Happy MLB Draft Day to all that observe! So convenient that MLB snuck draft day in on a Sunday night before all the big All-Star events but I digress. The Orioles have the 1st overall pick again but it appears as if this will be their last pick in the top 5 for a long, long time. They're just good now, the rebuild has sped up, it's a whole big thing. But because they only won 52 games last year that awarded them this top pick. They've got the top ranked farm system by most outlets and will add another top prospect to a farm system that includes a hurt Grayson Rodriguez, DL Hall, Gunnar Henderson, Jordan Westburg, Colton Cowser, Kyle Stowers, Coby Mayo, and Heston Kjerstad. Stacked, absolutely stacked. What we do know is that Mike Elias has said there are 5 guys in the conversation for that #1 pick tonight. We also know Elias LOVES to go under-slot so that may throw a wrench into who goes 1.1. Lets do a little dive on those 5 candidates and see who could be the newest baby bird.
Druw Jones - OF, Wesleyan High
The son of Andruw Jones, Druw is the top ranked player coming into the draft. You remember when he went viral for hitting a bomb directly after a full crowd chanted "OVERRATED" at him, the kid just has it. He's easily the best player in the draft, no question about it. Power, speed, his father's defensive skills, he's fantastic all around. Money is the issue with him. Rumor has it he's asking for over slot money and that is not something Mike Elias and the Orioles are willing to do. While Jones is easily the top guy he may not go #1. If this was the NFL and it was always the best player going #1 then the O's would be running their card to the podium, that isn't the case. He's 6'4", 180 pounds but only 18 and still growing. Some think he's still a work in progress which makes sense because he is still a kid, regardless of who picks him, they're getting a hell of a player. Unless he drops his $ demands he won't be going 1, but man do I hope the O's take him.
Elijah Green - OF, IMG Academy
I was superrrrrr high on Green after the O's clinched the top pick last year, he's got all the physical tools. 6'3", 225 of pure muscle. Such a powerful swing too. His dad was a former NFL tight end for the Ravens and still has Baltimore ties, the kid loves Jimmy's Famous Seafood crab cakes. The power is there but the bat isn't up to par, MLB grades his hit tool at 50. Big swing and miss guy too. He does have a hell of an arm and will play good defense for you in center, plus his ability to swipe bags. Can he be a starting center fielder for you? Absolutely. But I don't think he goes #1. He'll make someone very happy with his Swiss army knife skillset, it just won't be the Orioles. He will hit some homers that will open your eyes though, super loud homers too.
Jackson Holliday - SS, Stillwater High
Kind of crazy Matt Holliday's kid is old enough to possibly be drafted 1.1. Jackson is a sweet swinging lefty out of Oklahoma who came on super strong these past few months. He's a hell of a hitter, so much so he broke J.T. Realmuto's national record for hits in a season. 89 hits in 41 games with a .685 average and a OBP of .749, guy can swing it. He's going to have to add weight to his 6'1" frame but that shouldn't be an issue, and with that weight should be more power which is scary because he's one of the best hitters already in the draft. A ton of MLB Draft lists have Druw Jones at #1 and Holliday at #2, so maybe there is a chance he somehow goes 1.1 if the Orioles pass on Jones, it wouldn't shock me. Even though he's a shortstop and the Orioles have a few SS prospects, you can move him and put him at second or even third. He'll hit wherever he's playing, that is something you can guarantee.
Termarr Johnson - 2B, Mays High
So I've been told that Termarr Johnson has one of the best high school swings ever. I read that an MLB scout said this is the best prep swings since some guy named Ken Griffey Jr. Johnson is the best hitter in the draft, and he's a high schooler. Committed to ASU but I think it's safe to say he'll be skipping college. Some scouts say he's the best prep hitter in decades. This kid's bat is special, the bat is the reason I think he'll go #1. Forget the defense, he'll fit in as a second baseman and be fine, but you draft him for his bat. It's that good. I think this has to be the pick if you're the Orioles. One scout on MLB.coms said this….
"One scout gave him a double Hall of Famer comparison by calling him a combination of Wade Boggs' plate discipline and Vladimir Guerrero Sr.'s bat-to-ball skills."
Yeah, sign me up for that. I need Termarr Johnson in Baltimore. People have said they aren't thrilled with his size, he's a tiny guy. If only Mike Elias had experience with an undersized second baseman from his time in Houston…
Brooks Lee - SS, Cal Poly
The odds on favorite to be picked number 1, Lee is a super safe pick. Easily the best bat in college, a switch hitter who refuses to strike out and always seems to hit the ball hard. Mike Elias does love college bats so it wouldn't shock me at all if Lee ends up going 1.1, he'll be much cheaper than the high school kids and that is advantage Lee. It's a super safe pick, he's going to hit and he's going to probably move to third and be fine. If the Orioles really lean into the under-slot move Lee could be the guy. He's very clearly ranked 5/5 on this list behind the high school kids but he's still an unreal good player. He just isn't the sexy pick which scares some people. Scouts love him because he's a coaches son, but Keith Law has expressed concern about his "unorthodox swing". That won't scare anyone away, just something of note.
As I said earlier, Mike Elias LOVES college bats and has taken one in the first round of every draft he's been apart of, but who knows. 2 of those picks were also under-slot, Heston Kjerstad out of Arkansas in 2020 and Colton Cowser out of Sam Houston State last year. If there is a draft to go under-slot it's this one, and that is what I expect Elias and the Birds to do. It seems like his formula is under-slot college bat, over-slot high school kid with the next pick, and who knows from there, maybe a pitcher. I'd love Jones but I don't think he is the move, I think it's Johnson or maybe Lee. It's all depended on money, but regardless of who is picked, they are going to join an already stacked farm system. Do you take a high school kid and wait 3-4 years for him to be ready to join your winning window? Or do you go a proven college bat who can help sooner rather than later? Like everything else it's about money, that is why I think this decision will come down to almost the very last minute. Just for fun I'll say I think Termarr Johnson is your first overall pick tonight. Go Birds.