With the MLB draft shortened to five rounds as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Orioles selected four players Thursday to complete their second draft under executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias.
Wednesday night, the Orioles surprised many by taking Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad second overall. At 30th overall, they drafted Mississippi State shortstop Jordan Westburg with the first pick of Competitive Balance Round A.
The Orioles had the second pick in each of Thursday’s four rounds, picking behind the Detroit Tigers every time. The club took a position player with its first five picks, with the first four being college draftees, before using its final selection on a high school pitcher.
“We think that we got a really good blend of guys that can move quickly through the minor league system and also some high-ceiling high school guys with our last two selections,” said Brad Ciolek, the Orioles’ supervisor of domestic scouting operations, on a videoconference call Thursday night.
Second round: Tulane outfielder Hudson Haskin
After their first two picks Wednesday, the Orioles kept their run on college position players going by drafting Tulane outfielder Hudson Haskin in the second round. A draft-eligible sophomore, Haskin hit .372/.459/.647 with 10 home runs in his freshman season while playing center field. As a sophomore, he was hitting .333/.452/.500 with 14 walks against 10 strikeouts before the coronavirus pandemic prematurely ended the season. Partly because of some unique swing mechanics, Baseball America ranked Haskin as the No. 211 player available in the draft, but Ciolek expressed excitement in his overall profile.
“The first thing that stands out about him is the overall athleticism that he has," Ciolek said. "He is a double-plus runner. We believe that he is going to stay in center field, and he also has a knack for barreling up the ball consistently. He also has sneaky power. He had double-digits home runs last year in his freshman year at Tulane, and we think if the season continued to go on, we would’ve seen a power spike with those numbers, but all around, he’s a very tooled-up athlete, and we like the ability for him to stay in center field.”
The 39th overall pick has a slot value of about $1.9 million, with the Orioles having the largest overall bonus pool at nearly $13.9 million. It’s likely the Orioles will give Kjerstad an under-slot deal, enabling them to pay above slot for their other draftees, though Ciolek referred to questions about signability with any player as “somewhat fluid.” The Orioles won’t be penalized for over-slot deals to individual players as long as the combined contracts for their six picks don’t exceed their total allotted pool.
Third round: Ole Miss shortstop Anthony Servideo
After drafting Westburg, Elias said it’s always a smart move to draft a shortstop from a Southeastern Conference university, and the Orioles used their third-round pick to grab one from Mississippi’s other SEC school in Servideo. The selection meant all four of the Orioles’ picks through three rounds were college position players.
Servideo, Baseball America’s 91st-ranked prospect in the draft, moved around the diamond his first two college seasons, playing second, center and right, before taking over at shortstop this spring. In a limited season, he hit .390/.575/.695 from the left side with five home runs, eclipsing the four he hit in his first two years combined.
The torrid spring followed a rough showing in the Cape Cod League over the summer, with Servideo batting .149 while striking out in 37 of his 101 at-bats.
“Obviously, the Cape was not a shining moment for him, but watching him this spring at Ole Miss, and we had guys running there early, we were really impressed with his increased plate discipline and the power, so we’re not overly concerned," Ciolek said. "As far as his body of work, we’re taking what he’s done most recently early on this spring, and we like his chance of continuing to add to the power department and also the on-base skills moving forward.”
The slot value of the 74th overall pick is $844,200.
Fourth round: Marjory Stoneman Douglas (Fla.) third baseman Coby Mayo
The Orioles’ fifth pick of the draft was another position player but the first out of the high school ranks. A third baseman out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Mayo is a 6-foot-5, 215-pound right-handed hitter.
Stoneman Douglas was the site of a 2018 shooting that left 17 dead and 17 more injured; Mayo was a sophomore at the time.
A University of Florida commit, Mayo is known for a strong throwing arm and potential to hit for power. The 103rd overall pick has a slot value of $565,600, and it will likely take more to get Mayo, Baseball America’s No. 79 draft prospect, to bypass his commitment.
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“He is a strong, athletic, 6-foot-4 kid with a double-plus arm at third base," Ciolek said. “He moves well for a bigger guy, and he also shows 70 raw power [on the 20-80 scouting scale] in [batting practice], and we think that we’ll be able to tap into that down the road, so he has an extremely high ceiling.”
Fifth round: Dowling Catholic (Iowa) right-hander Carter Baumler
The Orioles waited until their last pick to select a pitcher, going with right-hander Carter Baumler out of Iowa’s Dowling Catholic High School. It marks the earliest the Orioles have drafted a pitcher under Elias after picking position players through the seventh round in 2019.
Ciolek said either year’s early focus on position players wasn’t necessarily intentional, with those players just happening to be at the top of the board when the time to pick came.
“We had pitchers all up and down our board that we thought we had in good spots, and for whatever reason, we either liked a position player at that point in time better or the fact the pitchers went right before our next selection," Ciolek said. "Unfortunately, that’s just the way that sometimes the draft works, and that’s ultimately what ended up happening here.”
Baumler made only one start before the coronavirus shutdown, and no one from the Orioles was there to see it because of the league-mandated scouting ban prompted by the pandemic. Without live looks this spring, they relied on what they had seen from him in the summer, as well as video provided to all 30 teams through a scouting system MLB set up, Ciolek said. In addition to bullpen footage, Baumler provided footage from an Edgertronic high-speed camera, allowing the Orioles a detailed look at a repertoire that features a 92-94 mph fastball, an 11-5 curveball and a changeup Ciolek said has improved greatly in recent months.
Baumler has a commitment to TCU, possibly requiring the Orioles to exceed the $422,300 slot value assigned to the 133rd pick if they’re going to sign him. Baumler told the Des Moines Register he intends to sign with Baltimore.