BALTIMORE Part of the Orioles’ rebuilding plan centers on the philosophy of growing the arms and buying the bats. However, they drifted away from their pitching-first philosophy in the 2010 amateur draft.
Selecting third behind the Nationals and Pirates, the Orioles chose shortstop Manny Machado, 17, from Brito Private near Miami.
Scouting director Joe Jordan probably would have pounced on Texas high school righthander Jameson Taillon, but the Pirates took him with the second pick after the Nationals selected catcher Bryce Harper. That left Machado, a player the Orioles also coveted as they attempt to inject more position prospects into their farm system.
“It was one of those situations where we had three players on top of our board that we felt like we would be very happy if we got any one of them,” Jordan said. “In our room, this kid was in the position that we felt, knowing what happened in front of us, that he was going to be our guy. Today has been very easy for me. We had a lot of conversations about different things, but I knew I was getting a good player. I knew it when I went to bed last night. It’s been a good day. I’m very excited for this kid and his family.”
Machado hit .639 with 27 doubles, 12 homers, 56 RBIs, 43 runs scored and 17 stolen bases in 86 at-bats at Brito. He hit .367 last summer for the Team USA 18-and-under squad that defeated Cuba to win the gold medal in the Pan American Junior Championships.
Scouts rave about Machado’s plus-arm and believe he can hit .300 in the majors. He also has power potential, though he’s only listed at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds.
The primary knock on Machado is his speed. He’s also being advised by Scott Boras, which means he won’t sign quickly. The Orioles don’t seem concerned about it. They were going to take him, with Taillon off the board, no matter who would be guiding him through contract talks.
“I think it’ll be a normal process,” Jordan said. “The key for me here is that we have a young man who loves to play baseball. I can see it, I’ve been told it. We’ve done all our research and all our work to find out everything we can about Manny Machado.
“The thing I kept hearing is this is a baseball player. He loves to be on the field. There’s a business side and we’ll take care of it, but it’s not any more significant than it should be and would be with any other player. He’s going to be a Baltimore Oriole. I don’t have any doubt about that.”
Last year, the Orioles drafted high school shortstop Mychal Givens in the second round. Givens currently is on low Class A Delmarva’s disabled list.
Machado’s selection marks the first time that the Orioles have drafted a shortstop in the first round since Rich Dauer (Southern California) in 1974. Machado is the third high school shortstop selected by the Orioles in the first round, joining Bobby Grich (1967) and Junior Kennedy (1968).
“We feel like he’s going to play on the dirt, play the left side of the infield at the shortstop position,” Jordan said. “We think there’s a bat, and power—all the ingredients you look for in a shortstop. And a shortstop that will be able, hopefully, to impact the game offensively. We feel like he’s going to be able to contribute to the game every night in some way. That’s really what it boils down to. All the ingredients are there.”
Machado watched the draft unfold on television, surrounded by family and friends.
“It was just a great feeling once I heard my name,” he said. “My heart dropped. All the nervousness went away. It’s just a great feeling, a great opportunity, a one-time thing to happen, getting drafted. The Orioles have paid a lot of attention to me this year and it’s been a good year.”