By Contributing Writer: Chuck Boemmel Jr.
During the 40 rounds of the 2016 MLB Draft 41 players heard their names called by the Baltimore Orioles. That moment represents the fulfillment of a life-long dream for these players. As the 2017 season approaches some of those names are well known to Orioles’ fans and some are not.
|OF Cole Billingsley|
Photo: Patrick Cavey
BabyBirdland’s mission is to shine a light on all of the names and how those players performed in 2016. Today, we will take a look at the players selected in rounds 16-20 of the 2016 Draft.
Round 16: LHP Willie Rios, Florida South Western State College
Rios started seven games in the Gulf Coast League (Class-Rookie) for the Orioles and would probably prefer to forget those starts. In a span of just 12.1 innings his record was 0-5 with a 12.41 ERA and 2.35 WHIP. He surrendered 18 hits, three home runs and 11 walks while hitting five batters; he did strike out 11 hitters however. As one might expect, GCL batters had a .353 average against Rios. Rios features four pitches with a fastball in the low 90 mph range and a hard slider; his change-up and curve are not as far along as his other two pitches. Projected as a reliever, I am sure Rios is ready to reboot and pitch to better results in 2017 where I expect to see him in Aberdeen (Class-A Short).
Round 17: LHP Tyler Blohm, Archbishop Spalding High School (MD)
Blohm, who had a commitment to the University of Maryland, chose not to sign with the Orioles in order to both further his education and raise his draft stock. He will not eligible for the MLB Draft again until 2019. The Orioles have been known to draft a player they like more than once as the next player drafted shows.
Round 18: LHP Layne Bruner, Washington State University
Bruner, previously drafted in 2013 out of high school by Baltimore, was assigned to the Gulf Coast Orioles. In 45.1 innings over 13 appearances he pitched to a record of 1-4 with a 2.38 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. Bruner made 10 starts and held opponents to a .240 batting average while striking out 47 and walking 19. Despite allowing almost eight hits per nine innings pitched and walking about four batters per nine innings pitched, Bruner stranded 76.2% of those batters who reached base off of him. I see Bruner taking the mound for the Delmarva Shorebirds (Class-A Low) at some point in 2017.
Round 19: OF Cole Billingsley, University of South Alabama
Billingsley slashed .286/ .353/ .375 with 15 RBI in 192 at bats for the Aberdeen Ironbirds in 2016. He showed promise on the base paths as well with 14 steals in 15 attempts and 25 runs scored. Billingsley’s defense was outstanding; he handled 95 total chances with 90 putouts, five assists, three double plays and no errors for a 1.000 fielding percentage. Remarkably, he achieved these numbers two years removed from Tommy John surgery. With a little offensive improvement Billingsley could be projected as more than a fourth outfielder. I see the road to that improvement for him at Delmarva in 2017.
Round 20: LHP Yelin Rodriguez, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy
Just 17 years old in 2016 (he turned 18 in November) Rodriguez struggled a bit with the move to the States and to professional baseball as would be expected for any teenager. In 10 games (six starts) for the Gulf Coast Orioles he pitched to a record of 0-3 with a 4.18 ERA and 1.54 WHIP in 28.0 innings of work. He struck out 27 and walked 18 while yielding an opponent’s batting average of .253. Rodriguez also played for Mayaguez of the Caribbean League this winter where he had no record and an ERA of 6.75 in 2.2 innings pitched. Despite these numbers, I expect Rodriguez to pitch in Aberdeen in 2017.
Rounds 16-20 produced four left-handed pitchers and a solid outfielder. Even though one of the pitchers chose not to sign there may be a reunion with him in the future. The growth of these draft picks should be fun to watch.
Be sure to check out our previous pieces on those chosen in rounds 1-15, and keep an eye out for the remainder of our recaps on the O's draft picks from rounds 21-40.