06/06/12 1:21 AM ET
Orioles keep focus on pitchers on Day 2 of Draft
By Greg Luca / MLB.com
After taking righty Kevin Gausman from Louisiana State University in the first round Monday, Baltimore grabbed nine more pitchers with its next 14 picks on Tuesday.
"That was by design," said Gary Rajsich, the club's director of scouting. "You always need pitching."
The O's selected four college pitchers between the second and ninth rounds, taking righty Branden Kline from the University of Virginia in the second round, lefty Lex Rutledge from Samford University in the sixth round, righty Matt Price from the University of South Carolina in the seventh round and righty Brady Wager from Grand Canyon University in the ninth round.
Kline headlines the Day 2 haul with a low-90s fastball and a powerful 12-to-6 curveball. Kline played his first two seasons as a reliever before making 15 starts and posting a 7-3 record with a 3.56 ERA in 2012. He recorded 94 strikeouts with 43 walks in 93 2/3 innings.
"We think he'll develop into a good young starter for us," Rajsich said. "He is a college kid with good aptitude. As fast as he gets it and becomes consistent and commands his stuff, I think he could be here sooner rather than later."
Rutledge, a power lefty out of the bullpen with a fastball in the mid- to high-90s, is one of Baltimore's more intriguing selections.
While talented, Rutledge has struggled with command, posting a 1-4 record and 6.81 ERA this season. In 35 2/3 innings, he recorded 52 strikeouts and 24 walks.
"He's an interesting young man in that he throws hard and has a good curveball," Rajsich said. "To get that from the left side is unique, so we thought we better get it while we could. At some point you've got to weigh the rewards with the risks, and that's a rare asset. Those are unique tools to have in one left-handed pitcher. So you want to take a chance trying to develop that."
Baltimore also selected lefty Colin Poche from Marcus High School in Flower Mound, Texas, in the fifth round.
Rajsich said he got a chance to see Poche personally and was pleased with his fastball command and the likelihood that he enters the professional ranks.
"He has said he wants to play pro ball," Rajsich said. "That's what he told our people."
The Orioles rolled the dice on a few younger arms toward the end of the day, taking lefty Kevin Grendell from San Pasqual High School in the 11th round, lefty Billy Waltrip from Seminole State Junior College in the 12th round, righty Sean McAdams from Cardinal Mooney High School in the 14th round and righty Derick Velasquez from Merced Junior College in the 15th round.
"Earlier in the Draft it's more about getting the best players you can, and later in the Draft it's more about adding depth and youth to the organization, and at the same time adding value," Rajsich said. "I realized we were a bit heavy college-wise, so there was more of a focus on younger players there."
In all, the O's have added six right-handed pitchers and four left-handed pitchers through the Draft, with a few of those arms projected to be able to help in the bullpen as soon as next year.
How many of those players end up signing to join the Orioles organization, however, is yet to be determined. Rajsich said that the new Collective Bargaining Agreement rules made a prospect's likelihood of signing a big factor in the decision-making process, especially in the first 10 rounds.
"It's very important that we can sign them within reason," Rajsich said.
While it was critical that Poche had given Rajsich the indication that he wants to play professionally, the likelihood of landing Velasquez after picking him in the 15th round was much less important.
Velasquez has signed a letter of intent to play at Fresno State.
"It will be difficult to sign him right now, but it's a long summer and he may change his mind," Rajsich said. "A lot of things can happen.
"All of these guys, whether or not we can sign them all, I think they all have a chance to play in the big leagues, and I think that was the bottom line for us. They all have developmental potential, high ceiling, and that can hold some true value for our organization."
Round 2, Branden Kline, RHP, University of Virginia: Kline hails from Frederick, Md., the home of the Orioles' Class A Advanced affiliate.
Round 3, Adrian Marin, SS, Gulliver Prep School (Fla.): Marin is a speedy 5-foot-10, 165-pound shortstop who has signed a letter of intent to play with the University of Miami. Rajsich called Marin an exciting, five-tool player with a little bit of pop in his bat who could play second base, shortstop or even center field professionally.
Round 4, Christian Walker, 1B, University of South Carolina: Walker has hit for decent power and a good average in the middle of a batting order that has won back-to-back College World Series championships.
Round 5, Colin Poche, LHP, Marcus High School (Texas): Poche is 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds with a low 90s fastball. The O's will have to lure him out of a commitment to the University of Arkansas.
Round 6, Lex Rutledge, LHP, Samford University: Rutledge comes with a lot of upside as a player who is still learning after not becoming a full-time pitcher until high school.
Round 7, Matt Price, RHP, University of South Carolina: Price has been the closer for the majority of his career at South Carolina and projects to come out of the bullpen at the next level, although Rajsich said that decision is yet to be made.
Round 8, Torsten Boss, RF, Michigan State: Boss is a 6-foot, 195-pounder who hits for power and has an outside chance to develop into a five-tool player.
Round 9, Brady Wager, RHP, Grand Canyon University: Wager, 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, made 13 starts and went 7-4 with a 3.75 ERA this season. In 84 innings he had 78 strikeouts and 31 walks.
Round 10, Joel Hutter, SS, Dallas Baptist University: He hit .338/.400/.556 with 11 home runs and 72 RBIs in 2012.
Round 11, Kevin Grendell, LHP, San Pasqual High School (Calif.): The southpaw, the owner of a 20-strikeout game, is committed to University of California, Irvine.
Round 12, Billy Waltrip, LHP, Seminole State Junior College: Waltrip was 7-2 with a 1.60 ERA in 2012. He compiled 91 strikeouts against 34 walks in 67 2/3 innings.
Round 13, Wade Wass, C, Meridian Junior College (Miss.): Wass hit .427 this season with 23 home runs in 57 games.
Round 14, Sean McAdams, RHP, Cardinal Mooney High School: The 6-foot-6, 215-pounds hurler also played quarterback at Cardinal Mooney. He is committed to Seminole State Junior College.
Round 15, Derick Velasquez, RHP, Merced Junior College (Calif.): Velasquez was 11-0 with a 1.43 ERA this season. He has signed a letter of intent to Fresno State, where he seems likely to land after slipping to the 15th round.
Greg Luca is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.