Baltimore Orioles: A Decade Of Hits And Misses In The 1st Round
When you consistently have a top 5 pick in the MLB draft, finding talent is rather easy. The Baltimore Orioles have had mixed results with their past ten first round draft picks, but a stretch of six straight top 5 picks produced several quality players. The years of futility for the Orioles look to be finally paying off, as they have some of the best young talent in the majors. Here’s how the past ten years of first round drafting has panned out for the O’s:
2013: Hunter Harvey, SP, 22nd overall
The Orioles drafted Hunter Harvey straight out of high school with the 22nd pick in 2013. He’s a tall, lanky right-hander from Bandys High School in Catawba, NC, and he dominated during his senior year, going 8-0 with a 0.38 ERA in 54.2 innings. His success has carried over into the minors, where he has a 1.02 ERA in 17.2 innings at the lower levels. He currently pitches in Single-A, and he’s the Orioles’ fourth-ranked prospect, per MLB.com.
2012: Kevin Gausman, SP, 4th overall
Gausman has the makeup of an ace pitcher. He’s 6’3″, his fastball is one of the best among all pitching prospects, and he’s MLB.com’s 14th ranked prospect. If he can improve his breaking stuff, he’ll be a scary pitcher in the coming seasons. He’s currently in Triple-A, but he has pitched 33.1 innings in the majors thus far, compiling a 6.21 ERA. Look for Gausman to have a solid 2014 season with the major league club.
2011: Dylan Bundy, SP, 4th overall
Bundy ranks right behind Gausman at 15th on MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects list, but he would be in the Top 10 had he not missed all of this year to an injury. He ranked 2nd at the beginning of 2013, and he had the numbers to back it up. His career ERA in 103.2 minor league innings is 2.08. (He pitched 30 innings in Single-A and allowed five hits without allowing a run!) He underwent Tommy John surgery on June 27th, and will look to come back strong next season. He, along with Gausman, will be a key starter for the Orioles going forward.
2010: Manny Machado, 3B, SS, 3rd overall
Everyone knows about Manny Machado by now, thanks to his penchant for hitting doubles and his stellar glove work at third base. Amazingly, Machado had almost no experience at third base before the majors, yet he leads the American League in defensive WAR this year while playing exclusively at third. He’s also third in the majors in hits and first in doubles. He has slumped a bit of late, but his future with the Orioles is very bright.
2009: Matt Hobgood, SP, 5th overall
Hobgood had great promise after posting absurd numbers in high school (21-1 record, 40 home runs in his junior and senior seasons), but he’s never really been able to put it all together, posting a 5.00 ERA in his minor league career. He has yet to even reach Double-A, mostly plagued by control issues (4.0 BB/9 in his career). Hobgood still has good enough stuff to reach the majors if he can figure out how to locate his pitches better.
2008: Brian Matusz, SP, 4th overall
After being named the West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year at the University of San Diego, Matusz was drafted 4th overall in 2008. He debuted in the majors in 2009, and struggling up until this year. In 53 appearances coming out of the bullpen in 2013, he’s posted a 3.30 ERA, over 1.5 runs lower than last year. Mastuz could very well be a part of the rotation again during the 2014 season.
2007: Matt Wieters, C, 5th overall
Wieters hasn’t quite produced the numbers that everyone expected of him, but his value to the pitching staff has been undeniable. He was an All-Star in 2011 and 2012, even though he posted unspectacular numbers in both seasons. He won Gold Glove awards in both years, and looks set to win another this year, as he’s thrown out more runners than any other American League catcher. His career average of .255 is not great, but if he can even improve his bat to even average numbers, he’ll be a very valuable player for the Orioles due to his impressive glovework.
2006: Billy Rowell, 1B, 9th overall
Rowell never made it past Double-A, and he batted just .261 over his minor league career. He was rated as high as #47 on Baseball America’s list of top prospects, but he came far from fulfilling that potential. He also received a 50-game suspension after twice testing positive for a “drug of abuse.” He was once regarded as one of the best young hitters in the country, but he hasn’t played since 2011, and his baseball career is all but finished.
2005: Brandon Snyder, 1B, 3B, 13th
Snyder has played in the minor leagues in every season since 2005, and he currently plays for the Red Sox. The Orioles traded him to the Rangers on January 3, 2012, after he had just 33 at bats in with the major league club. This year he’s hitting .209 and has spent significant time in AAA, never panning out to be the hitter that the Orioles expected.
2004: Wade Townsend, SP, 8th
The O’s drafted Townsend in 2004, but he decided to return to Rice University to finish his degree, which turned out to be a smart move for a couple of reasons. First, because he was drafted in the same spot (8th overall) the following year, signing for $1.5 million, and secondly, because he’d need his degree after his disastrous career in professional baseball. He never made it past Double-A, he never posted an ERA below 5 at any level, and he was ultimately released by the Blue Jays in 2010. His career statistics in the minors: 7-21 record, 5.68 ERA, and a whopping 5.4 BB/9.
2003: Nick Markakis, OF, 7th
The Orioles’ selection of Markakis marked their final successful first round draft pick for the next several years. After winning the Georgia Junior College Player of the Year award twice, the O’s drafted Markakis seventh overall in 2003. He was actually considered a pitching prospect by some teams, as his fastball reached 96 MPH, but as you may have guessed, the Orioles preferred his bat. The rest is history, as Markakis shot up the minor league ladder, debuting in 2006 and finishing sixth in Rookie of the Year voting after batting .291 over the full season. Currently playing in his eighth big league season, Markakis has had a remarkably consistent career, batting below .290 just once, when he hit .284 in 2011. That same year, he won a Gold Glove. According to Baseball Reference, his 162-game averages are 17 home runs, 83 RBIs, 39 doubles, 184 hits, and 90 runs scored. His career batting average is .293, and his OPS is .806. Overall, it’s been nothing but positives for Nick Markakis throughout his MLB career thus far.
BHC Pick of the Litter: Nick Markakis
BHC Franchise Flop: Billy Rowell