Orioles Draft Report Card

Analyzing Baltimore's 2008 draft




QUICK TAKE
The Orioles not only landed the best pitcher in the draft (Brian Matusz) with the No. 4 overall pick, but they also got him for a favorable $3,472,500 major league deal. After that, Baltimore loaded up on athletes with Avery, Hoes, Hudson and Welty.
POSITION PLAYERS

BEST PURE HITTER: L.J. Hoes (3) batted .308 and walked more (30) than he struck out (22) in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, while making the transition from the outfield to second base. He still needs to smooth out his footwork, but the Orioles think he can remain at second.  >>  BEST POWER HITTER: 3B Corey Thomas (13) has the best raw power in Baltimore's draft, though he barely played this summer after tweaking a knee in a postdraft minicamp. C Caleb Joseph (8) hit eight homers and can drive balls out to the opposite field.  >>  FASTEST RUNNER: OFs Xavier Avery (2) and Kyle Hudson (4) are both 8 runners on the 2-8 scouting scale, with Hudson perhaps quicker out of the box. Hudson played in just 11 games before breaking his right hand on a headfirst slide.  >>  BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER: SS Greg Miclat (5) started his summer in the Cape Cod League and didn't sign until August. He has plus range and instincts to go with a solid arm.

PITCHERS

BEST FASTBALL: LHP Brian Matusz (1) sits at 90-92 mph and touches 94—yet his fastball may be his third-best pitch. RHP Bobby Bundy (8), who signed for $600,000, hit 94 in a May workout for the Orioles when he pitched without a knee brace. He spent the spring pitching with the brace after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in December.  >>  BEST SECONDARY PITCH: Matusz' curveball and changeup are so effective that sometimes he doesn't establish his fastball as much as he should.

ODDS AND ENDS

BEST PRO DEBUT: LHP Rick Zagone (6) went 7-1, 2.89 with 79 strikeouts in 65 innings at short-season Aberdeen. He operates at 85-88 mph as a starter, relying on the life and command of his pitches.  >>  BEST ATHLETE: Avery's power-speed combination has earned him comparisons to Carl Crawford. He was a blue-chip running back recruit ticketed for Georgia, while Hudson played wide receiver at Illinois.  >>  MOST INTRIGUING BACKGROUND: RHP Oliver Drake (43) was drafted out of the Naval Academy and was able to withdraw and sign for $100,000 because he had yet to make his military commitment. He owns an 89-93 mph fastball and an interesting slider.  >>  CLOSEST TO THE MAJORS: Matusz could make his pro debut in Double-A and could crack Baltimore's rotation by Opening Day 2010.  >>  BEST LATE-ROUND PICK: RHP Jesse Beal (14) has the most upside, with size (6-foot-7), a sound delivery and the chance for three solid pitches. OF Ronnie Welty (20), a Rookie-level Appalachian League all-star, is a lanky athlete in the mold of Hunter Pence.  >>  THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY: Projectable RHP Kevin Brady (44) flashed a 95 mph fastball by the end of the summer, but a $450,000 offer couldn't dissuade him from attending Clemson.