 4-6, posted a 4.72 ERA, and struck out 91 in 76.1 innings of work.
He has the high K rating, but he's very much hittable, as he allowed 71 hits in those innings, and, obviously, had a 4.72 clip.
22 (656)—Cameron Coffey, LHP, Houston Christian HS
At 18, Cameron Coffey has a bright future ahead of him. He can fire the fastball at 90 MPH and has a good mixture of breaking pitches. He's a big guy (6'3", 200 pounds), with good build for a lefty. Some project him to be a future front-of-the-rotation starter.
Now that he's in the Orioles system (if he signs, that is), he'd better get in a long line that features Matusz, Arrieta, Tillman, and now, Hobgood.
23 (686)—Michael Mooney, SS, Florida
Orioles fans should be pleased with this pick. Baltimore has been treated well by marvelous defense from Cesar Izturis, but the team doesn't have a clear future shortstop. It's always nice to add some depth, and they now have that with Givens and Mooney. Last year for the 42-22 Florida Gators, Mooney batted .306 with two home runs, 24 RBI, and a .442 OBP. Solid pick in Round 22.
24 (716)—Justin Anderson, LHP, Louisiana Monroe
The O's decided to add another arm into the mix, picking Louisiana Monroe left handed reliever Justin Anderson. Last year, Anderson struggled in a relief role. Despite a 6-2 record, he posted a sluggish 6.82 earned run average, allowed a whopping 109 hits in 68.2 innings. Batters had a .373 average off the lefty.
I don't understand the pick. However, I said that when the O's selected Rick Zagone in 2008, and he followed by going 7-1 with a 2.89 ERA for Aberdeen.
25 (746)—Jay Johnson, LHP, Lethbridge CC
Looking at Jay Johnson, I notice a very deceptive delivery that constantly catches hitters off-balance. He can fire the fastball at around 94 MPH, has a solid feel for pitching, and can change pitches well. He's among many O's 2009 draftees who are eager to sign.
"Baltimore is my dad's favorite team," Jay said of his father Bill. "When we were young, we were always watching them...and Cal Ripken."
Before the draft, he was a lock to be picked in the first 12 rounds, but an injury hurt his stock.
26 (776) - Michael Mechaw, LHP, Shelton State CC
The O's decided to add another lefty to the mix, selecting Mechaw, a 6'0", 200-pound lefty. He's just another arm to add in, and regardless of the success he had at Shelton State Community College, it is again, Shelton State Community College. Also, it'll be no easy task to breeze by Arrieta, Tillman, Matusz, Patton, Erbe, and now, Hobgood. Mechaw projects to me as a bullpen guy.
27 (806)—Michael Planeta, OF, Glendale CC
This is just a pick of drafting the best available player. Planeta, 6'0", 195, is a right-handed hitting, 19-year old right fielder. The words "right fielder" make his prospects in Baltimore very bleak, to say the least. Unless he takes six years on the dot to progress and Nick Markakis leaves, he doesn't have much of a shot in Baltimore. He had success at Glendale, but I doubt that'll translate—at least not in a Baltimore Orioles uniform.
28 (836) - Kyle Hoppy, OF, Orchard Park HS
The O's have a future center fielder in Adam Jones. So far, the 23-year old is hitting .329, has 11 homers, and has driven in 37 runs. The O's decided to, oddly enough, draft a center fielder, taking Orchard Park's Kyle Hoppy. In 2007-08, he hit .461, hit one homer, drove in 20 runs. More than anything, he's a speedster with some raw power.
29 (866)—Brandon Alexander, Oakville Senior HS
Another outfielder with the 27th round pick is surprising. However, the O's are just building up depth. There's no way they don't feel 100 percent confident in Adam Jones, especially with the All-Star-caliber year he's having. Also, being that it's the 27th round, it may not be the Orioles No. 1 priority to sign Alexander, who, at 19, is hard to project going forward.
30 (896)—Brenden Webb, OF, Palomar
The O's draft Webb, another small outfielder (6'0", 190) and clearly, they are using the "best player available" philosophy. While drafting three consecutive center fielders is an oddball decision, it's not as if we're in the cream of the crop of the draft in Rounds 26, 27, and 28. At 19, he's also a youngster who is hard to project and may not sign.
Other notable selections
31 (926)—Mike Flacco, 3B, Catonsville CC
Last year for Catonsville Community College, Mike Flacco, younger brother of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, hit .399 with 14 home runs and 51 RBI. Flacco has had workouts at Camden Yards, and can play first base, third base, left field, or right field. Honestly, I think Flacco is a huge steal in the 31st round. He's got work ethic, versatility, power, and solid infield defense.
42 (1256)—Joseph Velleggia, C, Old Dominion
The O's decided to take a local product in the 42nd round, grabbing Monkton, MD native Joseph Velleggia. In 2005, he he hit .486 with 13 home runs for local Calvert Hall High.
The next year, he was first team All Metro and All County. This is a pick of note because he's a local product, and adds even more catching depth. Last year for ODU, he hit .281 with four homers and 12 RBI in 20 games.