2016 Draft Report Card: Baltimore Orioles
BEST PURE HITTER: OF Austin Hays (4) was the first position player the Orioles drafted; he broke out with a strong spring at Jacksonville, then continued to hit when in pro ball, batting .336 for short-season Aberdeen. 1B Preston Palmeiro (7) earns praise for his smooth lefthanded stroke.
BEST POWER: Hays has above-average raw power; he posted an isolated slugging percentage over .300 and swatted 16 home runs as a junior at Jacksonville.
FASTEST RUNNER: OF Cole Billingsley (19) can reach first base in four seconds flat, and he grades as a 70-grade runner from the left side. Hays is also a plus runner.
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Hays is the best defensive player the Orioles selected; he has the speed to play center field and looked natural there during fall instructional league. Hays has elite arm strength to profile well defensively in any outfield spot. SS Alexis Torres (5) also earns high praise for his defense, with smooth hands and above-average arm strength.
BEST ATHLETE: Hays’ unique combination of arm strength, speed and power makes him the best athlete in the Orioles’ class. RHP Ruben Garcia (14) was primarily an outfielder in junior college; he is a 70 runner and has the body to sell jeans, standing at 6-foot-4 with a chiseled frame.
BEST FASTBALL: RHP Cody Sedlock (1) throws a lively two-seam fastball that has reached as high as 98 and has worked at 94-96. The Orioles believe he could hit triple digits when he learns to throw a four-seam fastball. LHP Keegan Akin (2) can pitch in the mid-90s. LHP Brandon Bonilla (LHP) can hit 98.
BEST SECONDARY PITCH: Baltimore was enamored with Sedlock’s two breaking pitches, a curveball and his slider, both of which he can spin tightly and throw for strikes.
BEST PRO DEBUT: Akin and Hays both had success at short-season Aberdeen. Akin pitched to a 1.04 ERA and didn’t allow a run in his last six outings. Hays slashed .336/.386/.514.
MOST INTRIGUING BACKGROUND: Bonilla is the son of longtime major leaguer Bobby Bonilla, and Palmeiro is the son of famed slugger Rafael Palmeiro.
CLOSEST TO THE MAJORS: Akin could progress through the system quickly with excellent lefthanded velocity, a strong changeup, a slider that came on strong during instructional league and impressive ability to command his pitches.
BEST LATE ROUND PICK: LHP Zach Muckenhirn’s (11) stuff fluctuated throughout the spring, then bounced back strong at the end of the summer. He has four pitches and a low 90s fastball. LHP Willie Rios (16) has impressive lefthanded velocity. LHP Yelin Rodriguez (20) offers upside with an easy delivery, good body and extreme youth, having played the whole summer at 17.
Ryan McKenna Inches Closer To Baltimore
McKenna profiles as a leadoff type who can run and defend center field. The Orioles viewed his upside as too valuable to risk losing in the Rule 5 draft.
THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY: 3B Daniel Bakst (27) entered the spring as one of the more potent bats from the summer showcase circuit, but opted for Stanford instead of signing. LHP Ben Brecht (36) projects well as an athletic 6-foot-7 southpaw.