For O's, it's the rich getting richer
Come next year, Baltimore hopes to draft near the bottom
It's a paradox of position, so to speak. The Orioles hope to take advantage of their high slot in the upcoming 2007 First-Year Player Draft, but they also hope to play well enough to avoid picking there again anytime soon. Baltimore will pick fifth, high enough to snag an elite prospect to add to the team's collection of young talent.
Adam Loewen and Nick Markakis are two examples of Baltimore's recent success with high picks, but Jim Duquette, the team's vice president of baseball operations, doesn't want to make picking high an annual event.
"When you're in that position, you certainly want to take advantage of it and get the best player that you can," Duquette said. "But you also don't want to pick there again anymore. That's what we've been talking about: The only way you pick in that area is if you have a lousy season. The good news is we've got a high draft pick, but the bad news is it's indicative of the way we played last year. Hopefully, we're not there next year."
The Orioles have picked position players in back-to-back years with their top pick, but the main strength of the organization lies in its pitching depth. Three members of the planned rotation -- Erik Bedard, Daniel Cabrera and Loewen -- are former Baltimore farmhands, as is second-year closer Chris Ray.
Hayden Penn, Garrett Olson and Brandon Erbe shape up as the next wave, and the Orioles may well add to that stockpile on Thursday. Duquette said the current shape of the organization won't impact the pick at all.
"We do have a feeling that we have organizational depth in pitching, which isn't necessarily a bad thing," he said. "It won't preclude us from drafting a pitcher again if we feel like that's the best player available, but we'd certainly like to get a position player, too. The last two years, we've drafted position players in the first round. Right now, we're a little bit early to predict who might be there, just because of the other four teams ahead of us."
The Orioles will have a long time to wait after their first pick, which intensifies the stakes involved in hitting on their top selection. Baltimore surrendered its next two picks by signing free agents last winter.
MLB.com will broadcast every pick of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, which takes place June 7-8 at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando. Day 1 coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET with a simulcast of ESPN2's broadcast of the first round and compensation picks. Video coverage of the remaining rounds on Day 1 will air on MLB.com, with live interviews and analysis from Orlando by Casey Stern, Jonathan Mayo and Perfect Game USA's Dave Rawnsley.
|1. TB||LHP||David Price||Vanderbilt U|
|2. KC||SS||Michael Moustakas||Chatsworth HS (Calif.)|
|3. CHC||3B||Josh Vitters||Cypress HS (Calif.)|
|4. PIT||LHP||Daniel Moskos||Clemson U|
|5. BAL||C||Matthew Wieters||Georgia Tech|
|6. WSH||LHP||Ross Detwiler||Missouri St U|
|7. MIL||LF||Matthew LaPorta||U Florida|
|8. COL||RHP||Casey Weathers||Vanderbilt U|
|9. ARI||RHP||Jarrod Parker||Norwell HS|
|10. SF||LHP||Madison Bumgarner||South Caldwell HS|
Day 2 of the Draft will get under way at 11:30 a.m. ET and continue through Round 50, if necessary. Every pick on Day 2 can be heard live on MLB.com with analysis from Mayo and Perfect Game USA's Allan Simpson.
Also once again this year, fans can follow every pick with MLB.com's live Draft Caster, a searchable database of every Draft eligible player featuring biographical data, statistics, scouting reports and rare scouting video.
The Draft, televised for the first time, represents a new era for baseball, and one Duquette is excited to see.
"I think that's a positive, and a lot of people think it's overdue," he said. "There are some -- the old-school people -- that want to get the draft done and over with, but there's no reason why we can't broadcast this and get a little more attention to the sport. There may not be as much name recognition for these kids because they'll end up going to the Minor Leagues, but I think it's good for all of baseball -- not just the Major Leagues, but the Minor League teams, too."
Past first-round picks:
2006 -- 3B Billy Rowell: Rowell, the ninth overall pick in the '06 draft, was lauded as one of the top high-school hitters available. He thrived in two stops last season and got off to a late start this year because of an injury, but he's unquestionably Baltimore's top position prospect. Rowell is likely three years away from the big leagues.
2005 -- C Brandon Snyder: Snyder had an impressive debut in 2005 but struggled mightily in '06 before he was diagnosed with a torn left labrum. Snyder is playing first base this year while his shoulder continues the healing process, but he will likely move back to catcher next year. When healthy, he can hit for both average and power.
2004 -- RHP Wade Townsend: Townsend was picked eighth overall by Baltimore, but he never signed. The right-hander reentered the draft in '05 and was taken eighth again, this time by Tampa Bay. Townsend pitched sparingly in '05 and underwent Tommy John surgery on his elbow later that year.
Rising fast: Olson was selected with a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds in 2005 and is already at Triple-A Norfolk. With Penn injured, Olson is considered the next contingency plan.
Cinderella story: Right-hander Jim Hoey, a 13th-round pick in 2003, has conquered injuries and adversity to get on the fast track to the big leagues. Hoey missed virtually all of '04 and '05 with elbow injuries, but he's currently at Triple-A.
In the Show: Outfield prospect Jeff Fiorentino is currently playing with the Double-A Bowie Baysox.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.