After making two of the top 30 selections during Wednesday’s first day of the MLB draft, the Orioles will try to stockpile more talent Thursday in the final four rounds of a shortened draft.
Baltimore will pick second in each round Thursday, following the Detroit Tigers with each pick. Wednesday, the Orioles used the second overall pick to select Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad after Detroit drafted Arizona State’s Spencer Torkelson first overall. With the 30th overall pick — the first of Competitive Balance Round A — Baltimore selected Mississippi State shortstop Jordan Westburg, adding middle infield talent to a system lacking it.
The Orioles have the largest draft bonus pool of any team at nearly $13.9 million. Teams are allowed to spend over or under slot on individual players but will face penalties if their collective agreements with players exceed the allotted pools. Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said the Orioles should have the flexibility to draft whoever the top player on their board is at the time of a given pick regardless of slot consideration.
“I think it's an icing-on-the-cake mindset,” Elias said. “... We're going to be able to take the best talent on our board for every bit of the rest of the draft."
Elias and his crew of scouts will have the opportunity to add four more players Thursday. Here’s a look at the best of who’s still available as the Orioles enter the second day of the MLB Draft, beginning with the 39th overall pick.
After drafting Kjerstad second overall in a surprise move, many figured it was the Orioles trying to direct some of the almost $7.8 million in that pick’s slot to an overslot deal with a draftee from later rounds. Kelley could fit that mold.
Ranked as Baseball America’s No. 12 prospect available entering the draft, Kelley — a right-handed pitcher out of Refugio High School in Texas — is still available entering Day 2. The University of Texas commit has a high-90s fastball with a plus changeup, though his breaking ball is lacking at times.
Wilcox shared Georgia’s rotation with Emerson Hancock, the sixth-overall pick who was among the Orioles’ possibilities at second overall. In a 2020 season shortened by the coronavirus pandemic, Wilcox made four starts with a 1.57 ERA and 32 strikeouts against two walks in 23 innings after pitching mostly in relief as a freshman.
As a draft-eligible sophomore, Wilcox will be able to take plenty of leverage into negotiations to potentially return for a full junior season, a situation that could again bring any excess bonus pool the Orioles have into play.
The Orioles drafted their catcher of the future last year when they took Oregon State’s Adley Rutschman with the first overall pick. Five rounds later, they selected another catcher, Maverick Handley out of Stanford.
If they took a catcher in the same draft as Rutschman, the possibility at least exists they take one a year after. Dingler, Ohio State’s backstop, has a history of versatility, having also played center field as a freshman. He had a 1.164 OPS with five home runs — already a career high — when the pandemic ended his junior season after 10 games.
The Orioles already drafted one Arkansas standout in Kjerstad, so they could certainly add another in Martin, the Razorbacks’ shortstop. Last year, three of the club’s picks through 11 rounds were Stanford products, so it wouldn’t be the first time this front office double-dipped a college program.
Martin hasn’t come close to matching the .345/.418/.556 slashline he posted as a freshman on a team that reached the College World Series final (before losing to Rutschman and the Beavers). He’s also shown a concerning propensity for strikeouts, but he seemingly has many tools that would add to a Baltimore system that could use more middle-infield talent.
In another case of doubling up, the Orioles could draft Ginn, a right-hander out of Mississippi State. Ginn was the Los Angeles Dodgers’ first-round pick in 2018 but didn’t sign.
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After a dominant freshman season for the Bulldogs, Ginn was injured in his first start of 2020 and required Tommy John surgery, ending his season before the pandemic could. A draft-eligible sophomore, he has the leverage to be able to return to Mississippi State if he doesn’t get an offer he likes.