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2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Baltimore Orioles

Top 500 Prospects Drafted by Baltimore in 2016

67 – Cody Sedlock
68 – Keegan Akin
145 – Preston Palmeiro
153 – Alexis Torres
209 – Matthias Dietz
242 – Tobias Myers
300 – Austin Hays

Complete List of 2016 Baltimore Orioles Draftees

And now a few words on some Orioles draft picks…

1.27 – RHP Cody Sedlock

It’s very easy to like Cody Sedlock (67). Getting to the love stage is a little more challenging, but isn’t that how it goes? Or at least that’s what I’ve heard: everybody loves me from the very first moment they meet me, so I can’t really relate. It’s easy to like him because he’s a rock solid bet to be a long-term rotation fixture. It’s hard to love him because the ceiling feels more mid-rotation than upper-echelon MLB starting pitcher. There’s nothing wrong with that when you’re picking at the back of the first round, by the way. Sedlock’s sinker/slider stuff is complemented very nicely by a curve and a circle-change, both of which that flash enough to be called potential weapons on any given day. Writing this felt familiar, so I decided to look back at what I’ve written about Sedlock in the past…

Properly rated by many of the experts yet likely underrated by the more casual amateur draft fans, Sedlock is a four-pitch guy – there is a weirdly awesome high number of these pitchers in the Big 10 this year — with the ability to command three intriguing offspeed pitches (SL, CB, CU) well enough for mid-rotation big league potential. I try not to throw mid-rotation starter upside around lightly; Sedlock is really good.

Oh, yeah. That would have sufficed. In addition to maybe not loving Sedlock’s ceiling — again, I really really like it and I don’t mean to downplay it — it’s also a little bit hard to love him because of the red flag that has been repeated over and over again since mid-May: the big righty’s workload at Illinois. It’s hard to say much positive about how he was used as a junior, at least in terms of his long-term prospects. What I find more interesting is Sedlock’s previous two seasons coming out of the Fighting Illini bullpen. His college innings by year: 31.2 in 2014, 31.1 in 2015, and 101.1 in 2016. Depending on your personal baseball innings worldview, you can look at his two years in relief as a good thing (keeps his overall innings down!) or a worrisome thing (big innings jump…). Any opinion I have on the matter is purely anecdotal — I haven’t done the necessary empirical research to blow my lid about his usage and Baltimore’s subsequent gamble that he’ll hold up physically in the coming years — so I’ll put that issue on the back burner for now. It’s obviously something to consider when evaluating the selection, but, again, you’re not going to get a perfect player with the twenty-seventh pick in the first round. A high-floor potential mid-rotation arm coming off some questionable late-season pitch totals is about what you should expect.

In a really thoughtful interview with Chris Cotillo before the draft, Sedlock compared his game with former Oriole prospect Jake Arrieta. Baseball has a great sense of humor sometimes.

2.54 – LHP Keegan Akin

When I saw Keegan Akin (68) pitch as a sophomore, I’m pretty sure he threw 85% fastballs. I’d give the exact number, but the finer details of that game and many others were lost in the Great Washing Machine Incident that I don’t like to talk about. I do remember that watching Akin was like watching a younger, lefthanded Bart Colon in terms of pitch usage. He’s come a long way since then — and he was really good then! — thanks to an above-average to plus 78-82 change and an average or better low-80s cut-slider. That’s some serious progress in fourteen months! Either that or I’m not nearly as good a “scout” as I’d like to think I am. I did (and still do) like his fastball a lot; it checks every box you need (velocity, movement, command) to be a really successful pitch and it plays up a half-grade higher thanks to the natural deception in his delivery. I had him pegged as a potential reliever back then — he could still be a serious late-inning weapon if it comes to it — but now I see no reason why he can’t be a successful mid-rotation arm. Baltimore may have nabbed two-fifths of their next playoff team’s rotation with their first two picks.

