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Looking back at recent Orioles' first-round picks

The 2010 Major League Baseball amateur draft begins tonight at 7 p.m.

As Jeff Zrebiec wrote in today's newspaper, the Orioles are expected to choose between Texas high school right-handed pitcher Jameson Taillon or Florida high school shortstop Manny Machado at No. 3.

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Also, Dan Connolly wants to know who you, the Orioles fans, would choose with that selection.

Below, I've listed a quick recap of the Orioles' first-round selections since 2001. They've selected 13 players during that period, including six who've made it to the major leagues.

While we're at it, here's a photo gallery of assorted first-round picks in the team's history.2009 (fifth overall): Matt Hobgood, RHP, Norco (Calif.) H.S.

Hobgood made his professional debut for the Rookie-level Bluefield Orioles last season, going 1-2 with a 4.72 ERA in eight starts. So far in 2010, he is 3-5 with a 4.40 ERA in 11 starts for the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds. He has struck out 39 batters, issued 26 walks and thrown 15 wild pitches in 59 1/3 innings.

2008 (fourth overall): Brian Matusz. LHP, San Diego

Matusz rapidly climbed through the Orioles' minor league system during the 2009 season, beginning the year with the Single-A Frederick Keys and ascending to the major leagues in August. He was 11-2 with a 1.91 ERA in 19 starts while splitting time between Frederick and the Double-A Bowie Baysox before his major-league debut. In the big leagues, Matusz was 5-2 with a 4.63 ERA in eight starts in 2009. This year, he is 2-6 with a 5.10 ERA in 12 games.

2007 (fifth overall): Matt Wieters, C, Georgia Tech

Like Matusz, Wieters paved a quick path through the minor leagues before encountering some adversity in the majors. Wieters batted .355 with 27 home runs and 91 RBIs while splitting the 2008 season between Frederick and Bowie. He received several awards for his performance, including being selected as Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year. He hit .305 with five home runs and 30 RBIs in 39 games for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides in 2009 before making his major-league debut in May. Wieters batted .288 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs in 96 games for the Orioles last season, but he is struggling so far in 2010.

2006 (ninth overall): Billy Rowell, 3B, Bishop Eustace (N.J.) H.S.

Before the Orioles picked college players Wieters and Matusz in back-to-back years, they took a power-hitting high school infielder in Rowell. He is currently in his third consecutive season with Frederick, batting .244 with five home runs and 25 RBIs in 46 games. Last season, Rowell hit .225 with nine home runs and 39 RBIs in 120 games while attempting to transition to the outfield. The move failed, however, and he's back to third base in 2010. Rowell's career batting average is .257 in five years and he hasn't hit more than nine home runs in a season.

*2006 (32nd overall): Pedro Beato, RHP, St. Petersburg (Fla.) College

After spending the first four years of his professional career as a starting pitcher, Beato has thrived after switching to the bullpen for Bowie this season. He is 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA and three saves in 17 appearances for the Baysox. Prior to this year, Beato was 20-30 with a career ERA over 4.00. At this point, his potential future contributions to the Orioles appear to be in the bullpen.

2005 (13th overall): Brandon Snyder, C, Westfield (Va.) H.S.

Snyder battled injuries while playing as a catcher during his first two professional seasons in the organization. A switch to the infield at Delmarva in 2007 seemed to power his prospect status to a new level. Snyder batted .315 with 13 home runs and 80 RBIs in 116 games for Frederick in 2008. He hit .343 with 10 home runs and 45 RBIs in 58 games for the Baysox last season before struggling a bit after a promotion to Norfolk. In 55 games for Norfolk this season, Snyder is batting .243 with four home runs and 25 RBIs.

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*2005 (48th overall): Garrett Olson, LHP, Cal Poly

The Orioles selected Olson with a compensation pick, which they received for their inability to agree to terms with 2004 first-round pick Wade Townsend. Olson spent parts of two seasons with the Orioles, going 1-3 with a 7.79 ERA in seven starts in 2007 and 9-10 with a 6.65 ERA in 26 starts in 2008. He was traded to the Chicago Cubs in the deal that brought outfielder Felix Pie to the Orioles in January 2009. Later that month, the Cubs shipped Olson to the Seattle Mariners in a deal for Aaron Heilman. Olson has split the 2010 season between Seattle and their Triple-A affiliate, the Tacoma Rainiers. He is 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA in four appearances with the Mariners.

2004 (eighth overall): Wade Townsend, RHP, Rice

As noted above, the Orioles were unable to sign Townsend after selecting him. He entered the draft again in 2005 and was picked eighth overall by the Tampa Bay Rays. In four injury-riddled seasons in the Rays' minor league system, Townsend compiled a 7-21 record with a 5.58 ERA in 64 games (43 starts). He signed briefly with the independent Grand Prairie AirHogs of the American Association earlier this season.

2003 (seventh overall): Nick Markakis, OF, Young Harris (Ga.) College

Since Matusz and Wieters aren't fully established yet, in my opinion, Markakis represents the Orioles' last homegrown talent who transformed from a first-round pick into a significant contributor in the major leagues. Markakis has recorded at least 100 RBIs twice in four full seasons with the Orioles, including a career-high 112 in 2007. He also established career highs in home runs (23) and stolen bases (18) that season. Through 56 games in 2010, Markakis is batting .288 with three home runs and 18 RBIs.

2002 (fourth overall): Adam Loewen, LHP, Fraser Valley Christian (B.C.) H.S.

In parts of three seasons with the Orioles, Loewen was 8-8 with a 5.38 ERA in 35 games (29 starts) after making his major-league debut in 2006. He was 0-2 with an 8.02 ERA in seven games (four starts) for the Orioles in 2008 before a stress fracture in his throwing elbow caused the left-hander to officially abandon hopes of pitching again in July. He signed with the Toronto Blue Jays before the 2009 season and began a comeback as a position player. Loewen batted .236 with four home runs and 31 RBIs in 103 games for the Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays last year, and he's performing well so far in 2010. In 53 games for the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Loewen is hitting .298 with seven home runs and 30 RBIs.

2001 (seventh overall): Chris Smith, LHP, Cumberland (Tenn.) University

Local players Gavin Floyd (Philadelphia, fourth overall) and Mark Teixeira (Texas, fifth overall) were already selected when the Orioles grabbed Smith at No. 7, but the choice turned out to be a horrible one. Bothered by arm troubles from the very beginning of his professional career, Smith only pitched in 24 games (nine starts) in parts of four seasons in the organization. He also missed the entire 2003 season due to injury.

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2001 (19th overall): Mike Fontenot, 2B, Louisiana State

Fontenot batted .325 with 12 home runs, 66 RBIs and 16 stolen bases in 126 games for Bowie in 2003, and he hit .279 with 30 doubles in 136 games for the Triple-A Ottawa Lynx during the 2004 season. The Orioles traded him, along with Jerry Hairston and minor-league right-handed pitcher Dave Crouthers, to the Cubs in February 2005 for outfielder Sammy Sosa. In parts of five seasons in Chicago, Fontenot has a .272 career batting average with 22 home runs and 127 RBIs in 390 major-league games. He is hitting .310 in 43 games so far this season.

*2001 (31st overall): Bryan Bass, SS, Seminole (Fla.) H.S.

In seven seasons in the Orioles' minor league system, Bass never made it beyond Double-A. He batted .227 with 11 home runs and 36 RBIs in 107 games for Bowie during his final season in the organization in 2007. Bass' career batting average was .228, and he committed 201 errors in his career, including 52 in 2003.

* = Supplemental pick

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