It will take years to evaluate the Orioles project


For the first time, Major League Baseball has scheduled its draft to begin the day before the Home Run Derby as part of the All-Star Game festivities. In previous years, the draft took place in early June.

A lot happened on Sunday. It was the Orioles’ last game of a disappointing first half, the Futures Game and Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Still, the MLB managed to get more attention in the draft

Combined with Trey Mancini’s stellar performance in the Home Run Derby and Cedric Mullins’ departure from midfield for the American League, these were a busy few days for Oriole fans.

MLB didn’t want players to be distracted by the College World Series draft. By moving the project for five weeks, they succeeded.

This gave fans more time to familiarize themselves with potential draft picks and to rate the Orioles draft.

Everyone wants to know how the Orioles did. Come back in 2027.

If you think I’m freaked out, let’s take a look at the 2015 draft, which is different now than it was even a year ago.

Seven of the Orioles’ 41 draft picks have played in the major leagues: outfielder DJ Stewart, first baseman and designated hitter Ryan Mountcastle, both of whom were first round picks; left-handed pitcher Garrett Cleavinger, 3rd,outfielder Ryan McKenna, 4e; right handed pitcher Jay Flaa 6e, 11-year-old right-hander Ryan Meisingere; and Mullins, 13e.

A year ago, Mountcastle and McKenna had yet to play in the majors and Mullins had not won. Fans reportedly focused on Stewart and referred to the project as a bust.

Cleavinger was sent to the Philadelphia Phillies in July 2017 with outfielder Hyun-Soo Kim. He pitched a game for the Phillies last season and has a 2.25 ERA in 18 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers this season.

Meisinger was 2-1 with a 6.43 ERA in 18 games for the Orioles in 2018, and is part of the Chicago Cubs organization.

Flaa pitched in a game for the Orioles on April 27, was called off and last week was squarely fired at Triple-A by Atlanta last week.

Getting Mountcastle, McKenna, and Mullins into a draft is awesome, but if you’ve rated the project in 2018, 2019, or even 2020, the outcome isn’t as good.

Right-hander Gray Fenter and southpaw Nick Vespi were also drafted in 2015. If either or both are successful in the majors, this draft is even better.

Even though this year’s project cannot be evaluated for five or six years, there were some interesting trends.

Twenty of the 21 picks were college players, and the only high school student, receiver Creed Willems, selected in the eighth round, announced on Twitter that he is signing with the Orioles.

Another was a junior varsity player, outfielder Trendon Craig, of Louisburg College, where Mullins played.

Only one pitcher was selected from the top 11 picks and eight from the bottom 10.

The Orioles apparently believe they can develop college pitchers within their system quickly and are much less risky than high school pitchers. A year ago, they took Iowa high school right-hander Carter Baumler in the fifth round, and he had Tommy John surgery in November.

In several of their exchanges РDylan Bundy and Jos̩ Iglesias at the Los Angeles Angels and Miguel Castro at the New York Mets Рthey brought home a number of high-end pitching prospects. Maybe they think pitchers with at least some work experience are less risky than drafting high school kids.

It will be interesting to see where some of the perspectives are placed. With two teams this year in the Florida Complex League, some may start there, but this level has always been reserved for high school players. Many of the players on these teams are young international prospects from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

Historically, most college players started at Aberdeen when it was a short-season team, but the New York / Penn and Appalachian leagues are gone, and some may start at Low-A Delmarva.

Notes: Keegan Akin starts Friday night as the Orioles enter the second half of their season with three games against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. The Orioles have not named their starters for Saturday and Sunday. … Tuesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays will be televised exclusively on YouTube. Orioles presenter Melanie Newman will be joined by Sarah Langs of and field reporter Alanna Rizzo for the first all-female broadcast team. You can watch at … John Means allowed a run on five hits over three innings for Triple-A Norfolk in Memphis. Means struck out four and walked three with 74 throws. It was Means’ third start to rehab, and he is set to join the Orioles next week.

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