Last week, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus made a list of the top-10 first-round busts of the last 10 years. Four Orioles (Wade Townsend, Chris Smith, Billy Rowell and Matt Hobgood) made that list. It’s a little too early to definitively classify 2009’s Hobgood as a bust, but the other three have made no impact in Baltimore. Injuries killed Smith’s career, Townsend never signed and, after five years, Rowell is only in Double-A ball, where he is struggling.
Not the best track record there.
And those misses have hurt the Orioles long term — while a draft pick usually doesn’t make an immediate impact like they do in the NFL or NBA, a good draft class will solidify a team for years to come. As much as people deride the Yankees for “buying” championships, the core of Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera were home-grown talent.
On the flip side, look at the Orioles for the last decade. With the farm system devoid of impact position players, the roster has been filled with free agents who mostly have been on their last legs.
But there is hope. Recent first-rounders Matt Wieters and Brian Matusz are with the big club now and look to be major cogs for the future, while Delmarva Shorebirds shortstop and 2010 first-round pick Manny Machado was selected to play in the South Atlantic League all-star game at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium on June 21.
But what about the Orioles’ newest hope, Dylan Bundy? The scouts rave about the right-handed high school pitcher’s potential, going so far as comparing him to Nolan Ryan or Roger Clemens. That might be a little unfair, considering the school yards of Oklahoma aren’t the same as Yankee Stadium or Fenway. But I guess it’s better to have those comparisons than say, Darren Oliver.
And you got to love a guy who said he’d take it to last year’s No. 1 overall pick Bryce Harper, who made some noise earlier this week for blowing a kiss to a pitcher after hitting a home run.
“If I was pitching the next game, I would hit him all four at-bats,” Bundy told a Baltimore radio station on Wednesday.
You had me at hello, Dylan.