Orioles draft 7-foot pitcher, would be tallest ever in MLB

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles aimed high with their 13th-round draft pick.

A full seven feet — and that’s before their new pitching prospect gets on the mound.

The O’s selected 7-foot left-hander Jared Beck from Saint Leo University with the first pick in Round 13 of baseball’s amateur draft Tuesday. If Beck makes it to the majors, he’d pass 6-foot-11 pitchers Sean Hjelle and Jon Rauch as the tallest player in major league history.

Beck struck out 105 batters in 68 1/3 innings for Division II Saint Leo this season, posting a 3.95 ERA. He’s also pitched summer ball for the Savannah Bananas, where he stood out on a minor league club focused more on wacky entertainment than player development.

The O’s see Beck as more than an oddity, citing a fastball they clocked up to 95 mph. Baltimore draft director Brad Ciolek acknowledged Tuesday there’s work to do helping Beck manage his extra-long limbs, and they plan to help him improve his breaking ball and changeup, too.

“Jared’s a really interesting case,” Ciolek said. “Obviously, he’s a little bit of a bigger guy, and that might take a little bit more, I guess, in terms of delivery, refining his mechanics. But we have faith in our player-development staff, our pitching coaches, that they’ll be able to get the most out of his ability.”

There have been at least two minor league baseball players taller than Beck at 7-foot-1. Dutch pitcher Loek Van Mil played 10 seasons in affiliated ball, mostly with Minnesota, and Ryan Doherty pitched parts of three seasons in Arizona’s system before transitioning to professional beach volleyball.

Here are some other selections worth noting from the draft’s third and final day, which covered rounds 11-20:

— RHP Marquis Grissom Jr., Washington: Grissom’s father was a third-round pick by the Montreal Expos in 1988 and played six seasons as an outfielder for the club, which relocated to Washington in 2005. The younger Grissom was a 13th-round selection for the same franchise after going 4-5 with 57 strikeouts in 61 innings as a starting pitcher at Georgia Tech.

— 3B Jackson Jaha, New York Mets: Jaha, a 15th-round pick, is the son of former big league slugger John, who played 10 seasons with Milwaukee and Oakland. Jackson is a high school player out of Clackamas High School in Oregon and is committed to the University of Oregon.

— RHP Caden Dana and OF Casey Dana, Los Angeles Angels: LA picked Caden, a high school pitcher, in the 11th round, then selected his brother Casey, an outfielder from UConn, in the 16th round. Caden is committed to Kentucky for college and might require a hefty signing bonus. Finding a job for his brother, a fifth-year senior with the Huskies, might help with those negotiations.

— RHP Jared Karros, Los Angeles Dodgers: Eric Karros played 12 seasons in Dodger Blue, winning Rookie of the Year in 1992 as a first baseman. Jared went to UCLA just like his dad, where he had a 3.33 ERA for the Bruins, good enough for the Dodgers to take him in the 16th round.

— RHP/LHP Jurrangelo Cijntje, Milwaukee: Cinjtje is a pro pitching prospect with both arms, reaching 96 mph from the right side and 92 mph from the left. The Florida high school player lasted until the 18th round and might honor his college commitment to Mississippi State. If he decides to sign, he could follow Pat Venditte’s path as an ambidextrous big league hurler.

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