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November 17, 2008

Former O's first-rounder shelved again

Looks like all you have to do is get drafted high by the Orioles to end up with major arm trouble.

Wade Townsend, who was the Orioles’ first round pick in the 2004 draft (eighth overall) but didn’t sign and ended up with the Tampa Bay Rays organization, is likely going to miss all of 2009 after recent shoulder surgery. That’s according to this story.

Townsend, 25, has had a rough go of it as a professional. He missed all of 2006 after Tommy John surgery and was shut down in 2007 also due to arm soreness.

The former can’t-miss pitcher out of Rice University was 7-20 with a 5.48 minor-league ERA in 208 2/3 innings spread over three seasons – none above Double-A.

Orioles fans surely remember the whole Townsend brouhaha. In 2004, the club was set to take high school shortstop Chris Nelson, when owner Peter Angelos intervened. He didn’t want another shortstop after signing Miguel Tejada to a six-year deal, instead insisting the Orioles improve their woeful pitching.

So then-scouting director Tony DeMacio, in his last draft with the club, took Townsend, a logical choice given his numbers in college. The Orioles couldn’t sign the big right-hander, though, so he went back to school and was drafted the next year in the exact same spot by the Rays.

He signed for $1.5 million, $350,000 less than what the Orioles had offered, but said at the time, “I’d much rather be with an organization that likes me as a player.”

The Orioles took their compensation pick the next year and drafted Garrett Olson, who has had his ups and downs with the Orioles.

Incidentally, Nelson has struggled some as a pro in the Colorado Rockies’ organization -- .267 average and .335 on-base percentage in five minor-league seasons, the last at Double-A – but he is still only 23.

I’ll let you make your own conclusions on which organization got the better of that mess in 2004. But I know a lot of you like to hear updates on Townsend.

-- Dan Connolly

Posted by Ron Fritz at 2:36 PM | | Comments (24)


I remember on that draft day thinking: Man, he looks like a meat-head!

Here's a Sun photo-link:

The fact that he subsequently acted like a meat-head is no surprise. Perhaps our scouts should take this into consideration when viewing other prospects.

I believe you are mistaken. The O's were going to select JD Drew's lil brother who plays SS for AZ. We could have used him about now, huh??

So we should start avoiding draft prospects who look like meatheads? Well, "Moneyball" cautioned against drafting guys who "look like" major leaguers -- Larry Bigbie comes to mind -- so maybe your idea has merit.

Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy!

Just desserts, baby!

Jered Weaver or Stephen Drew would have been nice.

It's not a new comment, but you only have to look at the Orioles' dismal drafting record and the lack of success to understand why the team is perpetually mediocre.

I have never in my life seen such a string of choices that get arm troubles, You would think that they choose players out of some hospital league or something,

Geez Stanhouse! He was a college kid. How many of them have their head screwed on right? Kid might have got some bad advice. A meat-head? Man that's brutal!

I think you mean "blowsy flowered shirts."

Pete's reply: Is that true? Never crossed my mind that might be wrong. I'll check it out and change it when I get home. I seek perfection, as you know.

Just being drafted by the O's means arm woes.

It still amazes me how many superstars have been drafted over the years in spots right near where the O's select and most of our guys from those same drafts are still toiling below double A.

I hope he invested the entire $1.5M in AIG stock.

Is Pete coming back any month soon? lol. People are losing their jobs by the thousands and this dude takes a sabbatical. ha! G-d bless him! =)


Pete's reply: In just a couple of days, The Schmuck will stop here again.

My memory, and Baseball America, tell me that it was indeed Chris Nelson that DeMacio wanted.

My wish would to have been to land Stephen Drew.

He is just like all the other "Blue Chip" pitchers we drafted in the first round. Can Ozzie Newsome change sports and draft baseball players?

Speaking of the draft, Dan or Pete, would you look at the drafts starting 5 years ago and going back 10 years (sorry I'm a data geek) and report how many players from the first four rounds actually made it to the bigs, break it down by position - do certain positions suceed more than others - and then highlight some of the major busts and finally redo the drafts based on the real world ability of the players using 20-20 hindsight. Also success of college players versus high school players and which teams did the best and worst in their player selection. Oh, and don't stop blogging while you are doing this.

This will show how much of a crap shot the player draft is.

Hey Pete:

What would it take to bring Brad Penny to the Orioles. Would management be interested. When healthy he is an excellent pitcher and would be a good #2 on the staff.

Is the eye surgery that Buress had anything like the surgery that Greg Maddox had a few years ago.

Also, whatever happen to another "can't miss prospect" Darnell McDonald?

What's far more disconcerting than whether or not either Townsend or Nelson make it in the Bigs is that Angelos - as always - made the baseball decision instead of his baseball people.

It's said that he has learned his lesson and no longer does such things, but I don't buy it for a minute.

Rusty - There's a draft tool on Here's a link to the Orioles history of 1st Round picks:

-40 years (I'm not counting 05-08)
-Three great picks (Markakis, Roberts, Mussina
-Two good picks (Dauer, Grich)
-A few borderline picks (Olson, Harnisch)

hey b. how about surhoff? call him a borderline pick?

KC getting Crisp might mean Mark Teahen is on the trading block and if he is, the O's should go hard after him. I am a baseball junkie (love the MLB package) and have seen Teahen play (natural position is 3B and really good with the glove) so you have a guy that can platoon with Luke or Lou in the OF plus you have your every day 3B for 2010. Pete, any chance the O's would trade D Cab to the Royals who collect pitchers like the O's do has been FAs? The potential for Daniel will always blind a lot of teams.

Pete, do you think the O's will be players in the FA market? I don't see Andy as the kind of guy who would talk to the agents of Tex and AJ just to appease the fans. I am not saying they wont get outbid, but if Andy really thought he had no chance in the world, I don't think he would waste his time.

When you were in Russia (did you wink at Mrs. Palin when you were there?), people were going nuts that the O's would be interested in adding to their BP, but to me, we have seen year after year, the arms fall off these guys so even if on paper, we are deep that doesn't mean that injuries, performance, etc., wont creep in. I am all for grabbing as many arms as possible because the weak link for the O's are the arms and like the man says, "you can't have enough arms in baseball"

Gee, I turned seventy this year! THANK YOU MR. ANGELOS FOR THE LAST DECADE OF MEDIOCRE ORIOLE TEAMS! If I had been the O's owner, we would have had at least 2 World Series appearances! You can't get to the World Series without spending money on quality players!

Currently, I hope to live long enough to see competitive O's teams again!

releaseburress -

Surhoff was a 1st round pick out of UNC by the Brewers. And no I would not consider the guy a borderline pick!

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About Peter Schmuck
Peter Schmuck wants you to know that, contrary to popular belief, he is more than just a bon vivant, raconteur and collector of blousy flowered shirts. He is a semi-respected journalist who has covered virtually every sport -- except luge, of course – and tackled issues that transcend the mere games people play. If that isn’t enough to qualify him to provide witty, wide-ranging commentary on the sports world ... and the rest of the world, for that matter ... he is an avid reader of history, biography and the classics, as well as a charming blowhard who pops off on both sports and politics on WBAL Radio. That means you can expect a little of everything in The Schmuck Stops Here, but the major focus will be keeping you up to the minute on Baltimore’s major sports teams and themes, whether it’s throwing up the Orioles lineup the minute it’s announced or updating you on the latest sprained ankle in Owings Mills. Oh, and by the way, that’s Mr. Schmuck to you.

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