BALTIMORE—The Orioles will have to wait some time on Thursday night before they have their first round selection in this year's first-year player draft. They’ll pick 27th in the first round and will also have the 54th and 69th selections tonight.
The 3rd-10th rounds will be Friday and the 11th-40th rounds are on Saturday.
The draft begins at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
Because they signed Yovani Gallardo in February, the Orioles forfeited the 13th pick, but received the 27th because they lost Wei-Yin Chen as a free agent.
“We hope to add significantly to our prospect base,” Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquete said. “We’ve put a lot of focus on the pitching.”
This is Duquette’s fifth draft, and he’s been working with Scouting Director Gary Rajsich since he joined the Orioles in Nov. 2011.
“If we’re going to have a competitive team year in and year out, we’ve got to being in good players to our system, and we hope to be able to replenish our system through the draft this year,” Duquette said.
Kevin Gausman was the Orioles’ first round selection in 2012. High school pitcher Hunter Harvey was the first pick in 2013. The team didn’t have one until the third round in 2014 because they signed Nelson Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez, and last year, Florida State outfielder DJ Stewart was the first pick.
There’s some thinking the Orioles will use the first pick to select a pitcher. Would it be a high school or college pitcher?
“If you look at the history of the draft, it takes a little longer for the high school pitchers to get there, and the odds are against you from an injury perspective. So if a team’s going to take a high school pitcher, they need to have a pretty clear idea that that pitcher’s going to be healthy and be able to give them that service,” Duquette said.
“We drafted Gausman out of college. He got here healthy, he’s been able to help the team. We’ve had some injury issues with Hunter Harvey and of course [Dylan] Bundy, but Bundy’s up here pitching. So you have to keep an eye on that. The other point to make is if you have a top-10 pick in the draft, you got a chance to get a really good player, and with the team having finished pretty well over the last five years, up in the standings, we haven’t had the luxury of drafting in the top 10. When we did, we did a pretty good job of it. We picked Wieters, we picked Manny Machado. But we haven’t had the luxury of drafting high, so we’ve got to work a little bit harder and get the depth and identify the players that we think will be able to project to be big leaguers in the future.”
When Duquette was hired, he put a premium on acquiring players through the draft.
“There’s areas you can always do better in. I think part of assessing your team and helping your organization is looking at areas where you can do better. I don’t think we’re ever happy with any of our drafts, although I’ve got to say that we’ve gotten some good return pretty quickly from some of our drafts, and there’s some more players on the way. The big thing to have available is players to trade when you’re in a pennant race so that you can add to the team. Or, you can bring up players to help you. Recently, we’ve been trading them because we’ve been in contention, so we’ve got to keep restocking our pipeline and keep things going all the time.”
With the Orioles in first place in the AL East and the July 31 trading deadline coming into sight, Duquette may find some of his previous draftees as handy trading tools.
He would like to be aggressive in the trade market.
“I hope so. I hope we’re in a position where we can add some position to this team to get it over the top,” Duquette said.