Why Baltimore hasn’t drafted pitching lately – and why that ‘probably’ will change this year – The Mercury News

There is a slew of speculations about what the Orioles will do with the first pick of next month’s amateur draft, with various mocks linking them to five possibilities. But it is almost certain that whatever they take will not be a pitcher.

In their first three drafts under executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias, the Orioles haven’t picked up a pitcher before the fifth round, catching Iowa high schooler Carter Bomler in 2020 and Texas-Arlington right-hander Carlos Tavera a year later. , The club has dedicated each first-round pick to players of college status – for whom more data is available and generally less associated risk – although four of the top five players in this draft class are high school hitters.

Most public rankings don’t have a pitcher in the top 10, while many of the highest-ranked weapons are high school right-handers, a category of players that overall have never been before. Elias admitted on Saturday that it probably won’t be the year that changes.

“There’s no pitcher with the No. 1 pick this year that you’d want to take,” Elias said.

But, he said, the Orioles’ next turn comes in 33rd overall, the second of five picks in the draft’s initial 81 selections, and can go with a pitcher and “probably” in the early rounds of the draft. .

According to Baseball America, each of the last three years, Baltimore’s second pick has been an infielder, with Gunnar Henderson, Jordan Westberg and Connor Norby ranking as three of the organization’s top four infield prospects. Elias said his initial draft focused on adding to that area of ​​the agricultural system. The group of prospects he inherited was generally lacking in top-tier infielders, which he said was partly a byproduct of the organization’s lack of investment in international markets, a talent acquisition area often populated with young infielders. .

Conversely, adding pitching to the system was not as much of a priority, he said, because his predecessor, Dan Duquette, and that front office had used early picks on pitchers, which this regime considered as their future pieces. sees. Four of Baltimore’s top five pitching prospects were drafted within the first four rounds in 2017 and 2018, including first-rounder Grayson Rodriguez, who developed into the game’s top minor league arm, and DL Hall, his There is an electric lefty building towards the major league debut. ,

The exception among that quintet is Kyle Braddish, one of four right-handed pitching prospects that Elias acquired in December 2019 when he traded Dylan Bundy to the Los Angeles Angels. This is an example of how Elias also complements the system’s pitching through trades, allowing the Orioles to target the specific pitchers they need to spend drafting capital to do so. without wanting to add.

That doesn’t mean there’s no interest in using picks on weapons. When it comes time to pick, however, the Orioles have a hitter above their draft board.

Brad Siolek, the Orioles’ director of draft operations, told The Baltimore Sun earlier this year, “We’ve taken on a lot of players, and I know there’s obviously been a lot of talk about the selection of pitching, and That’s right.” “I understand the scrutiny there. But I can say with confidence that we look broadly, exhausting all of our resources on the pitching available.”

Ciolek said the organization has a number of draft-focused analysts for whom “most of their time is devoted to taking a look at the delivery analysis, taking a look at the mechanics, taking a look at the people making some changes, whether it’s their pitch.” Be it with the grip or their delivery, and more or less also looking at what improvements they can make if we move some of these weapons to certain places in the draft. ”

Part of that effort is analyzing the potential risks associated with a pitcher that Elias is certainly familiar with from his time assisting and overseeing the Houston Astros’ drafts. During Elias’ tenure, the club had six first round appearances, three each with players and a pitcher. While three hitters – Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker – have developed into stars, no pitcher has reached the majors.

With Baltimore, Elias has attempted to use mid- and late-round picks on pitchers, and the results of that strategy have been promising, even though he has yet to matriculate to the majors. High-A Aberdeen’s pitching staff, littered with recent drafts, leads their league in strikeouts, WHIP and opponent’s batting averages.

