Addressing a longtime need in the organization, the Orioles selected Florida high school shortstop Manny Machado with the third overall pick in Monday night's first round of the 2010 amateur draft.
Machado, who hit .639 with 12 homers and 68 RBIs in 29 games for Brito Miami Private, was considered the top prep position player in the draft.
"If Machado stays at shortstop, you have a potential All-Star offensively who is no worse than average with the glove," said Keith Law, a writer for ESPN.com and the lead baseball analyst for Scouts Inc. "He needs some work, but there's no physical reason he can't play the position. He has an unbelievable arm. He has great bat speed, does it very, very easy. And I think he is going to grow into more power. ÃÂ It's not like it's a consolation prize. I have him as the second-best guy in the draft."
Machado is a lanky 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, and there are questions about whether his best position long term is shortstop or third base.
"The question with him is: Does he put on enough muscle and outgrow shortstop?" said Jim Callis, executive editor of Baseball America. "But I think he has a chance to be .300 guy with 20 home runs and an average defender. I still think you project him as an All-Star at third base, too."
Machado immediately becomes the Orioles' top middle-infield prospect, joining last year's second-round pick, 20-year-old Mychal Givens, at an organizational weak spot. Givens, also projected as a shortstop, was the organization's ninth overall prospect according to 2010 Baseball America rankings.
The only other middle infielders in the organization's top 30 are second baseman L.J. Hoes (21st), second baseman Ryan Adams (26th) and shortstop Garabez Rosa (27th).
As expected, the Washington Nationals took hitting phenom Bryce Harper with the first overall pick in the draft, and the Pittsburgh Pirates followed by taking Texas high school right-hander Jameson Taillon at No. 2. That left the Orioles with Machado at No. 3, the highest the team has selected since choosing LSU's Ben McDonald with the first overall pick in 1989.
Machado, who is represented by Scott Boras, has signed a letter of intent to play for Florida International. The Orioles will have until midnight Aug. 16 to sign him or they lose his rights.
The Orioles won't select again until the 85th overall pick in Tuesday's third round. They surrendered their second-round pick as compensation for signing free-agent reliever Michael Gonzalez, who blew two of three save opportunities before going on the disabled list.
Machado is the first position player Orioles director of scouting Joe Jordan has drafted in the first round since he selected catcher Matt Wieters with the fifth overall pick in 2007. The Orioles' past two first-round picks were Norco (Calif.) High right-hander Matt Hobgood, the fifth overall selection last year, and University of San Diego left-hander Brian Matusz, the fourth pick in 2008.