Orioles lose Yaughn, R. Lewis, feel like winners

November 18, 1992|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- The Orioles came away from the National League expansion draft unscathed for the 1993 season, losing two untested pitchers.

General manager Roland Hemond said he was pleased with the outcome and that the light damage did not indicate the Orioles' talent wasn't worth plundering.

The Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins passed over unprotected Orioles veterans, such as first basemen Glenn Davis and Randy Milligan, second basemen Bill Ripken and Mark McLemore and pitchers Bob Milacki and Mark Williamson, in favor of a pair of young right-handers: Kip Yaughn and Richie Lewis.

"I'm not embarrassed by it by any means," Hemond said of the fact that no Orioles were taken until late in the first and second rounds. "Those other teams who lost players late [the Philadelphia Phillies and Seattle Mariners] didn't win 89 games last year.

"On our parent club, we have a good nucleus of young players -- and I would say that our protected list was probably one of the youngest in baseball."

Yaughn, 7-8 with a 3.48 ERA with the Double-A Hagerstown Suns, was the first player lost by the Orioles, the 24th player selected overall. Lewis, 1-1 in two appearances with the Orioles and 10-9 with a 3.28 ERA with the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings, was the 26th player taken in the second round, 51st overall.

Both were selected by the Marlins. Lewis, who played at Florida State, was the eighth straight right-handed pitcher, and 10th in 13 second-round picks, chosen by the Marlins.

"Overall, I'm pleased with what transpired," said Hemond, "because we were able to come away without damage to our 1993 club.

"Yaughn is a a good prospect, but he would have been a long shot to make our team in spring training," said Hemond. "Lewis had a fine year at Rochester and would've had an outside chance, but at this point he didn't figure strongly in our plans [for next year]."

Hemond was asked whether the fact that Orioles players were taken late in the rounds was a reflection on the minor-league system.

"Not at all," he said. "We had the fewest number of players eligible [75], which I think is an indication that we sign [prospects] young and don't deal with a lot of veteran players just to balance the system."

After the first round, the Orioles and other American League teams were allowed to add four players to their protected list while National League teams pulled back three apiece. When Yaughn was lost, the Orioles quickly submitted their additional names. It is believed those four came from among pitchers John O'Donoghue and Jim Poole, catcher Jeff Tackett and outfielders Chito Martinez and Damon Buford.

"It was a combination [of major- and minor-league players]," was all that Hemond would say about the additions, though he did confirm that Davis was left unprotected for all three rounds.

The Orioles went into the draft expecting to lose either Yaughn or O'Donoghue in the first round. O'Donoghue, a 6-foot-6 left-hander who has moved rapidly through the organization in three years, impressed manager Johnny Oates, who saw him in the Arizona Fall League.

"I'm tickled to death that he wasn't picked," said Oates, "because I think he can be a good major-league pitcher."

Of the minor-league pitchers in the organization, O'Donoghue is considered the closest to the big leagues and could be a candidate for the staff next year. Yaughn, however, graded higher overall as a prospect, so the Orioles were hardly surprised when his name was finally called.

"I know [Florida scout] Ken Kravec saw him pitch a real good game this summer," said Hemond. "I was there, and I knew when he [Kravec] left that he had to be impressed."

Yaughn had trouble with a bone spur in his elbow and missed the last month of the season, except for one brief appearance. He then went to the instructional league for two weeks, a move that was a calculated gamble for the Orioles.

"It was a two-edged sword," Yaughn said after being notified of his selection by the Marlins. "The Orioles needed to know [whether he was healthy], and I needed to pitch. But it gave other teams a chance to see me."

Yaughn said he was not taken by surprise.

"I felt I had a chance to go in the first round," he said, "but I anticipated somebody else going and them pulling me back for the second round.

"My goal was to get to the big leagues -- whether it be as an Oriole or a Marlin. I had a lot of good friends with the Orioles, and I never had any reason to not want to be with them.

"But the Orioles are contending for a pennant, and I haven't pitched in the big leagues," said Yaughn. "Breaking camp [with the Orioles] might have been tough for me, but I might have made it later in the year. My chances should be better with the Marlins. I think I have a shot."

Unlike Yaughn, Lewis said he was shocked by the fact he was selected.

Lewis, who was obtained for left-hander Chris Myers from the Montreal Expos two years ago, said he thought he was secure with the Orioles after the first round.

"I'm stunned right now," he said. "My dad just brought me home. I watched the draft all day at my grandmother's house, then I had to come home to eat dinner and had a flat tire on the way.

"I missed the whole second round. I didn't know what happened until my father came to pick me up. I was in between houses when I got drafted. After they [the Orioles] lost Kip, I kind of thought they would protect me for the second round. I'm a little surprised."

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