Trying to stock a farm system short on position player talent, the Orioles selected Florida State outfielder DJ Stewart with the 25th overall pick of the 2015 draft on Monday night.
The 6-foot, 230-pound 2014 Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year was the first position player selected in the first round by the Orioles since Manny Machado in 2010 and the first college position player in the opening round since Matt Wieters in 2007. Stewart led the nation in walks and owned a .500 on-base percentage while hitting 15 home runs and driving in 59 runs in 64 games as a junior for the Seminoles this past season.
Questionable arm strength projects Stewart to be a left fielder as a professional with some speculating that his weight could facilitate an eventual move to first base. Some scouts have expressed concern with the deep crouch from which Stewart hits, but the left-handed batter was a consistent and disciplined hitter who showed solid power throughout his collegiate career.
Drafted by the New York Yankees in the 28th round of the 2012 draft, the Jacksonville, Fla. product instead elected to go to college. Not the physical specimen you typically find in a first-round pick, Stewart was praised for his leadership at Florida State and could move quickly through the Baltimore system.
Stewart is represented by super agent Scott Boras with the suggested bonus for the 25th overall slot projected to be just over $2 million by Baseball America.
With the 36th overall pick of the first round — a choice awarded as compensation for the Nelson Cruz departure via free agency — the Orioles selected shortstop Ryan Mountcastle from Hagerty (Fla.) High School.
Mountcastle projects as a corner outfielder or third baseman and has committed to Central Florida if he does not sign with Baltimore. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound right-handed hitter possesses excellent bat speed, but he is considered a reach at 36th overall, which should make him easier to sign and would allow more of the club’s total bonus pool of $6.85 million for the first 10 rounds to be used for later choices.
Ranked as the 122nd overall draft prospect by Baseball America, Mountcastle hit .500 with two home runs and 22 stolen bases in 84 at-bats during his senior year.
With the 68th overall pick, the Orioles selected right-handed pitcher Jonathan Hughes from Flowery Branch (Ga.) High School. Ranked 188th in MLB.com’s list of draft prospects, the 6-foot-2, 184-pound pitcher possesses a low-90s fastball with developing secondary pitches in a slider, curveball, and changeup.