Baltimore Orioles 2021 MLB Draft Report Card
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Best Pure Hitter: The Orioles signed one of the best pure hitters in the college class, outfielder Colton Cowser (1), to an under slot deal with the fifth pick of the draft and watched him go out and hit .375/.490/.492 through 32 games. He’s got an all fields approach with impressive contact skills and plate discipline continued to surface in the pro game, with 25 walks to 23 strikeouts. Second baseman Connor Norby (2) was a career .392 hitter over three seasons with East Carolina and has a short, quick swing from the right side.
Best Power Hitter: One of the players Baltimore pushed savings to was catcher Creed Willems (8) who signed for $1 million in the eighth round. He has plus power potential from the left side of the plate, while outfielder Billy Cook (10) homered 17 times with Pepperdine this spring and also posted a .258 isolated slugging with six home runs in 22 games with Low-A Delmarva.
Fastest Runner: Outfielder Reed Trimble (2s) is a quick-twitch runner who has received plus-plus grades on his speed and should stick in center field because of that. He went 12-for-14 (85.7%) in stolen base attempts this spring with Southern Mississippi. Cowser is more of an above-average runner who could also stick in center field, while shortstop Collin Burns (6) is a plus runner who went 22-for-28 (78.6%) in stolen base attempts during his three-year Tulane career.
Best Defensive Player: The Orioles think Burns has the ability to stick at shortstop thanks to his plus range and baseball instincts. Before the draft some scouts thought he would be a better fit at second base long term, or in a utility role but he has reliable hands and makes all the routine plays. Cowser is athletic with a strong arm in the outfield that should be an asset in center. Outfielder Donta Williams (4) drew impressive reviews for his defensive ability in college, despite being just an average runner. He played left field for the most part but showed good instincts and a quick first step off the bat. He was a two-time Pac-12 All-Defensive Team member.
Best Fastball: The Orioles continued to prioritize hitters at the top of the draft, but righthander Carlos Tavera (5) has a plus fastball in the 92-96 mph range with good riding life. Righthander Justin Armbruester (12) doesn’t have quite the same velocity—he’s more in the 89-94 mph range—but he gets good vertical action on his pitch as well.
Best Secondary Pitch: Baltimore thinks Tavera’s changeup is similar in some ways to Brewers righthander Devin Williams’ thanks to its screwball action and high spin rate. Righthander Peter Van Loon (16) throws a slider with big sweeping action and he has shown a solid ability to land the pitch for strikes.
Best Pro Debut: Cowser managed a .982 OPS between the Florida Complex League and Low-A East during his first pro season, and his Low-A East 158 wRC+ was tied for eighth among hitters with at least 120 plate appearances in the league. First baseman Jacob Teter (13) hit .305/.401/.492 with three home runs and 11 doubles between the FCL and Low-A East, while Van Loon posted a 2.51 FIP in 13 innings in Low-A East, with 16 strikeouts and no walks
Best Athlete: Trimble and Williams both have cases for this category given their athleticism in the outfield, but a player who has yet to be mentioned so far and also has a case is outfielder John Rhodes (3).
Most Intriguing Background: Rhodes was a standout track and field athlete in high school who set long jump records, while righthander Ryan Long (17) was drafted and signed despite barely pitching between 2020 and 2021 thanks to the covid year and a canceled 2021 season. He did throw 9.2 innings in the Cape Cod League this summer. Both Teter and righthander Dylan Heid (11) were selected after playing in the inaugural MLB Draft League.
Closest To The Majors: Despite coming from a smaller school and conference, Cowser was always seen as one of the most polished and advanced hitters in the class. His long track record with Team USA gave teams confidence in his bat, and given his understanding of the zone, bat-to-ball skills and all-fields approach, seems like a hitter who could move quickly.
Best Late-Round Pick (Or NDFA): Baltimore is excited about the offensive potential that Teter offers, and getting him early on day three could be a sneaky good signing. Teter was also draft-eligible in 2020 where he ranked as a top 200 prospect in the class and always showed impressive power output and plate discipline with Florida Southern.
The One Who Got Away: The Orioles signed each of their 21 draft picks.