Draft Team

Here was the draft team we selected. We selected the best player remaining on our rankings every time the Baltimore Orioles were about to draft. For information on who the Orioles actually selected, click here.

1. Tim Lincecum, rhp, Washington

Lincecum was the No. 1 guy on our board because of his elite stuff and dominant stats in the Pac-10. Teams had questions about his size and durability and he fell to the Giants. He’s already made scouting director Matt Nerland look good.

1S. Joba Chamberlain, rhp, Nebraska

Chamberlain is another pitcher who had great stats in a power conference and fell in the draft. Scouts were concerned about Chamberlain’s weight and took note when he had a bout of triceps tendinitis. Chamberlain has beat those medical red flags to become one of the best pitching prospects in the game and, like Lincecum, has had success at the major league level.

2. Justin Masterson, rhp, San Diego State

Red Sox fans might already be familiar with the 6’6″ sinker-ball pitcher this off-season as his name has been linked to trade rumors surrounding Johan Santana. Masterson had a big junior season for the Aztecs, but scouts thought he profiled better as a reliever because his secondary profiles were below-average. He’s remained as a starter in Boston’s farm system and has advanced to Double-A by the end of 2007.

3. Matt LaPorta, 1b, Florida

LaPorta had a sophomore season for the ages. He set a Gators record with 26 homers and played on Team USA. He had an underwhelming junior season. LaPorta didn’t show any other plus tools in college and he was represented by Scott Boras, an agent who drives a hard bargain. Scouts didn’t believe he was signable after the third-round. We took him there anyway (the Red Sox took him in the 14th round) and he didn’t sign. The Brewers drafted him in the first-round in 2007 and he hit well in Low-A.

4. Josh Morris, 1b, Georgia

Morris exemplifies the divide between sabermetricians and scouts. Morris set the all-time home run record at Georgia with 46 after he set the freshman record with 71 RBIs. Scouts, however, saw a hitter who wouldn’t hit well with wood bats and didn’t have another plus tool. So far, the scouts have been right. Morris struggled mightily in Low-A and was demoted to Rookie ball, where he didn’t hit much better. He’ll turn 23 in May and the clock is ticking.

5. Jordan Walden, rhp, Mansfield HS (Texas)

Walden was the best high school prospect entering the season, according to Baseball America, but he didn’t pitch as well in the spring and fell. Scouts anticipated he’d be drafted by the second round and we grabbed him in the fifth. Walden didn’t honor his commitment to Texas and instead enrolled in Greyson County CC. He signed for $1 million before he could re-enter the draft.

6. Matt Latos, rhp, Coconut Creek HS (Florida)

Latos has the stuff of a front-line starter but none of the consistency or control. His fastball reached 97 mph in the spring and also features a curve and a slider that have their moments. However, he doesn’t have much feel for pitching and he fell to our pick. He signed with Broward CC and agreed to a pro contract before the 2007 draft with San Diego.

7. Mark Melancon, rhp, Arizona

Melancon has two things we like in our pitching prospects: stuff and stats. As Arizona’s closer, Melancon baffled hitters with a mid-90s fastball and sharp curve. Unfortunately, he strained an elbow ligament in April and didn’t pitch again in college and had surgery. He hasn’t thrown his first pro pitch, but relievers with his stuff move quickly so Melancon still has a bright future.

8. Tony Watson, lhp, Nebraska

Watson was the only player who we selected who was later drafted by the Orioles. He was actually drafted in the 17th round as a draft-eligible sophomore and returned to school. He had the rare package of stats and projection. He had two plus pitches, including a 90 mph fastball with good movement and an effective changeup. He signed with the Pirates in 2007.

9. Lars Anderson, 1b, Jesuit HS (California)

Anderson was the prototypical first base prospect. He’s a tall, left-handed hitter who had good power to all fields and impressed with Team USA in the summer of 2005. His value was in his stick, however, because he’s only an average defender. The Red Sox drafted him late, but signed him for $855,000. He hit well enough to hold his own after an aggressive promotion to High-A.

10. Brandon Belt, lhp, Hudson HS (Texas)

Belt fell beyond the point where he was signable after he showed inconsistent velocity in the Texas high school playoffs. He’s got a pro body at 6’5″, 180 lbs and has topped out at 93 mph. The Red Sox took a flier on him and had a chance once Belt enrolled at San Jacinto CC. When the Red Sox were unable to sign him, he transferred to University of Texas.

