Archive for the Draft Category

Blueprint for the 2016 Orioles (Option 3): Building Major League Depth and a Minor League System

Posted in Draft, Free Agency, Offense, Offseason, Pitching, Rule 4 with tags , , , , , , , on October 9, 2015 by oriolesprovingground

Over the course of this week and next, the writers of ESPN Sweetspot Network Orioles blog Camden Depot have been putting forth their plans on how they would construct the 2016 Orioles given a budget of $120 million. After everyone has given their thoughts, editor and founder Jon Shepherd will decide which direction to take (or which combination of directions to take). The first two options have been posted earlier this week and I’m up next. My strategy involves building depth at the major league level by adding free agents who aren’t tied to draft pick compensation. This allows the Orioles to keep their picks and add additional draft selections through the loss of their own free agents.

Direct Link to Article –> Building Major League Depth and a Minor League System

The Camden Highball (Episode 12): Previewing the 2015 MLB Draft

Posted in Draft, Podcast, Rule 4 with tags , , , , on June 1, 2015 by oriolesprovingground

There is a new episode of the Camden Highball up today.  Pat and I talk to former Camden Depot writer Nick Faleris about next week’s MLB Rule 4 Player Draft and get his general thoughts on what he sees in the 2015 Baltimore Orioles.

Direct Link to Article –> The Camden Highball: Previewing the 2015 MLB Draft

The Futility of Mock Drafts: 2014

Posted in Draft, Rule 4 with tags on June 6, 2014 by oriolesprovingground

Last year I looked at the accuracy of ESPN’s Keith Law final mock draft, along with the draft simulator, which basically performed a brand new mock draft after each pick was actually taken. This year ESPN didn’t run a draft simulator so I brought in mock drafts from other experts to see how each one of them performed picking the first round of the draft. We have Keith Law of ESPN, Jonathon Mayo and Jim Callis of, and John Manuel of Baseball America. Here is a list of the results where green indicates a correct pick (click to enlarge).

MLB Draft


I gave Keith Law and John Manuel credit for both of their Toronto Blue Jays picks, as they each picked the correct players, but in the wrong order. Law picked the most correct draftees, however, all experts were fairly close to each other in the number of correct picks. No analysis here, just a fun little exercise. Hope everyone enjoyed the draft!

*Programming Note: I will be leaving for a vacation today, so no posts for the next 2 weeks. I’ll see everyone on June 23.

Making Amends for Yesterday’s Winter Meetings Post

Posted in Draft, Offseason, Rule 5 with tags , , , , , on December 14, 2013 by oriolesprovingground

Yesterday’s post was meant to be funny, as it was intentionally left blank because the Orioles didn’t really do anything at the Winter Meetings.  And when I say “do anything”, I of course mean that they didn’t make any trades or sign any players to their major league roster.  They were all over the rumor mill, and it was even reported that they had several offers out to players, including right-handed closer Grant Balfour and outfielder Nelson Cruz (although the reports as to whether they actually had an offer out to Cruz were conflicting).

Additionally, they did make two selections in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft, one in the major league portion and one in the minor league (AAA) portion.  If you don’t know anything about the Rule 5 Draft, click here to increase your knowledge and therefore your power (because knowledge IS power).  Rule 5 draft picks are not something to normally get excited about as they rarely pan out.  Still, there is a chance that a team could pick up a productive player in the Rule 5 Draft, even if the chances are slim.  If you want proof, all of the following are Rule 5 draftees: Continue reading

2013 Trade Deadline Wrap Up

Posted in Draft, Pitching, Prospects, Rule 4, Trades with tags , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2013 by oriolesprovingground

Let’s get right to it.  The 2013 MLB trade deadline was disappointing.  Most of the sellers ended up not selling (how could the Phillies not trade ANYONE?!?!?!?!), and a lot of the buyers didn’t buy.  With 3 deals over the month of July, including 1 at the deadline, the Baltimore Orioles were one of the more active teams on the trade market.  Let’s take a quick look at how they did.

