With the 2020 amateur draft completed and baseball trying to navigate the resumption of the 2020 season, I’ve offered a dozen Orioles thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. Some had issues with the Andrew Cashner trade or the Jonathan Villar salary dump, but selecting Heston Kjerstad second overall is the first questionable decision of major consequence in the Mike Elias era. If nothing else, Elias and his staff showed their conviction going against outsider consensus.
2. It’s easy — and sometimes valid — to equate an under-slot pick with being cheap, but the better comparison is trading back in the NFL draft to be able to add more later. Of course, that doesn’t mean Coby Mayo or Carter Baumler will succeed as over-slot picks out of high school.
3. Second-guessing is part of the sports conversation, but I struggle enough with criticism of picks in the NFL and NBA drafts without pretending to have a strong opinion on talents coming from a college sport that’s showcased nationally for all of a couple weeks every year. Time will tell.
4. Strikeout concerns and his left-handed power profile are enough to make Kjerstad remind you a bit of Chris Davis, but the Orioles loved his white-hot start to 2020. The popular Driveline Baseball also likes his makeup, a strong endorsement in the player development world. The shortened season definitely complicated evaluations.
5. The second overall pick was a special moment for scout Ken Guthrie, one of the holdovers from the Dan Duquette era. Guthrie has known Kjerstad since he was a kid and tracked his progress for years, which would make this a memorable story if the University of Arkansas product pans out.
6. How many Orioles fans had thoughts of Vanderbilt’s Austin Martin being a thorn in their side when Toronto selected the widely anticipated Baltimore choice at fifth overall? You can almost hear that annoying horn at Rogers Centre after a walk-off hit for the Blue Jays. But again, no one knows.
7. After passing on all pitching until the fifth and final round with Baumler, the organization showed an early preference for college position players as well as its great faith in director of pitching Chris Holt for a second straight year. The Orioles believe in their pitching development process.
8. I’ll have more on the 2020 season when we see a definitive resolution, but is it any surprise owners in a sport that’s widely embraced “tanking” in recent years seem content to do something similar with an entire season? Their exclusive focus on the short-term bottom line is shameful.
9. Empathizing with owners over the “economic feasibility” of prorated pay for players — who are taking on health risk during a pandemic — sure is tough in the wake of a reported new television deal with Turner Sports worth $1 billion. If they’re not opening their books, spare us the tears.
10. From an on-field baseball standpoint in the big picture, how much more valuable would a normal minor league season be to the Orioles than an abbreviated major league one? Beyond Austin Hays, Ryan Mountcastle, and a couple others, further development on the farm would be the easy choice.
11. Ole Miss shortstop Anthony Servideo being the grandson of former Oriole and 1965 AL Rookie of the Year Curt Blefary is a good story. Traded for Mike Cuellar in 1968, Blefary died in 2001 and had his ashes spread over what remained of Memorial Stadium at the time.
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) June 15, 2020
12. On a lighter note subdued by Monday’s news, a 50-game season sure could lead to some crazy happenings. The 2005 Orioles started 31-19 and were in first place before finishing 74-88. The woeful 2010 club that lost 96 games finished 34-23 under new manager Buck Showalter. One can dream, right?