When Mike Elias and his scouts went into this draft, they had a draft strategy. Save some money up front, still get a potential impact player, then use that savings to get some overslot High School kids in the 4th and 5th rounds.
The Orioles had the highest bonus pool at $13,894,300 to distribute across their six picks over five rounds, and Elias had a plan to use it to it’s fullest advantage.
That started when he selected Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad with the second over pick. That pick comes with a $7,789,900 slot number, and it’s not expected that Kjerstad will take anywhere near that to sign. Kjerstad may not have the overall hit tool and defensive abilities as Austin Martin (who went #5 to the Blue Jays), but he comes with premium left-handed power and should be adequate enough in left or right field to not hurt defensively.
Elias and Sig Mejdal value big up the middle players, so they went with Jordan Westburg from Mississippi State with their competitive balance pick at 30 overall. There are some mixed opinions on Westburg, but he was basically taken around where most in the industry thought he would go. If he can stick at shortstop, he has an opportunity to be a power hitting shortstop, but there are questions that he may outgrow that position and move to third which puts a lot of pressure on the bat to develop. Either way, he’ll probably sign around for his slot of $2,365,500, though they could save some off that number.
In the 2nd round the Orioles went with Hudson Haskin, a speedy center fielder with pop potential from Tulane. He’s a high exit velocity guy with an ugly swing, but generates productive bat to ball contact consistently. Some believe his upside is 20 homer power so if his power develops, his hit tool, speed, and plus defensive abilities in center field should make him at worse a 4th outfielder, but with a chance to be a solid major league average CFer. His slot number is $1,906,800, but could go for slightly under that number.
In the 3rd round, Elias took Anthony Servideo, a quick twitch, athletic shortstop who was off to a great start at Mississippi this season. A plate discipline guy who got off to a red hot start after completely bombing in the Cape Cod League last summer with wood bats. He’s a 30-40 (scouting grade, not home runs) power guy and though he’s got some strength, game power is not going to be part of his game.
Defensively, a 50 arm suggest he might have enough arm to stick at shortstop, but there are mixed opinions on whether he can stay there and some think he could end up at 2B or possibly in CF. An athletic kid with some speed, he probably has a utility profile though don’t count his bat out. If his red hot start was a real development, the Orioles may have a steal here. He’s probably a solid $844,200 slot guy.
The 4th round is where things got interesting when Elias took big right-handed power hitting third baseman Coby Mayo. Well here is your first overslot guy. He’s a big high school right-handed power hitter with a power arm. This is where the Orioles money savings comes in handy because few teams would have been able to buy him out of his college commitment at this point. Reportedly he has a $1.5 to $2 million number to buy him out of his Florida commitment. His price tag is most likely why he’s still available in the 4th round. That and the fact that his swing can be a bit inconsistent. Had an exit velocity of 107 MPH in game this year and can put up some light tower power already at a young age. He moves well enough that if his footwork doesn’t come around at 3B, he can be moved to RF to take advantage of his hose. He very well may have as much upside as Kjerstad, but with a much higher risk profile. This is a guy to be excited about.
In the 5th, Elias had one more ace up his sleeve when he took high school right-hander Carter Baumler. Baumler is an overslot kid who some people did not think was signable. The Orioles though reportedly will be able to sign all of their draft picks, which tells me they have agreements. Assuming Baumler signs, this is a steal as a 5th rounder. Some have called him a more athletic Zack Greinke.
Baumler brings a 92-94 fastball with a clean, athletic delivery with good spin rate that will play up in the zone. He missed time due to mono, but he’s an extremely athletic pitcher who can dunk a basketball and was the punter on the football team
The Orioles basically ended up with three 1st round talents in Kjerstad, Mayo and Baumler. That’s called using your bonus pool the right way in a unique year.