The Orioles did the unthinkable (for them, at least) in Sunday’s start to the MLB Draft, taking a pitcher to close out Day 1 in Seattle. Executive Vice President Mike Elias had never drafted a pitcher with a first-, second- or competitive-balance-round pick before Baltimore selected Florida State righty Jackson Baumeister at No. 63 overall.
On Monday, Baltimore doubled down. By the end of the 10th round, the O’s had six more right-handed pitchers.
“What we were able to walk away with today is guys that have some ability right now with their pitches, whether it’s the metrics, the velocity, the breaking balls,” said director of draft operations Brad Ciolek. “But also [we have] the ability to add or potentially refine some of these guys’ deliveries to maximize their arsenals.”
Sunday’s selections outside of Baumeister were all about speed. With the No. 17 pick, Baltimore picked Enrique Bradfield Jr., who some regarded as the fastest player in this class. It repeated the same strategy on Day 2, selecting three quick center fielders.
“Every one of those guys selected we had plus-run times on from our scout side of things,” Ciolek said. “We want these guys to be able to track the ball down quickly in gaps and get the ball back to the infield as fast as possible.”
All selections for Baltimore so far have been collegiate players. They have high school players on their board, but Ciolek said the ability to have more data from summer league seasons and third-party sources with collegiate prospects played a factor. The Orioles also met four of their Day 2 selections in-person at the MLB Draft combine.
“The arrows point up on a lot of these guys and we can’t wait to get them in our system,” Ciolek said.
Here’s a look at each of the O’s draft picks from rounds three through 10:
No. 86: Kiefer Lord, RHP, Washington
Kiefer Lord earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention honors this past season at Washington, leading the conference with a 4.59 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His best outing came against Stanford this year, when he struck out 10 batters and allowed three hits in eight innings. He fanned 10 batters again in his next start against USC.
Lord transferred to the Huskies after two seasons at Carleton College, a Division III school in Minnesota. After throwing in the low 80s in high school, Lord sat around 91 mph in his second year at Carleton. Now, he can reach up to 97 mph but mostly hovers around 94.
Lord is reliant on his fastball, which he utilized more than 70% of the time at Washington. Ciolek said a big focal point for the Orioles is to work on implementing his slider more often, along with his curveball and change-up. Lord is also equipped with a low-80s slider, which has the potential for a two-plane break when executed right, according to MLB.com.
No. 100: Tavian Josenberger, OF, Arkansas
As a switch-hitter for the Razorbacks this year, Tavian Josenberger belted 10 home runs and brought in 33 runs. He finished the season with a perfect fielding percentage and knocked the fourth-most hits on the team (55).
Josenberger transferred to Arkansas after two seasons at Kansas, where he earned All Big-12 honorable mentions both year. With the Jayhawks in 2022, he started 52 games at second base and stole 11 bases. He led the team in RBIs (43) and became the first Kansas player with home runs from both sides of the plate in the same game since 1996.
Ciolek also pointed to his versatility as he played second base for the Jayhawks before transitioning to center field at Arkansas.
No. 118: Levi Wells, RHP, Texas State
Levi Wells had a little bit of a down year at Texas State this season, finishing with a 5.02 ERA after posting a 3.07 ERA in 2022. His fastball reaches the mid-90s, sitting between 92-94 mph in most outings.
Wells is able to spin his curveball into the zone and has a cutter-ish slider in his mix as well, according to futurestarsseries.com. His best performance this season came against Marshall State in April, when he struck out 13 batters in nine innings. He reached double-digit strikeouts twice more in 2023.
Wells sprung onto the scene after dominating in the Cape Cod Baseball League in 2022. With the Falmouth Commodores, he posted a 2.07 ERA, striking out 22 batters while only walking eight. He was ranked the fifth-best right-handed pitcher in Texas out of high school.
No. 154: Jake Cunningham, OF, UNC Charlotte
Ciolek said Jake Cunningham was on the Orioles radar last year, and despite missing three weeks of the 2023 season with an ankle injury, they were still blown away by his speed and power.