2.69 – RHP Matthias Dietz

Illinois for Sedlock, Western Michigan for Akin, and now John A. Logan JC (Illinois again!) for Matthias Dietz (209). If three picks is enough to make a trend, then we’ve got ourselves an official run linking Midwestern arms to Baltimore to track going forward. Dietz’s stuff has by all accounts looked much better in shorter bursts than it has as a starter (94-98 FB as a reliever, 90-95 as a starter; slider much sharper in relief), but his eye-popping junior college numbers (10.22 K/9 and 0.96 BB/9 in 103. IP with a 1.22 ERA), frame (6-5, 230), and lofty draft standing should get him a chance to keep starting in the pros. A much improved changeup — still a raw pitch, but improving at a rapid enough rate to intrigue — and outstanding control help bolster his case as a future starter. The fact that he has realistic late-inning reliever potential as a backup plan makes him a nice gamble here if you believe in him as a starter. It’s not a direct skill set comparison, but his situation reminds me some of Zack Burdi’s with Chicago.

3.91 – OF Austin Hays

The pre-season take on Austin Hays (300) is quite interesting, in part due to my wrongness, when viewed through the magic of hindsight…

Thankfully, Austin Hays, a pre-season FAVORITE due to his patient approach (easiest way to become a FAVORITE as a hitter), plus arm, strong glove, and above-average speed, has done his part in the early going. Hays may get stuck with the tweener label for some – not quite enough pop for a corner, not quite enough glove for center – but a more open-minded team might view perceived negative as a strength: Hays isn’t a tweener, he’s versatile! I’m not sure I’d go quite that far, but I still like Hays a whole lot.

I don’t think he’s a tweener any longer; he’s good enough to play center if they let him and his power breakthrough in 2016 solidifies his offensive potential in a way that should please traditionalists if he’s moved to a corner. That should mean I like a guy I had tabbed as a pre-season FAVORITE even more, right? Yes and no. I still like Hays a whole lot; really, what’s not to like? But his approach, a big part of the appeal coming into the year, took a minor step back as he sold out for a little more pop. If this is who he is now, he’s still a really fun prospect with above-average regular upside. If he can find a way to bridge the new with the old, however, he could be a star.

4.121 – RHP Brenan Hanifee

An athletic prep arm from your own backyard who has already been up to 93 with minimum wear and tear on his arm? I’m buying what Brenan Hanifee is selling. This was a pre-draft miss on my end that shows the limits of what a staff of one can’t do. The O’s had a few more resources at their disposal and appeared to use them to their full advantage here. I like this pick a lot.

5.151 – SS Alexis Torres

A friend of mine who saw Alexis Torres (153) in his pro debut down in Florida told me that he he felt the shortstop from Puerto Rico was more advanced with the bat than he had been led to believe. That’s obviously good to hear, especially in light of Torres’s relative struggles in the GCL. He also said that he felt that Torres’s glove was oversold some by some of the “draft people.” Not sure if he was talking about me, actual draft “experts,” or some of his pro ball colleagues, but thought it was interesting all the same. My pre-draft notes on him were all about his glove, speed, arm, raw power, and athleticism rating comfortably average or better with his bat being the one true question mark. Funny how that works out. I don’t normally bother to cross-reference my rankings with where guys are actually picked, but the O’s and I were on the same page with Torres. Or, pretty dang close at least.

6.181 – RHP Tobias Myers

There are a lot of similarities between fourth round pick Brenan Hanifee and Tobias Myers. The two share similar present fastballs (88-92, 93 peak), similar athleticism, and similar two-way multi-sport backgrounds. Hanifee has the edge in physical projection, but Myers has the more advanced offspeed stuff, especially his good upper-70s changeup. Information for the “do with it what you may” department: I’ve seen and heard his height listed at 5-11, 6-0 (the “official” measurement for now), and 6-2 depending on the source. Anyway, I ranked Myers ahead of Hanifee before the draft, but, knowing what I do now, I’d definitely flip the two without much second thought.

