xml:space="preserve">

After months of draft preparation leading up to Monday and three picks executed on the first night of the 2017 major league draft, scouting director Gary Rajsich acknowledged that the Orioles "weren't real thrilled" with the players they expected to be available when their pick came around at No. 21 overall.

The players they'd settled on entering the draft were "contingency picks," only because the 18-year-old left-hander they chose – DL Hall — was sure to be gone by then.

Advertisement

"I don't know why DL fell there," Rajsich said on a conference call early Tuesday morning. "I don't know what the clubs in front of us were thinking, but we weren't planning on him being there originally. But when he got closer to our turn to pick, we realized it was a possibility and we began to get pretty excited."

In Hall, from Valdosta (Ga.) High, Rajsich said the Orioles got a pitcher they project "to be a future starter in our rotation, and it shouldn't take very long." He becomes their first high school pitcher selected in the first round since Hunter Harvey in 2013, and their highest selection of a high school left-hander since Adam Loewen in 2002.

Rajsich said in a statement immediately after the pick that Hall "is a polished, young left-handed pitcher with a good fastball, curve, changeup, and good control."

"We look for athletic throwers with plus arms, especially high in the draft," he added on the call. "DL fits that very well."

According to his hometown newspaper, the Valdosta Daily Times, the 6-foot-2 left-hander struck out 105 batters against 25 walks and 24 hits allowed over 51 1/3 innings in his senior year, with a 1.36 ERA.

He watched the draft with his family at the beach, Hall said, describing it as a moving scene around the television set, where the draft was broadcast on MLB Network.

"It was a very exciting, emotional time," he said. "It's always cool to hear your name called on television, and tonight was just a huge night for me and my family — a very exciting night, being here with my family. We're actually down at the beach, sitting around the TV watching. It's a very exciting, very emotional time for me and my dad. We've done it all together, my whole life — the whole baseball experience. It was overall just emotional."

Hall made waves last summer at the East Coast Pro Showcase, where he struck out seven batters in three innings before scores of scouts — all while wearing an Orioles uniform for the tournament.

"That was an awesome experience, being able to be chosen to go play at East Coast Pro for the second year in a row," he said." I think that was a huge outing this summer, there in my summer circuit to really boost up my name on a couple of boards and different things like that. It was an awesome experience, and I was very confident in that outing. It helped me out a pretty good bit."

Despite being committed to Florida State, Hall could end up back in an Orioles uniform yet again. The 21st overall pick comes with a signing bonus slot of $2,892,400, which is a substantial portion of the Orioles' overall $6,846,700 bonus pool.

"It's a tough decision," Hall said. "I grew up a huge Florida State Seminole fan, but I trust that me and my family will make the right decision here in the coming days, and just see what happens. But either way, I think it's a blessing to have both of those opportunities and I couldn't be more thankful either way."

If he signs, he'll go a long way toward replenishing a left-handed-pitching stock that has been ravaged by trades in the past few years. Beginning with Josh Hader in 2013, dealt to the Houston Astros in a package for pitcher Bud Norris, the Orioles have moved multiple promising left-handed pitching prospects.

In 2014, they dealt Eduardo Rodriguez to the Boston Red Sox for reliever Andrew Miller. The following offseason, Steven Brault and Stephen Tarpley went to the Pittsburgh Pirates for outfielder Travis Snider. Cuban Ariel Miranda was dealt to the Seattle Mariners for Wade Miley at the 2016 nonwaiver trade deadline. All but Tarpley have made their major league debut already.

Notable left-handed starters in the organization now include Triple-A Norfolk's Chris Lee, 2016 second-round pick Keegan Akin and Low-A All-Star Alexander Wells.

Advertisement

Akin was taken one round behind the Orioles' top pick last year, Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Cody Sedlock. The former Illinois standout was part of a focus on taking college pitchers who could move quickly through the system.

Otherwise, there's not really a pattern in what the Orioles have taken in the first round. Florida State outfielder DJ Stewart was their top pick in the first round in 2015, with Florida prep shortstop Ryan Mountcastle also coming later in that round.

They were without a first-round pick in 2014 after signing qualifying offer free agents Nelson Cruz and Ubaldo Jiménez, but their first pick that year was left-hander Brian Gonzalez, who came in the third round.

In 2013, the North Carolina prep right-hander Harvey was the third in a string of top-end pitchers selected with the team's first pick. He was an under-the-radar pick at the time of his selection, but opened eyes in his first full season before injuries stalled his career.

Before him, Kevin Gausman (2012) and Dylan Bundy (2011) were touted prospects who shot to the majors the year after they were drafted and have settled into the major league rotation. All-Star third baseman Manny Machado (third overall, 2010) was the first draft pick of this decade.

There's a through line from Machado to Mountcastle to their second-round pick (No. 60 overall), Canadian high school shortstop Adam Hall. Like Machado and Mountcastle, the 18-year-old shortstop is regarded as a projectable hitter with quick hands at the plate.

With the 74th pick — their final of the draft's first day — the Orioles selected Xavier left-hander Zac Lowther.

Lowther is the highest-rated prospect out of Xavier in the school's history, and the 6-2 junior made 15 starts with a 2.92 ERA for the Big East program this year.

The MLB draft resumes Tuesday on MLB.com with rounds 3-10.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement