The Orioles selected LHP college pitcher Brian Matusz with their 4th overall pick in the 2008 Amateur Draft today.
It's a move that some view as risky, since the top 10 players in this draft were mostly comprised of power hitting prospects, and most of them first basemen, which the Orioles have been in desperate need of since Rafael Palmeiro left after 1998.
Justin Smoak was the coveted player by fans, especially when he was still available when the Orioles were on the board, but the O's played it safe by selecting Matusz, who can be added to the already trench-deep stock of young arms in the minor leagues.
What the Matusz drafting could possibly signify is that the Orioles do intend on making a serious run after free agent 1B Mark Teixeira. Teixeira is a Baltimore native and on several occasions has publicly said that playing for the Orioles would be a dream come true. Just so long as he's paid handsomely for it.
But while O's Draft Guru Joe Jordan said that potential free agent signings should never play a part in draft strategy, it's hard to ignore the writing on the wall here, especially when the O's have had a black hole at 1B for the last 10 years and had a great chance to fill it today by drafting Smoak.
Matusz, while a highly-touted college pitcher, doesn't have a great fastball and it's been said that he "pitches backwards", meaning he relies on breaking balls and offspeed pitches early in the count and uses his fastball as an out pitch.
But as with all drafts, fans only tend to focus on the few people saying a player will be a bust, ignoring the scores of others who say the player will be fine.
The Orioles still have several rounds of draft left to fill in the numerous positional holes they have throughout the minors, but it was definitely a risky move selecting Matusz with the 4th overall pick.
Remember, Adam Loewen was a LHP who the O's selected in with the 4th overall pick in 2002 and has only pitched 161 career innings. Prince Fielder was taken 4 spots later.
Hopefully Brian Matusz will work out better. Because Smoak was there's for the taking.