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I know the Major League Baseball Draft is still about a month and a half away, but I figured talking to Orioles director of scouting Joe Jordan about how the draft preparation is going would be a welcome break from the daily dissection of the team's 1-8 start.

The Orioles will have the third overall pick in the June 7 draft. Bryce Harper, the catching phenom and Sports Illustrated cover boy who is currently playing for the College of Southern Nevada, is expected to go first overall to the Washington Nationals. The Pittsburgh Pirates will pick second ahead of the Orioles, who haven't drafted this high since they tabbed Ben McDonald with the first overall pick in 1989.

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"I'm very optimistic," said Jordan, who is in California scouting a couple of players. "We pick three so we don't have to line up a great deal of them for that first pick. We're going to get a very good player. There are a good group of players at the top of it and we like plenty of them."

Jordan is obviously not going to tip his hand this early, especially with the uncertainty attached to who the Pirates will pick at No.2. However, he did acknowledge that if all things were equal, he would love to get an impact bat with the third pick. The problem is that beyond Harper, who the Orioles have scouted several times and do like, there are really no impact hitters that project as top-five guys in this draft.

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The good news is that there are two shortstops (Cal State Fullerton's Christian Colon and Manny Machado, a high schooler from Miami) that will be available and would fill a long-term void in the organization. There is also a group of highly-touted pitchers that are projected to go early to mid first round, including Anthony Ranaudo (LSU), Matt Harvey (UNC), Drew Pomeranz (Ole Miss), Chris Sale (Florida Gulf Coast University), Jameson Taillon (The Woodlands HS in Texas) and AJ Cole (Oviedo HS in Florida).

There has been some speculation that Taillon, a hard-throwing right-hander who fits the mold of the big, physical pitcher that this organization craves, is the Orioles' top choice if the Pirates don't snag him at No.2. However, Jordan said that the Orioles aren't at the point where they've narrowed it down to one or two targets yet.

"So much can change in the next six weeks," he said. "Basically, we have a group of players that we feel like are the best players in the country and we're going to scout them till the very end. We're going to make sure that our works done and we'll be ready. There's no doubt about that. I'm feeling much better than I did about it a month ago. Some of the guys [on the board] have really got it going."

The Orioles will pay particularly close attention to Ranaudo over the next several weeks as the right-handed pitcher is just returning to form after missing some time with an elbow injury.

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