11. Jeff Manship, rhp, Notre Dame

Manship continues the theme of polished collegiate pitchers. He has good command of three solid pitches and dominated the Big East conference. He projects at the back end of a starting rotation, but he is more likely than most to achieve it. The Twins signed him for $300,000 and he’s ready to tackle Double-A in 2008.

12. Alex White, rhp, Conley HS (North Carolina)

White had the tools of a player drafted in the supplemental first round but fell to 14th round because of his strong commitment to North Carolina. He’s a two-sport athlete who has a fastball that sits in the low 90s and a tight slider. Scouts will get a better look in 2009 when White is again draft-eligible.

13. Jason Jarvis, rhp, Chaparral HS (Arizona)

Jarvis is the fifth high school pitcher we drafted who slipped beyond where scouts deemed him signable. He features a 92-93 mph fastball and solid slider with the athleticism and body that makes scouts expect that he’ll become a frontline starting pitcher. Jarvis didn’t sign and enrolled at nearby Arizona State University.

14. Ryan Wehrle, ss, Nebraska

Our third Cornhusker draft pick is the team’s draft-eligible sophomore shortstop. Wehrle had a big year at the plate in 2006 and projects as a plus defender on the left side of the infield. Wehrle has extra leverage as a sophomore and he used it, opting not to sign. He has a terrible year in 2007 both at Nebraska and as a professional in the Yankees farm system.

15. Dustin Dickerson, 3b, Midway HS (Texas)

Dickerson was one of the top Texas prep hitters. He has plus hitting and power and has good athleticism and speed. Dickerson had a strong commitment to Baylor, which he acknowledged.

16. Jeff Dunbar, c, UC Riverside

Dunbar was one of the rare position-player prospects who has below-average hitting. Dunbar is big (6’4″, 220 lbs) and athletic and was one of the best defensive catchers in the draft. However, he was a draft-eligible sophomore and did not sign. He was drafted by Seattle in 2007 and struggled in short-season.

17. Derrik Lutz, rhp, George Washington

Lutz features a low 90s fastball with heavy life and a plus slider. He was a starter for the Colonials but moved to the ‘pen in the minors. He doesn’t offer much projectability but is expected to move quickly. He recorded 23 saves in High-A in 2007.

18. Tyler Henley, of, Rice

Henley is the fourth draft-eligible sophomore that we drafted. We didn’t sign any of them, but Henley is full of promise. He’s a five-tool centerfielder who makes consistent contact and covers a lot of ground in the outfield. He had a big year at Rice, but opted to return to school. He signed with St. Louis in 2007 and struggled with a promotion to Low-A.

19. Dylan Brown, of, Plant HS (Florida)

Brown was an excellent two-sport athlete among Florida’s prep ranks. His hitting ability is real, but his bat is his only plus tool. He had a strong commitment to Oklahoma State and was not drafted.

20. Jake Locker, rhp, Ferndale HS (Washington)

Locker was one of the best athletes in the draft. He recorded a 6.4 second time in the 60 yard dash and reached 93 mph in high school. However, he wasn’t interested in signing and enrolled at the University of Washington as a quarterback on the football team. He didn’t play for the Huskies’ baseball team in 2007.

21. Graham Godfrey, rhp, College of Charleston

Godfrey was the only draft-eligible sophomore that we signed.  A 6’4″ righthander, Godfrey pounds the strike zone with 90-94 mph fastballs.  The Blue Jays traded him with RHP Kristian Bell to Oakland for INF Marco Scutaro in November 2007.  He will report to High-A.

22. Bruce Billings, rhp, San Diego State

Billings is a strike-thrower, throwing his low 90s fastballs with precision and mixing in a fringe-average slider.  He profiles as a reliever or a back of the rotation pitcher.  He returned to school for his senior season and dominated in short-season.

23. Stephen Hill, c, Stephen F. Austin State

Hill has legendary power.  At Eastfield JC (Texas) in 2005, he slugged 31 homers and in 2006, he hit another 14.  He’s an adequate defensive catcher, which makes him even more attractive.  He didn’t sign and returned for his senior season (where we drafted him again).  He performed well in Low-A.

24. Kyle Gibson, rhp, Greenfield-Central HS (Indiana)

Gibson is a uber-projectable right-handed pitcher who is expected to be a first-round pick in 2009.  He’s 6’5″ and throws 89-91 mph with a clean delivery.  Scouts dream that he could throw 90-96 mph in a few years and expect that his changeup and curve will develop into plus pitches.  Gibson did not sign and enrolled at University of Missouri.

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