7.211 – 1B Preston Palmeiro

On Preston Palmeiro (145) from way back in December 2015…

I’m still on the fence some about JR 1B Preston Palmeiro, but he has some very vocal fans out there who love his swing and think he has a chance to be an average or better hitter with above-average power production. Being a primary first base prospect at the amateur level is a tricky thing with a bit more to it than many — myself included — think about. On the one hand, it’s obvious that being limited defensively to first base drastically increases the threshold of entry to professional baseball as a hitter. You need to hit and hit and hit to make it. On the other hand, there simply isn’t the same competition at first base at the amateur level as there is at other spots. I know that many a big league first baseman played elsewhere along the way, but if we’re just talking about getting drafted in the first place then the competitive field begins to look a lot thinner. In other words, if Palmeiro goes out and hits the shit out of the ball all spring, then what’s to stop a team from valuing that bat higher than we’re conditioned to think because of the relative lack of options to be found later in the draft? Up the middle players are wonderful and we know they dominate these drafts for a reason, but with offensive production (power, especially) growing increasingly scarce at the highest level perhaps the place for a big bat a team believes in will come sooner on draft day.

The Orioles got good value nabbing Palmeiro when they did. That makes it a good pick in my eyes. Now whether or not it’ll actually work out remains very much up in the air. I realize we can say that about literally every single pick, but I think saying so actually serves a greater purpose beyond debating the merits of Palmeiro’s future. As we covered back in December, up-the-middle athletes are coveted for a reason during the draft. This is irrefutable. But I think teams (and well-meaning fans) sometimes get too comfortable with the belief that the rest of the diamond — namely first base and the outfield corners — will work itself out with minimal resources invested. I don’t think that’s the case. There’s nothing wrong with taking top ten round first basemen and corner outfielders. Is Palmeiro good enough to be a big league contributor as a first baseman? Beats me. But good for Baltimore for taking a shot.

8.241 – RHP Ryan Moseley

On Ryan Moseley from March 2015…

I’ve long been a fan of the sinker/slider archetype and Moseley does it about as well as any pitcher in this class. When I start digging into batted ball data to find GB% in the coming weeks, he’ll be the first name I look up. On physical ability, a case could be made that Moseley deserves this first round spot. If we’re talking early season production…not so much. As we mentioned before, some young pitchers throw with so much natural movement that they are unable to effectively harness the raw stuff with which they’ve been blessed. Moseley’s track record suggests just that.

Find a way to get Moseley’s power sinker working for good instead of evil and you’ve got yourself a keeper. Until then, he goes into the maybe starter/maybe reliever pile as we wait and see how he takes to pro coaching. On talent, this is worth a shot. On production, it’s questionable. So long as you diversify your draft portfolio to have a nice blend of each side, you’re fine with taking shots like this.

9.271 – RHP Lucas Humpal

Already 23-years-old, Lucas Humpal will have to move quick early on to keep his prospect status alive in the eyes of the fan base. The senior righthander from Texas State has a good enough fastball (88-92) and an outstanding changeup. There’s middle relief upside here.

10.301 – RHP Cody Dube

Baltimore lands another potential middle reliever in $5,000 man Cody Dube. The Keene State righthander with impressive college numbers (11.18 K/9 and 1.73 BB/9) and fairly generic middle relief stuff (low-90s FB, solid SL) could get enough ground balls and whiffs to keep getting work. Or not. I’ll be real here, I don’t have all that strong an opinion on this one.

11.331 – LHP Zach Muckenhirn

One of the recurring comments I got on Zach Muckenhirn all spring long was that he’s got a long future in the game after his playing days are through if he wants to coach. There’s a lot of respect out there for his approach to his craft and high baseball IQ. There should be plenty of time before he worries about his post-playing career, though. Muckenhirn throws an upper-80s fastball (up to 92-93) with above-average command of a trio of respectable offspeed pitches. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but he’s right on the edge of back-end starting pitcher and middle reliever as of now.

12.361 – LHP Max Knutson

Max Knutson is a hard-throwing (87-93, 94-96 peak) athletic lefthander who has struggled with both bouts of inconsistent command and below-average control throughout his college career. He’s not entirely dissimilar stuff-wise to the player drafted just one round later…

13.391 – LHP Brandon Bonilla

Baltimore finally gets their man. After being rebuffed by Brandon Bonilla in the twenty-fifth round back in 2014, the Orioles convinced the big lefty to sign on the dotted line here in the thirteenth round in 2016. Better late than never. Of course, as it turned out they’ll have to wait until 2017 to see him pitch in a competitive game as a bad back kept him off the mound after signing. Like many of the lefties drafted by Baltimore in 2016, Bonilla has power stuff and questionable control. Makes sense to bet on these guys while the cost is still just mid-round draft picks and a couple hundred thousand bucks total as it sure beats trying to buy them down the line on the free agent market. Draft five of these guys, hit on one (or more!), and profit.

