It's a little early to be talking about the draft considering that baseball just ended. It's not even close to the beginnings of the season for any of the following players. Either way, I'm here to provide a little sneak peek into what the Orioles may be looking for next June.
The Orioles pick is locked in for 2012. They will be selecting with the fourth pick in the draft, behind the Astros, Twins and Mariners. Even if the Orioles sign a Type A free agent (Prince Fielder?), they will not lose this pick because it is protected.
As for the actual players, it's unclear what the Orioles will be looking for. Andy MacPhail liked to say "Grow the arms and buy the bats," but that didn't seem to happen or work.
The Orioles will be under new management in 2012, and it's unclear what the new GM will be looking for. They are also going to see a change in scouting director since Joe Jordan left, so the draft process will be entirely new.
The players listed are guys that could have a big impact on the future of the franchise. The totals favor pitchers over position players 6-4, but that's more of a reflection of the available talent pool.
Here are 10 potential players for the Orioles to select with the fourth overall pick next June.
You may recognize the name Lance McCullers as a former relief pitcher that played mostly for the Padres. This guy is his son, and he has the potential to do much more than his father on the mound.
McCullers has impressed since his sophomore year in high school, when his fastball was hitting 97 mph on the gun. Arms like that don't come around often and are often held in high regard.
McCullers' situation is a little bit similar to this year's Oriole first round pick, Dylan Bundy, in that McCullers has made a commitment to a college as leverage in negotiations.
If the Orioles could draft him and sign him away from the University of Florida, they could have a very solid future in the rotation.
Nick Williams is a fantastic power bat that could be a future star in the majors with the right development.
Williams has put on a show on big stages with his unbelievable power. He possesses all five tools, which is always a good sign for a young player.
Williams also comes with risks, as he is just a high school player, but that could be an exciting opportunity for the Orioles.
The Orioles last drafted an outfielder in 2003, and he has gone under the radar as one of the best young outfielders in the majors. That player was Nick Markakis, and I think Nick Williams could be everything promised out of Markakis and more.
I've mentioned two high school players previously, but if the Orioles wanted to go with the more experienced, more polished route, they would probably look to Mark Appel from Stanford.
Appel has solid pitcher height at around 6'5". He was originally drafted out of high school by the Detroit Tigers, but turned them down to go to Stanford.
Appel is only a junior this year, so he may choose to finish school, but he is expected to get drafted again since he is eligible and will likely sign this time around.
Choosing Mark Appel could give the Orioles a nice pairing of now and the future, as they could have current Stanford alum ace Jeremy Guthrie and future Stanford alum ace Mark Appel.
The next best high school pitcher after Lance McCullers Jr. is Lucas Giolito from California.
Orioles fans may look at this guy and think big, right-handed high school pitcher from California reminds me of Matt Hobgood. Giolito has a slimmer frame than Hobgood, which may be good news to some. Other than that, everyone knows that there are risks in selecting high school players.
Giolito is committed to UCLA, so he could be a tough sign, but the rewards are good enough to take him at No. 4.
Jake Barrett was a third round pick a few years ago for the Toronto Blue Jays, but decided to not sign and went off to the major league factory of Arizona State University.
While Barrett's stuff isn't quite as good as the previous pitchers, he can definitely hold his own with a mid-90s fastball and some developing secondary pitches.
Arizona State is known for molding major league-ready players. Since the Orioles are desperate for pitchers, Barrett might be a good fit because of the timeline.
Kevin Gausman is another good arm like Barrett that the Orioles should consider.
Gausman is a little bigger than Barrett, although he is very thin for being 6'4", as he is just 185 pounds. The most attractive feature of Gausman's repertoire is his low to mid-90s fastball that has touched triple digits at times in the past.
Gausman is also developing his secondary pitches, so while he might not be ready just yet for the big leagues, he could be a quick riser.
The Orioles have already drafted their shortstop of the future in Manny Machado, but they may want to add to the talent pool with Deven Marrero, who is one of the top position players available.
Marrero is a bit of a throwback to the old shortstops in that he doesn't hit that many home runs, but makes a name for himself on defense.
Marrero is highly regarded for his great play in the field and was honored in 2011 as the Pac-10's best defensive player. He isn't a slouch with his bat, but he won't mash the ball like J.J. Hardy does.
Marrero's defense could be a very good asset to the future O's, especially if Manny Machado is eventually moved to third base.
Michael Wacha is coming off of a great freshman year at Texas A&M and is looking to build off of that to potentially get drafted early in the 2012 draft.
Wacha is a very tall guy at 6'6", which is ideal for a pitcher. His size aids his mid-90s fastball to get by hitters for a lot of strikeouts.
While Wacha will just be two years removed from high school when drafted, I think that he has the chance to be a top of the line starter in the near future.
Kenny Diekroeger is seen by many as the top collegiate position player available, and that may be just the right fit for the Orioles.
Kenny had a fantastic freshman year, becoming the first freshman to league the league in hitting and RBI. He regressed a little offensively in his sophomore year, but still has this season to potentially raise his draft stock.
Diekroeger could be a tough sign, as he was already a second round pick by the Rays out of high school, but the Orioles have had some luck in the past with signings, so we may have to see what happens if the Orioles take him again this time around.
Trey Williams is another of the top high school bats available and may be perfect in filling a need for the Orioles in the future.
Williams is obviously young, which doesn't line up with the Orioles plans well because they need a third baseman now.
Williams has been praised in the past for his physique, but needs seasoning before he's ready to make it in the majors.
He is currently planning on attending Pepperdine, but I doubt he'll end up there, as some team will definitely sign him away from that commitment.