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Top draft prospects Bobby Witt Jr., Rece Hinds give glimpse of Orioles' first-round options at Home Run Derby

In Bobby Witt Jr. and Rece Hinds, the two finalists in the High School Home Run Derby on Monday at Nationals Park, this week's All-Star festivities might prove to be just as much about seeing the next generational talent the Orioles can take atop the draft as it is about saying the goodbye to the most recent one, shortstop Manny Machado.

The Orioles on Sunday lost their hold on the worst record in the major leagues, with a pair of wins this weekend bringing them into the All-Star break at 28-69 and just percentage points ahead of the Kansas City Royals and in 29th place out of 30 big league teams.

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That means the likes of Witt and Hinds will be in their scouting crosshairs on this summer's amateur showcase circuit and all throughout next spring, as the Orioles look to add the potential impact talent that comes with one of the first few picks in the draft. Their power was on display Monday when Witt topped Hinds, 8-7, in the 90-second final in between the major league rounds.

Witt, who was the top pick in Baseball America's first 2019 mock draft, knows that events like Monday are just the start of that.

"Going back and seeing the guys, a couple of my buddies last year like Nolan Gorman did it," Witt said. "It's crazy how time goes by and what happens if you keep working, day by day."

The 17-year-old shortstop from Colleyville, Texas, near Dallas, said seeing his name atop some recent mock drafts is more motivation than anything else.

"It's kind of more like a target for me, because there's other guys behind me that want to be in my spot," Witt said. "I have to keep working, keep getting better, working on the field and off the field and keep my head down."

Witt, whose father Bobby Witt pitched for 16 years in the majors, has elite speed and could project to above-average power from the right side, according to Baseball America. If he remains on track to be the first overall pick — Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman is the top college player — he'd take that as an honor.

"That'd be awesome if I did that, just try to take whatever I can to that team and produce whatever I can, try to make everyone around me better and try to make the team better," Witt said.

As for Hinds, a shortstop prospect at IMG Academy in Florida who has prodigious power, all the draft talk isn't something he's interested in indulging.

"Honestly, I don't really like to think about the draft that much because it kind of gets in my head. I just want to think about day by day, what I need to do to get better and get to where I need to be to be at that spot," Hinds said.

Baseball America had Hinds being drafted eighth overall in its first mock draft. Whoever takes him will get "a leader," he said.

"A hard worker who will do anything for the team to win — win is the big key right there," he said.

Each earned his place in the final with the two best totals in the eight-player preliminary round Sunday. Witt led the way with 26, and Hinds hit 25 as the last hitter in the second round to make it through.

"It's been absolutely unbelievable," Witt said. "This atmosphere right now — and it's not even packed yet — is crazy. Having all these guys walking around, these big leaguers, just saying what's up with them has been a blessing."

Said Hinds: "It's awesome. Obviously, there was a little nerves with all these people, but after we had BP about an hour ago, my nerves kind of left, because there were already people here watching us. They left. Now, it's time to go out there, have fun, and do my thing."

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Note: Gavin McIntyre, of Princess Anne won the 11/12 year-old division of the Pitch, Hit, and Run competition Monday at Nationals Park. McIntyre was the only representative from Maryland to make the national finals.

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