The Orioles didn’t have any selections until the third round of the first-year player draft, but Gary Rajsich, the club’s director of scouting, was surprised by how much talent other teams left on the board.
The club used its first five picks on pitchers, taking advantage of what Rajsich said was the strength of this year’s draft.
“I was surprised that quite a few of those guys were still there,” he said. “We didn’t count on getting the four or five first guys that we got. We thought we would get maybe one or two. So we’re extremely satisfied with what we were able to get.”
With the 90th overall pick, the Orioles selected Brian Gonzalez, a hard-throwing left-hander from Archbishop McCarthy (Fla.) High who threw back-to-back no-hitters in complete-game shutout playoff wins early last month. Gonzalez, a senior, indicated to Rajsich that he would consider forgoing his commitment to Miami to sign with the Orioles.
“He’s been a winner his whole high school career,” Rajsich said.
In the fourth round, the club drafted right-hander Pat Connaughton, whose plans to finish his Notre Dame basketball career this winter before playing baseball full time likely hurt his draft stock.
As a junior this year, the 6-foot-5 Connaughton ranked second in points, rebounds and assists, impressing manager Buck Showalter on the hardwood as much as he did on the mound.
“I watched some basketball highlights of him,” Showalter said of the guard-forward. “He’s a pretty good basketball player, too. I like his size.”
With their eight selections Friday, the Orioles took five pitchers, two infielders and an outfielder, and with Nelson Cruz’s success this season, Showalter didn’t mind having to forfeit draft picks for offseason acquisitions.
“I kind of missed the first couple of rounds, but not enough to give Nelson back, or Ubaldo” Jimenez, Showalter said.