Unlike other professional league drafts, baseball is less about meeting a requirement and more about taking on the best players available. Still, the Orioles seem to have addressed most of the shortcomings of their farming system, perhaps this is the year they are looking for a pitcher who will soon replace Rodriguez and Hall at the top of the organizational prospect rankings. Can take

Elias said, “Pitching has got more inherent risk with injury rates and variability, and we want to do as best we can with these draft picks because they are so important to the Orioles, so we’ll just see.” ” “We’re not going to reach the pitchers, but we’re not going to run away from them if those with higher picks are suitable for us.”

What’s to come?

After a day off Monday, the citizens of Reconstruction Washington visit Camden Yards for the first time after the Orioles effectively pushed them into that state. In late July of last season in Baltimore, prompting the Nationals to sell on the trade deadline, the Orioles’ regional rival began a teardown by trading Max Schaezer, Kyle Schwarber and others.

The Orioles face the Chicago White Sox team on the other side of its rebuild but hover around .500. The four-game series opens with a 10-game, three-city tour that also takes them through Seattle and Minnesota.

what was good

In four outings this week, Jorge Lopez recorded three multi-inning saves, scoring seven runs in 5 1/3 innings while allowing two hits and no walks. His six savings out of at least four are the most among majors and the most for any Oriol in the past 15 years.

Lopez and manager Brandon Hyde both credit the right-hander’s history as a starter for his ability to handle situations that allowed him to finish an innings, sit as an Orioles bat, then end the game. It was necessary to make an effort. In his first season as manager of the Orioles, Hyde often worked close to Mychal Givens with those types of outings, and although he eliminated six of them, he saw him return to the mound for his second innings. After that more of them slipped.

Lopez has recorded at least four outs at least 11 times, matching the number of his saves. He has 0.79 ERA, which is the second best among relievers with at least 30 innings.

“He likes to go many shifts,” Hyde said. “He wants the ball in that spot, and he’s done amazing with it.”

What was not?

It was a rough week for Trey Mancini. A pitch on the right hand side of Monday’s series opener in Toronto cost him the rest of the series. He doubled down in his return to the lineup on Friday against Tampa Bay, but also struck three times, then went 0-for-5 on Sunday, one of those flyouts in left field that made his way toward the Camden Yards wall. Marked the fifth drive. The previous dimensions of the venue have been cleared. Mancini’s hand bothered him enough to keep him away from Sunday’s lineup.

He entered the day with 13 expected home runs, a statecast metric based on the percentage of the ballpark given a fly ball would be a home run; A ball that would be home runs in 15 of 30 major league stadiums, for example, is worth 0.5 expected home runs. In fact, Mancini has six home runs, his ranking deficit of seven being the largest among the majors, with only one other player having a margin of at least four. Every other player who entered Sunday had at least 12 actual runs with at least 13 expected home runs. Mancini has had at least 10 expected home runs in 26 parks, with four exceptions at Camden Yards.

After Saturday’s deep flight, Mancini managed to keep himself from slamming his helmet as he reached first base, preventing himself from publicly showing the dismay that he worked to ease. has done. Hyde said he feels Mancini has managed his batting-ball misfortunes well throughout the years. Despite this, Mancini is beating .283 with .780 OPS.

“It’s not something I really want to bring up because I think he’s so hard on himself, and I try to stay positive with him,” Hyde said on Sunday. “He hit that ball well again yesterday with no luck, but I’m really happy with the year he has.”

on the farm

Three Aberdeen pitchers combined for a no-hitter on Saturday against the Philadelphia Phillies affiliate Jersey Shore Bluecrabs. In last year’s draft, Orioles’ 16th-round pick Peter Van Loon worked in the first five innings, improving 7-0 and releasing two walks and hitting a batsman to lower his ERA to 2.66. The first two rounds were taken Daniel Lloyd covered the next three innings before Xavier Moore closed it around a hit batsman in the ninth. The 16th rounder of 2017, Moore has a 2.16 ERA and five saves in 15 outings for the Ironbirds. Outfielder Colton Kauser, the Orioles’ 2021 first-round draftee and No. 5 prospect, was involved in the 6-0 victory.

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