As it turns out, despite writing about Bonilla for the site plenty over the years I didn’t feature him this year. HOWEVER, we did talk about him in the comments section…

It appears that Bonilla has resurfaced at Hawai’i Pacific. Pitching really well for them so far: 8.1 IP 4 H 0 ER 4 BB 14 K. I appreciate you bringing him up because now I can re-add him to my database, assuming the rumored reports on a 97 MPH peak FB (he lost the FB for a while, but allegedly has it back) and SL that flashes plus are true.

How about that?

14.421 – RHP Ruben Garcia

I’ve mentioned before that I write these reviews in a completely scattershot order. More often than not I start with round forty and work my way up; writing up mid- to late-round picks is a lot more fun for me, and I suppose I’m not one for delayed gratification. Anyway, I’ve already written the Matt De La Rosa pick up below, so feel free to skip down there to get my thoughts on Ruben Garcia. Different players, obviously, but the two picks are very much connected contextually.

If you came here just for Garcia, I’ll give you the quick version: I know little to nothing about Garcia as a player, but as a pick I think he’s awesome. Garcia was a marginal 3B/OF for Eastern Florida State, but the O’s saw something special enough in him to give him a shot as a pitcher in pro ball. He did pitch three clean innings for the Titans in the spring: 3 IP 0 H 0 ER 2 BB 5 K. I’d bet a pretty penny that Baltimore’s scouting relationship began before that, but it’s still fun to pretend that it was those two random games that caused them to fall in love with his arm. This all makes Garcia’s start in pro ball that much more remarkable. It’s only 15.1 innings, but a 12.33 K/9, 2.35 BB/9, and 1.76 ERA is a heck of a way to justify your place in the game. Garcia belongs.

15.451 – RHP Nick Jobst

Nick Jobst’s name never made it on the site, but seeing it pop up during the draft reminded me of a text I got about him way back in February. The message came after Jobst tossed his fifth scoreless inning to start the year. His line at that point: 5 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 10 K. As a big man (6-3, 260) capable of throwing hard (mid- to upper-90s) who was doing what he was doing in the middle of the slow start to the season, it made perfect sense I’d be getting a text about such a cool guy, especially when you consider my life goal of finding the next Todd Coffey (minus the casual racism!) being well-known in certain social circles. Turned out to be a good call by the texter as the big righthander finished the year blowing away 15.09 batters per nine with a 5.03 BB/9 to go with it. That was good enough to get him drafted in the fifteenth round and good enough to make him a fun off-the-radar prospect to root for.

16.481 – LHP Willie Rios

Maybe the Orioles got a number of good long looks at Willie Rios in his one season playing in their backyard at Maryland. His sophomore season at Florida Southwestern State had a little good (88-93 FB, 95 peak; low-80s SL with promise; athleticism; 10.96 K/9) and a little not so good (underdeveloped slower stuff including a low-80s CU and a mid-70s CB; 7.79 BB/9), but there’s clearly enough here to work with as a potential effectively wild matchup lefty.

18.541 – LHP Layne Bruner

The last take I had on Layne Bruner on the site came after his senior year of high school…

LHP Layne Bruner (Aberdeen HS, Washington): 84-87 FB, 89 peak; interesting 74 CB; good athlete; 6-2, 170 pounds

He only pitched 46.2 total innings at Washington State, but that didn’t stop Baltimore from drafting him a second time after first making a run at him back in 2013. They clearly see something in him they like. His fastball velocity has ticked up a bit since then — more upper-80s, occasional low-90s — and his curve has become an even more consistent go-to offspeed pitch, so maybe they are on to something here. Maybe he’s another effectively wild (11.85 BB/9 in 2014, 10.96 BB/9 in 2015, 15.30 BB/9 in 2016…but only 3.77 BB/9 in his pro debut!) matchup lefty down the line.

