The Baltimore Orioles are sitting in fourth place in the AL East, four games back from the second AL Wild Card, and things aren’t looking good.
The Baltimore Orioles are currently sitting in fourth place in the AL East, just one game ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays, and four games back from the second AL Wild Card spot. It’s been a rough season, and an especially rough stretch of late, and things aren’t looking great for the future.
Going back to May 9, the Baltimore Orioles are 20-35, it’s been that bad, and it’s looked even worse. The Orioles had a team ERA of 6.27 in the month of June, worst in the majors, and currently have a team ERA of 5.07, also worst in the majors.
And it’s not just the pitching, the Orioles have the ninth-fewest runs scored in the majors (392), the fewest stolen bases (18, though is that a shock to anyone?), the seventh-worst strikeout rate (23.3%), the worst walk rate (6.6%), and the fifth-worst OBP (.308).
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But hey, bad seasons happen to everyone. Sure, it’s a bummer, but you just keep pushing forward and hope for the best for the future. And to be clear, I’m not saying the season for the Baltimore Orioles is over, it’s the All-Star Break, that’s a bit premature, and if this team has shown anything in the past, it’s the ability to heat up at a moment’s notice.
That being said, things aren’t looking good though thanks to some very questionable front office decisions.
For instance, the MLB Draft. This year’s draft, I was personally pretty happy with many of the picks. I went over scouting reports on the top five, and I’m a fan of them, especially D.L. Hall and Zac Lowther.
But with their fourth-round pick, the Orioles took pitcher Jack Conlon, a big, strong pitcher with a good fastball and some decent potential that just needs some refinement.
The Orioles didn’t sign Conlon, which isn’t necessarily a big deal as that happens frequently, but there are a few things that are especially bad about the way the Orioles handled this.
First off, the Orioles immediately lost the $409,000 in bonus money for his draft pick by not signing Conlon. Not only that, because Conlon was a fourth-round pick, the Orioles don’t even get a compensation pick. And, on top of that, according to Hudson Belinsky of Baseball America, Conlon allegedly failed his physical for the Orioles, and they decided not to even send him a minimum offer. But the problem with that is best described by Belinsky:
"Draft rules state that if a player fails his physical, the team must offer the player 40 percent of the slot value of the pick in order to receive a compensation pick. If the team makes no offer, the player becomes an unrestricted free agent and is not subject to the draft bonus pool system."
For reference, 40 percent of the slot value of the pick would’ve been $163,600. The Orioles chose not to even offer that to Conlon, and as such, he becomes a free agent, able to sign with any team that wants him, and the Orioles get absolutely nothing in compensation.
But it wasn’t just the standard MLB Draft, there’s the international signing day too, and this year, the Orioles traded away $5.75 million in bonus pool money. Just look at all the big name prospects and players the Orioles got in return for that money.
We’ve got RHP Matt Wotherspoon, LHP Jason Wheeler, SS Milton Ramos, and RHP Aaron Myers. And in case you’re curious, only Ramos is listed in the top-30 of MLB.com’s top prospects for the Baltimore Orioles (he’s at number 18).
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Rays landed Wander Franco, the top international prospect according to MLB.com, the Boston Red Sox signed three of MLB.com’s top-30 international prospects (including number two overall), and the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays both signed two.
As Alex Conway wrote for Camden Chat, this is a pretty consistent pattern too, the Orioles just don’t seem to care about international signings, and the irony of it all is, the only All-Star on their team this year, Jonathan Schoop, came as an international signing in 2008.
And it’s not like the team has an abundance of up-and-coming prospects. The only prospect the Baltimore Orioles have in MLB.com’s top-100 prospects is catcher Chance Sisco, and he’s all the way down at number 84.
Considering the Orioles lost and lost and lost for so long, you would think they’d have a glut of prospects, you’d think they’d look like the Houston Astros, but they don’t. And it’s not looking like they’re going to for some time.