Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan frustrated with slow progress in signing draft picks

Notebook

Team has signed only one pick in first 10 rounds, eight of top 20 selections

July 27, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

TORONTO — Less than three weeks from the deadline to sign 2010 draft picks, Orioles director of scouting Joe Jordan acknowledged Tuesday that he is frustrated with his inability to secure agreements with more of the team's selections in June's amateur draft.

The Orioles have agreed to terms with 29 of their 49 selections, but only one — fourth-round pick Trent Mummey, an outfielder from Auburn — was chosen in the first 10 rounds. Overall, the Orioles have signed only eight of their top 20 picks.

"It's just been a slow, slow process, and it's that way industrywide for the most part," Jordan said. "I'm out here [scouting in Cape Cod, Mass.] talking to the other directors, and the game is being played. What used to be the [process with the] first-rounder is now the same with the 10th-rounder. It's just been brutal. We just have to get a couple in and build some momentum for the higher guys. I think we're getting close to nailing down a couple of guys and start hopefully working our way up the board."

Jordan acknowledged that he selected some players he knew would be tough to sign, but he said his frustration stems from the picks who he felt would sign quickly but are holding out for more money.

"We took some of these guys with the understanding that we're going to have to wait, and that's fine. But there's been a few that we didn't expect. It's been frustrating, no doubt," Jordan said. "You want to sign all of them, but you can't be reckless. Sometimes that's what they are asking you to do, and I'm not going to do it. At some point in time, you have to be willing to walk away, and we may be getting to that point with a couple of guys. But again, nothing is dead. We may have to just wait it out."

Jordan said the day the Orioles selected Florida high school shortstop Manny Machado with the third overall pick that he expected negotiations to go down to the Aug. 16 deadline, and his feeling on that hasn't changed. Jordan said the club has had "sporadic communication" with Machado and his representative, Scott Boras, but little progress has been made.

"Hopefully, when we get into August, we can start narrowing our direction here, and we'll obviously get more involved with Manny at that point," he said. "That's just the nature of the beast right now. It's not fun for anyone. I wish I had an answer to make it go faster, but picking where we picked and picking the player we selected, it's the way we expected to go at this point."

The Orioles were hoping to have their third-round pick, Dan Klein, a right-handed pitcher from UCLA, in their system not long after the Bruins were beaten in the College World Series. However, that was about three weeks ago, and Jordan acknowledged that "not much" has changed with the negotiations since.

"We're not really all that far away, but the process is what it is," Jordan said. "It's redundant. I keep telling you same thing, but I don't have an answer for it."

One more chance?

While the Orioles haven't committed definitively to Brad Bergesen making his next scheduled start Saturday against the Kansas City Royals, that's the direction they are leaning.

"We need to discuss what we are going to do. Right now, he is," interim manager Juan Samuel said when asked about Bergesen's starting Saturday. "But again, it's something that we really need to discuss and figure out if it's the best thing for him and for our ballclub and if he's going to be the guy we are going to be counting on. That's something we really need to look into."

Bergesen, who is 3-9 with a 6.95 ERA, has lost his past five starts and given up 21 earned runs, 39 hits and nine walks over his past four outings, spanning 22 1/3 innings. In Monday's series opener, he was knocked around by the Blue Jays for a career-high eight earned runs on 10 hits, prompting more questions about whether he should stay in the rotation.

"First things first, he's got to get his sinker back," pitching coach Rick Kranitz said. "That's making it very tough for him. Without that pitch, he's done OK as far as giving us some innings. But that's what he is, a sinkerball pitcher, and he just hasn't been consistent at all. He's just been in and out of his delivery. He hasn't really repeated it much. You'll see a good sinker, and it's about every third or fourth pitch you'll see one. Last year, he pounded it in to the right-handers, and it's just not getting there [this year]. That's not good when you are throwing 88, 89 miles an hour."

Asked about Bergesen's making his next start, Kranitz said: "That's not my decision. We're in Canada. My phone doesn't work. I haven't talked to [president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail] about it. We're going to go tomorrow, and what we're going to do is take a lot more time with the sinker and try to get it back to going to the arm side of the plate. That should be an easy enough pitch for him to throw. We got to get it back. That's very important for him."

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