Draft Tracker 2006: Orioles Eye Impact Bat

With the 2006 draft just around the corner, organizations are beginning to take a closer look at the draft and assessing their needs and wants. The Baltimore Orioles already have one want in mind with the 9th overall pick in the 2006 draft. To get a better idea of who the San Diego Padres might draft in June, we'll examine what the other teams are targeting. Find out more in this edition of Draft Tracker 2006.

In an excellent position to pick up an impact player even in a relatively weak draft class, the Baltimore Orioles are already hard at work to make sure that pick is the correct one. This class is perceived to be quite weak in position player depth, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't expect a good percentage of the first ten picks to be of the position player variety.

"Every draft is going to have its strength and this one is no different, " Orioles Scouting Director, Joe Jordan told Scout.com. "When you look at a draft, it is tough to call a class weak until the draft actually happens. Yes, this class has its holes. We're all looking for position players. You know, everyone is trying to narrow down who the top position players are and everyone seems to be having a hard time doing that. So, we're going to keep looking. But, right now, that's what makes this class weak. It has one big weakness and that is the position players. They might go pretty fast because there's so few top guys out there."

There are several organizations out there that are quite predictable. In what way? Well, many teams seem determined to take a high school player with their first pick while others won't touch the prep players and opt for the college players early on. But, the Orioles tend to go simply for whomever they deem as the most talented player that could help the organization the most.

"We have no preference in college or high school players," Jordan later said. "What type of player we choose is dictated by the strengths and weaknesses of the draft and what we're looking for. We want the best player. We look at each draft and say 'which guy is going to be the best player and make the biggest impact'. And, that's the player we decide on. We're looking for an athlete, the best tools, and basically the best guy for this organization that we can get."

The Orioles and Joe Jordan may not have a specific preference as to the college or high school route in this year's draft, but what they would like to get their hands on is an impact bat to bolster their farm system. But, from the looks of the draft class, the club's scouting director has yet to develop a decent idea of where that bat may come from.

"Our organization, we'd really like to get an impact bat at number nine," the scouting director went on to say. "We'd definitely like to pick up a big, projectable bat, but I'm not sure if that type of guy will come from the college or high school crop. That position player group hasn't really totally developed yet. So, we're going to wait and see who emerges. But, there are some bats out there right now that are interesting."

"Every team has to take inventory, so to speak, before every draft," Jordan continued. "Then, they have to prioritize and see what they want to focus in on among the top guys available. They need to look at what they already have in their organization and see what type of holes there are to be filled. I wouldn't say that's drafting on need, just a way of having a well rounded farm system."

So, for Baltimore, the need is to pick up an impact bat. As Jordan touched on, there are only a minimal amount of hitters available. In the event that no hitters that interest the Orioles are available in the ninth slot, they won't shy away from the deep college pitching crop.

"If the right arm is there to be picked, we'll take a look," he admitted. "We feel that in our position, there still is a chance some of the guys from that top group of pitchers could drop to us. And, if that happens, we'll look to buy him."

"Signability is a huge part of every draft, but it might be extra big this year because this isn't an overly deep draft," the second year scouting director later said. "No, we wouldn't look past a guy who might have some signability issues, but we need to evaluate what is best for us and how involved we want to be with that. If we feel that the situation is right, it is something we'll explore."

After hearing from Joe Jordan, the Orioles plans are very clear. In their position, Baltimore could easily set the tone for the rest of the draft. With their likely selection of one of the top two college hitting prospects, Evan Longoria or Matt LaPorta, or possibly to the top prep position prospect, Chris Marrero, they would easily pick up the impact bat that Jordan seems to be searching for.

So, what should we expect from the O's this June? As previously mentioned, Longoria and LaPorta are the obvious college options while Chris Marrero is a very intriguing option as well. But, if the strong group of elite college hurlers isn't gone by the time they pick, Ian Kennedy or Daniel Bard may be options. Their sleeper position player pick may be Drew Stubbs, whose draft stock is slipping early in the season. It is far too early to tell, but it is likely that one of this group will be an Oriole draft pick come June.

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