This is Part 7 (sorry for going out of order) in my series previewing the 2010 MLB draft from an Orioles perspective – The full series:
1. Series Introduction
2. Bryce Harper, C, CC of Southern Nevada
3. Jameson Taillon, RHP, The Woodlands HS (TX)
4. Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Ole Miss
5. Deck McGuire, RHP, Georgia Tech
6. Chris Sale, LHP, Florida Gulf Coast
7. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, LSU
8. Q & A with Andy Seiler of MLB Bonus Baby
9. Examining the Orioles’ Options by Pat Hickey
10. Karsten Whitson, RHP, Chipley HS (FL)
11. Manny Machado, SS, Brito Private HS (FL)
One of my favorite draft websites is MLB Bonus Baby, I’m sure you’ve seen me link over there numerous times. The author, Andy Seiler, was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about the upcoming MLB draft. Andy is one of the best draft guys around and I know I will be spending hours on his website come June.
JT: Only the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates select before the Orioles. Which two players will be off the board when the Orioles are up?
AS: I’m 95% sure that Bryce Harper goes to the Nationals right now, so he’s an obvious choice to be off the board before Baltimore comes up to pick. Pegging the Pirates is a little more difficult. They don’t have a history of investing a first round pick in prep pitching, and they passed over their choice of prep pitchers last year, so I don’t think they’ll take Jameson Taillon. If I had to guess who they’ll take at this moment, it’d be Drew Pomeranz out of Ole Miss.
JT: Last year, the Orioles selected Matt Hobgood in the first round over big time names like Tyler Matzek and Jacob Turner. Hobgood signed for $2.4 million, while Turner signed for $4.7 million and Matzek for $3.9 million. Although the Orioles passed on two of the elite talents, because Hobgood’s signing bonus was about $2 million less than Turner or Matzek, they were able to sign Michael Ohlman ($995,000) and Cameron Coffey ($990,000) in the later rounds of the draft. Which draft style do you believe is better?
AS: It’s all about preference. Usually the teams that develop excellent pitching depth in their farm systems believe in the numbers game, meaning that they want to pick as many arms as possible, and that’s more important than getting one big arm at the top of the draft. Like you said, if you save that much money by picking an arm that may not be the top arm available, it gives you plenty of options in later rounds, and it could easily be that the duo of Hobgood and Coffey turns out to be much more valuable than Matzek or Turner alone. Though I’m not a fan of passing up superior talent, I do think the Orioles made a solid decision in picking Matt Hobgood over other signable players.
JT: Who are some late round guys that could sign similar bonuses to Ohlman or Coffey?
AS: It’s a bit too early to tell, as the signing bonus rumor mill hasn’t really started up yet. You’re going to start hearing consistent rumors starting about a month from now, which is when most high school players’ seasons are done. Coffey was a unique case in that he blew out his elbow so early in the season, and I don’t see a match anywhere else in this class to compare with him. Possible names to watch that might fall due to price tag or college commitment level are Zach Lee, a big prep right-hander out of Texas, Brian Ragira, an outfielder out of Texas with a Stanford commitment, and Garin Cecchini, who is the position player equivalent of Coffey, having blown out his knee over a month ago.
JT: If Harper and Taillon go 1-2 to the Nats and Pirates, which college pitcher should the Orioles select?
AS: Though I’m pretty sure Taillon will still be an option, I’d say that if this scenario does occur, the Orioles will be set up to take Drew Pomeranz themselves. Pomeranz would give them a second excellent left-handed option to pair with Brian Matusz, and both will leave school being considered polished and ready for high-minors competition.
JT: From what I’ve read so far, Taillon has elite stuff. Who are some players from past drafts that are comparable to Taillon?
AS: I think Taillon is getting a reputation as a rare talent in the public, and that’s really not the case. Yes, he’s the best prep arm in this class, but I’d compare Jacob Turner to him favorably from a year ago. The big difference with Taillon is that he has headlined his class for a couple years now, and he’s never really met failure on a wide scale. Turner developed from a possible first round arm during his junior year to a solid first round option to start his senior year to a top of the draft type of talent by the end of his senior year, and that progression just meant he didn’t receive the hype that someone like Taillon has gotten. Taillon’s also been in a rich baseball area playing against other strong prospects, and that will always get the attention of the viewing public. Jameson Taillon’s a great talent, but he comes with the normal risks that any high school arm has, and I’d say that Jacob Turner and him are reasonably matched.