The Orioles on Sunday announced that they signed first-round draft pick DJ Stewart and assigned him to start his pro career at short-season single-A Aberdeen.
Stewart, the 25th overall pick out of Florida State, reported to Aberdeen Sunday and will likely start playing in games for the IronBirds within the next few days, Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich said.
“He has been hitting on his own and he hasn’t been playing obviously,” Rajsich said. “I’m sure that they will give him a few days before they run him out there.”
Rajsich said the negotiation took “longer than it needed to” because discussions were dictated by the timetable of Stewart’s representative, Scott Boras. But Rajsich added that the negotiations themselves were “fairly easy.”
“I thought everything went well,” Rajsich said. “There was very little disagreement over the issues and the amendments. … He can’t wait to start playing. He wanted to play the day after the draft. He wants to play. He’s a good kid.
“We just worked at his representative's pace. He wants to play ball. He’s a baseball player. A few years ago, executive vice president-general manager Dan Duquette, he described the Orioles as a hard-working, lunch-pail carrying club to fit the identity of this city, and that’s DJ Stewart. He is a lunch-pail carrying, blue-collar type ball player. You are going to get everything he’s got every day. He’s very consistent, and he’s a headsy, smart ballplayer.”
Rajsich likened him to a left-handed hitting Kevin Youkilis, especially with his low crouch.
The 6-foot, 230-pound Stewart led the nation in walks this past season with 69 and had an on-base percentage of .500 while hitting 15 home runs and driving in 59 runs in 64 games as a junior for the Seminoles.
He received a signing bonus near the recommended slot of $2,064,500. The club's total bonus pool for the first 10 rounds is $6,850,400.
Rajsich said the club, which has signed 34 of its 41 draft picks, still has the resources to sign two or three more picks before the July 17 deadline.
Their attention has turned to second-round pick Jonathan Hughes, a right-handed pitcher from Flowery Branch High School in Georgia who was the 68th overall pick. Hughes, a Georgia Tech commit, is the Orioles’ only remaining unsigned pick in the first 10 rounds. The recommended slot value for his pick is $907,000.
“We’ve heard from him recently, and it’s our turn to get back to him and once I go over things with Dan, we will get back to him,” Rajsich said. “I’m pretty confident [that will get done.] The dialogue has been really good.”
The team has also has had multiple conversations with Reservior right-hander Cody Morris. When the Orioles selected the Howard County native in the 32nd round, Morris had made it known his desire to go to college – he is committed college powerhouse South Carolina – but the Orioles remain in contact with him.
Morris, who had Tommy John surgery earlier this month, was expected to be drafted within the first five rounds before suffering an elbow injury.