Most draft picks in top 40 since 2006 means more work for Orioles' scouting staff

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When the Orioles make the 22nd pick overall in baseball's annual amateur draft Thursday night, it will be the latest they have had to wait in the first round since 1998.

That's the bad news.


The good news for the club is that because of changes in compensation rules as part of the most recent collective bargaining agreement, the Orioles will actually have more picks in the top 40 and top 100 than they have had since 2006.

The Orioles get an extra pick directly after the first round — the 37th overall — as part of the newly instituted competitive balance lottery, in which Baltimore was entered because of its poor 2011 record.


And because fewer compensation picks were awarded to teams this year based on free agency qualifications, the Orioles' second-round pick is at No. 61 and their third rounder is No. 98. Last year, the Orioles selected Kevin Gausman with the fourth pick overall, but didn't select their second-rounder until No. 64.

It's created a wider net for the Orioles' amateur scouting staff.

"Last year we picked 4 and 65, so there was quite a group of players that just flew off the board that we really didn't pay much attention to because we knew they were going to go between those picks and so we didn't spend much time scouting them, which allowed us not only to focus on our No. 1 but on our No. 2 as well," said Gary Rajsich, the Orioles' director of scouting. "This year with the sandwich pick, the comp pick at 37, and picking down in the first round, we had to open up the field and scout more people."

Rajsich, in his second year running the Orioles' draft, said his scouts have been all over the country attempting to narrow their list, but they have to be prepared in case someone rated higher unexpectedly falls to 22nd.

"We may determine that there's 8 to 12 players that we are pretty definite will go before our first pick, but there's also another 8 to 12 that could slide down to our pick," he said. "So we have to be ready and we have to do our homework on those guys. And also we need to scout a whole other group of players for that compensation pick at 37."

In 2012, the Orioles could focus on four or five amateurs for their top selection, eventually taking Gausman from LSU. It's something that had become a trend for the Orioles — because of a string of rough seasons, they had selected in the top five in their past six drafts and in the top 10 in 11 of their past 12 drafts.

The Orioles haven't drafted this far back in the first round since they took Georgia high school outfielder Rick Elder with the 26th pick in 1998. Elder never made the majors.

Certainly, the deeper you pick in the first round, the worse your chances are of landing a sure-fire future major leaguer. But there are always exceptions. Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout fell to the 25th pick in the first round. And that's not lost on Rajsich and his crew.


"We still expect to get a guy that we like and we have a chance, I think, to get an impact player there. That's what we are looking for," Rajsich said. "Not of Trout's caliber perhaps, but that we can get an impact guy. Those are our expectations."

The first two regular and supplemental rounds of the draft will be held Thursday; rounds three to 10 on Friday and rounds 11 to 40 will be held Saturday.

Giving up big flies

While the Orioles did take two of three from the Tigers, Detroit's bats made the task difficult on the Orioles' pitching, hitting eight home runs in the series, including five Saturday.

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The Orioles have allowed 78 home runs this season and 1.37 per nine innings. That mark is second to Houston — the team's next opponent — which allows 1.39 home runs every nine innings.

The Nationals and Tigers combined to hit 12 home runs on the five-game home stand, and in the past seven games, Orioles pitching allowed 16 home runs. In the same span, the Orioles hit 11.


Opponents have hit at least three home runs against the Orioles nine times just more than a third of the way through the season, something opponents did 19 times last year.

Around the horn

Center fielder Adam Jones struck out four times for the first time since April 13, 2008. It was the third time in his career he struck out four times. … Right-hander Jair Jurrjens lasted just 2 2/3 innings at Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday. He gave up six runs on five hits and two home runs to Buffalo. His ERA is 4.09 in 11 starts at Norfolk this season. … Catcher Taylor Teagarden (dislocated left thumb) batted third at designated hitter for Norfolk on Sunday. He finished the game 0-for-5 with a strikeout. Teagarden could rejoin the team Tuesday in Houston, though Showalter wouldn't commit to it. … Right-hander Pedro Strop (lower back strain) will throw a simulated game Tuesday in Houston. He is eligible to come off the disabled list June 8. … No decision has been made if outfielder Nolan Reimold (right hamstring) will travel with the team. He could go on a rehab assignment next week. … Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen (oblique strain) has been out three weeks and hasn't pitched yet. Showalter said he could return mid-month, though that seems optimistic.