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What they’re saying about the Orioles’ 2020 draft class

The Orioles selected six players in an abbreviated MLB draft last week, highlighted by No. 2 overall selection Heston Kjerstad, a powerful left-handed hitting outfielder from Arkansas.

In the second round, they added Mississippi State shortstop Jordan Westburg at No. 30 overall and Tulane outfielder Hudson Haskin at No. 39, followed by Ole Miss shortstop Anthony Servideo (third round, No. 74), Stoneman Douglas High School (Florida) third baseman Coby Mayo (fourth, No. 103) and Dowling Catholic HS (Iowa) right-handed pitcher Carter Baumler (fifth, No. 133).

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Here’s what experts and analysts from around baseball had to say about the Orioles’ 2020 draft class:

MLB.com’s Jim Callis, who highlighted the Orioles as one of six clubs that crushed this year’s draft: “Baltimore seemingly got as much attention for not taking Vanderbilt outfielder/third baseman Austin Martin than it did for choosing Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad at No. 2 overall, which diminishes the fact that Kjerstad possessed the best left-handed power in the Draft and starred in college baseball’s best league (the Southeastern Conference) just like Martin did. Saving money with Kjerstad gave the Orioles enough cash to sign two high schoolers at the end of their Draft: Florida third baseman Coby Mayo (fourth round), who offers a lot of raw power and arm strength, and projectable Iowa right-hander Carter Baumler, who could have three solid or better pitches once fully developed. In between, they took three college position players in slugging Mississippi State shortstop Jordan Westburg (supplemental first), potential 20-20 center fielder Hudson Haskin (second) from Tulane and slick-fielding Mississippi shortstop Anthony Servideo (third).”

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The Athletic’s Keith Law: “Outfielder Heston Kjerstad (1) is a big power bat with some tools, but he’s also a right fielder and has had issues with swinging and missing, enough that I think this pick was a reach at No. 2 with Austin Martin still on the board (among others). If that pick was to save money, rather than a straight preference for Kjerstad, they didn’t take advantage of it at pick No. 30, the first selection of the Competitive Balance A round, where they took Mississippi State shortstop Jordan Westburg, a very good athlete who also strikes out too much and has to work on pitch recognition as well as reducing his leak at the plate. ... It feels like the Orioles tried to shave money at the top, but then didn’t target the right players with the savings.”

ESPN’s David Schoenfield: “When the Orioles took Kjerstad with the second pick as a likely underslot selection, the feeling was they might go instead with an overslot high school selection here. Instead, they went with the talented, high-upside Westburg, whose tools grade higher than his performance. As ESPN analyst Chris Burke pointed out, there will be a lot of pressure on the Orioles’ player development system to turn Kjerstad and Westburg into productive hitters.”

FanGraph’s Eric Longenhagen: “I think Baltimore crushed it. Cutting a deal with Heston Kjerstad at two enabled them to scoop up good high schoolers Coby Mayo (67th on my board, with huge power and arm strength, and who I have projected in right field) and Carter Baumler near the end of the draft. I also think Anthony Servideo’s 2020 breakout is for real.”

The Ringer’s Michael Baumann: “The Orioles lost 108 games last year and 115 the year before that, and their farm system is still pretty barren. They don’t need one superstar so much as they need as many quality prospects as they can possibly get their hands on. That goes double in a five-round draft, which, compared to a normal 40-rounder, has little room to play games with bonus money. This approach carries risk, but given the state of the Orioles system, it’s easy to see the logic.”

CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa and R.J. Anderson (Grade: C): “Confusing draft for the Orioles. They used the No. 2 pick on slugger Heston Kjerstad, our No. 17 prospect, and it appeared they would sign him below-slot and use the savings on a top high school talent that fell to one of their later picks. The O’s instead took safe-ish college hitters in Competitive Balance Round A (Jordan Westburg) and the second round (Hudson Haskin). It wasn’t until the fourth and fifth round, when they popped high schoolers Coby Mayo and Carter Baumler, that the other show dropped. Good players, all of them, but the Orioles held the No. 2 pick and didn’t land a truly elite prospect. Feels like they could’ve had a very similar draft with the No. 15 pick.”

Bleacher Report’s Joel Reuter, who ranks the Orioles’ farm system No. 11 overall: “The decision to reach for slugger Heston Kjerstad at No. 2 overall gave them more draft capital to spend on Day 2, which makes sense on some level for a team looking to stockpile talent. With that said, Kjerstad will need to consistently tap into his plus raw power to outperform guys like Asa Lacy and Austin Martin.”

Prospects 365’s Mason McRae (No. 20 overall): “The Orioles’ plans on saving money for Nick Bitsko at pick 30 failed when he was selected 24th overall, but they still managed to get fantastic value in Westburg (No. 36, selected 30th), who’s ranked higher than Kjerstad on my board (No. 38, selected 2nd). Had they taken Gonzales instead of Kjerstad, this would have been a fantastic draft, even with the Hudson Haskin (No. 184, selected 39th) pick. The trio of Anthony Servideo (No. 75), Coby Mayo (No. 114), and Carter Baumler (No. 139) were all great picks, and it helped salvage the poor start to the day with Haskin. Unfortunately, nothing will make up for the the head scratcher at pick 2, where they fumbled an opportunity to select Austin Martin or Nick Gonzales.”

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