Orioles perched atop the MLB draft board

BALTIMORE — There is no way around it for O’s general manager Mike Elias. Owning the first overall draft pick comes with pressure. For a team like the rebuilding Baltimore Orioles there may be no more important time than draft time.

“It’s just a big, weighty decision,” said Elias.

By finishing with baseball’s worst record last year, the O’s own the draft’s No. 1 pick. So, who will Baltimore take? There is no decision quite yet.

“The short list that we have, that’s five players long, I feel like we’re going to carry that for the next week up until the draft day,” Elias said last Saturday.

That list, which Elias wouldn’t elaborate on, most likely includes the player many experts are projecting the Orioles to select first: Druw Jones. The outfielder from Wesleyen High School in Georgia is the son of former MLB All-Star Andruw Jones. He has some pop with the bat and is considered an elite defensive centerfielder.

If the Birds want to draft for the infield they could go with another son of a former All-Star. Matt Holliday’s son Jackson is a high school shortstop out of Oklahoma.

If they can hit, Elias is interested.

“I love taking high school hitters,” he said. “We don’t do it left and right, willy nilly. We’ve got some in the mix at the top.”

Arguably the best high school hitter in the draft is Georgia second baseman Termarr Johnson. Also in that high school group is IMG Academy outfielder Elijah Green. He is the son of former Ravens tight end Eric Green.

While we don’t know who that top pick will be, we do know it won’t be a pitcher. This year’s class is not that strong. We also know this won’t be like the last time the O’s selected first overall, when they took Adley Rutschman No. 1 in 2019. That was more of an obvious choice. Nothing is obvious in 2022.

“I don’t think we’re going to get much closer to narrowing things until the day of the draft,” said Elias.

The O’s own five of the top 81 and six of the first 107 selections. They have a total of 22 picks. The draft begins on Sunday at 7:00 p.m.

Follow Shawn Stepner on Twitter @StepnerWMAR and Facebook

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