19.571 – OF Cole Billingsley

Nice to see Cole Billingsley get his shot in the pros here in the nineteenth round. Here are a few words on him from early in the college season that still apply today…

The top two names on the hitting list are scuffling so far in the early going. Cole Billingsley, a favorite of mine thanks to outstanding athleticism, easy CF range, and above-average to plus speed, has had a slow start, but figures to get things rolling before too long. He’s a high-contact hitter who doubles as one of college ball’s best bunters. The entire package adds up to standout fourth outfielder if it all works in pro ball.

I think that holds up pretty well. Twenty-nine other teams in baseball would be cool with landing a potential backup outfielder in the nineteenth round, so Baltimore definitely did well here.

20.601 – LHP Yelin Rodriguez

I don’t have much on Yelin Rodriguez, but the fact that the prep lefty doesn’t turn 18-years-old until November 3 is a good thing. The fact that he held his own as a 17-year-old in pro ball this summer is an even better thing. He’s on my list as a pro guy that I’d like to know more about in the coming years. Very deep sleeper.

21.631 – SS Chris Clare

Chris Clare got a mention in my notes for having a steady glove at both second base and shortstop. That alone should keep him cashing minor league checks for the foreseeable future. If he hits more than I think, then maybe he’s a utility guy.

22.661 – RHP Nick Gruener

Little bit surprising to see Nick Gruener sign with the Orioles after only his junior season at Harvard. Most of the non-premium Ivy League prospects that I can remember through the years tend to stay until their eligibility is exhausted. Good for him for betting on himself, I suppose. On a somewhat related but not super related note, the head coach for Harvard isn’t called the head coach. He’s the Joseph J. O’Donnell ’67 Head Coach for Harvard Baseball. That’s something.

I’m terrible with name pronunciations, but it just occurred to me that the Orioles selected a Bruner and a Gruener within four rounds of each other. Maybe that’s funny, maybe it isn’t.

23.691 – LHP Tyler Erwin

Tyler Erwin is the great-great-great nephew of former United States President James K. Polk. He also struck out 10.69 batters per nine in his junior year at New Mexico State. It’s likely only of those two things will help him advance up the professional ladder. Which one is it? Time will tell.

24.721 – LHP Zach Matson

Roughriders is one of the best sports team names out there. I’m writing that in for any and all future expansion teams if the team name voting goes public. Zach Matson was a Crowder Roughrider. He struck out 12.41 batters per nine over 48.2 innings pitched. Only thing I’ve heard on him was that he was effective when he was doing it with more offspeed than gas, but as his fastball grew and grew — mid-80s to upper-80s to low-90s over the last few seasons — his overall game flourished.

26.781 – 1B Jaime Estrada

Though called out as a third baseman during the draft, Jaime Estrada split time in his pro debut fairly evenly between both third AND second. That makes an intriguing prospect all the more…intriguing. It’s past time for me to invest in a thesaurus. Anyway, all Estrada did in his two years at Central Arizona was hit .373/.515/.536 with 83 BB/41 K and 18/20 SB in 338 AB. Numbers are a little inflated there, sure, but that kind of approach plays in any environment. I’m firmly on his bandwagon. I also really just like that Central Arizona team. In this past draft, Brent Gibbs, Dakody Clemmer, and Estrada all signed with pro teams. Caleb Henderson was drafted, but instead opted to enroll at New Mexico State. George Castillo is going to Long Beach. Mitchell Robinson is off to Portland. Ernie De La Trinidad is now at UNLV. That was one loaded roster. And they reloaded again for what looks like another very intriguing (there’s that word again) 2017 squad with all kinds of draft implications. Reviewing the 2016 draft is fun and all, but I’m so ready to start talking 2017…

28.841 – RHP Matt De La Rosa

I absolutely LOVE this pick. Not because I knew anything about Matt De La Rosa before the draft. Heck, I had never even heard of Lenoir-Rhyne College. I’m still not convinced it’s a real place. But I love when a team takes an accomplished amateur hitter — De La Rosa hit .357/.459/.605 with 31 BB/36 K and 4/5 SB in 185 senior AB — and decides he’s better off as a pitcher instead. I love the idea that an area guy saw enough in De La Rosa’s rocky 5.1 innings this year (6 H 5 ER 6 BB 5 K) to give him a shot at doing his thing on the mound professionally. Sometimes I can be a little hard on the baseball writers of the world who speak of scouting in hushed reverential tones, so forgive me for the exact corniness I’d normally mock them for…but this is scouting at it was meant to be.

