The Orioles need to keep things simple with the No. 1 pick in the draft. Baltimore needs a prodigious talent like Adley Rutschman.
No organization in Major League Baseball needs an infusion of high-end talent as much as the Orioles. If GM Mike Elias and his front office elect to try to save money with the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft instead of selecting the most talented prospect, they should be looking for new jobs.
There’s little question inside the scouting community about who the best player in the draft is. That honor goes to Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman. Unfortunately for Orioles fans, it seems their front office isn’t convinced about making him the first overall pick. Instead, they seem to be spending a lot of time discussing alternatives like Andrew Vaughn or JJ Bleday.
If the Orioles do elect to draft someone other than Rutschman with the No. 1 pick, it will almost certainly be a financial decision. The organization will obviously never admit that. If they make a surprise pick it’s safe to assume they will claim whoever they select was the top-rated player on their board.
The reality is that Baltimore would be trying to draft a player under slot with the first pick in an effort to spend their money later in the draft. There’s a lot of merit to that strategy for most teams in the game. However, the lack of talent in the Orioles’ system makes it a poor choice for Elias and his front office in this instance.
The most important thing Elias can do for his fan base this season is to provide them some measure of hope for the future. Drafting a player of Rutschman’s quality would give the Orioles’ farm system a legitimate blue chip prospect to build around. Rutschman isn’t capable of helping Baltimore win games immediately, but he is a guy with All-Star potential. That can’t be said for many players in the Orioles system at the moment.
Orioles fans should be hoping that their team’s front office is just trying to keep everyone guessing by floating rumors of interest in other players before the draft. If they don’t take Rutschman it’s going to go down as an epic failure. That’s something Baltimore simply can’t afford.