The MLB Draft starts today. You may not have realized that of course, as the MLB Draft has much less of a following than its football, basketball and hockey counterparts (probably because it’s a staggering fifty-round draft).
However, there is still a decent buzz surrounding the first round of the draft as fans await to see who could become a part of the next generation of baseball’s superstars.
In particular, the buzz around the Orioles’ first-round pick used to be much louder when the Orioles were still in the dark ages and a lock to be picking in the top five. Under the steady leadership of Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter, the Orioles are now going into their seventh consecutive draft picking outside of the top twenty.
The question now is this: will the Orioles be able to land a potential All-Star with the 21st overall pick?
Scouts don’t seem to be in love with the 2017 draft class as a whole, but the first few rounds are loaded with talent. Having four picks in the top 100 of this year’s draft should serve the Orioles’ seemingly static farm system well going forward.
The Orioles have been linked to several college bats and a few college arms at pick twenty-one, so the chances of taking a high school prospect here at pretty much nil.
That said, let’s look at a few of the O’s rumored targets that are lighting it up on the college circuit this season.
3B Jake Burger: Missouri State
One of the hottest prospects on the scene this year is 21-year-old slugger Jake Burger. After a stellar 2017 season in which he’s posted a .332 average to go along with 22 home runs, 65 RBI and a .445 OBP for the Missouri State Bears, he’s now shooting up big boards as we approach draft day. Not too long ago, he would have been a lock to still be on the board when the Orioles hit the clock. That’s no longer the case. He’s rated as the 16th best prospect in the draft by MLB and the 20th best by Baseball America.
In three seasons with Missouri State, Burger owns a .341 average, with 48 doubles, 47 homers and 179 RBI. He’s been named All-Missouri Valley Conference in all three seasons, won conference defensive player of the year in 2016 and has been named a Golden Spikes Award semi-finalist for the second straight season.
Look for Burger to be on the fast track to the majors wherever he ends up.
LHP David Peterson: Oregon
Peterson, 21, will be a lock to go in the first round after a career year during his Junior 2017 season for the Oregon Ducks. In seventeen starts on the year, the Denver native owns a superb 11-4 record, 2.51 ERA and an incredible 12.56 K/9.
As a result of his efforts, Peterson was named to the All-Pac 12 team for the first time this season while also being named a Golden Spikes Award Semi-finalist. If signed, Peterson will end his impressive tenure in Eugene with a 19-15 record and a 3.43 ERA over 42 career starts. He’s rated as the 19th best prospect in the draft by MLB, and the 17th best by Baseball America.
RHP Griffin Canning: UCLA
The 21-year-old Canning has been remarkable all season long for the Bruins during his Junior campaign, going 7-4 with a stellar 2.34 ERA over seventeen starts. He’s also recorded four complete games, three shutouts, and a 10.59 K/9 while hitters are batting just .213 against him.
Canning’s efforts have not gone unseen. He’s now been named to the All-Pac 12 team for the second year in a row and has also been named a Golden Spikes Award Semi-finalist. If drafted, he’ll depart Los Angeles with a 19-13 record and a sensational 2.99 ERA over 43 career starts. The Mission Viejo, California native is rated as the 17th best prospect in the draft by MLB and the 26th best prospect by Baseball America.
SS Logan Warmoth: North Carolina
We’re saving the best for last. A true natural and a defensive wizard at shortstop, the 21-year-old Orlando native would be the perfect heir to J.J. Hardy at Camden Yards.
After a breakout 2016 campaign, Warmoth followed up by posting a sensational .336 batting average along with nineteen doubles, five triples, ten home runs, 49 RBI and eighteen stolen bases for the Tar Heels during his Junior 2017 season.
Because of his second straight impressive season, Warmoth was named 1st-team All-ACC while also garnering an All-American nomination by Baseball America. If he decides to leave Chapel Hill, he’ll end his three-year career with a .310 average, 37 doubles, 37 stolen bases, 15 home runs and 133 RBI. He’s rated as the 27th best prospect by MLB, and the 19th best by Baseball America.