30.901 – 2B Garrett Copeland

Once upon a time this was written here about Baltimore’s eventual thirtieth round pick…

Garrett Copeland is one of the best second base prospects in the country that nobody talks about. He’s got nice speed, pop, and a sound approach at the plate.

Good for Baltimore for paying attention to one of college ball’s better kept secrets. Copeland faces an uphill battle to make it as a primary second baseman, so it was nice to see him get some time at the hot corner in his debut to help make him that much more versatile. I believe in the stick.

31.931 – OF Jake Ring

It’s pretty shocking that a sure-fire center fielder who has produced the way Jake Ring has in the SEC fell all the way to the thirty-first round. I’m sure the Orioles don’t mind it one bit. Ring has above-average to plus speed, a strong arm, that aforementioned easy center field range, and an approach at the plate that could make him a future leadoff hitter. Expecting a player nabbed this late in the game to make it as a regular is a bit optimistic even for me, but Ring could be that kind of outlier. More realistically, a long career as a backup outfielder could await. If he hits that ceiling from all the way down in the thirty-first round basement then everybody will come out a winner here.

33.991 – OF Markel Jones

I won’t pretend to know a lot about Markel Jones, but he’s another one of those guys that I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback about since draft day. I’ve noticed that happens more often than not with junior college prospects. It’s one of the best parts of still having this site. He’s a great athlete who can run and defend, so at least there’s that. He also hit a whopping .406/.494/.699 with 37 BB/39 K and 23/26 SB in his final year at Brunswick CC.

34.1021 – RHP Lucas Brown

Undersized college righthander with average stuff across the board (86-90 FB, average SL and CU) with an effective (2.86 ERA in 2015, 3.10 ERA in 2016) yet underwhelming (6.14 K/9 in 2015, 6.29 K/9 in 2016) track record. That’s Lucas Brown.

35.1051 – 2B Tanner Kirk

Baltimore had Tanner Kirk do a little bit of everything in his pro debut. The former Wichita State shortstop played second, third, left, and right for the GCL Orioles. He even pitched two scoreless innings for good measure. That kind of versatility is likely his only shot at the big leagues as his bat is a little light cross the board. I was honestly a little surprised to see him drafted, but defensive do-everything types tend to be more valued by organizations who know the grind of minor league ball requires plug-and-play guys like Kirk than the outside work might think.

37.1111 – RHP James Teague

No problem taking a chance on a reliever out of the SEC in the thirty-seventh round. James Teague has a decent fastball (88-92) and an average or better slider. If he throws strikes, he’s got a chance.

38.1141 – 3B Collin Woody

As a first baseman/third baseman, Collin Woody’s got some power and a strong arm going for him. That’s where the O’s want him for the time being. I actually like him on the mound, a spot where his upper-80s sinker and solid change could look decent as a reliever. Long shot prospect either way.

40.1201 – RHP Joe Johnson

I really do love the MLB Draft. Joe Johnson, pick 1201, is an actual prospect of note. To be this far down the line and find a real prospect is so cool. Johnson saw his ups and downs over the years at Erskine College, but the submariner with a college career 9.83 K/9 and 2.47 BB/9 is just funky enough to make a little noise in pro ball.

Unsigned Prospects and Where You Can Find Them in 2017

Seth Shuman (Georgia Southern), Ben Brecht (UC Santa Barbara), Ryan Mauch (Long Beach State), Wil Dalton (San Jacinto JC), Daniel Bakst (Stanford), Will Toffey (Vanderbilt), Tyler Blohm (Maryland)

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