“He is a tool shed, he has double-plus raw power, he’s a plus runner,” Ciolek said. “And he’s one of those guys who has instincts in center field.”
Cunningham worked out with the Orioles at Camden Yards a few weeks ago. Ciolek said he produced up to 111 mph exit velocity with a wooden bat (for context, the longest home run hit by an Orioles player this year traveled 462 feet after leaving Gunnar Henderson’s bat at 113.8 mph).
This year, Cunningham finished second on the 49ers in slugging percentage (.519) and had a mediocre on-base percentage (.359). His .304 batting average in 2022 was the highest of his collegiate career, but he struck out a team-high 69 times.
No. 181: Jacob Cravey, RHP, Samford
Jacob Cravey dominated the Southern Conference this year, earning Pitcher of the Year honors. He started 16 games and posted a 3.10 ERA. He ranked eighth in the country with 126 strikeouts, walking 40 batters over the course of 2023.
Cravey’s fastball generally runs around 91-93 mph, but he can reach speeds up to 96-97. His velocity doesn’t jump off the page, but he’s able to carry his pitches into the zone with a low 80s slider and low 80s changeup, forcing lots of swings and misses.
Cravey was ranked Perfect Game’s seventh-best righty pitcher out of Alabama in high school.
No. 211: Teddy Sharkey, RHP, Coastal Carolina
Teddy Sharkey was a true reliever with Coastal Carolina. He finished this season with 11 saves and a 2.90 ERA, striking out 74 batters. Ciolek said the Orioles pitching coaches looked at him and were “very bullish” about his delivery.
“It’s a high energy delivery, he repeats it well,” Ciolek said. “He already has three pitches he throws for strikes, he’s aggressive and goes right at guys.”
Baltimore would like to extend him a few innings and not just be a reliever. “That is something we would like to strive for,” Ciolek said.
Sharkey’s fastball can reach up to 98 mph but usually sits around 94-95. He has two distinct breaking balls that are both potentially plus pitches, including a slider with sharp two-plane break, according to prospectslive.com. His curveball sits around the low 80s.
No. 241: Braxton Bragg, RHP, Dallas Baptist
Braxton Bragg finished this season with a 9-2 record at Dallas Baptist University, a team in the Lone Star Conference. He recorded a 4.19 ERA over the course of the year, striking out 92 batters in 86 innings. His career-high in strikeouts (12) came this year against Fordham in his first start of the season.
Bragg transferred to DBU following two seasons at Nebraska. He led the Huskers in saves (5), holding opposing hitters to a .235 batting average in 2022.
Bragg played first base in high school too, ranked by Perfect Game as No. 1 in the state of Missouri. His fastball sits at 91-93 mph and he has a short slider in the mid-80s.
No. 271: Zach Fruit, RHP, Troy University
Zach Fruit ended the 2023 season with a 6.46 ERA in 22 appearances. His fastball tops out at 97 mph and he spent the majority of the year in the bullpen. He recorded five saves in 14 relief outings.
Troy was Fruit’s third stop collegiately as he began his career at Lansing Community College before transferring to Eastern Michigan for his junior season. At EMU, Fruit tallied a team-best 65 strikeouts and three saves.
Fruit was invited to the 2023 MLB Draft Combine, becoming the second Trojan to receive a spot since the combine began. At 23, he’s the oldest player the Orioles have selected so far.
No. 301: Matthew Etzel, OF, Southern Mississippi
Matthew Etzel transferred to Southern Mississippi this past season after two years at Panola College (Texas). He was one of only two players to start every game for the Golden Eagles, notching a .317 batting average. Last year, he led the MLB Draft League in batting average as well.
Etzel had a 10-game hitting streak in 2023, stealing 23 bases as well, which was the most from a Southern Mississippi player since 1998. He was also third nationally in sacrifice flies with nine.
Etzel can play center or left field and has starred for the Chatham Anglers in the CCBL this summer. He’s recorded nine hits in nine games, including one home run.