Happily, O's select Snyder in first round


Joe Jordan entered his first draft as Orioles scouting director with some anxiety, but the confidence that one of the two players the team coveted would be available when it made its first-round pick.

So after the first 11 selections were made in yesterday's amateur draft and the Orioles' top two targets remained on the board, Jordan was able to sit back and relax. Either way, the Orioles would get one of their men.

When the Cincinnati Reds selected Jay Bruce, a high school outfielder from Texas, at No. 12, the Orioles happily settled for the other player they targeted, taking Brandon Snyder, a catcher from Westfield High School in Centreville, Va., with the 13th pick.

On the draft's first day, the Orioles also selected local standouts Brandon Erbe, a right-handed pitcher from McDonogh, and Chorye Spoone, who pitched at Northeast High and is now at CCBC-Catonsville.

"We felt good about getting [Snyder]," said Jordan, a former national cross-checker for the Marlins who replaced Tony DeMacio in the offseason. "There wasn't any compromise here. This wasn't something that we did for any reason other than this is the guy that we wanted."

The feeling was mutual with Snyder, who grew up an Orioles fan and is familiar with Camden Yards as a spectator. Snyder's father, Brian, pitched in the major leagues and was a teammate of Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie on the 1985 Seattle Mariners.

"It's unbelievable," said Brandon Snyder, 18, who hit .547 with 29 runs, five doubles, two triples and three home runs for Westfield this year. "I've always had the dream of being a professional baseball player and to have it fit in with the Orioles is awesome. I feel like it's a great opportunity for me to succeed."

The Orioles are in need of catching depth, and they project Snyder (6 feet 2, 190 pounds), who is rated the 28th-best prospect by Baseball America, to start his career behind the plate, even though he's never been a full-time catcher until this year.

Beattie said the club was intrigued by his versatility - he also plays shortstop and third base - and especially impressed by his bat. They considered him the third or fourth best pure high school hitter in the country.

"The biggest reasons that high school catchers in general don't make it to the big leagues is they don't hit," Beattie said. "We [drafted] him with the idea he is going to catch but I don't believe we are going to make that 100 percent happen right away. We are going to keep his bat playing right away."

Team officials don't foresee signing Snyder, who signed a letter of intent to play at LSU, as a major concern. Last year, the Orioles were unable to sign their first-round selection, Rice University right-hander Wade Townsend, whom they took eighth overall. Townsend re-entered the draft and was picked eighth overall by Tampa Bay yesterday.

Because of the failure to sign Townsend, the Orioles were rewarded a sandwich pick (48th overall), which they used yesterday to select left-hander Garrett Olson, who went 10-4 with a 2.69 ERA at Cal Poly this year, and is a pitcher who could "move through the system quickly," Jordan said.

In the second round, the Orioles selected Nolan Reimold, a junior outfielder from Bowling Green who was the Mid-American Player of the Year this year. Then they snared local product Erbe, who was picked in the third round, 93rd overall.

The right-hander was 2-5 with a 1.86 ERA this past season for McDonogh.

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