BALTIMORE — The Orioles didn't have picks in the first two rounds, but scouting director Gary Rajsich said Baltimore "hit the jackpot" when it came to the club's first three picks, all pitchers selected in the third, fourth, and fifth rounds.
Third-round pick Brian Gonzalez, a left-hander from Archbishop McCarthy High School (Fla.), fourth-round pick Pat Connaughton, a right-hander from Notre Dame, and fifth-rounder David Hess, a right-hander from Tennessee Tech, were all introduced at Camden Yards on Thursday after already signing with the Orioles.
"Heading into the draft, we were optimistic that we could find some guys that fit what we're looking for," Rajsich said. "We're always looking for athletic throwers, guys that throw hard, guys that have good deliveries and good upside. And I think this year we came away with three really good ones."
The trio of pitchers will report to the Gulf Coast League, as the Orioles continue to sign their other draft picks. Rajsich said he thinks the club will again sign around 30 of its selections. But before Gonzalez, Connaughton, and Hess report to Florida, they were presented with their own Orioles jersey during a pre-game press conference and were introduced to the crowd at Camden Yards.
Gonzalez, 18, was selected at No. 90 overall by Baltimore. He was committed to the University of Miami, but opted to sign with the Orioles instead.
"That was a tough decision. Some teams had me second round, some teams had me where the Orioles had me," Gonzalez said. "But I sat down with my family and we made a decision after the Orioles picked me. A great opportunity like this doesn't come very often."
Connaughton has the most unusual situation of the three. He will report with Gonzalez and Hess to the Gulf Coast League, but in the fall he will return to Notre Dame. The 21-year-old is a starter on the Fighting Irish basketball team and will play for them next season while he finishes getting his degree. Then, whenever Notre Dame's season ends, whether that is early March or into April, he will commit to baseball full-time.
Connaughton said choosing between going for a professional baseball or basketball career was a tough decision.
"You look at the opportunity and the upside, the longevity of a career," Connaughton said. "I like them both. But when you sit down and you look at it, baseball is something I've played my entire life, I started at a younger age. And it's something I think that, when I put my to it, I can really make a career out of it and be successful."
GONZALEZ REHAB: Starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez made a rehab start at Class-AA Bowie on Wednesday night, pitching 4 1-3 scoreless innings. Gonzalez was back in Baltimore Thursday.
"I felt good throughout the whole game," Gonzalez said.
Showalter said Gonzalez is close to being ready to return, but that decision won't be made immediately. The right-hander is able to come off the disabled list Sunday, but it is more likely to be on the next road trip.
Showalter has also acknowledged that he may consider using a six-man rotation including Kevin Gausman.