06 June 2014

Orioles Likely Have a 1st Rounder Local Product Available in the Third Round

After the first day of the draft, the Orioles have yet to select anyone.  That reality should change around 2 pm today when they take their first pick, the 90th overall selection in the draft.  A couple years back, Dan Duquette made an overblown comment about the organization being more involved in scouting local talent and bringing that talent into the organization.  The club has gone forward and selected some of that talent, but it would be difficult to say that their focus on that talent is different from what it was.  It is not like the entirety of their drafts come from Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.

However, as they sit there at 90 there is one local player who almost assuredly will be there.  A player who arguably is a first round talent.  Jacob Bukauskas, out of Stone Bridge High School is Ashburn, Virginia.  The reason why this highly talented player is still available is partially scouting and partially due to the statements he has made.  Scouting-wise, Bukauskas is a shortish righthander at 5'10.  Although not as tightly held in decades past, short right handers are typically questioned largely due to limitations in how much their frame can fill out as well as their long term health.  Bukauskas also put on 25 pounds of muscle in the past year which resulted in an increase in velocity from the high 80s to the mid 90s.  He really has been a completely different pitcher this year and that velocity allowed him to overlook developing a changeup.

Regarding his statements, in early May he sent a letter to every team asking them not to select him in the draft.  It expressed his desire to keep his commitment to North Carolina.  As with Josh Bell, we know these letters are not always iron clad.  As we also know with Josh Bell, it can take 5 MM for that letter to burn and be swept away.  The Orioles do not have that kind of cash sitting around due to cap restraints.  If they sign all of their selections, their cap is 2.2 MM.  If they went college senior on the other picks, they probably have only about 2.1 MM to offer Bukaskas.  That likely would not be enough.  Yes, the Orioles would get a comp pick for next year at the end of the third round, but that would have blown out their ability to get talent in the other rounds.

As I mentioned yesterday, the Orioles are thought to be going with a signable college pitcher, but there is likely another local prep product who will be available when they select: Nick Wells.  Wells, out of Battlefield High School in Haymarket, Virginia, is a tall and somewhat lanky lefty who currently sits in the upper eighties and throws a plus curve.  The hope is that with a few more pounds and a little tinkering with his mechanics that he could sit in the low 90s and have an effective fastball.  He also lacks a third offering, which will need to be added if he is to make it as a starter in the high minors.  Wells is thought to be quite signable.

Anyway, as I understand it, the Orioles game plan is being suggested as a college arm in the 3rd, any falling college bat in the 4th if available or middle of the field prep, and after that whatever arm or athletic prep comes to them.  I would not be surprised to see a polished college senior bat in rounds 7-10 to open up that cap for other signings.

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