xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

I applaud Major League Baseball for taking another step toward making its draft an event for fans. Maybe I'm a hopeless seamhead, but I look forward to seeing the qualities of Dustin Ackley and Aaron Crow debated in primetime.

Baseball's draft will probably never rival its football and basketball counterparts for notoriety. Too many players come straight from high school. Even those who play in college rarely make a splash on national television. Stephen Strasburg, widely regarded as the best pitching prospect in a generation, is probably less recognizable than the sixth man on your average ACC basketball team. Many first-round picks then take three or four years to reach the majors. Add it all up, and you have a festival of delayed gratification.

That said, interest in the baseball draft has risen tremendously since I became a sportswriter four years ago. ESPN.com has joined Baseball America in assigning writers to cover it year round. Fan buzz about first-round picks begins to build months before the June selection.

Advertisement

If you doubt the importance of the draft, look at all the first-round picks the Orioles blew between 1993 and 2002. Twenty players picked in the first and supplemental first rounds and Brian Roberts was the only star (Jayson Werth turned into a good player ... for the Phillies.) As a result, the farm system fed the major league club almost nothing of note for years at a time. And they're at 11 straight losing seasons and counting.

In 2003, the Orioles picked Nick Markakis in the first round. He hit the big leagues in 2006 and signed an extension last winter. Assuming he stays on his current track, the Orioles will have received nine years of star-level production without any open market bidding. That's the value of the draft. You get to control a guy through his best years at below-market costs.

Advertisement

Adam Jones was a first-round pick in the same draft. Chris Tillman was a second-rounder in 2006. Matt Wieters was a first-rounder in 2007. If the Orioles have hope for a brighter future, it's because they will have all of those guys together for the price of one year of Alex Rodriguez (roughly.)

If you need a reason to watch the draft with interest, there you go.

If you're wondering whom the Orioles might pick, beyond Strasburg (probably headed to the Nationals,) you've got outfielders Ackley and Donovan Tate and a bunch of pitchers (Crow, Alex White, Tyler Matzek, Shelby Miller.) So the percentage guess seems to point to another hurler. We'll talk about this more as we get closer.

Photo by Gerry Broome of The Associated Press

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement