Manny Machado (left) and Jameson Taillon (left) should be the Orioles top two candidates at this years First-Year Player Draft.
While the Orioles very well may be enduring their worst season ever, this Monday is their first step in moving forward in the post-Trembley era as all 30 teams will look to land future Hall of Famers in the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
The Orioles are on pace to land the top pick in next years draft, but this year they do seem to be in a very favorable position to get an incredibly talented player with the third pick. With the phenom, Bryce Harper, a lock to go number one overall to the Washington Nationals, the Pittsburgh Pirates will help the Orioles make their first round selection. The two prospects that the Orioles will be looking at will be Manny Machado, a short stop out of Miami Brito High School in Florida, and Jameson Taillon, a big right handed pitcher from Woodlands High School in Texas.
Machado has been compared to Yankees power hitter Alex Rodriguez on many occasions as he could develop into one of the top power hitters in Major League Baseball. Last summer Machado hit .367 with 10 runs, nine RBIs, and 2 home runs on the 8-0 the USA’s 18U national team. The 6’3” right hander could move over to third base as he develops power, but that is still a need the Orioles must address.
Taillon is far and away the top pitcher in the draft, high school or college. With four pitches, a 6’7” 230 lbs build, and stamina that will take him deep into games Taillon is the complete package. His four pitch set consists of a fastball that has reached 99 on multiple occasions, a curveball with good movement that ranged between 81-85, a sick slider that ranges from 84-88, and a change-up that is solid but was rarely used at the high school level. On the USA’s 18U national team Taillon won both of his appearances, pitching 13.2 innings, giving up just seven hits, zero runs, and struck out 28 batters.
Rumor has it that the Pirates are shying away from Taillon because high school pitchers are always the riskiest picks. But that is still only a rumor. If the Pirates do pass him up the Orioles will certainly be quick to offer him a contract while if they take him, they will be willing to take Machado just as quickly. So either way, the Orioles would fill a need with a highly touted draft prospect that could see the majors in just a few years.
It is very unlikely, and frankly stupid, that the Orioles pass on Machado or Taillon, or even Harper is he would somehow be available; other options would be pitchers Chris Sale from Florida Gulf Coast University or Stetson Allie from St. Edwards High School in Ohio.
Though Taillon is a great prospect, the fact remains that high school Pitchers are incredibly risky, and with last years top pick, high school stud Matthew Hobgood, showing some serious control issues in Delmarva, the Orioles could look at Sale who has three years of college experience under his belt already. Sale carried a fantastic 2009 Cape Cod summer league performances that won him the BFC Outstanding Pitcher Award into a junior campaign which he ended with an 11-0 record with a 2.01 ERA over 103.0 innings in which he struck out 146 batters. Sale’s repertoire consists of a fastball that hits up to 94, but is consistently 90-92, a curveball that has movement that could be devastating to left-handed batters, and a change-up that is above average with movement to get right-handed batters out.
Allie is the fourth option. He could be a mid-round pick as a starting pitcher, or top of the draft pick as a closer. Allie has one of the strongest, if not the strongest, arms in the class and consistently hits 98 on the radar gun with his four-seam fastball. He also has a two-seam fastball with great movement. With that he has a slider that hits between 87-91 with good movement, and a change-up that, again, isn’t needed as much in high school, but hits between 87-91 mph with room for improved movement. Allie got hard every pitch, but down the stretch he tends to tire and loses control. If that can be fixed he could be a decent starting pitcher, but a more likely scenario would be for him to be a full-time closer, and with the Orioles lack of a bullpen and high number of starting “prospects”, he becomes a dark horse, but possibility.
Some names to look out for in the second round are Yody Cabrera from Lakeland High School in Florida, a short stop/third baseman with great power and vision; Seth Blair, a right handed pitcher from Arizona State with a fastball (90-94), slider, change-up, and curveball; and Chevez (Chevy) Clarke, a 6’0” 185 lbs switch-hitting outfielder from Marietta High School in Georgia with great speed in the field and above average power from both sides of the plate.