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Spencer Torkelson being selected first overall was the only sure thing in this draft. With the second pick, the Orioles surprised everyone who has seen the tops of mock drafts by not picking Austin Martin. However, this draft serves as a way of bringing the organization’s offensive talent to the level of up-and-coming pitchers like DL Hall and Grayson Rodriguez.
Round One, Pick Two: RF Heston Kjerstad
Age: 21 B/T: L/R Height: 6’2” Weight: 205 lbs
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Kjerstad is the best left-handed power hitter in the draft class. He has a lot of force behind his swings, and his impressive plate coverage allows him to hit to all parts of the field. Kjerstad shows a natural ability to control his body throughout his swing. One example of this is his dynamic swing plane: at the top of the zone, his swing is basically perfectly level; as the ball comes lower and lower in the zone, there’s more of an uppercut. Bat control is a strength for Kjerstad, so that should allow his power to play as he rises to MLB.
As for his defense, GM Mike Elias expects Kjerstad to be more of a right fielder. This fits with his strong arm and adequate fielding. Two more things from Elias: “he’s a monster” and he’s “our favorite bat [after Torkelson].”
A bright spot in his truncated 2020 season is that he reduced his K% from 21.7 to 11.5 while keeping walks around a steady 8% throughout his time in Arkansas.
Competitive Balance Round A, Pick 30: SS Jordan Westburg
Age: 21 B/T: R/R Height: 6’3” Weight: 206 lbs
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I’m low on Westburg compared to many major prospect grading outlets. His numbers speak for themselves, but it looks like his power is more a product of him being better than his competition than true power. He tends to have an abnormal distribution of weight towards his front leg when he swings, which I don’t see working in the upper minors. For players as talented as Westburg—after all, he is a first round pick—they can cover up their flaws for a while, but that only lasts so long. One of three things are possible from this: a mechanical adjustment allows for a more balanced swing, he struggles as he climbs through the minors, or he proves me wrong.
Anyways, Westburg should be able to stick at shortstop: he can field, throw, and run at an average level at least. His range shouldn’t be a problem, and he’ll be able to make most plays expected of him. He’s growing as a player, with consistently decreasing strikeouts (20.3% in 2020) with a consistent ability to draw walks throughout his college career. Of the two picks on day one, Westburg is more of the safe, comfortable-floor player. On a competitive team, he should be able to exceed in either a limited role or as a defense-geared everyday shortstop like Jose Iglesias.
Round Two, Pick 39: OF Hudson Haskin
Age: 21 B/T: R/R Height: 6’2” Weight: 200 lbs
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Haskin has the power profile the Orioles seemingly sought out this year. It slightly dipped when he changed his swing to have a more steady and deliberate stride, also widening his stance as he swings. That will take some getting used to, as he is not yet using his lower half to full capacity in this adjusted swing. It’s no easy thing to do; it takes more leg strength now than it did with his old swing, but if Haskin’s power will play in the upper minors and MLB if he can get there. Another cause for concern in this swing change is the two-plane head movement from start to finish, but it looks like his hand-eye coordination has been enough to pull it off successfully so far.
In the field, Haskin isn’t much of a standout one way or the other. He will make the plays expected of him, and there’s not much more to it. He runs well, so that can work in his favor, but his arm is unimpressive so far. The Orioles’ outfield is not an open door for anyone to enter: with Yusniel Diaz, Austin Hays, and of course Heston Kjerstad, among others, it looks like Haskin’s power will be the main factor in carving a path to Baltimore.
Round Three, Pick 74: SS Anthony Servideo
Age: 21 B/T: L/R Height: 5’10” Weight: 170 lbs
Age: 21 B/T: L/R Height: 5’10” Weight: 170 lbs
Servideo is a sure thing at shortstop and a question mark at the plate. The consensus is that he will be able to stick at one of baseball’s premiere positions with good defense and a solid arm. His speed is also an asset, whether it’s in the field or on the bases.
Servideo is a low-power hitter who strikes out more than you would like for a contact hitter. His simplistic swing doesn’t take great lengths to generate power, and his bat speed isn’t particularly quick. However, in a shortened 2020 season, he hit for an ISO of .305 while cutting strikeouts below 20% and walking 27.6% of the time, up from last year’s 18%. This could be a product of small sample size or a breakout. The Orioles are betting it’s the start of something new.
Round Four, Pick 103: 3B Coby Mayo
Age: 18 B/T: R/R Height: 6’5” Weight: 215 lbS
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With Mayo, the Orioles continue to stockpile power. He has a two-part swing, and it does a good job in its pursuit to maximize his body, no matter how mechanical it might look. A major league third baseman who does something similar is Anthony Rendon. Anyways, Mayo has a strong ability to put the bat on the ball with some authority while maintaining impressive on-base skills. That’s shown by his varsity slashine of .389/.541/.716.
In the field, Mayo’s best quality is his strong arm. He’s not great at third, but Brandon Hyde wouldn’t have a problem putting him there regularly if his power persists. His speed could be a liability at times, which isn’t a big deal because his value does not lie in his ability to get down the line. For a slugger like Mayo, his peripheral tools are sufficient enough to keep his bat in the lineup.
One last thing about Mayo: he is drafted out of Stoneman Marjory Douglass in Parkland, Florida, the site of a terrible school shooting only two years ago. To achieve what he has in the midst of tragedy adds another layer to him as a player and as a person. May God bless all affected and their families.
Round Five, Pick 133: RHP Carter Baumler
Age: 18 B/T: R/R Height: 6’2” Weight: 195 lbs
Baumler is a risky selection because of his inconsistencies as a pitcher. At this point in time, he has a rather smooth motion, and he uses his body efficiently until he gets to his release point. His fastball will carry if it’s up in the zone and will move to the arm side or even sink sometimes with a lower release point because of his changing wrist position through his motion. Yes, all pitchers pronate their arms, but it seems Baulmer does this prematurely. The inconsistencies are all related to the ball coming out of his hand, whether it’s his release point, spin direction, etc.
His slider has the potential to be a weapon. Slightly more than a 10 mph speed difference (FB sits 91, reaches 94; SL sits 77-80) and quality vertical break combine to keep hitters off balance and induce swings and misses. As it is now, an unsettlingly high portion of these look like hanging curves, which fellow high schoolers don’t make him pay for as much as an ambitious minor leaguer might. He’s working on a changeup, but at this point it’s pretty limited. With more experience, it may add to his repertoire and give him another good offering.
Baumler’s control is not so consistent. He has a tendency of what I call mental overthrows: his body is smooth and mechanically sound every time, but his release point (along with the results of the pitches) is not. An overthrow is almost always above its intended target; this isn’t happening so much on a physical level as it might be mentally—maybe he was set on impressing scouts and felt he had to do a little too much. There is one way the Orioles can instantly boost Baumler’s trajectory, and that is by fine-tuning how and where the ball comes out of his hand. As a high schooler, I can’t imagine he was frequently exposed to Rapsodo and other pitch-measuring devices. When given access to these types of resources, he can truly take off and reach his full potential. But until then, this selection leaves room to be desired.