If form holds, the Baltimore Orioles will name a right-hande pitcher when they select ninth in the first round of baseball's amateur draft tomorrow.
Right-handers and outfielders are in ample supply in the 27t draft, and the Orioles have shown a propensity for taking the pitching in recent years.
In every year in which they have had at least one No. 1 pick sinc 1980, the Orioles have gone for a right-hander -- from Joe Kucharski in 1982 to Mike Mussina last June.
The last non-pitcher chosen first by the organization wa outfielder Jeff Williams 11 years ago. Williams never made the big leagues.
"This draft is not as deep in the first round as last year, when w got Mussina as the 20th pick," said Orioles scouting director Gary Nickels.
"But we're at the level where we feel good about who we migh get. In the first round, you have to go for the best player. The stakes are too high."
Especially since the Orioles have no compensation or sandwich picks this year for the loss of free agents. They will not make their second choice until the 53rd player.
"It could happen that we get a right-handed pitcher again," sai Nickels. "I don't know that it will."
Baseball America, the bible of the draft and minor leagues, i projecting the Orioles' pick as left-handed pitcher Shawn Estes of Douglas High School in Minden, Nev.
Estes, 18, is signed to attend Stanford University, so it probabl will take a lot of money to entice him to turn pro. He had 141 strikeouts in 62 innings and an 0.80 ERA this spring.
But even with that profile, Estes takes a back seat to th probable No. 1 choice of the New York Yankees, who have not been in this position since taking Ron Blomberg in 1967.
The consensus is the Yankees will opt for left-hander Brie Taylor of Beaufort, N.C., although so far, they have said only that Taylor is in their final four.
No high school pitcher has been selected first in the draft since the Texas Rangers went for David Clyde 18 years ago. Clyde was rushed to the majors the season he was drafted, then fizzled quickly.
But Taylor, of East Carteret High School, has 172 strikeouts in 7 innings. He allowed 20 hits and walked 22 in that span.
"The feeling is that Taylor will go first, followed by Mike Kelly [Arizona State outfielder]," said Nickels. "But there is depth down to about the 15th pick."
Baseball America editor Allan Simpson said that the top 10 coul change if pitcher Frankie Rodriguez of Howard (Texas) Junior College still is available.
Rodriguez is under the control of the Boston Red Sox until hi team is eliminated from the JuCo World Series. If the Red Sox haven't signed him, he would re-enter the draft and probably be among the top five choices.
The Orioles did well laying groundwork with last year's choices, signing nine of their first 10 and 32 of 45 overall.
"You're always looking for catching, and you like to get speed and left-handed pitching," said Nickels. "But that's usually what there is the least of, and we really won't know, even picking ninth, who will be available until the day of the draft."
Projected top 10
How Baseball America predicts the first 10 picks of the draft:
Team. . . . . Name. . . . . . . . Pos. . . . Home/College
Yankees. . . . Brien Taylor. . . LHP. . . . Beaufort, N.C.
Braves. . . . .Mike Kelly. . . . OF. . . . Arizona St.
Twins. . . . . Mark Smith. . . . OF. . . . USC
Cardinals. . . Joey Hamilton. . . RHP. . . . Ga. Southern
Brewers. . . . John Burke. . . . RHP. . . . U. of Fla.
Astros. . . . .Ken Henderson. . . RHP. . . . Ringgold, Ga.
Royals. . . . Al Shirley. . . . OF. . . . Danville, Va.
Padres. . . . Dmitri Young. . . .3B/. . . . Oxnard, Calif.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .OF
Orioles. . . . Shawn Estes. . . . LHP. . . . Minden, Nev.
Phillies. . . Tyler Green. . . . RHP. . . . Wichita St.
Orioles' first-round picks
Yr Name. . . . . . . Pos. . . . Outcome
80 Jeff Williams. . OF. . . . Never made Orioles
81 No first-round pick
82 Joe Kucharski. . RHP. . . . Never made Orioles
83 Wayne Wilson. . . RHP. . . . Never made Orioles
84 John Hoover. . . .RHP. . . . Never made Orioles
85 No first-round pick
86 No first-round pick
87 Chris Myers. . .. LHP. . . . At Rochester
87 Brad DuVall. . . RHP. . . . Did not sign with Orioles
87 Pete Harnisch. . .RHP. . . . Made Orioles, traded to Houston
88 Gregg Olson. . . .RHP. . . . With Orioles
89 Ben McDonald. . . RHP. . . . With Orioles
90 Mike Mussina. . . RHP. . . . At Rochester