July 2

Orioles get: RHP Scott Feldman and C Steve Clevenger from the Chicago Cubs

Orioles give: RHP Jake Arrieta, RHP Pedro Strop, and two international signing bonus slots (approximately $388K)

Even though Feldman hasn’t pitched particularly well in his month with the Orioles (5.70 ERA in 6 starts) I thought this was a great trade.  We’ve talked about it a few times now, but it’s worth mentioning again that the Orioles really needed some starting pitching help.  Recognizing that need, they did well to go out and get Feldman early in the month of July, rather than wait until the deadline.  Feldman isn’t anything close to an ace, but he’s a guy that will limit walks and give you quality innings.  He’s basically your average MLB starter (on pace for about 2.0 fWAR), and adding an average starter is a huge upgrade in the Orioles starting rotation.

I still WANT to have faith that Arrieta and Strop will be effective pitchers, but I think it was time for them to move on.  Both guys can put up huge strikeout numbers and occasionally look brilliant, but they are frustratingly inconsistent.  They often have a lot of trouble finding the strikezone, which greatly limits their effectiveness.

July 23

Orioles get:  RHP Francisco Rodriguez from the Milwaukee Brewers

Orioles give:  3B/1B Nick Delmonico

Doug took a brief look at this trade a couple weeks ago when he was going over relief options for the Orioles prior to the deadline, and mentioned how he thought this was a good deal for the Orioles to make.  I respectfully disagree.  It’s not that Rodriguez won’t help Baltimore down the stretch, or that I believe Delmonico will be a future star.  It’s because I think Delmonico is too good of a prospect to give up for 20-25 innings of relief pitching.  Personally, I think teams should be able to find effective relief pitching by looking through their couch cushions, so giving up Delmonico was paying too steep of a price.

Delmonico was ranked as Baltimore’s #6 prospect by Baseball Prospectus heading into the season, and while they currently project him as a second division regular, he’s only playing in High A as a 21 year old, so there is a lot of time for that projection to change.  If anything, Delmonico is an interesting enough prospect that he could have been used as an enticing part of a larger package that would have brought back a more significant return.

July 31

Orioles get:  RHP Bud Norris from the Houston Astros

Orioles give:  OF L.J. Hoes, LHP Josh Hader, Competitive Balance Draft Pick #33

Another trade that I didn’t particularly like. Bud Norris may be the Astros best pitcher, but most talent evaluators view him as a #4 or #5 pitcher, or even a reliever due to his issues with left handed hitters (career .310 wOBA versus righties, career .350 wOBA against lefties).  I think Norris will provide a slight improvement this year, but I don’t really see the point of acquiring him after they already got Feldman.  I’m sure the fact that Norris won’t be a free agent until 2016 was a big reason the Orioles went after him, and he’s likely viewed as Jason Hammel’s replacement following the season when he becomes a free agent.

While Keith Law of ESPN thought the return for Norris was light (insider access required and encouraged), I disagree. I like Hoes more than most, especially since he has greatly improved his on base abilities this year.  He won’t be a star, but I think he could be an average to slightly below average corner outfielder if he can consistently get on base.   While Hoes doesn’t have much projection left, Hader has a ton.  Baseball Prospectus ranked Hader as the Orioles 10th best prospect prior to the season, as a projectable LHP currently throwing in Low A.  Hader is a high risk prospect though, since he is only 19 years old.  Baltimore also gave up their competitive balance pick in next year’s draft, tentatively #33 overall.  I likely would have given up Hoes and either Hader or the pick for Norris, but not both.

Even though I wasn’t a fan of 2 of the 3 deals the Orioles made, I am hoping I’ll be proven wrong.  I’ll gladly admit that I also may put too much value in prospects, when the reality is that most of them won’t ever contribute to the major league team. In the end, Baltimore improved their team’s chances of making the playoffs (ESPN insider required, again), without giving up anything of value or sacrificing their future. And by doing that, it’s hard to fault them for making these moves when a playoff birth is within striking distance for the second year in a row.

