Baseball America recently released its rankings for which teams extracted the most value out of the 2020 MLB Draft, and the Orioles ranked last in the league. But while Baseball America may not be high on what the Orioles accomplished in June, MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis believes the organization is heading in the right direction.
Baseball America‘s Carlos Collazo explained that each draftee was assigned the 2020 draft slot value that matched his pre-draft ranking on Baseball America. What the player actually signed for was subtracted by the assigned value. The difference after each team’s picks were calculated was used to rank the efficiency of the teams.
Collazo said the Orioles were the least efficient team in spending but still had the 10th-best overall class since they selected six players and had picks toward the top of all five rounds.
“This year we wanted to do a little bit more of an analysis of the draft immediately after the draft, which is tough because we generally don’t like to grade and evaluate drafts right away. There’s so much we don’t know and obviously so much will change over time,” Collazo said on Glenn Clark Radio Aug. 7. “… We tried to see which teams spent the most efficiently and which teams added the most value based on our rankings.”
Baltimore’s draft was headlined by Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad, who was taken No. 2 overall. Many predicted the Orioles would select Vanderbilt’s Austin Martin, who went three picks later to the Toronto Blue Jays. Kjerstad signed for a $5.2 million signing bonus, which is about $2.5 million under slot value for the No. 2 overall pick.
With the money saved by drafting Kjerstad, the Orioles signed two players to over-slot deals: Florida high school third baseman Coby Mayo ($1.75 million) and Iowa high school right-hander Carter Baumler ($1.5 million).
“[The Orioles] think that it’s worth it. If you look at the analysis that we put on it and the players that we thought they passed on to take Kjerstad and the players that were available later we would probably say right now it wasn’t worth it,” Collazo said.
Collazo said Baltimore second-rounder Hudson Haskin could help change the perception of the Orioles’ draft. Though Haskin was ranked 211th overall in the draft by Baseball America, he was selected 39th overall by the Orioles. The former Tulane outfielder was a second-team All-American Athletic Conference selection in 2019 as a freshman. He hit .372/.459/.647 with 77 hits, 10 home runs and 52 RBIs that season.
The big question about Haskin is whether he can produce at the pro level with his unorthodox swing. Collazo said if he does, he has the potential to prove Baseball America wrong in a few years.
“If he does hit at the next level I think he has the tools where our ranking on him could look bad and the Orioles could look really good in hindsight for picking him,” Collazo said.
While Baseball America wasn’t high on the Orioles’ draft, MLB Pipeline’s Callis believes the overall system is in a good place going forward. MLB Pipeline recently updated its top 100 prospects list to include this year’s draft class, and four Orioles made the list. Baltimore’s group is led by catcher Adley Rutschman, who is the No. 4 overall prospect. Kjerstad (No. 66) is the only Orioles draftee on the list. The list also includes pitchers Grayson Rodriguez (No. 39) and DL Hall (No. 75).
“I do think it’s deeper. I don’t want to say it’s one of the very best farm systems in baseball but for a while they were one of the worst and now they’re middle of the pack,” Callis said of Baltimore’s farm system on GCR Aug. 6.
The list was recently updated to include draft picks, which pushed off some players who ranked toward the bottom of the previous list, but the staff did not make wholesale changes. Callis said the lack of competition since the previous list led to the decision to not make many changes.
“Since we did our last list we’ve had three weeks of spring training games which I don’t think you can really read anything into because of the varying level of competition you face,” Callis said. “Looking at video highlights from alternate camp until we see major-league action, why would we rearrange our list? I just don’t think any of that is enough to go off of.”
One of the notable names left off the list is Ryan Mountcastle. The Orioles have tried him at multiple positions in pro ball, including shortstop, third base, first base and left field. He makes up for his issues defensively with his bat. Last year at Triple-A Norfolk, he hit .312/.344/.527 with 25 home runs and 83 RBI in 127 games.
Callis said he sees Mountcastle at first base in the majors. He envisions him as the replacement for Chris Davis, who has two more years left on his deal after 2020.
“I’m all for trying guys at positions to challenge them to see if they can play them,” Callis said. “But his arm is below average there is not shot this guy can play big league shortstop and that was a waste of time. … I can’t think of any big-league shortstops or third basemen with a 40 arm; can’t play the position like that.”
Collazo was asked which current Orioles could be part of the team in a few years once they’re competitive. He focused on two players whose seasons seem to be heading in opposite directions at the moment. Renato Núñez is batting .273/.355/.618 with five home runs and 11 RBIs in 15 games. Austin Hays, on the other hand is struggling: He’s hitting .196/.276/.196 with no home runs, three RBIs and 11 strikeouts in 15 games.
“Most of these guys you’re not going to expect to be on the team if they’re competing in a few years. I’m interested a little bit in Renato Núñez and his bat’s potential. Austin Hays is a little bit interesting,” Collazo said. “… There are no pitchers in the starting rotation that you can look at and go I can count on him in 2-3 years when you’re competing.”
For more from Callis, listen to the full interview here:
For more from Collazo, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Ed Sheahin/Gary Sousa/PressBox