Billy Rowell: the end of one of Orioles' worst draft picks

Billy Rowell: the end of one of Orioles' worst draft picks
October 26, 2012, 3:30 pm
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The Orioles are about to cut ties with Billy Rowell, their 2006 first-round draft pick.  Rowell is one of but a number of Orioles’ top picks  never to make the majors.

Rowell was a high school third baseman from New Jersey who signed for a reported $2.1 million in 2006. There are two big reminders of Rowell during this year’s World Series.

Not only was the Giants’ Tim Lincecum taken immediately after Rowell, but right after Lincecum, the Arizona Diamondbacks took Max Scherzer with the 11th pick. Scherzer, who was traded to the Tigers, is scheduled to start Sunday’s Game 4.

Rowell’s professional career began well. In 2006, he batted .329 in 42 games with Bluefield and .326 in 11 games at Aberdeen.

At Delmarva, Rowell showed little power and a penchant for striking out, but batted .273.

In 2008, Rowell began the first of three seasons at Frederick. Two years ago, he batted. 275 with 11 homers, 61 RBIs but 153 strikeouts.

He reached Double-A in 2011, but hit only .227 in 41 games at Bowie without a home run and only two doubles.

The Orioles toyed with converting him to a pitcher this year, but after a 50-game suspension for a positive marijuana test, his time in the organization had ended.

Since Rowell, the Orioles have done better, drafting Matt Wieters, Brian Matusz, Manny Machado, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.

Here are five of the worst Orioles No 1. draft picks:

1) Chris Smith

Smith was the seventh pick in the 2001 draft, 31 picks ahead of David Wright.

A compact left-handed pitcher, Smith won two games in the Orioles’ system, one for Aberdeen in 2004 and the second with Delmarva a year later.

He never pitched above Delmarva and finished his professional career with the Long Island Ducks of the Independent League in 2005.

2) Alvie Shepherd

In 1995, the Orioles drafted this 6-foot-7 right-hander with the 21st pick. He won six games for Frederick in 1996 and 10 games at Bowie the next year.

He won only one more game in Baltimore’s system, in 1999 at entry-level Bluefield, just before his career ended.

3) Rick  Elder

In 1998, the 6-foot-6, 250 lbs. outfielder was the 26th pick by the Orioles. He got off to a fast start, batting .340 for Baltimore’s Gulf Coast team. He followed it up with a .329 average at Bluefield the next year.

In 2001, he showed some power, batting .251 with 16 home runs and 64 RBIs, but that’s as far as he got in the Orioles’ organization.

He played until 2006 in independent ball.

4) Mike Paradis

Due to compensation for lost free agents, the Orioles had four first-round choices in 1999. Paradis was the highest, picked 13th.

The Clemson right-hander was totally ineffective as a professional, with a 29-47 record and 5.24 ERA.

He was nearly declared a permanent resident of Prince Georges County in Maryland after spending three seasons at Bowie where he went 21-36.

Paradis tried his hand as a reliever at Ottawa in 2004, but allowed 22 runs in 15 1/3 innings.

5) Richard Stahl

Stahl was taken five picks after Paradis, but wasn’t any better. The 6-foot-7 left-hander never got higher than Bowie with the Orioles.

His last year was an abomination. He was 1-10 with a 6.50 ERA in six games.

The two other players taken behind Paradis and Stahl, Larry Bigbie and Keith Reed, did play for the Orioles. Reed appeared in just six games in 2005.


While the Orioles have done much better with their top picks recently, there is a notable exception. Matt Hobgood was the Orioles’ first-round pick in 2009.

His professional career has gotten off to a rotten start. In his first three years, Hobgood, the fifth overall pick in 2009, was 4-15 with a 5.48 ERA at Bluefield, Delmarva, Gulf Coast and Aberdeen. He missed last season after shoulder surgery.

Hobgood was selected ahead of Atlanta’s Mike Minor, Cincinnati’s Mike Leake, Washington’s Drew Storen and Kansas City’s Aaron Crow, all of who have been effective in the majors.

In 2009, the Orioles were one of many teams to pass on Mike Trout, who fell to the 25th pick.