O's optimistic about signing their top picks

O's optimistic about signing their top picks

O's optimistic about signing their top picks
BALTIMORE -- With Monday's signing deadline looming, the Orioles remain in negotiations with their big three -- pitcher Dylan Bundy and third basemen Jason Esposito and Nick Delmonico -- and are optimistic that they can reach an agreement with their top remaining picks from June's First-Year Player Draft.

While the general consensus is first-round pick Bundy's potential signing will go down to the wire, Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan has expressed frustration in negotiations with Esposito, leading to speculation that the infielder -- drafted in the second round out of Vanderbilt University -- has drastically amped up his asking price. There is still a chance the two sides can work out a deal, but if not, some of Esposito's funds could be allocated to Delmonico, a high schooler that is believed to have a higher offensive ceiling.

While a report on Wednesday saying that the sixth-rounder was expected to sign with the Orioles and forgo the University of Georgia was premature, the organization remains in heavy negotiations and will have to go well-above slot to reach agreeable terms.

Teams have until 12:01 a.m. ET on Tuesday to come to terms with their draftees, meaning official notification has to be in the Commissioner's Office when the clock strikes midnight. A team that does not sign its first- or second-round pick will receive a compensatory pick in the 2012 Draft. That selection will come at the same slot, plus one. In other words, if a team doesn't sign the No. 9 overall pick, it would receive the No. 10 pick -- technically 9A -- the following year. A team does not receive a 2012 pick if it does not come to terms with a selection made with a compensation pick this year.

The 18-year-old Bundy went 11-0 with a 0.20 ERA and 158 strikeouts and five walks in 71 innings in his senior season, and has a nasty curveball, a very effective cutter and an above-average changeup to go along with his blistering fastball. Considered the top prep pitcher in the Draft, and one of the best high school arms in recent memory, Bundy, who has been throwing and working out in Tulsa, Okla., was selected by an organization with success in signing its top guy.

The Orioles gave a franchise-record $6 million bonus to catcher Matt Wieters (selected fifth overall) in 2007, while last year's top pick, Miami high school shortstop Manny Machado (third overall), got $5.25 million. Both players were advised by the notoriously tough Scott Boras, and both negotiations came down to the final hour.

Since Jordan was named the Orioles' scouting director in 2005, he has always come to terms with the club's top pick, drafting and signing Machado, Wieters, Brandon Snyder, Billy Rowell, Brian Matusz and Matt Hobgood -- a group that has produced mixed results.

"There's no doubt that this organization is committed to this," Jordan said earlier this month of the importance of a long-suffering franchise building through the Draft. "There's no doubt. It's just, there's nothing we can do right now to change this [situation]. The way it's playing out, there's not one thing the organization could have done different other than throw $20 million at [Bundy]. ... We will sign this kid. There's still some work to do, but we will get him."

The Orioles have agreed to terms with 18 of their 50 picks, including seven of their top 10 selections. The overall number is lower than it has been because the organization eliminated a rookie-level affiliate and one of the Dominican Summer League teams, making roster space more of an issue.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.