The Futility of Mock Drafts

Posted in Draft, Prospects, Rule 4 with tags , , on June 8, 2013 by oriolesprovingground

Last night, Major League Baseball held the first 2 rounds of its first year player draft and the Orioles selected high school left-handed pitcher Hunter Harvey with their first round pick (#22 overall).  Now, I’m not going to pretend that I know anything special about any of these amateur players, because I haven’t seen any of them play on video, let alone in person.  The only thing I know about the players drafted last night is based on what I saw about them in the many articles I read leading up to the draft.  From what I have seen, Harvey projects as a potential ace, but has questions regarding his arm action and his ability to throw an effective third pitch, which makes him a future relief pitcher to some evaluators.

Was it a good pick?  Well, Baseball America had Harvey ranked as the #33 prospect in the draft, while Keith Law of ESPN had him as his #24 prospect.  Based on this, he probably went about where he was expected to go.  But did any of the many mock drafts from various (extremely well qualified in my opinion) baseball analysts predict that Harvey would be selected by the Orioles?  Yes, actually.  Keith Law predicted that the Orioles would select Harvey, however, none of the other analysts predicted that result (Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America, and Jonathan Mayo of  I think the fact that even one of them got it is amazing.  I imagine for the writers that putting mock drafts together are extremely difficult and time consuming, only to get almost all of it wrong.  Based on this I thought it would be fun to see just how wrong Keith Law’s mock draft would end up (maybe fun is the wrong word, let’s change that to “interesting”).

Before going into this, I would like to mention that Keith Law is one of my favorite baseball writers, and I view him as being one of the most intelligent and thoughtful analysts in the sport.  Basically, if he can’t get a mock draft right, then no one can.

So first, let’s look at how Law did, pick for pick. Overall, Law correctly picked 7 out of 33 players correctly in the first round.  That’s 21%.  With regards to both Pittsburgh and Texas (who both had 2 first round picks), he correctly predicted a player they picked, but at the other selection (for example, Law predicted Reese McGuire would go to the Pirates at #9, but instead, the Pirates selected McGuire at #14).  So we’ll give him partial credit for that.  Additionally, Law was mostly correct in the names that would go in the first round, regardless of team, as only 6 players he projected to be picked in the first round were not selected (mostly at the back end).  Overall, I thought this was pretty impressive, given the extremely fluid nature of the draft.

Additionally, for the first time (at least I don’t remember them doing it for baseball before), ESPN rolled out a draft simulator based on Law’s final mock draft.  Basically, the user could plug any potential player into any draft spot, and (based on the Law’s mock and different scenarios) it would predict how the remaining picks would pan out.  I decided to keep track of how many times I would have to change this, with the logic being that as the draft proceeded, the less the simulation would change because of the increased information of what had already taken place (I really hope this isn’t confusing).  Anyway, I had to change the simulator a total of 21 times, meaning the total number of correct picks throughout the draft was slightly better than Law’s mock draft (36%), but not as much as I thought it would be.  Interestingly enough, I had to change the simulation for the Orioles pick, since based on what had already happened, the simulation no longer thought Baltimore would take Harvey.

So if a mock draft has no chance to be even close to right, why even read them?  Because they’re fun to read.  They give us a head start on who our favorite team may pick and provide encouragement to learn more about that player (or players).  For a second, it allows us to get drawn into those players’ overwhelming potential and visualize them becoming a once in a generation talent who will wear your favorite teams colors for their entire career, even though in the back of your mind, you know there’s a strong likelihood he won’t be drafted by your team and may never even make it to the major leagues.  Maybe that’s just me, but I hope Keith Law and the other writers continue producing mock drafts every year, knowing full well that there’s no chance they will ever come close to being right.

