• Jun

    Jordan talks about his 2008 draft

    In each of Orioles Director of Scouting Joe Jordan's three drafts he's picked a position player with his first overall selection. In 2005 he went with high school catcher Brandon Snyder, in 2006 he went with high school SS Billy Rowell, and last year of course he got a super prospect in college catcher Matt Wieters. While Snyder and Rowell are still works in progress at first base and third base respectively, Wieters has quickly established himself as one of the top prospects in all of the minor league after putting up an All-Star first half with the Frederick Keys.

    In this year's class, Jordan had something he's never had before and that's a decision between the top pitching prospect in the draft college left-hander Brian Matusz and a potential impact 1st base bat in Justin Smoak. It certainly was not an easy decision and it was one that Jordan wrestled with up to the night before the draft.

    "I struggled with this one. I mean I really liked another guy in this draft pool (Note: It's widely considered that the switch-hitting Smoak was the other player). In the end I went to bed Wednesday night, and I thought, 'What the hell do you want? This guy has everything.' We don't have Brian Matusz in our system, we don't have him. This guy has a chance to lead our rotation one of these days. We just need to get him in and roll with it."

    After the Matusz pick, Jordan knew he was going to go with a positional player if one was available that he liked, but after that his picks were due to what players were available and not because they were positional players.

    "As soon as I took Matusz with our first pick I felt like we would definitely go with a positional player if there was one there we liked enough in the second round. As for the 3rd and 4th round, that's just how it came off. We were picking between positional players. It was just the way the board was lined up."

    One of the lingering questions going into the draft was whether Orioles President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail had influenced Jordan in any way to pick a college pitcher over a hitter. Jordan quickly put that to rest.

    "This was my call all the way. No one influenced me. I was told repeatedly 'take who you want, we'll support you.' People need to understand I made the call. Good, bad or indifferent, it was mine."

    When you look over the Orioles 2008 draft class you realize a few things. First, Jordan is a patient man who is not afraid to select a player he believes will be better player when it's all said and done rather than concern himself with the safer guy who may not have the upside. By drafting two high school players (Xavier Avery and L.J. Hoes) in the 2nd and 3rd round of this year's draft, Jordan passed over several college hitters who had more power but perhaps not the overall ceiling as the high school picks.

    "It was not by design," Jordan explained. "We line it up by talent. We literally line it up by what we feel is the best player, the next player and the next all the way through. I just liked what we did. Did I intend to go with two high school guys there, no I didn't, but I'm happy with how it came out."

    Although Jordan went with his best player available philosophy on most picks, there were times where he just wanted a certain player and went with him over a couple of players that may have been graded slightly higher.

    "As it played out, Xavier Avery ended up over a couple of guys that were pretty good options. LJ Hoes ended up over a couple of guys and the same thing with Hudson. It's just how it came off."

    With an organization in need of power, some pundits and fans who follow the draft closely were disappointed in Jordan's picks at first glance. That's not surprising to Jordan.

    "This is not going to be a draft that is perceived by the national publications with the exceptions of Matusz and maybe Avery. They'll say 'Good draft but we'll see how it plays out,' but no one is going to get excited about it, but I'm really excited about it because we really put some big time athletes in our system," Jordan explained. "I like how it came off. A lot these are not household Baseball America names, but I've never drafted trying to match those guys."

    One of the hardest thing to do sometimes is to rank the players and obviously each organization is going to have a different draft board. so was there a time when a player the Orioles coveted was taken before they could take him?

    "There were a couple of situations where we had players going a little lower then where they went, but that's the beauty of the draft every year. It's hard to explain to people how we and other teams view things. That for me as why you line them up and trust the six, seven people in the room with you (and go) 'This is what we're going to do, these are the players."

    Overall Jordan emphasized how happy is he with his 2008 draft class but as usual, no one will really know how good this class is until the players sign and get a few years under their belts of minor league action. Did the Orioles reach on some picks? Did they take the right guy? Will there be a sleeper in the draft class?

    "We'll find out three, four, five years from now," Jordan surmised. "When we took Olson in '05 there were people saying that was way too high, way too high."

    As always, the upbeat Jordan left things off on a positive note.

    "I always say, be happier with what you get, don't worry about with what you didn't get."


    Editor's Note: Look soon for updated profiles on the top ten selections with lots more Jordan quotes and stories about his draft class.

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Tony Pente

Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.