Don't look now, but the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft is only 147 days away.
Granted, so many things can happen between now and then. This time last year, the Orioles seemed like the front-runners for USC shortstop Grant Green. And if March/April predictions tell you anything, they tell you a lot can happen in 147 days.
Grant Green ended up going 13th overall to the Oakland A's, while the Orioles tabbed the lesser known Matt Hobgood as the number five pick.
So, who are the Orioles going to tab with the No. 3 pick in this year's draft? Who knows, but here are a few players who should pique their interest, who will probably be around when their turn comes.
Seeing as how this article could go on forever, and how I would love to dive into each prospect with more depth than a slideshow, I'm going to examine each player in a multi-article series.
And we're beginning with...
Jameson Taillon has been rising up draft boards for two years now, and it seems that he's peaking at exactly the right time. Eight days after tossing an 18-strikeout no-hitter, Taillon tossed a two-hitter last night, striking out 16 batters in only seven innings of work.
The 6'6'', 220 pounder is now 3-1 on the season, and The Woodlands is on it's way to another state-championship caliber season.
Taillon is not lacking in accolades. He made the rounds on the showcase tour last summer, first striking out four in only two innings at the AFLAC All-American game, then followed it up striking out the side in the first inning in the Under Armour All-American game, earning game MVP honors. Later in the summer, in the Pan American Championships, Taillon struck out 16 batters over seven innings against team Cuba.
As the showcase circuit wound down, Taillon's name was being floated around as a top five pick in the upcoming 2010 draft, and for good reason.
And if Jameson's future wasn't bright enough, he has the added compliment of working with the Woodland's coaching staff, who shepherded former pitching prospect Kyle Drabek on to the big stage to first-round pick stardom.
While Taillon doesn't exactly have the polish of LSU pitcher Anthony Ranaudo (to be profiled in a later report) he does have superior stuff. A mid 90s fastball that he can crank up to 96mph rates as a plus pitch, and his slider (mid 80s) rates above-average with the promise of developing into a true out-pitch one day. He also features a mid 70s changeup which could develop into a plus pitch very quickly with some major league instruction.
Taillon probably has a higher ceiling than Ranaudo, and Baseball America has compared him to last year's top prep pitcher Tyler Matzek who garnered a $3.9 million signing bonus, so if the Orioles want Taillon they're going to have to pony up some serious cash, more than they offered last year's pick Hobgood or 2008 draftee Brian Matusz.
The only things left for Taillon to work on are his command, which needs to be sharpened, and repeating his delivery, always a tall order for big, raw pitching prospects such as himself.
The Orioles have seen struggles with pitchers like these (Kam Mickolio, Jim Hoey and the unforgettable Daniel Cabrera), so getting Jameson to repeat his delivery would be of the utmost importance.
Another thing the O's should probably keep an eye on his Taillon's commitment to Rice University. The O's, and every other team for that matter, haven't exactly had the best track record with pitchers either attending or committed to the university.
Drafting him would definitely ensure that he didn't follow into the same footsteps of doomed Owl pitchers like Wade Townsend, Philip Humber, Matt Anderson, and David Aardsma.
If they did tab Taillon, who could very easily go one pick before the Orioles choose, the right-hander would slide in very nicely to the O's rotation, and if he continues to bring along his secondary pitches and sharpen his command he could challenge Matusz for the number one spot in the rotation.