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Backstop To The Future

June 7, 2005
By Roch Kubatko

BALTIMORE--The Orioles have made a lot of strides in the big leagues this season, and they hope they addressed a weakness in their farm system by taking the best high school catcher available.

Baltimore took Brandon Snyder of Westfield High in Centreville, Va., with the 13th overall pick in the draft. Snyder, who is listed at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, hit .547 (29-for-53) with 29 runs, five doubles, two triples and three home runs this spring for Westfield, where he alternated between catcher and shortstop.

"I thought about it last night, and I knew Brandon was going to be there and I knew one of the two guys that we really wanted would be on the board," said scouting director Joe Jordan, who was leading his first draft for the Orioles. "We have been killing ourselves for four months running around the country. It has been a crazy sprint. There was some anxiety, but I feel really good about the pick now that it is over."

Snyder is the son of former major league pitcher Brian Snyder, a former teammate of Orioles general manager Jim Beattie in Seattle.

"(Beattie) came in this morning and told me who I had to pick," Jordan said, laughing. "No, he didn't know that until Wednesday, when we had our predraft workout at the stadium and Brandon was here. Jim didn't know that he was his son. As soon as he saw him, he knew that he had played with his dad."

Snyder didn't catch full-time until late in the season, which doesn't concern the Orioles.

"It should be a good thing," Jordan said. "This is a good athlete. He's a kid with good hands and good feet. Honestly, if we had to sign him as a third baseman, he goes into the mold of a David Wright with the Mets. He's one of those guys. We're going to do the thing behind the plate first.

"He's got a plus arm, good speed. He's got all the ingredients to be everything we need him to be behind the plate. We're really excited; this is a good option for the organization."

The 18-year-old was rated by Baseball America as the third best high school hitter in the draft.

The Orioles had trouble signing Rice righthander Wade Townsend last year, but they don't seem concerned about negotiating with Snyder.

"We've talked about the parameters with the family and the people that are helping him," Jordan said. "We are fine there. It should take care of itself pretty quickly, I think."

BIRD SEED

The Orioles got a supplemental first-round pick, the 48th overall, for their failure to sign Townsend last year, and used it on Cal Poly lefthander Garrett Olson. Olson emerged after a good summer in the Alaska League last year and showed a feel for three pitches this spring. "We saw him a good many times this spring and he was a guy that was under the radar for us going in," Jordan said. "He's a guy we think that's going to go into the system and we think he's going to move pretty quickly."

Righthander Chorye Spoone was drafted in the 36th round by the Padres last year, but he didnt sign as a draft-and-follow in the hopes he might be picked in the top 10 rounds this year. The Orioles made that happen by taking him in the eighth round out of nearby Catonsville (Md.) Junior College. Spoone has an excellent arm with a fastball that has been clocked at 94 mph, but some clubs had questions about his makeup.

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