The 2020 draft remains more than eight months and a lot of work away, but that doesn’t prevent looking back at what was and ahead at what could be. Recent No. 2 picks include two World Series champions, a Most Valuable Player, an MVP candidate and a Gold Glove recipient. The Orioles won’t have their choice of any prospect once they’re on the clock in June, but getting to pick second is a solid consolation prize.
Who might be the next No. 2 pick?
Here’s a quick look at who Baseball America had as the 2020 draft’s top five picks in the wake of the 2019 draft.
Georgia right-hander Emerson Hancock: The state of Georgia’s top two pitching prospects in 2017 were Hancock and a left-hander named DL Hall. Hall went 21st overall to the Orioles in that year’s draft, and after heading to college, Hancock will likely surpass that selection.
Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson: “Tank for Tork” became a popular phrase in some baseball circles, with the Tigers getting the first shot at a player who hit 48 home runs in his first two college seasons. As a right-handed-hitting first baseman, he’s not the type of player who regularly goes first overall, meaning he could fall to Baltimore at No. 2.
California high school outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong: Crow-Armstrong, out of Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City, California, has excellent speed and profiles as a plus defender more than capable of playing center field.
Arkansas shortstop Casey Martin: Playing third base as a freshman, Martin and the Razorbacks finished as College World Series runner-ups to Rutschman and Oregon State. Soon, Martin could share an organization with his former foe.
North Carolina State catcher Patrick Bailey: It seems unlikely the Orioles would take a catcher with a top-two pick for the second straight season, but like Rutschman, Bailey is a switch-hitter and handles his behind-the-plate duties well.
No. 2 picks, 2012-19
2012: Outfielder Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins
Generally considered a better draft prospect than shortstop Carlos Correa, Buxton went to the Twins after the Houston Astros passed on him. Buxton has played more than 92 games only once in five major league seasons, but in 2017, he finished 18th in American League MVP voting and earned a Gold Glove for his center-field defense.
The Astros went arm over bat, picking Stanford right-hander Mark Appel first overall. The Cubs had the same choice, with Bryant and right-hander Jon Gray available, and it’s hard to argue they made the wrong one. After earning 2015 National League Rookie of the Year honors, Bryant was the NL MVP and helped Chicago end its 107-year World Series title drought the next year. Orioles manager Brandon Hyde was the Cubs first base coach at the time.
The hard-throwing high schooler went after Brady Aiken in 2014, and neither has reached the majors. Kolek missed all of 2016 and most of 2017 with injuries, requiring Tommy John surgery. He had a 9.22 ERA in 15 relief appearances for two low-level minor league affiliates in 2019.
The Arizona Diamondbacks had the choice of two SEC shortstops in LSU’s Bregman and Vanderbilt’s Dansby Swanson with the first pick, and went with the latter. It worked out for the Astros, who moved Bregman to third and got him to the majors by the next season. He’s filled in at short throughout this season with Correa battling injuries while putting together an offensive campaign that could earn him AL MVP. Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias was in an advisory role for Correa’s selection and was Houston’s scouting director for the picks of Appel, Aiken and Bregman.
2016: Third baseman Nick Senzel, Cincinnati Reds
After the Philadelphia Phillies took high school outfielder Mickey Moniak first overall, the Reds went with Senzel out of the University of Tennessee. He played infield for his entire minor league career before 2019, when the Reds moved him to center field to find space for him on the major league roster. He entered Thursday with 12 home runs, 14 steals and a .742 OPS.
The Twins took prep shortstop Royce Lewis first overall, leaving two-way amateur Greene to Cincinnati. Although they tested using him as both a pitcher and shortstop, the Reds have committed to deploying him strictly on the mound. Greene missed all of this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
If not for Bart, Rutschman would’ve been the first catcher taken in the top two picks since Joe Mauer in 2001. Bart, taken after the Tigers selected right-hander Casey Mize, had an .824 OPS and reached Double-A in 2019.
2019: Shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., Kansas City Royals
The Orioles’ choice for this year’s No. 1 pick was largely believed to be between Rutschman and Witt. They happily took Rutschman, allowing the Royals to take Witt second overall. The 19-year-old had a .670 OPS in 37 Rookie-level games.