The draft resumes later today, with names popping up that won't mean a thing to you without Google. And that might not even help.

I miss the days when you could get through the first round in about seven minutes. It used to fly by. But Major League Baseball has decided to make the draft a production, so we have teams on the clock and talking heads debating each pick on ESPN2.


I sense from reading your comments that most of you would have preferred a first baseman over San Diego left-hander Brian Matusz. I was pushing for South Carolina's Justin Smoak, but Miami's Yonder Alonso actually went ahead of him – seventh to the Cincinnati Reds. Smoak went 11th to the Texas Rangers (must have been the Mark Teixeira comparisons).

It's hard to argue against taking the best pitcher in the draft. And you know what they say about never having enough pitching.

It sounds like Matusz is pretty close to being ready. He throws strikes with all four pitches, and he has a tight, compact delivery. Baseball America's only criticism centered on his arm action being "a bit awkward and slightly compact," and how he occasionally lands on a straight front leg which could cause an injury and makes it harder for him to drive his fastball down through the zone.

Now for the really important stuff: I'm told his last name is pronounced "Mat-us." Earlier, I was told "Ma-toose," which I actually prefer and might stick with anyway.

The rest of the Orioles' picks are harder to dissect because we don't know as much about them. Left-handed hitting center fielder Xavier Avery, from Cedar Grove (Ga.) High, is regarded as one of the top athletes in the draft, a guy blessed with tremendous speed. And that appears to be an area the Orioles tried to address in the early rounds. Baseball America ranked him 59th in their top 100.

Avery has a football scholarship to the University of Georgia, where he'd be a running back. Sort of reminds me of Darnell McDonald, who scared away some teams in 1997 because he had a football scholarship to Texas. The Orioles were bold enough to draft him late in the first round – and he was a bust.

If Avery signs, he might have to change positions, unless he develops so slowly that Adam Jones will be in the Orioles Hall of Fame by the time he debuts.

Jerome Hoes, taken in the third round out of St. John's (D.C.) High, apparently wants first- to third-round money. Sounds like he could be a difficult signing.

Hoes hit .524 with eight homers, 29 RBIs and 32 steals this season, earning Washington Post All-Metro honors for the third time in four years. He's also an outfielder, but could change positions – perhaps settling at second base.

Fast and athletic. Not a bad way to go.

Hopefully, that description also fits fifth-rounder Greg Miclat of Virginia. Otherwise, the Orioles have a slow and clumsy 5-foot-9 shortstop.

The Orioles took two left-handers in the first six rounds, including Missouri's Richard Zagone. Three of their top six picks can play the outfield, where Adam Jones and Nick Markakis already reside and Nolan Reimold is trying to gain entrance. Competition is a good thing.

Of all the players in the draft, nobody brought more debate among media members who cover the team than Florida State catcher Buster Posey. The Orioles didn't need a catcher, and though he plays a variety of positions, I didn't see the point in taking a "utility player" with the fourth overall pick. Others argued that he was the best hitter in the draft and could be plugged into one spot, such as shortstop or second base, where he'd thrive. Posey went fifth to San Francisco.

Down on the farm, Triple-A Norfolk's Oscar Salazar went 3-for-4 with his seventh home run and three RBIs. He's a hitting machine.


Jeff Nettles hit Double-A Bowie's first grand slam of the season in Game 1 of a doubleheader. Chris Tillman was beaten for the first time in Game 2, but he struck out nine over five innings and allowed only two runs.