Growing up in Texas, Brandon Young dreamed of pitching at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros. So, when they were the first team to call with a contract offer after the Louisiana-Lafayette right-hander went unselected in the shortened 2020 Major League Baseball draft, Young reminded himself he had calls with other clubs scheduled that Sunday.

As part of a process he equated to “a college recruitment in one day,” Young’s decision came down to three teams, with the Astros at times a front-runner. But reaching Minute Maid Park required reaching the majors, and no organization did a better job of convincing Young it could help him do that than the Orioles.

“They made it seem like they wanted me,” Young said, “and made it seem like they knew what to do to help me improve.”

Young is one of seven players still in the Orioles’ organization after signing as undrafted free agents following the 2020 draft, which was truncated from 40 rounds to five amid the coronavirus pandemic. That allowed players like Young, who likely would have been picked within the top 10 rounds of a normal draft, to instead field offers from any major league franchise.

The players, who all had the option of returning to school for another season in hopes of being picked in a normal draft, could sign for no more than $20,000, far beneath the typical six-figure bonus slots afforded to draftees of their talent levels. But through Zoom presentations and phone calls focused on the development they could offer, the Orioles made that amount seem more than worthwhile for the chance to chase their dreams in their top-ranked farm system.

“I really just wanted a shot, an opportunity,” right-hander Ryan Watson said. “I wasn’t a very talked-about, highly touted player. I had a solid college career, but I wasn’t the face of college baseball or anything like some of my teammates were. I just really wanted an opportunity to get into pro ball and show what I can really do, and the Orioles blessed me with that opportunity, so I’m trying to take full advantage of it.”

‘That was a grind’

Young, who Baseball America ranked as Baltimore’s No. 32 prospect entering the 2022 season, was not alone in comparing the post-draft experience with what he went through as a high schooler trying to pick a college team. It provided a familiarity to the process, though it didn’t necessarily …read more

Source:: The Mercury News


How the Orioles planned to scout, recruit and develop players left out of 2020′s shortened draft: ‘We just showed them who we are’

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