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O's draft 49 in marathon
06/08/2004 10:55 PM ET
BALTIMORE -- Orioles scouting director Tony DeMacio did not come out of the second and final marathon day of the First-Year Player Draft bragging about the team's 49 picks.

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DeMacio knows better than that. He finishes every draft cautiously optimistic about the new crop of Orioles. DeMacio has been confident before about drafts but watched as top prospects did not pan out or never reached their potential.

"Ask me in five years," he said Tuesday when asked about the just-concluded draft. "I will be able to give you a better answer then."

The Orioles went for pitching and power hitting, components their farm system sorely needs. The club has begun to reap the benefits of its emphasis on young pitching but DeMacio wants to add more to the lower-level teams.

Also, he said, recent drafts have been dominated with pitching prospects and devoid of talented position players. Of the 49 players the Orioles drafted, 26 were pitchers.

The Orioles drafted pitchers from the 28th to the 33rd round, including right-hander Alexander Graham from the University of the Pacific, Bakersfield (Ca.) left-hander Matthew Garrett and Raymond High School (Ms.) right-hander Jared Elmore.

"The draft again this year was more and more pitching oriented," he said. "There just aren't that many position players. It was more of a pitching type of draft. We tried to get power and also come back with more pitching."

The club began the day drafting left fielder Matthew McGuirk from Arlington Heights High School in Texas. Local product Cody Wargo from Owings Mills, a catcher from Indiana University, was selected in the 27th round.

Right fielder Clifton Turner, an outfielder from Catonsville CC and Randallstown, Md., was taken in the 49th round.

Since the club no longer has a seventh minor league team, DeMacio is not pressed to sign a majority of the draft picks to fill the roster. He can be more selective with whom he signs and also drafted several players Tuesday who are likely to continue in college or attend college and could sign as draft-and-follow players next June.

Thirteen of the final 14 players selected are either in high school or community college.

DeMacio was still glowing about the drafting of right-hander Wade Townsend from Rice University with the eighth pick. The Golden Spikes Award nominee went 12-0 for the Owls and club officials believe he is not far from pitching in the Majors.

As with any high pick comes the question of signability. DeMacio said he has had dinner with Townsend but no numbers have yet been exchanged.

Last year's No. 8 pick, Mississippi State left-hander Paul Maholm, signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates for $2.2 million. Cypress High School (Ca.) pitcher Scott Moore signed with the Detroit Tigers for $2.3 million the year before.

Two of the Orioles' top 15 picks last season did not agree to contracts, including seventh-rounder Nathan Nery, a high school pitcher from Pennsylvania.

"I am sure we are going to run into some of the those [signing] blocks, you always do," DeMacio said. "Some will sign early and some will sign late. They've got to be happy, we've got to be happy too."

DeMacio expects to sign some drafted seniors and they could be sent to short-season Single-A Aberdeen, which begins on June 18.

"We mostly filled in with guys who we needed to fill in our lower clubs, and some senior guys we'll plug in Single-A Bluefield and Aberdeen," DeMacio said. "We'll sign as much as we need in the system right now. We're not hard-pressed to sign kids to fill Aberdeen like we were two years ago."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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