-- Orioles new scouting director Gary Rajsich said his goals heading into his first draft were simple: Get a couple top pitchers and then assemble a strong mix of players with differing skills.
"I think we got some players we really liked. We got a good mix of college players, high school players and (junior college) guys," Rajsich said. "We got guys with upside, some young guys, good athletic ability. Overall, it's a good mix."
Now it's a matter of signing them — which Rajsich is hopeful he can make happen with many of the draftees well before the July 13 deadline. He said he expected to have financial permission to start the process on Thursday. On Monday, the Orioles will begin administering pre-signing physicals and he hopes several of the higher picks will be involved.
One that won't be is top pick Kevin Gausman. The right-hander's LSU Tigers are in the NCAA Super Regionals this weekend with hopes of going to the College World Series. Gausman won't begin negotiations until after his season is completed.
Echoing executive vice president Dan Duquette's statement Wednesday, Rajsich said he also is resigned that 20th round pick Ryan Ripken, the son of Cal Ripken Jr., is going to the University of South Carolina. But Rajsich said he liked the Gilman product and felt it was important to draft him, even though he knew he wanted to play college ball.
"We're resigned to it. It's what his parents wish and he really wants to go there. That's fine with us," Rajsich said. "For everything the family meant to this city and this franchise, it was the right thing to do. … He's good, athletic, tall. They don't grow 6-6 lefthanders on trees."
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the Orioles have $6,826,900 to sign their top 10 picks. Rajsich said he didn't employ a philosophy concentrated on maneuvering around the cap — such as selecting a lower-dollar player in the top 10 so that he could use more money of the available pool for other players — as some teams did.
"Some clubs had different strategies, taking cheaper players behind (the bigger-money guys) to stay within bonus pools," Rajsich said. "We wanted the best player at the best price all through the draft and if we had to overpay, we would take that into consideration at that pick. But, for the most part, we stayed within our guidelines."
Rajsich said "best player available" was the organization's focus, with a little emphasis on signability and positioning. Ultimately, the target was clear: Half of the 40 picks were pitchers — and 13 came out of college.
"We wanted to get our target players at the top of the draft. That was really important, and I felt like we did that," Rajsich said. "I really wanted to get two pitchers at the top of the draft that had a chance to make us better in the shorter term, and I think we did that."
With the top two picks, Rajsich selected Gausman (first round, fourth overall) and Branden Kline (second round, 65th pick), a right-hander and Frederick native that closed and started for the University of Virginia in his three-season career.
"He's an athlete," Rajsich said of Kline, who is a Thomas Johnson graduate. "He has good arm strength and we're going to try to develop him as a starter. He's had some control issues in the past and some believe his future is as a reliever, but we don't think so. He'll have to make a few adjustments in his delivery, but it's all going back to him being an athlete. He can do it. We saw him very good."
Rajsich is also excited about the club's third rounder, shortstop Adrian Marin out of a Miami high school. He has a scholarship to the University of Miami, but Rajsich thinks he wants to sign and play pro ball now.
"He's got a live body, an athletic, five-tool player. He has a chance to be very exciting," Rajsich said. "He has a very good chance to stay in the middle of the field."
Saturday's starter still TBA
Orioles manager Buck Showalter has not named a starter for Saturday, though he did say his options include reliever Dana Eveland and Triple-A Norfolk starter Tommy Hunter.
Hunter was supposed to pitch for the Tides on Thursday but was scratched, leading to speculation that he would definitely be starting for the Orioles on Saturday.
But Showalter shot that down — sort of — saying that Hunter is simply one possibility.
"We've done things to keep all of our options open. I think the next two days we'll see how we come out of the bullpen," Showalter said. "We have some good options out of there if we want to go that direction on Saturday. But it was only prudent to keep all our options open today with Tommy."
Berken breaks nose
Jason Berken started Thursday's game for the Tides, but had to leave in the sixth inning after breaking his nose while chasing a foul pop-up. The 6-foot, 200-pound Berken collided with 6-foot-6, 240-pound first baseman Joe Mahoney – and Berken got the worst of the collision.
"I don't think we're worried about how Mahoney is," Showalter joked.
Berken was down for a while, but looks like he could pitch again next week.
"It depends on how much his eyes swell up, but right now he is scheduled to start again," Showalter said.
Around the horn
Second baseman Brian Roberts was given a routine day off Thursday with Triple-A Norfolk. He is expected to play for the Tides through June 11 and then could return to the Orioles. … The Orioles purchased the contract of 31-year-old left-handed reliever Rich Rundles from the Lancaster Barnstormers of the independent Atlantic League and will assign him to Norfolk. He was originally drafted in the third round in 1999 by the Boston Red Sox and Duquette. Rundles pitched in nine big-league games in 2008 and 2009 for the Cleveland Indians. This year he was 2-1 with a 3.02 ERA in eight starts with the Barnstormers. … The Orioles have won seven straight extra-inning games, including three against the Red Sox. That's the longest such streak this year for any team.