Orioles 2002 Draft Overview
By Will Lingo
Scouting Director: Tony DeMacio (first year: 1999).
2000 Draft (First three rounds, picking 14th)
2001 Draft (First three rounds, picking seventh)
With the major league team playing around .500 ball with a cast of young players, the organization is encouraged by the talent brought into the organization since December 1998, when Tony DeMacio took over as scouting director.
Credit is also due general manager Syd Thrift, who has been widely criticized for his personnel decisions. But acquisitions such as closer Jorge Julio, outfielders Jay Gibbons and Gary Matthews and catcher Geronimo Gil have shown promise this year.
With DeMacio leading his fourth draft since coming over from the Cubs, where he was East Coast scouting supervisor, the Orioles will continue to focus on athleticism and live arms. It's a philosophy DeMacio learned with the Braves, where he started his scouting career in 1983. He joined the Indians in 1991 and moved on to the Cubs after the 1994 season.
The quest for high-ceiling players shows in selections such as outfielder Keith Reed in 1999 and shortstop Bryan Bass last year. But he has used his first pick in each of his three drafts on a college pitcher: righthanders Mike Paradis and Beau Hale in 1999 and 2000, and lefthander Chris Smith last year.
DeMacio has a definite affinity for southpaws, one of the lessons he picked up from Braves scouting guru Paul Snyder: If two pitchers have similar talent, take the lefthander. In fact, the first player DeMacio signed as a scout for the Braves was Tom Glavine. In addition to Smith, he got lefties Richard Stahl and Erik Bedard in 1999, and lefthanded pitching has become the strength of the farm system.
It's a system that remains thin, with players still getting rushed because of a lack of depth. So far this season, only one of the Orioles' four full-season affiliates has a winning record, low Class A Delmarva.
Extra picks in the last three drafts have helped the Orioles try to change that, but it will take another couple of solid drafts and stability at the major league level to bring the farm system up to snuff.
The Orioles are in good position to help themselves this year, picking fourth overall. It's a good year for lefthanders, so they could go in that direction again. Thrift has been to see lefty Joe Saunders pitch for Virginia Tech, and a college pitcher who could move quickly makes sense for the organization. But high school lefthander Scott Kazmir would also get a look if he's available.
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