By Contributing Writer: Chuck Boemmel Jr.
The bottom fourth of the Baltimore Orioles 2016 Draft is comprised of players who may not be well-known to Orioles fans; it is understandable since most began their professional journey in the Gulf Coast League (Class-Rookie), if at all. BabyBirdland is here to help fans get to know these players and how they performed in 2016.
Photo: Patrick Cavey
Today, we will take a look at the players selected in rounds 31 through 35 of the 2016 Draft.
Round 31: OF Jake Ring, University of Missouri
Ring played primarily in center field for the Gulf Coast Orioles (he appeared in four games in left field) in 2016. He received a September call-up to the Delmarva Shorebirds (Class-A Low) for their final series of the season. Ring’s slash line in 54 total games was .271/ .354/ .331 with 22 RBI and 26 runs scored. Adding to his resume, Ring showed the ability to steal bases; he stole 15 bases in 18 attempts. Defensively solid, Ring handled 132 chances in the outfield with 119 putouts, 6 assists and 7 errors for a .947 fielding percentage. The highlight of Ring’s 2016 season had to be his 11-game hitting streak from June 30- July 14 where he slashed .405/ .468/ .476 with 7 RBI. Look for Ring to return to Delmarva for the 2017 season.
Round 32: LHP Ryan Mauch, South Hills High School (Ca)
Mauch elected not to sign with the Orioles and instead honored his commitment to Long Beach State. He will not eligible for the MLB Draft again until 2019.
Round 33: OF Markel Jones, Brunswick Community College (NC)
Jones played in 39 games for the Gulf Coast Orioles and slashed .187/ .283/ .246 with six RBI in 134 at-bats. His strike out rate was high (30.6%) with only 18 walks and seven extra base hits. Jones, a switch-hitter, struggled at the plate but did put together three separate four-game hitting streaks in 2016. His outfield play made up for his offensive deficiencies however, as he had a 1.000 fielding percentage in 58 total chances (53 put outs, 5 assists, no errors). I look for Jones to continue his development in Aberdeen (Class-A Short) in 2017.
Round 34: RHP Lucas Brown, Troy University (Ala)
Brown’s 2016 season was literally a tale of two cities. He began the year with the Gulf Coast Orioles and in four games (three starts) he pitched to a 0-1 record with a 2.60 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 17.1 innings pitched. He held GCL batters to a .254 batting average while striking out 15, walking one and hitting one. Brown moved up to Aberdeen in July and did not do as well. In nine innings, all in relief for the Ironbirds, he pitched to an 0-2 record with a 9.00 ERA, 2.22 WHIP and .405 opponent’s batting average. Brown walked five, hit one and struck out three while surrendering 15 hits as well. I see Brown in Aberdeen again in 2017.
Round 35: IF Tanner Kirk, Wichita State University
Kirk was a jack-of-all-trades for the Gulf Coast Orioles. He played second base, third base, left field and right field in 2016 as well as being used for two innings of relief in a game in August. In those two innings he surrendered two hits and struck out three of the seven batters he faced. His slash line was .245/ .299/ .387 with 15 RBI and two home runs in 106 at bats. Kirk had modest success on the base paths stealing three bases in four attempts. Playing multiple positions did not hurt Kirk’s defense as he made only one error in 43 total chances. I would expect Kirk to play in Aberdeen in 2017. His versatility should help him move up the ladder going forward.
Rounds 31-35 gave the Orioles three fielders and a pitcher. Arguably long shots, these players may just blossom into Major Leaguers in the future; only time will tell.
Be sure to check out our previous pieces on those chosen in rounds 1-30, and keep an eye out for the remainder of our recaps on the O's draft picks from rounds 36-40.