The Orioles hit what they felt to be a home run with the first overall pick in the MLB draft Sunday, but executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias focused on the concept of adding another “wave” to the already highly-ranked farm system Baltimore possesses.
To do that, they followed the selection of high school shortstop Jackson Holliday first overall with Cal junior outfielder Dylan Beavers with the 33rd overall pick in the Competitive Balance A round. Beavers, who Baseball America considered the 26th-best prospect in the draft, is 6-foot-4 and figures to play a corner outfield position.
In 56 games for the Golden Bears this past season, Beavers hit .291 with a 1.060 OPS, clubbing 17 home runs and driving in 50 runs. He drew 51 walks to his 54 strikeouts, and like Holliday, Beavers is a left-handed hitter. He was a first team All-Pac-12 selection each of the past two seasons, and he displayed a propensity to reach base in 2022, doing so safely in 51 of Cal’s 56 games, including a streak of 23 consecutive.
In the first round of the draft, 21 of the 30 players selected were position players, perhaps a side effect of a rash of injuries to many of the top college pitchers. In the buildup to the draft, Elias said “it’s kind of a blowout year [for pitchers], largely ‘cause of that.” But he didn’t rule out the possibility that Baltimore would select an injured pitcher, especially if it’s “kind of a garden-variety Tommy John rehab.”
But Elias has largely avoided drafting pitchers highly in the draft, and he went with one infielder and one outfielder with his first two picks for the third year in a row. In 2021, the Orioles selected outfielder Colton Cowser first with the fifth overall pick followed by infielder Connor Norby 41st overall. In 2020, it was outfielder Heston Kjerstad with the No. 2 overall selection followed by infielder Jordan Westburg 30th overall.
Holliday, the son of seven-time All-Star Matt Holliday, was chosen out of a group many narrowed to five options. There was more at play in the Competitive Balance A round, with nine of Baseball America’s top 25 prospects still available.