Orioles' 5 best homegrown Draft picks

February 15th, 2021

Each year, the MLB Draft provides teams the opportunity to restock their farm systems, look to the future and find their next homegrown star.

That’s occurred quite a few times for the Orioles, whose best Draft picks have gone on to become some of the game’s all-time greats. Not all Draft picks work out, but some hit really, really big.

Here are the top homegrown Draft picks in Orioles history:

1) Cal Ripken Jr.
Drafted: 1978, 2nd round (No. 48 overall)

Who did the Orioles draft in the first round in 1978, over the local kid from Aberdeen? A third baseman from Cincinnati named Robert Boyce, who never reached the Majors. Let’s just say their second-round pick grew to have a little more impact.

What do teams look for above all else high in the Draft? The goal is to select a future franchise cornerstone, an everyday player to build around for years to come. In this case, Ripken was the perfect Draft selection, for reasons even beyond his 19 All-Star appearances, two MVPs, ’83 World Series ring and many other accolades. The O’s top homegrown Draft pick became one of baseball’s all-time greats, a generational figure and global icon for his record-setting feats of durability and perseverance.

2) Eddie Murray
Drafted: 1973, 3rd round (No. 63 overall)

Drafts are funny, imprecise things. The Orioles retained virtually no value in their first two picks of the 1973 Draft, getting just two big league games from first-rounder Mike Parrott and watching second-rounder Jerry Guinn flame out in the Minors. But they hit big in the third round by taking Murray out of Locke High School in Los Angeles, where he was teammates with Ozzie Smith. The future Hall of Famer was in the big leagues by '77, at age 21, steady and to stay.

3) Mike Mussina
Drafted: 1990, 1st round (No. 20 overall)

The Orioles were world-class at developing pitching for the first half of their history. They’ve been less than elite at it in recent decades. Mussina, arguably the best homegrown pitcher in club history, came along right in the middle of that timeline. The Orioles actually drafted Mussina twice, in the 11th round in 1987 and then again at No. 20 overall out of Stanford in '90. The Hall of Famer went on to make five All-Star appearances and finish top five in American League Cy Young Award voting fives times over 10 seasons in Baltimore.

4) Manny Machado
Drafted: 2010, 1st round (No. 3 overall)

Looking back on it more than a decade later, the top of the 2010 Draft still holds up as historically loaded. The Nationals took Bryce Harper first overall, and Jameson Taillon went second to the Pirates. That left Machado for the Orioles, who were thrilled to pluck the precocious shortstop from the South Florida high school ranks (the first round also included Matt Harvey at No. 7 and Christian Yelich at No. 23). Machado was in the Majors a little more than two years later, at age 19, and an All-Star the following season. He’d go on to make three more All-Star appearances, win two Gold Glove Awards, and hit 162 home runs across parts of seven seasons in Baltimore, which he spent as one of the best players in baseball.

5) Mike Flanagan
Drafted: 1973, 7th round

Not many Cy Young winners have hailed from New Hampshire (as a matter of fact, 2005 National League recipient Chris Carpenter is the only other), as Flanagan did before playing at the University of Massachusetts. Amherst isn’t exactly a baseball hotbed, either; Flanagan is one of just 13 big leaguers to come from the school. That’s all part of the reason Flanagan fell to the seventh round in the 1973 Draft, when the Orioles grabbed him four rounds after Murray. The result was perhaps the best pick by value in franchise history. Flanagan went 141-116 with 3.90 ERA over parts of 15 seasons in Baltimore, then he remained in the organization as a coach, broadcaster and executive for more than a decade before his death in 2011. He still ranks in the top five in Orioles history in wins, starts, innings, complete games and strikeouts.

Honorable mention: Bobby Grich (1967, 1st), Brian Roberts (1999, 1st), Nick Markakis (2003, 1st), Zack Britton (2006, 3rd), Matt Wieters (2007, 1st)