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Orioles agree to terms with LHP Ayers; ink 32 of 41 picks

With a 5 p.m. deadline looming on Friday to sign their amateur picks, the Orioles are pretty much done their dealing -- especially after agreeing to terms with a highly regarded prep pitcher who had fallen deep into the draft.

According to an industry source, the Orioles have agreed to terms with prep left-hander Danny Ayers from Columbus, Ind., their 25th-round pick who was the 759th player selected in June.

Ayers, a 6-foot-3, 205-pounder who can throw his fastball consistently in the low-90s, was ranked as the 177th best draftable amateur this year by Baseball America. But his stock dropped due to perceived bonus demands and a college commitment to Western Michigan University.

According to a source, Ayers has agreed to a $200,000 bonus -- double the suggested slot for anyone after the 10th round and roughly the equivalent of a high seventh-round pick -- pending physical, which was scheduled for Thursday.

The Orioles also recently signed 32nd-round selection Max Homick, a left-hander out of the University of San Diego.

The club is now basically done in its pursuit of draft picks this year, according to scouting director Gary Rajsich. They have signed 32 of 41 selections, including 19 of their top 21.

The only two in their top 21 they are not expected to sign before Friday are 15th rounder Tyler Walsh, a prep infielder who likely will attend Belmont University in Tennessee, and 18th rounder Reed Reilly, a right-hander from Cal Poly, who has decided to return to school.

The Orioles have selected 21 players in the top 10 rounds in the past two years, and have failed to sign just one, left-hander Colin Poche, a fifth-rounder in 2012.

“I’m really happy about it,” Rajsich said. “(The signings) are a combination of the new CBA rules and our scouts doing a great job of getting the players’ signability information.”

The Orioles had their top 10 picks locked down early this year with only seventh-rounder Drew Dosch not signed soon after the draft. Dosch, a third baseman out of Youngstown State, has passed his physical after agreeing to a $218,500 bonus -- which is slot for a sixth-rounder. The suggested bonus for Dosch, who is recovering from anterior cruciate ligament surgery in his right knee and will not play in 2013, was $163,800.

Of the club’s top 10 round picks, only Dosch and sixth-rounder Alex Murphy, a catcher from Calvert Hall who signed at $275,000 instead of the slotted $218,500, exceeded their slotted bonuses. Only two others -- 12th rounder Jake Bray, a right-hander from a California Junior College and Ayers -- received above slot bonuses: $200,000 instead of the $100,000 allowed for 11th rounders and beyond.

Several of the Orioles’ top draft picks signed early enough to already be in action.

Supplemental first rounder Josh Hart, an outfielder, and second rounder Chance Sisco, a catcher, have already played seven games for the Gulf Coast League Orioles heading into Thursday. Hart is hitting .240 with a .367 on-base percentage and Sisco is hitting .375 with a .429 on-base percentage.

First rounder Hunter Harvey is expected to make his professional debut with the Gulf Coast League Orioles next week.

“I think we’re very happy with the draft this year,” Rajsich said. “We’re happy with the way the players cane off the board. We have some bigger, stronger athletes who like to play and I think the future is bright as far as restocking the system with talent.”

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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