The Orioles will have four of the first 69 picks when baseball's annual draft of amateur players begins today.
Two of those -- at No. 39 and No. 51 -- are compensation choices for the Toronto Blue Jays' signing of Type A free agent Randy Myers, who left a gaping hole in the bullpen.
Last year, the accent was on position players, with the Orioles taking Single-A South Atlantic League All-Star catcher Jayson Werth and outfielder Darnell McDonald, who bypassed a football career at Texas.
"We'll mix it up this time," said scouting director Gary Nickels. "You really can't target a certain thing you need when the players are three or four years away."
Nickels calls this an average draft "even at the top level. There aren't four or five guys who stick out. It's a better high school crop than college, but it's kind of a flat draft."
The Philadelphia Phillies will have the first pick and are expected to go for University of Miami third baseman Pat Burrell.
Back in the lottery is J. D. Drew, the Phillies' first-rounder last year. The team was unable to sign him because of his contract demands and will pass this time. Oakland has the second pick. The Associated Press reported that the St. Louis Cardinals, picking fifth, seemed set to select Drew.
"There are some kids who have a conflict with football this year," said Nickels. "But we've had some success with people who had conflicts, like Ryan Minor."
Baltimore does not select until the 26th pick.
Pub Date: 6/02/98