The Orioles didn’t have any picks until the third round of this year’s major league first-year player draft, but Gary Rajsich, the club’s director of scouting, thinks it might have been a blessing in disguise.
Because they didn’t have to scout athletes whom they expected to be taken during the draft’s first day, Rajsich said the Orioles were able to find better talent for later rounds.
“We got deeper into the draft than we had the previous two years,” he said. “This year, the time allowed us to do that. Not having the time to spend on those first 50 or 60 picks allowed us to focus on down into the 11th, 15th round a little more.”
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The club spent some of that time scouting Brandon Bonilla, son of former Oriole Bobby Bonilla, one of 27 pitchers they drafted.
The left-hander from Grand Canyon University in Arizona was academically ineligible this year, making an evaluation difficult. But Rajsich liked the potential he saw in workouts enough to select Bonilla in the 25th round.
“He’s left-handed, he’s loose, he’s free and easy, but he does have some command problems, so he needs some professionalizing,” he said. “We look at the delivery, we look how the arm works, how the stuff works, but he has the potential to have a huge arm. He throws really hard.”
With their 38 picks, the Orioles selected 27 pitchers, six infielders and five outfielders. A year after drafting four catchers in the first 10 rounds, the club didn’t take a single one this year.
“We like the guys we took last year,” Rajsich said. “We want them to develop and play. Plus, it would be unfair if we got any new catchers that probably wouldn’t get as much playing time as they need. So that wasn’t a priority for us at all.”