06/08/07 11:30 PM ET
Adding college arms late focus of O's
UCF's Bascom among Draft finds who draw rave reviews
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
Seventeen of the first 25 players selected on Friday were college pitchers, and Joe Jordan, Baltimore's director of scouting, said that was an accurate reflection of what the organization needed to move forward.
"I really think we did well, but all 30 clubs love their Draft right now," Jordan said of his haul. "I really felt like we had a good Draft, and now we've just got to get them signed and get them out there playing. I'm very happy."
Baltimore started the trend toward college pitchers at the end of Thursday's proceedings, when the Orioles nabbed Central Florida's Timothy Bascom in the fourth round and Jake Arrieta out of Texas Christian in the fifth. The strategy continued unabated late Friday, and Baltimore chose nine straight pitchers at one point in the afternoon.
Eight of those pitchers came from colleges, giving Jordan a group of experienced arms to mold at low-level affiliates. In all, 24 of Baltimore's 48 picks were pitchers -- and 40 players overall came from the college ranks.
"There's always more inventory there -- especially if you're looking for guys you can sign. That was a big focus the second half of today, but I didn't envision it coming off like that," Jordan said of the college-heavy haul. "We looked up, and I don't know when it was that we took our first teenager. It was a [long] way into the Draft."
Jordan said he expects to start signing the prospects within the next week or 10 days, and he said the O's will begin fitting the arms to potential rosters during the next few days. One thing that most of Baltimore's draftees have in common is performance at the college level and limited projectability as professional prospects.
"We do have some projectable guys, but obviously, we took a lot of 21 and 22-year-old guys that are grown," Jordan said. "They're probably isn't as much projection, but we got a lot of guys we like. We weren't looking for value picks, and we weren't looking for the most signable guys. We got guys that we wanted and that we think fit."
The Orioles used to dip heavily into the draft-and-follow process, where they'd draft a player with little intention of signing him right away. They'd allow the prospect to go back to junior college and follow their progress before deciding whether to sign them, but the draft-and-follow has been eliminated by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
|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|
Still, Jordan and Baltimore's scouts got no reprieve. Instead of getting an easier day at the Draft, Jordan and company had to stock the roster of Baltimore's new Gulf Coast League affiliate, which will begin play later this month.
"We kind of replaced the DNF process with adding a new affiliate," Jordan said. "We were drafting players all day today -- and a lot of them -- we have to sign. It didn't feel a whole lot different, but next year, it probably will. Going into the Draft, I think we had about 41 or 42 [spots] that we had to sign to build a roster."
Jordan seemed most enthusiastic about Bascom and Arrieta, the final two selections of Day 1. Bascom, a sixth-round pick last year, sat out after being embroiled in a contract dispute with San Diego. In his last taste of college action, Bascom went 5-6 with a 2.47 ERA for Central Florida in 2006.
At any rate, Jordan said Bascom had the best right-handed changeup he's seen all year.
"I was surprised Bascom was there in the fourth," he said. "I saw this kid two-and-a-half weeks ago, and we were on him. We were on him last year, but he had that problem with his knee. He got that fixed, but he had actually signed with San Diego and flunked a physical. They wanted to discount the money, and the kid just didn't want to do it."
Arrieta, meanwhile, slipped even further. The right-hander was named a second-team All-American in 2006 and came back this year for a 9-3 record and a 3.01 ERA, numbers that dropped him all the way to the fifth round.
"I recommended him the first two months of the season for our first-round pick," Jordan said. "We've seen Arrieta for three years -- ever since high school. For me, he's got some delivery issues that are fixable. I'd love to get him in about two bullpens, [and] I think I could help him in 20 minutes. We took him, and we expect to have him signed very soon."
As for position players, Jordan seemed most pleased about the team's two top picks Friday. Joseph Mahoney, a college slugger, was chosen in the sixth round, followed by Ohio State speedster Matthew Angle in the seventh.
"I'm really excited about Mahoney. He's a big power-hitting first baseman from the University of Richmond," Jordan said. "We kind of thought about taking another guy and [then] taking him in the seventh, but we just got him. And the guy behind him is a 70 runner (on the standard 20-80 scouting scale) who will be leading off in Aberdeen this summer. He's a good defensive center fielder."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.