The Orioles are in a different position with this year's approaching First-Year Player Draft than at any point in recent memory, not having a first-round pick for just the sixth time.
The O's, who signed free agents Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz this winter and had to give up their first two picks as compensation, have their first selection at 90. Until then, they will wait and watch how things unfold in front of them, with third-year scouting director Gary Rajsich -- who took Hunter Harvey and Kevin Gausman with the team's past two first-round picks -- joking that his group would play catch to stay busy on a typically eventful Day 1.
"It's a different kind of work. We are targeting different kinds of players now," Rajsich, who is in Baltimore for pre-Draft meetings, said of this year's focus. "We don't have a mandate as far as anything we are looking for. We are looking for the next best player -- I know it's a cliche, but it's true. We don't have a clear picture of that, obviously, because we don't know what's going to happen in front of us."
The Orioles have had some recent success in regard to their top picks, with first-rounders Manny Machado (2010), Brian Matusz ('08), Matt Wieters ('07) and Nick Markakis ('03) all on the Major League roster. But they've also had plenty of misses, with just 30 of those drafted in the past 10 years reaching the big leagues. That's the third-lowest total in the Majors.
"This year, it's a little more sporadic," Rajsich said of the talent pool. "There a lack of consistency from the players, so you are going to get a difference of opinions depending on the looks you've got. There's got to be a lot more differences of opinion. I think some Drafts are going to surprise more than others, and of course it's always in the eyes of the beholder."
The 2014 Draft will take place from today through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on today at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 74 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. ET on Friday.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Following is a glance at what the O's have in store as the Draft approaches.
In about 50 words
The Orioles will have to sit back and watch as they wait to pick until midway through round three. Their first pick is No. 90.
As Rajsich noted, there's a lot of differing opinions on this year's talent pool, which makes it incredibly hard to predict. The O's will try to get as much value as they can picking lower and could take more advanced college players.
Orioles bonus pool
The financial values for picks in the first 10 rounds and for each team's four international Draft slots will be increased by 1.7 percent over last year's assigned figures. The Orioles have eight picks in the Top 10 and will get a bonus pool allotment of $2,204,400 ($275,550 per pick).
The O's don't have an exact list of players and positions given their status entering the Draft, but they will stay away from adding catching prospects after last year's wealth of draftees.
There's no telling what the Orioles will do at No. 90, but losing two picks should place added emphasis on selecting players who have a high signability. The O's have been able to sign their top picks under Rajsich, and that trend should continue.
* RECENT DRAFT HISTORY *
Christian Walker, a fourth-round pick in 2012, has put himself on the map with a solid season at Double-A Bowie (14 homers and 46 RBIs through 52 games). The Orioles have also kept close watch on Harvey, currently at Class A Delmarva, who could move quickly through the system.
Left-hander Tim Berry, 23, the 50th-round selection in 2009, has steadily climbed the ranks to prospect status. He is at Double-A Bowie this season with a 3-2 record and a 4.15 ERA.
In the Show
The O's have a strong group of recent draftees in Machado, Wieters and Matusz, and Gausman has been up and down. Bundy, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, could be in the Majors at some point this season.
The Orioles' recent top picks
2013: Harvey, RHP, Class A
2012: Gausman, RHP, Triple-A
2011: Bundy, RHP, rehab
2010: Machado, 3B, Orioles
2019: Matt Hobgood, RHP, Class A
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.