Orioles Director of Scouting Joe Jordan is in Sarasota, Fla., gearing up for Monday's draft. The Orioles have the fourth overall pick this year. While Jordan didn't tell me who tops the O's wish list, he did give some insight on the type of player the organization is looking for and the state of the Birds' farm system. Here's a peak at our phone conversation:
Q: With so much young talent, including the Orioles' 2007 and 2008 first-round draft picks already on the big league roster, will the Orioles lean toward a player who is closer to being big league ready?
A: "I guess it all depends on the definition of 'close to' or 'being quick', but there's some good talent. There's some really good talent. If everything aligns the way we'd want, I think we could get them to the big leagues in a hurry. There are a handful of them that could do that."
Q: Mock draft boards have left-hander Danny Hultzen still available when the O's pick at number four. Considering the dire need for pitching all across the major leagues, when a pitcher that highly ranked is still available do you go for the pitcher over a high ranked position player?
A: "We'll yeah. I think we've really made a concerted effort to draft and develop pitching, but it's just like last year. We did like some arms up there, but we had a position player available (Manny Machado) that we felt like was the right move. It's harder to get position players in the draft than it is to get pitching. There's more inventory in every draft in pitchers. I think if you want a bat that you feel like is going to be an everyday bat, more often you have to go do it at the top of the draft."
Q: What is the state of the Orioles' farm system now that the recent wave of talent has arrived at the major league level? Who is next in line to arrive at the big leagues?
A: "There is a little bit of a gap. There is. I think we have probably more position player prospects in Double-A and Triple-A than some people realize. If you just look at the rosters and break them down and see how much we like some of these guys, we do feel like there are guys who, maybe as early as next year or later this summer, maybe can help our club. Maybe today could help our club if there was an opening or an injury or something. The pitching, especially starting pitching, it may be a little farther away."
Q: Is it even more imperative this year to get the first-round pick right simply because in this draft, the O's don't pick again until number 64?
A: "I think we always want to try to do that. This year is no different. We're actually in a better position than we were in '07. We got Matt Wieters (Round 1), and then Jake Arrieta in the fifth round with Tim Bascom in the fourth round. We had no second- and third-round pick that year. Every year is important obviously, but I don't know that that impacts anything this year."
Q: Is the O's drafting philosophy pick the best player available or draft for need?
A: "I don't think you draft for need at the top of the draft. We're going to have different options and you know different things separate these players on our board. I just think at the end of the day it's; if we have a left-hander or right-hander and we've got them evaluated together, you know more times than not, I'll go with the left hander. Obviously I'm aware it would be nice to have an advanced bat that was going to be able to play on our club in the major leagues quicker and that would influence maybe how it came out. We all say we don't draft for need, but the reality is, maybe to some degree we do. Whoever we take, we feel like the talent is going to put them there."
Q: On whether managers (Showalter specifically) have any influence on the draft.
A: "Obviously he's got more experience in player development than some major league managers and so I think he's a resource. I do believe he's going to have an impact and influence on how we develop players which I think is great. For me, what I try to do is get a feel for what he believes in on certain things and how we're going to handle certain things and kind of marry that with the talent we're going to take in the draft."