Elias talks O's plan for Draft, top prospects

July 9th, 2022

BALTIMORE -- In his final pre-Draft meeting with the media, Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias didn’t have much of an update from his last sitdown on how the O’s see themselves trending with the first overall pick.

That’s likely to continue until the real thing starts on July 17 in Los Angeles.

Elias reaffirmed that the Orioles will carry their list of five names into Draft night. It might come right up until the deadline before they offer a peek at their hand, let alone come to a decision -- one that may very well not be a uniform agreement across the front office.

“I'm being very frank about it that the short list that we have that's five players long, I feel like we're going to carry that for the next week up until the Draft day, because we don't expect there's going to be a broad consensus in every corner of the organization of who to take,” Elias said at Camden Yards on Saturday, before the O’s put their season-high six-game win streak to the test against the Angels. “ … I don't think we're going to really get much closer to narrowing things until the day of the Draft.”

Orioles’ Draft Day info

First pick and bonus slot: No. 1 overall, $8,842,200

Additional first-day picks: Nos. 33, 42 and 67 overall

Total bonus pool: $16,924,000 (second-highest in bonus pool history)

Last three first picks: OF Colton Coswer, OF Heston Kjerstad, C Adley Rutschman

Best pick of the last 10 years, per MLB Pipeline: Rutschman (2019, first round)

The Orioles are at an intriguing position in this year’s Draft, not just because they have four picks on the first day, but more so because this year’s selections come amid a season in which they appear to be turning a corner toward competitiveness. This high Draft pick will likely debut at a time in which the Orioles are in more serious playoff contention.

There’s a bevy of talent at the Orioles' disposal first overall -- outfielders Druw Jones (No. 1 prospect, per MLB Pipeline) and Elijah Green (No. 3); shortstops Jackson Holliday (No. 2) and Brooks Lee (No. 5); and second baseman Temarr Johnson (No. 4) headline the bunch -- but Baltimore has done one action especially consistent under the tutelage of Elias.

“One thing that we have done is not give much of an indication of what we're going to do,” Elias said, eliciting a smattering of laughs.

Much of the Orioles’ philosophy this cycle is pure speculation. Mock Drafts have linked them with Jones -- perhaps the can’t-miss talent of this Draft -- on top of Holliday, Johnson and others. Elias did say again that he does not expect to go with a pitcher first overall, and taking a high schooler -- Lee is the only collegiate prospect among the top 5 -- is very much a possibility after taking only one (No. 2 prospect Gunnar Henderson) within the first three rounds since Elias' hiring.

But there's been no public talk on going underslot to spend bigger later, as they did the past two years, or which of the five on the big board Elias is especially partial toward, or how anything leading up to that Sunday might change the club's thinking.

“We take the player that we want to take and that we want to start our Draft with and that we feel is going to kick off the maximization of the Draft class,” Elias said. “Detail beyond that is something that I don't feel like is in the interest of the organization for me to reveal, especially this week. But rest assured that we are going into any high pick that we have with the goal of maximizing the output of that pick itself.”

The Draft wasn't the only topic Elias addressed on Saturday.

On the arrival of the next wave
Top prospects Terrin Vavra, Jordan Westburg, Henderson and DL Hall -- after the latter refined pitch-tipping concerns -- have been breezing through Triple-A competition. Conflating the Orioles’ Trade Deadline approach may be looking, as well, for opportunities for their next wave of prospects to play alongside Rutschman.

At the very least, the noise being made by that group, along with Kyle Stowers, is being watched with interest.

“They're playing really well in Triple-A. You start pushing for opportunities when you do that,” Elias said. “… Anybody who's playing as well or as talented as the four of those guys are, it could happen at any moment.”