Last night Zach Britton had another tough night that was a mix of poor luck and reduced command. For any pitcher, we should expect a couple games where these issues pop up. I think in the past he has had some good luck with bearing down and preventing base runners from scoring. He was outperforming his fielding independent pitching metrics, so some regression was certainly expected. It is highly unlikely he is a sub-3 ERA pitcher, but I can certainly see him in the upper 3's. I would not fret.
June 3, 2011 Mock Draft (insider access)
Keith has the Orioles options including Danny Hultzen (LHP, Virginia), Dylan Bundy (RHP, OK HS, O's farmhand Bobby Bundy's younger brother), Bubba Starling (OF, KS HS), and Archie Bradley (RHP, OK HS). I doubt the Orioles are looking for someone as raw as Bubba Starling with the first pick in the draft. In earlier years with the Orioles, Joe Jordan selected raw high schoolers in the first round, but he has never done so at the front end. The past few drafts, he typically focuses on players in that mold beginning in Round 2. Nick mentioned Derek Fisher (OF, PA HS) as a target in the third round, but it would not be surprising to see Jordan target a player like him in the second round.
Law sees, according to this mock draft, the Orioles selecting Danny Hultzen. This is a realistic scenario as long as Hultzen is not grabbed by the Pirates at number one or the Diamondbacks at number three. Personally, I am not as enamored with Hultzen. I think as the first tier college pitching prospects in the draft, he is the one I have the least faith in. Pitching once a week, he has been able to work in the 91-94 range while flirting with 95 and 96. A more regular pitching cycle typically shaves a few mph off a pitcher and, for me, that takes him from top of the rotation velocity to middle rotation velocity. Losing a few feet off your fastball enables batters more time to identify your pitches. He has a good change up, which helps. It is likely his best pitch. He is a good college pitcher merely using those two pitches. What has helped him greatly this year has been his ability to command his slider. It is not an impressive pitch, but a well located average slider is an effective weapon. As it stands, I see Hultzen as a high probability Major Leaguer, but a low probability star. With a draft as deep as this one, I would draft for players with better star potential. You become a first division team with great players, not average ones.
June 3, 2011 Mock Draft
Callis sees the front end of the draft differently with Danny Hultzen going first, followed by Anthony Rendon (3B, Rice . . . Rendon going first or second is the only thing I think is certain in this draft), and Dylan Bundy going to the Diamondbacks. This adds Trevor Bauer (RHP, UCLA) and Gerrit Cole (RHP, UCLA) to the mix. The Orioles have been connected to both of these pitchers in the past. Callis goes with Bauer here. I can also see this as a possible outcome. However, it would be frustrating for me. I have no qualms with his unique pitching mechanics, but I am not fond of Bauer's 'overusage' this spring. His manager has let him stay out for about a half dozen outings of over 120 pitches. With a college starter's schedule, it is not as bad as a 20 year old throwing that many every fifth day in the professional ranks, but it is still a high number of pitches for a young arm. I also think he will suffer some velocity loss when he does convert over to the five day schedule. As opposed to Hultzen, I think Bauer will be more successful with lost velocity by relying on his slow curve. It is an impressive offering. However, I'm weary of the overusage and would not actually consider him as the fourth pick.
Gerrit Cole is the best case scenario for the Orioles that I see. I have Rendon as my top ranked player, but I see no chance he falls to us unless his medicals indicate he has no right arm and we have fallen victim to Rice using smoke and mirrors. Rendon will be a Pirate or Mariners with my bet on the latter. Cole, on the other hand, could fall. I doubt he will, but he could. He is likely to carry a large price tag, but most of these prospects will be gunning for a large payday. He is also hurt by other college pitchers putting up better numbers than he has, including his rotation mate Trevor Bauer. I contend that being a great college pitcher is not the same as being a great MLB pitcher. You need plus offerings and Cole is unique in that it appears he could harness three of them. He has a live fastball that he works in the mid 90s and flashes in the high 90s. If he loses velocity here, he still has top of the rotation velocity. He also has a plus slider that he throws with a similar delivery with his fastball. He has also shown the makings of a plus change up this year. If the Orioles let him slide by, I would be disappointed.
Note: I'll be selecting for the San Diego Padres on John Sickels' community mock draft today at 2 EST. The past two seasons I have handled the Orioles' selection, but thought that others should get a chance and tabbed James over at Camden Chat with the opportunity.