Orioles Draft Retrospective: 2012 and Conclusions

Posted in Draft, Prospects, Rule 4 with tags , on June 6, 2013 by oriolesprovingground


Using advanced mathematics, I’ve determined that the 2012 draft happened only one year ago, and similar to the 2011 draft, it is way too soon to grade the Orioles on it.  And you may already know this, but the Orioles used their first round pick on…

1-4 – Kevin Gausman (RHP) from Louisiana State University

So far this looks like it was an excellent pick by the Orioles.  Gausman has already made his major league debut (after only 61.1 minor league innings) and his stuff looks filthy, even if his results don’t quite match up yet (we took a look at his debut a week ago or so).  He was the Orioles #2 ranked prospect in 2013 behind Dylan Bundy and was ranked #13 overall by Baseball Prospectus.  Scouts project him to be a #2 starter, maybe even a #1a starter behind Bundy.

Other Baltimore picks in the 2012 draft that show up in Baseball Prospectus’ top 10 list include #8 RHP Branden Kline (selected in 2nd round), #9 SS Adrian Marin (selected in 3rd round), and #10 LHP Josh Hader (selected in 19th round).  Again, these players are not close to helping the big league club, so there is plenty of time for them to improve, fail, or be passed on the list by other members of the draft class.

There are a lot of interesting prospects who were taken after Gausman, and it’s too soon to say if this was the absolute best pick.  However, it’s hard to argue with it, when you consider Gausman’s projected ceiling along with the fact that he was the first player drafted in the first round to reach the big leagues.


Here is the total list of players from the 2000-2012 drafts who have contributed positive WAR (according to Fangraphs) on Baltimore’s major league club.

Orioles Draft Picks

The WAR in the table only includes players who contributed a positive WAR.  Draftees producing a negative WAR for the Orioles were not included (for example, Xavier Avery contributed -0.2 WAR last year), so the cumulative WAR the Orioles received from their draft picks since 2000 is going to be lower than 63.8.  I have not looked at the wins above replacement accumulated by other teams from the draft during the same period, but 63.8 seems really low and I’d be shocked if it didn’t rank towards the bottom of the league.  Some points of observation before we wrap this up.

  1. Selecting the right player in the MLB Rule 4 draft is a very difficult job
  2. Having said that, with the exception of Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters, the Orioles chose poorly, especially with regards to their first round selections from 2000-2009
  3. All 13 first round picks were in the top 15, 11 were in the top 10, and 7 were in the top 5.  To get such little production out of so many high draft picks is almost impressive (like when your dog eats a whole wheel of cheese and poops in the fridge, you don’t even get mad, because it’s amazing).  It reminds me of a physics test I took in high school where I got all 10 True/False questions wrong.  Maybe both of us would have been better off just guessing.
  4. Drafting well is not the only way to build a winning team.  Trades, free agency, international free agents, waiver claims, Rule 5 Draft picks, etc. also need to be successful.  However, it is an important aspect to building a winning team both directly and indirectly (as draft picks can be used to bring major league talent through trades), and looking at that list does a lot to explain the absence of winning baseball in Baltimore between 1997 and 2012.
  5. Two things are needed to help make a draft pick successful: good scouting to ensure that the right pick is made and good player development to make sure that pick develops into a quality major leaguer.  It is near impossible to differentiate who is responsible for a prospect’s success or failure, and many times both departments deserve credit/blame.
  6. Sometimes stuff happens to these prospects and there is no one to blame but bad luck.  Players get hurt, don’t progress, or sometimes weren’t that good in the first place.

This whole exercise was informative and kind of depressing, but let’s end on a positive note.  In the last three years, the Orioles appear to have used their first round picks on potential stars who could help the team for years to come.  Additionally, Baltimore’s first pick in the 2013 draft is all the way back at #22, the latest they’ve picked since 1998, which is good news, since it means that they won a lot of games the previous year.

Until next time, happy draft watching!