Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Oriole Draft 2009: What They're Saying

I am no draft expert and I'm no scout. So I won't pretend to be an expert about the first three picks the Orioles made yesterday. But what I will do is offer a layman's opinion on the picks and gather up opinions from the baseball blogosphere.

1st Round - Matt Hobgood - RHP - Norco HS (CA)

This guy was nowhere near the Orioles during mock drafts leading up to the draft. I only heard his name connected to the O's for the first time yesterday. If Brian Matusz was a pick that was going to move quickly through the system, Hobgood will be the opposite.

ESPN's Keith Law, a guy whose opinion I respect a lot, has said that, all things being equal, he would lean toward drafting high school pitchers these days because college coaches tend to overwork their best pitchers and drafting a guy out of high school gives a team more control over his development. That's what the O's have now in Hobgood.

Hobgood had been projected to be a 2nd or 3rd round pick so this pick may be a bit of a reach but the last two drafts have been good for Baltimore so I'll trust Andy MacPhail , Joe Jordan and the scouting staff for now.

Roch Kubatko gets Joe Jordan's first quotes about Hobgood:

Joe Jordan, the Orioles' director of scouting, deliberated between Matt Hobgood and Zack Wheeler before settling on the California high school product earlier this afternoon. He said signability wasn't an issue, but also believes Hobgood will be pitching "early in the summer" and could start out one level higher than normal for a prep selection.

If Jordan is telling the truth about Wheeler, this move is not a pure "signability" concern because Zack Wheeler (who pitches just down the road from me in Dallas, GA) wasn't considered to be a tough sign either. There's more:

"This is not a money saver," said Jordan, who compares Hobgood to Kevin Millwood. "I knew I would be asked that because this wasn't a name guy that people kept seeing every day in the paper. We scouted this guy all year long. I saw him the first time early in February and saw him a few times after that. It had nothing to do with money. Look at what we've done lately. This isn't about money. It's who I want and who our staff wants."

That seems pretty definitive. It is nice to see that they think this kid will sign before the deadline and play some ball this summer, probably in Bluefield or Aberdeen.

MASN's Steve Melewski has a link (that i guess was on Oriole's Hangout originally) to a video of Matt Hobgood and family leading up to his drafting.

You know you're getting old when 18-year old high school seniors look like middle schoolers to you. Dude still has braces!

From the Baseball Analysts live draft blog:

Rich: Hopgood was named the 2009 Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year yesterday. He is a big bodied pitcher who can also hit. Baltimore clearly liked him better than any other team. He is committed to Cal State Fullerton but is likely to be a fairly easy sign at this spot.

Marc: It's the first of the really surprising picks... but BA (Jim Callis) nailed it within an hour of the draft. A surprise that BAL went with signability this year after taking prospects like Wieters and Matusz in recent years.

In the Oriole blogosphere, nobody does the draft better than the guys at Camden Depot:

Not a huge fan of the pick, as we had Hobgood down in the Mid- to Late-1st Round range. We'll have more on Hobgood this evening -- to Jordan's absolute credit the raw materials are there for Hobgood to be a Joba Chamberlain-type talent. It will be interesting to see if he can follow Joba's lead with regards to trimming down some and attacking the pro lifestyle with vigor. Remember, Chamberlain didn't start to whip himself into shape until after a knee injury and three years of college. Jordan trusts his scouts, and I've liked his picks in the past, so he gets the benefit of the doubt from me -- I'd be curious to know why Wheeler was not the selection.

ESPN's Keith Law on today's chat:

Prep pitchers are unpredictable enough that calling taking the number-18 overall guy instead of the number-8 overall guy "embarrassing" would be wrong. Sure, I liked Wheeler more, and I would have taken him, but Hobgood is in the discussion.

And finally, Baseball America's Jim Callis from an ESPN chat today:

I think we were light on Hobgood all spring. Don't know if I'd put him right with the elite HS pitchers (Matzek, Turner, Purke, Wheeler, Miller), but he's not far behind. The Orioles say ability drove that pick, but his signability relative to the other HS arms couldn't have hurt.

2nd Round - Mychal Givens - SS - Plant HS (FL)

I'm a big fan of taking the best talent available (and givens may have been, I have no idea) but this origanization needs middle infielders and now we have one.

He was announced as a pitcher but Joe Jordan later stated they see him as a shortstop.

"We have a fallback plan, but that's what we're doing," Jordan said. "It's shortstop tools. He's a close to, if not above-average, runner. And he obviously has enough arm to play shortstop. I think there's power there down the road. He's an athletic kid."

3rd round - Tyler Townsend - 1B - Florida International

He played some outfield at FIU but these guys usually slip toward the wrong end of the defensive spectrum when they hit the pros. I'm calling him a first baseman.

Camden Depot:

Pure hitter with power upside. Almost certainly a 1B/DH, I'd imagine. Fine pick -- looks like Jordan and Baltimore had the same thought in looking for a power corner bat here.

Frost King Baseball has a thorough rundown of links about the Oriole draft.

Weaver's Tantrum isn't familiar with Matt Hobgood's body of work but isn't that impressed with the work he puts toward his body.

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