As the team struggles with the season, we begin looking at what is to come…
Okay. With the exception of two horrendous innings, the O's have not looked all that bad at the House that Hubris Built. But those two innings have been FULL of suck. And since this season is not about wins and losses (soon to be a registered trademark of Warehouse Watch LLC), I think it is time to start looking towards the future. The Young Guns and the Chosen One (look for him to be up sometime after June 1st. This will make him ineligible to be a Super 2 arbitration case, saving the team a little extra dough in the long run. Since they are on the road at the beginning of June, June 9th against Seattle is a good bet. Back at home, middle of the week against a team that is not a big casual fan attraction, off day the day before to get the word out and get the fan base riled up…it is the perfect storm of feel good press and hometown loving. Add in that it is T-Shirt Tuesday and it is like getting a double promo game. Not to mention that June 9th is the date of the 2009 draft. It feels like fate wrapped up in a tasty sun dried tomato tortilla of zen) are established continuity at this point, and there are other prospects worth looking at. But I want to look at the draft.
The Orioles have the 5th pick. There is no doubt that The Nationals (with the 1st pick) will be grabbing Steven Strasburg. He is the pitching version of The Chosen One, and when they inevitably face each other in what will probably be an otherwise meaningless interleague game, there is an excellent chance that it will cause the Rapture, especially if the count gets to 3-2 late in the game. Make your peace with your Maker now and beat the rush.
But after Strasburg, it is a crap shoot (even more se than usual with baseball, and that is saying something). What I am hearing is that this is a deep draft, with lots of good players but not a lot of “superstar” prospects, so the first round is anybody's guess. Just a quick scan of some mock drafts have the Orioles picking (in no particular order)…
Grant Green (SS-USC)
Donovan Tate (CF-High School in Georgia)
Kyle Gibson (RHP-Missouri)
Dustin Ackley (1B/OF-UNC)
Tanner Scheppers (RHP-Fresno State)
So really, there is no consensus of who the team will be picking up. The question is bigger because, unlike other sports, baseball has multiple minor leagues to go through before making it to the big league club. Most sports have one or none. By having 5, 6, or even more minor league teams executives can pretty much eliminate drafting for “need” and concentrate more on areas that need strengthening. Pitching (especially under MacPhail) is a given, so Tate or Scheppers are probably getting good looks from the team's scouts. SS and 1B are not areas where we are loaded down with prospects (former 1st round pick Brandon Snyder, drafted as a catcher, has been working on making the move to 1B, but he is not one of those “probably can't miss” prospects, so a quality player there works fine). OF is a little better stocked, with Markakis and Jones pencilled in for the next 6-10 years and Reimold and Montanez already fighting for LF (and there is still Pie on the proverbial windowsill), so Tate is probably not as high on the board. But with the way injuries can hit anyone at any time, you cannot rule him out. Not to mention that if he pans out that gives flexibility to trade him or one of the current guys (not something I think they are planning, but MacPhail is not afraid to move stars for prospects if it betters the team, and there is pretty much no one who is untouchable on the roster. A lot of look but don't touch right nows (Jones, Markakis, Weiters, Tillman, Arrietta, Matusz…), but no one who is absolutely off the table. MacPhail knows better than to cut off your nose to spite your face like that.
If I had to make MY pick, I would say Ackley or a pitcher. If you forced me to make one guess, I say Gibson. Scheppers is the Pirates' first round pick from last year that they couldn't get signed. And his independant league performances so far have not exactly been overwhelming, so he has two strikes on him already (although refusing to sign with the Pirates is probably more of a foul ball than an actual strike, it still means the same thing in the count). Gibson projects out to be a middle of the rotation starter or a top end reliever, depending on where his fastball tops out (usually around 90, but he has been known to hit 93-94, and he is still filling out his 6'6″ frame, so it has the potnetial to get consistently in the mid 90's). He has a plus slider and the potential of a plus changeup (it has gotten noticeably better, and the more the fastball picks up the better the changeup gets just by comparison). He has excellent control (23 walks in 86.2 innings last year, 19 in 67.2 in 2007), and has solid, quality mechanics which lessen the chances for serious arm injuries later on. I think he is probably the safest pick, and would be a nice complement to The Young Guns (and some of the other Regulators, which we will look at next time).
Okay, that will do it for now. Tune in to the game tonight. Let's get one, boys!
About the Author
Written by Ron Burr
Ron is a lifelong resident of Maryland and has been a passionate player and fan of sports for as long as he can remember. When he is not watching the games or explaining to his lovely wife why he is cursing at the television, he runs an improv/sketch comedy troupe, Drop Three. He can't hit a curveball or run a sub 4.5 40 yard dash, but he knows the games and loves talking about it with anyone. Differing opinions are welcome and encouraged!