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12/01/09 10:00 AM EST

Jury's out on '09 Draft for Orioles

Late signings means organization must show patience

The Orioles did a good job of bringing most of their top picks into the fold, it just took awhile in some cases. They signed their first seven picks and 13 of their first 14, but several signed too late to make their pro debuts -- or at least do much more than get their professional feet wet. So instead, the club will get a better gauge on things this spring and summer.


Top five picks

1. Matt Hobgood, RHP: The fifth overall pick out of high school in California, the 6-foot-4, 245-pound Hobgood made his pro debut at short-season Bluefield, going 1-2 with a 4.73 ERA in eight starts and striking out 16 in 26 2/3 innings while walking eight. The National Gatorade High School Player of the Year, now 19, was a two-way star in high school. He throws a heavy fastball and repeats his delivery with clean mechanics, while he works on adding a curveball and changeup to the mix. Still a raw "high-ceiling" type of guy, there's not that much physical projectability for a guy his size -- but there is a lot of upside.

NL East

AL East

NL Central

AL Central

NL West

AL West

2. Mychael Givens, SS: The high school star from Tampa, Fla., could have gone pro as a shortstop or a pitcher, with a fastball clocked at 97 mph as a senior. But the Orioles, once they signed him at the deadline, are opting to develop the offensive side of his game (for now, anyway). The Oklahoma State recruit struck out 113 batters in 78 innings while hitting .374 with four homers and 31 RBIs as a prep, but signed too late to make his pro debut.

3. Tyler Townsend, 1B: A power-hitting prospect out of Florida International, a sore wrist hindered Townsend in his first pro season, limiting him to a .143 average in 31 games at short-season Aberdeen, though he added four homers and 16 RBIs.

4. Randy Henry, RHP: Henry was drafted out of community college in Arizona and signed too late to make his pro debut, but he's been clocked in the mid 90s with his fastball. Originally a Texas Tech recruit out of high school, he lost his senior year to Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery and went the junior college -- and now pro -- route instead.

5. Ashur Tolliver, LHP: The diminutive lefty transferred to Oklahoma City for his last college season out of Arkansas-Little Rock. He has a fastball that can hit the mid-90s on the gun and, after a late sign, tossed eight shutout innings with seven strikeouts in three games at Aberdeen.

Best of the rest

RHP Ryan Berry (9) out of Rice signed late due to a shoulder injury, which cost him much of 2009 and has not made his pro debut yet. His knuckle curve is his out pitch and once he's on the mound he could move quickly. ... RHP Jacob Cowan (10) posted a 2.25 ERA at Aberdeen, limiting hitters to a .179 average and striking out 27 in 24 innings. He was signed out of junior college in Texas. ... C Michael Ohlman (11) was an above-slot sign as one of the best young catchers in the Draft. The Bradenton, Fla., high schooler hit .182 in just four games in a brief Gulf Coast League debut. ... 2B/3B Ty Kelly (13) was a New York-Penn League All-Star, hitting .265 with a .357 on-base average at Aberdeen after signing out of UC-Davis. The switch-hitter added 18 RBIs in 61 games. ... Speedy OF Brenden Webb (30) hit just .186 in 13 games in the Gulf Coast League after signing late, but is expected to be an impact bat at the top of the lineup. He was signed away from USC. ... 3B Mike Flacco (31) is a name well-known around Baltimore, and not just because he went to nearby Catonsville Community College. His brother Joe quarterbacks the Baltimore Ravens. Mike missed much of the last two years with back trouble but has good offensive potential when healthy. The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder hit .263 with three homers and 35 RBIs between short-season Bluefield and Class A Delmarva in his debut.

Fast risers

The early call is tough with a lot of late signs and young picks, but keep an eye on Berry, if he is healthy, and switch-hitting middle infielder Ty Kelly out of UC Davis as a pair of college picks who could move more quickly than others.


The Orioles signed just 29 of their 50 picks, but only four of their last 20, having more success in the early rounds by signing their first seven selections and 13 of their first 14. Only sophomore-eligible OF Devin Harris (8) from East Carolina slipped through, though he came very close to signing. He hit .344 with 14 homers and 48 RBIs at ECU and will be back in the Draft again this spring. RHP Garrett Bush (15), a Jacksonville, Fla., prep, headed to Auburn as expected, while Georgia RHP Jeff Walters (17) returns to the mound for the Bulldogs this spring.

Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.