Orioles fill in blanks as Draft wraps up
Second day of player selection focuses on organizational needs
BALTIMORE -- The objectives change on Day 2 of the First-Year Player Draft, from stocking the organization with blue-chip prospects to filling the gaps in your lower-level affiliates. The Orioles took on that task head-on, drafting 20 pitchers with their 32 picks. Most of them won't sign right away, falling instead into the draft-and-follow category.
That means that the Orioles will chart their progress over the next season and try to sign them before next June's draft. It's a risky proposition -- because most of the players will wind up re-entering the draft -- but it's decidedly low-risk. The O's will focus on the players they want and will do their best to convince them to turn pro on their timetable.
Joe Jordan, Baltimore's scouting director, broke down the philosophy behind the strategy.
"We thought we needed to sign five-to-seven pitchers today that could help us at [Class A affiliates] Bluefield or Aberdeen. That would take care of what we needed at both places," he said. "That's kind of where it started, but most of the draft-and-follows usually end up as pitchers.
"Their stuff's a little short now, and we think the pieces work right, so we're going to give them a shot. Out of the 32 we took today, I'd say somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-to-24 are draft-and-follows."
That's an unusually high number, but Jordan said it's business as usual in Baltimore. The Orioles tried the same strategy last year and wound up signing three of them shortly before this year's draft. After a successful first day on Tuesday -- one that netted two of Baseball America's top 20 prospects -- Jordan and the O's could afford to go fishing.
"The way we have to realistically look at it is, 'Most of the time, it's not going to work out,'" he said. "Until they cut the draft down to 25 rounds, there's nothing ventured [and] nothing gained if you see something that you like [on the second day]. These kids go through such a transformation, strength-wise and just natural maturation. But you never know.
"If we can get three next May, that's great. We're going to keep trying. But most of the time, it doesn't work out."
Twelve of Baltimore's Wednesday picks went to four-year universities, and 16 of them went to high school. Only four went to junior colleges, but that may well be their destination between this draft and the next one. If any of the high school students enroll in four-year universities, they won't be draft-eligible again for another three seasons.
The Orioles gathered some positive momentum on Tuesday, when they drafted power-hitting prep infielder Billy Rowell with the ninth overall pick in the first round and right-handed pitcher Pedro Beato in the compensatory round. They drafted pitchers and infielders for the rest of the day and were largely happy with the first-day haul.
Baltimore had a chance to turn its draft surreal on Wednesday by drafting Jeffrey Maier, an outfielder out of Wesleyan University. Ten years ago -- in Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS at Yankee Stadium -- a 12-year-old Maier reached over the fence and grabbed a Derek Jeter fly ball over crestfallen outfielder Tony Tarasco. It was ruled a home run, and the Orioles lost the series.
Jordan laughed and flatly denied that the Orioles had any interest in drafting Maier on Wednesday. They had enough things on their plate without playing into legend and lore, he said.
"A long two days, but it went well," Jordan said. "Today, you try to accomplish a couple things. We needed to add some players to build the rosters at the lower levels, and we did that. I think we got some players that will help them be more competitive. And then the last two-thirds of the day were spent on draft-and-follows."
Sometimes, Day 2 means keeping people on your staff happy by drafting their sons, and the Orioles went 1-for-2 in that respect on Wednesday. Baltimore drafted Dave Cash III, the son of recently deposed first-base coach Dave Cash Jr., and passed on drafting Eric Perlozzo, the son of current manager Sam Perlozzo.
Cash, an infielder out of the University of Florida, was taken in the 40th round. His dad was relieved of his duties Wednesday and offered another coaching job within the organization. If he accepts the job -- and if his son signs -- there's a chance they could work together at a low-level affiliate this season or next.
"We were happy we were able to do that. He was here last week in a workout," said Jordan, speaking about drafting the younger Cash. "He did a really good job. We scouted him. We were somewhat familiar with him and we've got some history with him. I'm glad we were able to do it. I'm excited. We'll get him out there and get him going."
Perlozzo's son may not have been drafted, but that doesn't mean his playing dreams are dead.
"That doesn't mean we can't get him signed," said the elder Perlozzo during his pre-game media briefing. "He's a good kid. He'll make some Minor League manager happy. Trust me. We don't know who the lucky one's going to be yet."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.