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Baltimore Orioles Draft Report Card

By David Rawnsley

Best Debut: Of all the college draft picks the Orioles rushed to Class A Delmarva in the second half, RHP Aaron Rakers (23) adjusted the quickest, going 4-1, 1.42 with eight saves. LHP Erik Bedard (6) easily handled Rookie-level Gulf Coast League hitters, going 2-1, 1.86.

Best Athlete: OF Larry Bigbie (1) will excel in all five tools if he develops the power to go with his 6-foot-4, 195-pound frame. OF Keith Reed (1) can run and hit for the raw power expected in a first-round pick.

Best Hitter: With a smooth, quick stroke, the lefthanded-batting Bigbie has the highest ceiling among hitters the Orioles picked. He debuted with a .279-2-27 season at Delmarva.

Best Power: Reed could develop tape-measure power if he refines his hitting technique. He hit four homers in 240 at-bats at Delmarva. The same can be said for OF Charlie Dees (38), who led the GCL with nine home runs.

Fastest Runner: Both Bigbie and Reed get from home to first in 4.1 seconds. Surprisingly, SS Brian Roberts (1), who stole 130 bases over the last two college seasons, is considered only an average runner, but with outstanding instincts.

Best Defensive Player: Roberts plays shortstop with veteran actions and intensity. He has convinced scouts he has the arm strength to remain at shortstop.

Best Fastball: RHP Mike Paradis (1), the first of Baltimore’s four first-round picks, consistently throws 94-95 mph, but 6-foot-7 LHP Richard Stahl (1) has touched 97 and should surpass Paradis with maturity.

Most Intriguing Background: Reed led Providence to the NCAA regionals during the program’s last year of existence. C Kelvin Pickering (35) is the younger brother of Orioles 1B prospect Calvin Pickering, but hit only .194-1-3 in his debut.

Closest to the Majors: Paradis has made significant progress with his mechanics and command during the past year. Rakers’ poise and the organization’s need for relievers also could push him along quickly.

The One That Got Away: The Orioles did an admirable job of signing all 13 of the players they chose in the first 10 rounds. They signed everyone they seriously pursued.

Best Non-Draft Sign: OF Alex Gordon was a nondrafted high school free agent from Seattle who signed a 1999 contract in August 1998. In his debut, he scorched two rookie leagues with a powerful lefthanded bat, hitting .348-15-66.

Summary: The Orioles had seven of the draft’s first 50 picks, a perfect opportunity for first-year scouting director Tony DeMacio and his staff to leave their mark on the franchise. The general strategy was clear, as mature college players and projectable young pitchers were added to the system.

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