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Who the Orioles could pick at No. 2 in 2020 MLB Draft, according to one expert

Who the Orioles could pick at No. 2 in 2020 MLB Draft, according to one expert

In the 2019 MLB Draft, the Baltimore Orioles took a major step toward rebuilding their roster and farm system by selecting catcher Adley Rutschman No. 1 overall. The switch-hitting backstop projects to become the cornerstone of the franchise. This year, the team can add another major piece in the 2020 MLB Draft as they have the second overall pick.

Though the draft has been shortened from 40 rounds to just five, it doesn't truly impact what Baltimore will do at No. 2. There, they will still have an opportunity to select the next piece of their future, and plenty of good options will be available.

But, unlike last year where Rutchsman was the shoo-in all along, the choices are not as clear cut in 2020. MLB Pipeline senior writer Jim Callis, who has closely studied the group of prospects, believes there are a few different ways the Orioles could go.

“I don’t think it’s a clear cut decision at No. 2 yet," Callis told MASN's Steve Melewski.

When it comes to who Callis could see Baltimore selecting, the dream-scenario would be Spencer Torkelson out of Arizona State University. However, it's considered a dream because the most likely outcome is that the Detriot Tigers will take Torkelson first overall. The first baseman has a special bat according to Callis and resembles the talent Rutschman has demonstrated at the plate.

Though there is a slim chance of it happening, the idea of those two one day sharing a lineup card in Baltimore would have the Orioles over the moon with excitement.

“To image those two guys in the middle of the lineup," Callis said. "Woo, that would be pretty exciting.”

Yet, if Torkelson does go No. 1, there is still plenty of talent available in the draft class. A name that comes to mind for Callis is Vanderbilt's Austin Martin. The position player asserted himself as a top prospect after his 2019 collegiate season in which he led the SEC in batting average (.392) and on-base percentage (.486) all while helping his team dominate the toughest conference in baseball and claim a College World Series title.

In Martin, the Orioles could be getting another reliable bat for years and years to come, one Callis claims to be the "best pure hitter in the draft." However, Martin's major area of concern is defense, as many are still unsure as to what his best position is. 

“I think there’s some questions as to where he’s gonna play," Callis said of Martin. “Is he a center fielder, a third baseman, an offensive second baseman? That’s a little unclear.”

After struggling in the infield, largely due to an inability to consistently make the throws from the left side of the diamond, Martin made the move to center field. However, due to the shortened 2020 season, he lost valuable reps in the outfield. Despite that, Callis sees that and one other option as Martin's best spot in the pros.

“My guess is he’s going to be a center fielder or second baseman," Callis said.

If the Orioles are not sold on Martin, or want to grab a player of similar skill but for a little less price, Nick Gonzales out of New Mexico State could be a fit as well. Versatile, he led the NCAA in batting in 2019 with a .423 average.

Baltimore could also decide it wants to add a pitcher at No. 2 overall, and based on how Callis views that portion of the draft class, it could be a beneficial decision. After a down year for pitchers in 2019, things look a lot better in 2020.

“[2019] was not a good year for college pitching. It was probably, I’ve been doing this for over 30 years, the worst draft I’ve seen in terms of first-round caliber college arms," Callis said. "This year, college pitching is a strength. There’s a lot of good college pitching.”

The best, according to Callis, is Texas A&M's Asa Lacy. The left-handed starter was off to a strong start to the 2020 season (3-0, 0.75 ERA) before games were canceled. The Orioles could always use another arm to one day rely upon at the Major League level, and Callis sees Lacy as the best prospect to fit that mold.

Even with Lacy's potential, the talented pitching class may sway Baltimore away from him. The Orioles also hold the No. 30 and No. 39 picks in the draft in addition to their first-round selection, and Callis has a feeling that other very good arms will be available.

“There’s gonna be really good pitchers available at 30," Callis said. "Much more so than I think the hitters that will be available at 30.”

With the draft just a couple of weeks away, Martin, Gonzales and Lacy are seen as the three most likely options for the Orioles. No matter who the team ends up selecting with the No. 2 overall pick, Callis believes that they will become a big part of Baltimore's future success. A few years down the line, the 2020 class should have a good reputation in Callis' eyes.

“It’s the first year of the decade. I would bet that we look back in history and this would be one of the top two or three draft classes of the 2020s," Callis said.

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Orioles add former No. 1 overall pick Adley Rutschman to 60-man player pool

Orioles add former No. 1 overall pick Adley Rutschman to 60-man player pool

Adley Rutschman, the No. 1 pick of the 2018 MLB Draft, was among six players the Orioles added to their 60-man player pool for the 2020 season, manager Brandon Hyde announced Friday.

Keegan Akin, Michael Baumann, Isaac Mattson, Cedric Mullins, Taylor Davis and Rutschman joined the team’s main camp in Baltimore on Friday and will be relegated to the Orioles’ alternative site once it opens. DL Hall, one of the team’s top pitching prospects, is expected to join the secondary group as well.

Rutschman, 22, was named a consensus top-five overall prospect in the minor leagues by MLB Pipeline, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus last winter before spring training began. It was the first time a No. 1 overall pick was already a unanimous top-five prospect in his first year of eligibility since Bryce Harper in 2011.

RELATED: ONE YEAR LATER, ADLEY RUTSCHMAN STILL WARRANTED THE PRE-DRAFT HYPE

Though he only played 37 games across three levels of the minor leagues last season, Rutschman finished the year at Single-A Delmarva with a .254 batting average and .774 OPS across 154 plate appearances. He was invited to the major-league club’s spring training camp, during which he went 1-for-9 with a walk but provided plenty of fireworks during batting practice.

Following Friday’s moves, the Orioles’ player poll now sits at 53 players.

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Orioles name John Means 2020 Opening Day starter

Orioles name John Means 2020 Opening Day starter

The Orioles announced lefty pitcher John Means will start on the mound on Opening Day.

Orioles second-year manager Brandon Hyde made the announcement Friday.

Means is entering his third year in MLB after a breakout year in 2019. After pitching only three innings his rookie season, Means recorded 155.0 last year. In his sophomore season, Means started 27 of his 31 games played, finished with a 12-11 record and a 3.60 ERA. 

Last July, he was the Orioles lone representative in the 2019 MLB All-Star Game.

The Orioles will face the Boston Red Sox on the road on July 24 to open their season. The game will mark the first of a three-game series and five-game road trip before the O's return to Baltimore for their home opener against the Miami Marlins on July 29. 

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