O's open Day 2 of Draft by taking Cleavinger
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles continued to place an added emphasis on acquiring outfielders during Day 2 of the Draft on Tuesday. Baltimore used three of its first six picks on outfielders, including top pick DJ Stewart.
"Each Draft presents something different, and this year it was high school-strong, and we drafted to the strength of the Draft," scouting director Gary Rajsich said of the Orioles' early interest in bats. "The position players in high school are good. We wanted to grab some bats this year, and I think we've done that."
It's a departure for the pitching-minded O's, but with their Minor League system devoid of any top-tier position player prospects, Baltimore is trying to use the Draft to create a better pipeline for the big league club's bats.
In the third round, the O's picked Garrett Cleavinger, a left-handed pitcher from the University of Oregon. The 6-foot-1 Cleavinger struck out 66 batters in 40 innings, and he has a quick arm and decent deception. He could be a lefty setup man or a lefty specialist, depending on how he fares against right-handed hitters.
Cleavinger does use a lot of effort in his delivery, which makes it more difficult for him to consistently throw strikes. Still, the Orioles feel they can unlock some of that plus velocity out of Cleavinger and get his mechanics more in tune. It could, in a best-case scenario, end up as a situation similar to former third-round pick and current O's closer Zach Britton.
Round 4: CF Ryan McKenna, St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Dover, N.H)
A right-handed hitter listed at 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds, McKenna has some offensive tools to help him make an impact as a line-drive hitter. He has very good speed from the right side of the plate, which could help him stay in center field, and he is a threat on the basepaths.
MLB.com's Draft experts were fond of the McKenna pick, as he's impressed numerous scouts and could be a sleeper in the fourth round.
Round 5: OF Jason Heinrich, River Ridge Middle High School (New Port Richey, Fla.)
The biggest high-risk, high-reward player the Orioles have taken so far, Heinrich is listed at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds. Thought to be an all-or-nothing guy at the plate, the Central Florida commit has a ton of raw power, though consistency has been an issue.
The Draft concludes on Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 on MLB.com beginning at noon ET.