The Orioles again went with the underslot strategy with their top pick last night. Will they target overslot prospects in the next few rounds?
The start of the 2021 MLB draft last night was a wild one, with the Pirates throwing everyone a curveball by drafting catcher Henry Davis (an Orioles target) with the first overall pick, defying the many mock drafts that predicted they’d go with prep shortstop Marcelo Mayer.
The domino effect left the O’s with the option of choosing from a few high-profile names they might not have expected to fall to them. But the Orioles ultimately went with an underslot guy, outfielder Colton Cowser from Sam Houston State, with the fifth overall pick. It’s essentially the same strategy they employed last year in selecting another underslot college outfielder, Heston Kjerstad, with the second overall pick. Hopefully Cowser’s professional journey starts out a lot more smoothly than Kjerstad’s has.
With Cowser expected to sign for significantly under the #5 slot value of $6,180,700, the Orioles could use those savings to target players in the next few rounds who might require heftier bonuses to shun their college commitments. It’s a strategy that’s not without its risks, but if the Birds can pull it off, their organizational rebuild could get a huge jolt.
After last year’s all-too-truncated five-round draft, the O’s get 20 rounds this year to try to find some diamonds in the rough. That’s good news for a club whose current best players include a former eighth-rounder (Trey Mancini), 11th-rounder (John Means), and 13th-rounder (Cedric Mullins). The players picked in these final two days of the draft might not be familiar names, but there’s a good chance at least some of them will have an impact on the future of the Orioles.
How do I watch?
One hour of today’s action will air on MLB Network starting at 1 PM, but the rest of the draft (through tomorrow) will stream only on MLB.com, so you’re gonna have to have the internet. If you’re reading this now, I’m assuming that’s not a problem. Today the picks begin with round 2 and conclude at the end of round 10, and tomorrow the draft will wrap up with rounds 11-20, starting at noon.
Which picks do the Orioles have?
The Orioles have 10 picks today — one in each round, plus a pick in competitive balance round B at the end of the second round. Their overall picks are #41, 65, 76, 106, 137, 167, 197, 227, 257, and 287. So make your predictions now about who the Orioles will take with the 287th pick! Tomorrow, the O’s will continue drafting fifth in each round for the final 10 rounds, so they’ll have #317, 347, 377, 407, 437, 467, 497, 527, 557, and 587. Pay attention, there will be a test later.
Where can I read more about the draft prospects?
Who are the best players still available?
With 36 picks in the books last night, most of the elite talents have already been selected, but there’s still some value to be had. The best player on FanGraphs’ board still available is Bubba Chandler from North Oconee HS in Georgia, who is a standout both on the mound and at shortstop but would likely be drafted as a pitcher. He’s rated the 16th best prospect by FanGraphs, 18th by Law, and 21st by MLB Pipeline.
Law’s best player still on the board is 15th-ranked Will Taylor, an outfielder from Dutch Fork HS in South Carolina, who ranks 20th on Pipeline’s list and 30th on FanGraphs. The three publications are also high on outfielder Joshua Baez (Dexter Southfield HS, Ma.), who ranks between 19th and 24th on all three lists, and left-hander Anthony Solometo (Bishop Eustace HS, N.J.), who’s in the top 20 for both Law and Pipeline.
Do the O’s have any of these players in mind, or some other ones entirely? We’ll find out soon.