Pitching rules the Orioles' Draft
Baltimore picks 30 young arms to bolster its farm system
BALTIMORE -- On the first day of the 2009 First Year Player Draft, Orioles manager Dave Trembley relayed his organization's philosophy when it comes to drafting for the future -- pitching.
"I think that's the way to go," Trembley said Tuesday. "I definitely think that's the way to go, especially if you can get them young and developed and bring them up through your system. You're going to have attrition, and you're going to have injuries, and you're going to have guys that don't pan out, but you're also going to get some good ones."
That mentality proved true once again this year, as the Orioles drafted a slew of young pitchers, 30 in all and 13 on the final day of the Draft, in an effort to restore what was once a dominant pitching franchise.
First-round pick Matt Hobgood is an intimidating right-hander, with a fastball that tops out at 94 mph. He has been compared to Hall of Fame closer Goose Gossage, and he went 11-1 with a 0.92 ERA during his senior year with Norco (Calif.) High School.
The team also drafted local pitcher Scott Swinson in the 46th round. Swinson is a right-hander from University of Maryland and was part of a string of 11 pitchers to be drafted by the Orioles with their final 15 picks.
The breakdown for the Orioles' draftees consisted of 30 pitchers and 20 hitters. Baltimore selected 12 players from junior colleges and 21 out of high school. Twenty of the 30 pitchers taken were right-handers.
The Orioles have struggled on the mound for the past several seasons. A Baltimore starting pitcher has accumulated 15 or more wins just three times since 1999, the most recent being 2006, when Erik Bedard went 15-11.
This season, however, a number of rookie pitchers have made their debuts with the Orioles, including Brad Bergesen, David Hernandez, Jason Berken and Koji Uehara.
Orioles -- Top five selections
|5||RHP||Matthew Hobgood||Norco HS|
|54||SS||Mychal Givens||H B Plant HS|
|85||1B||Tyler Townsend||Florida International U|
|116||RHP||Randy Henry||South Mountain CC|
|146||LHP||Ashur Tolliver||Oklahoma City U|
|Complete Orioles Draft results >|
These players -- with the exception of Uehara, who came over from Japan in the offseason -- were maturing and developing through the team's Minor League system just a few months ago. Fans could see some of this year's draftees in an Orioles uniform in the years to come, as well.
For now, however, the players drafted on Day 3 aren't exactly household names. But the Orioles did choose a familiar face in the form of Mike Flacco, younger brother of Baltimore Ravens starting quarterback Joe Flacco.
The third baseman, drafted in the 31st round, hit .372 with nine home runs and 33 RBIs this season for Catonsville Community College. Similar to his brother, Flacco is a physical specimen, standing at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds. He was also named to the 2009 All-Maryland JuCo first team and the 2009 NJCAA All-American third team.
The other familiar name in this year's Draft came on Day 2, when the Orioles drafted former Baltimore great Al Bumbry's son Steven Bumbry in the 12th round. Bumbry played college ball at Virginia Tech, where he hit a team-leading 10 home runs.
Despite those two familiar names, pitching was the mentality for the Orioles this year, a factor Trembley suggested was beneficial for 2009.
"I was told it's more of a Draft for pitchers this time than it is position players," Trembley said. "That's what I've been told. A little different this year, too, because it's on TV. High tech."
In all, 765 pitchers were drafted over the 50 rounds, including 544 right-handers and 221 left-handers.
Brian Eller is an associate editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.