With the signing of Mike Gonzalez this off-season, Baltimore forfeited their 2nd Round pick in the 2010 Rule 4 Draft. That means 82 picks will transpire before the O's get their second crack at the talent pool. In our examination of targets for 1:3, Jon and I both came down on the side of Harper, Taillon and another pitcher (Pomeranz for Crawdaddy; Whitson for me). Keeping in mind the goals Craw and I each laid out in our Draft Strategy piece, the 3rd Round could allow for several different approaches.
After the jump, our three targets for the 1st Round...
As mentioned before, this is a draft shy on safe middle-infield talent. Accordingly, I'm looking to grab one of the few players considered a good bet to stick. If there isn't anyone there fitting the profile, I'm looking to grab a college reliever, a catcher or a center fielder.
Josh Rutledge, SS, University of Alabama
Depending on who you talk to, this might be considered an overpick, value grab or the perfect spot for the 'Bama shortstop. He shows clean actions in the field and soft, confident hands to the backhand side, up-the-middle and charging. His arm is more than enough (both in strength and accuracy) to play at the pro ranks and he handles himself well around the bag. Rutledge's defensive game has developed nicely in his time at Alabama and his compact line-drive swing has shown enough this spring to give comfort that he'll hit enough to be a regular (though he walks too little and strikes out too much right now). Still, in a draft shy on advanced defensive shortstops, Rutledge could fit nicely here for Baltimore.
Matt Lipka, SS, McKinney HS (Texas)
Lipka is a two-way talent (SS/RHP) and two-sport talent (football), sharing the field with fellow McKinney baseball/football star Zach Lee. While Lee is considered the better "now" talent, possessing a 1st Round fastball/slider combo, Lipka may be the first off the board due to Lee's strong commitment to LSU where he could pitch in the spring and quarterback in the fall. Lipka has a smooth stroke at the plate and plus athleticism and arm strength. His actions are solid at short right now and he should get every chance to stay at the 6-spot, long term. If he were to shift off short, his footwork and first-step actions make second base the likely destination. Lipka is nice upside pick here with a potential above-average hit tool and a high likelihood to provide solid up-the-middle defense.
Kevin Chapman, RHP, Univ. of Florida
If Taillon is indeed the first selection, this may need to be a slot or slightly-above-slot selection (which I believe Rutledge and Lipka could be, respectively). Chapman is a hard throwing fastball/slider arm, sitting 91-93 mph with his heater and touching 94 regularly. His slider is a second potential above-average to plus offering that can be effective both in and out of the zone. He shows solid command of both offerings and has been nearly untouchable in his first full season with the Gators (TJ surgery in the spring of 2008 and light usage in 2009). Chapman has been one of the most dominant relievers in 2010, sporting a .158 BAA to go along with an 8.71 SO/9 and 1.52 BB/9. He could shoot quickly through the minors, contributing to a big league club by the end of 2011.
For the most part, Nick and I have a similar perspective regarding this draft. At this pick, I think there should be a couple middle infield prospects available. I, as well, would target a shortstop who is likely to stick at that position. Alternatively, I would try to target a potential centerfielder with a good bat. I also would try to avoid drafting a player specifically to fill a role of a relief pitcher when our system is rather thin elsewhere. I do agree with Stotle the Chapman will be going in this vicinity, I just do not think it completely suits our needs. I am on board with Lipka and Rutledge, although I would target two other shortstops at this pick.
Andrelton Simmons, SS, Western Oklahoma St College
Simmons is a latecomer to baseball, having concentrated largely on soccer as he was growing up. He is a raw talent, but his arm and his athleticism have made him considered a near lock in being able to hold down the shortstop position defensively. The big question is whether his approach at the plate can be developed. He may not fall this far as a few teams with multiple sandwich picks may draft him to a reasonable deal. Simmons' arm also carries some projection as a pitcher. He has been clocked as high as 95mph, but his secondary pitches are works in progress. I might be in the minority in seeing him more as a positional prospect. If the bat fails to develop, he could always be flipped back to pitching. That is not something you want to plan for, but it might reduce some of the risk.
Rick Hague, SS, Rice University
Hague's season did not go very well. Last summer's success with Team USA faded slightly this season as he repeatedly made misplays in the field and looked lost at times at the plate. The result was him falling from late first round or sandwich to the third to fifth rounds. I still believe in him. I think his early and mid-season performance was more about pressing than any regression in ability. His drastically improved play the past few weeks seems to agree with that perspective. He currently has a slash line of 352/419/607 with 50 k's in 272 plate appearances. Hague's path should be shorter to the pros than Simmons. Hague might be pushed off short though if any physical development left in his frame reduces his range.
Michael Lorenzen, OF, Fullerton HS (California)
If any of these shortstops are not available, I would turn to finding a centerfielder. Typically, my focus on prep positional players are focused on middle of the field players (i.e C, 2B, SS, CF). I look for athleticism and upside to a swing. Lorenzen is rather athletic and has a strong arm. With some work, he certainly has the tools to be able to play centerfield as a pro. The main obstacle for him will be his bat. Within the scouting world, there is a good deal of debate about how his hitting tools will develop. I am not certain how well he will be able to hit, but he has a nice lift in his swing. I think as long as he can maintain a high contact rate (which is tricky) that his power will begin to emerge. This will not be a safe pick, but I think the risk is warranted.
Monday (5/31) - Three Suggested Targets (1:3)
Tuesday (6/1) - Three Suggested Targets (3:3)
Wednesday (6/2) - Three Suggested Targets (4:3)
Thursday (6/3) - Three Suggested Targets (5:3)
Friday (6/4) - Quick Hits: Two Targets Each (6:3 - 10:3)
Monday Morning (6/7) - Dream Draft; Orioles Draft Chat (11am - 1pm EDT).