Rajsich on his first Draft w/ the Orioles, the new CBA & helping the big league club
Orioles amateur scouting director Gary Rajsich is busy lining up the organization’s Draft board and making adjustments that are expected to continue up through the start of this year’s First-Year Player Draft on Monday. Rajsich –who was hired by executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette over the winter– said Duquette has sat in on meetings and is well aware of what’s going on in the “war room” at the Warehouse, as the Orioles try to restock a depleted farm system.
While most team won’t admit they Draft based on need, Rajsich said it’s definitely taken under consideration and the Orioles are rumored to have their eyes on the best available pitcher with their first pick, which is fourth overall.
“We are focused on [the] best available player, but we are aware of the needs of where we are at with the Major League club,” Rajsich said of his Draft philosophy. “We are approaching this for the short and long term.”
Speaking of short, Rajsich –who spent the last nine years on the pro scouting side of things — had to play catch-up this offseason and said he relied heavily on a team of about 25 scouts (some who shift to pro in the summer) to bring him up to speed.
“I’m settling into this,” Rajsich said of his new position and organization. “When I started in December, I didn’t know the players that were out there for this year’s Draft, I didn’t know my staff, we’ve come a long way in this process the last five months. We’ve had good decisions made and I feel like we are prepared for this.
“It’s going to be painful to watch 60 players to go off the board,” Rajsich said of the long wait between the club’s first two selections. “But we feel confident we will get a player with our second pick that can help us.
Dan [Duquette] has a reputation for building organizations and it’s no different here. It’s really exciting to be a part of it, actually.”
The Orioles will conduct their Draft in the Warehouse at Camden Yards, with special assistant Brady Anderson serving as the club’s Draft representative in New York. Live coverage of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft begins with a one-hour preview show on Monday, at 6 p.m. ET on MLB.com and MLB Network, followed by the first round and supplemental compensation round. MLB.com will provide exclusive coverage of Day 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players.
So, how important is it for the Orioles –who have two of baseball’s top prospects in Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy — to add some depth?
“That’s the only emphasis,” Rajsich said. “You build your organization through your draft, I know there are other ways in international scouting…but that’s our sole focus is to add value to the organization through the draft.
“We feel like we are going to get a good player [with the fourth pick],” he added. “There’s very few elite picks at the top and throughout the rest of the first round. I think you have a chance 6-31 to get pretty much the same player, you can do as well at the top of this round as you can at the bottom.”
How does the new Collective Bargaining Agreement change this year’s Draft?
Each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club’s selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team’s selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
The Orioles bonus pool is $6,826,900 for their first 10 picks, since they don’t have any supplemental selections this year, which puts them at 11th among 30 clubs. In other words, they have an average of $682,690 in bonus money to allot to each pick.
Any team going up to five percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
Do the new rules change how the Orioles, and pretty much every team, approaches the draft? Yes.
“It does, it places more importance on signability we have to know — especially in first 10 rounds — if players we select are going to sign and fit into our bonus system,” Rajsich said. “So, we’ve been talking to agents and things like that, we rely on our scouts to do those things.”