PITTSBURGH -- When he was hired in November 2004, Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan inherited an improving farm system, and he has spent the past seven months preparing for Tuesday and Wednesday, the two days of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. Jordan was giddy after the Orioles took 19 players, including first-rounder Brandon Snyder, a high school catcher from Virginia, and Garret Olson, a pitcher from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, with the 48th pick. Jordan said his goal Tuesday was to stockpile the system with athletes and college veterans who would sign quickly and be ready to start for Class A Aberdeen later this month.
Snyder gives the Orioles a top catching prospect and a splendid hitter. From his days in the Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins' systems, Jordan was known to covet players who could make an immediate impact on the farm system, regardless of whether from college or high school. So the Orioles took 15 college or junior college players and four prep standouts on the first day. On the second day, the Orioles took 32 players, including 12 high schoolers and 20 collegians. Eighteen of those players taken Wednesday were pitchers. "We got guys at the top of the draft that we wanted," Jordan said. "Snyder is going to be a great addition to the organization. We got some really good arms that go through the Minor League system. We were happy with how things turned out." Because the Orioles did not sign former first-round pick Wade Townsend, they had a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds. They took Olson, who is considered one of the top college lefties in California and was 12-4 with a 2.71 ERA for the Mustangs. "We saw him good many times this spring and he was a guy that was under the radar for us going in," Jordan said. "He's a three-pitch left-hander. His numbers were very good this year as I remember. He's a guy we think that's going to go into the system and we think he's going to move pretty quickly." With the second-round pick, the Orioles selected right fielder Nolan Reimold from Bowling Green State University. He hit .360 with 20 homers and 62 RBIs for the Falcons and was named Mid-American Conference Player of the Year. The 21-year-old Reimold could develop into one of the organization's top power prospects. He is 6-foot-4 and growing into his 205-pound frame. "He is a big, strong athletic kid with a plus arm," Jordan said. "He profiles in right field. He does bring some power to the game. He's got a chance to be an impact type player and he definitely has the physical ability." In the third round, the club took a local product in Baltimore high school pitcher Brandon Erbe, who has committed to the University of Miami. He reached 96 mph on the radar gun.The Orioles selected outfielder Kieron Pope from East Coweta High School in Georgia, who has committed to the University of Georgia. He is considered a five-tool prospect, who already has a Major League-type body. Jordan said he is confident they can sign both players. "That's the Marlins influence, getting good athletes," Jordan said about Erbe and Pope. "Pope's a plus runner. Tremendous power. We feel good about their signability. I feel like we were comfortable with what they told us." Right-handed pitcher Reid Hamblet was the team's fifth-round pick. Hamblet has command of four pitches and was 6-3 with a 2.71 ERA for Biola University, a small NAIA school in southern California. In the sixth round, the O's took right-hander Blake Owen from Belmont University. Owen was fourth in the NCAA in saves and played his first two years at Vanderbilt. "Camden Yards was the last place that I worked out prior to the draft," he said through the school's Web site. "After throwing under the stadium in the cages, I got to tour the B&O Warehouse and the stadium itself. It was pretty cool." Jordan is intrigued by Cal State Fullerton outfielder Robert Andrews, the team's seventh-round pick, who hit .307 this season for the Titans with 13 stolen bases. Jordan said he ranks a seven on a scale of 1 to 8 in speed. In the later rounds, the Orioles went for college pitching, such as local product Chorye Spoone from Catonsville Community College. They nabbed right-hander Ryan Stadanlick (St. Josephs Univ.) in the 10th round and lefty Michael Gallaway from Missouri Valley College in the 11th. Jordan opted for a couple of college teammates in outfielder John Raynor (12th) and right-hander Jeffrey Moore (17th) from North Carolina-Wilmington. Jordan finished the first day by taking Texas high school outfielder Michael Whitney in the 18th round. The Orioles began the second day by taking Lower Columbia College right-hander Dustin Lidyard in the 19th round. Other notable picks were left-hander Arik Hempy, a left-hander from the University of South Carolina in the 31st round. Hempy had a tough season for the Gamecocks, but showed potential in the early season. "He threw the ball very well last fall and early this spring," Jordan said. "But he went down with tendinitis and never really got back on track. We felt like we could wait a month to see how he does and try to sign him." Jordan was also intrigued by 36th-rounder Shawn Ferguson, a right-hander from Texas Christian. "He's a bullpen arm," Jordan said. "He's a guy we want to tie up. We're going to make a run at him as well. We thought it was a pick just to see if we're right. We added some good arms, some guys we think we can sign in the next week." Jordan estimates the club will sign five to seven players they selected on the second day and use another handful as draft-and-follows next year. "We drafted a couple of shortstops at the lower level, added a couple of catchers to the system," he said. "We just try to tie some guys up as draft and follow guys for next year. We want to just try to find the best guys in 12 months that are good players and sign them."
Gary Washburn is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.