O's get second chance with Draft pick Klein
Selection from 2007 nabbed in third round by Baltimore in '10
BALTIMORE -- It's not often that life gives you a second chance, but Orioles director of scouting Joe Jordan got just that in the third round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
In the 2007 Draft, he liked what he saw from a young high school pitcher out of California. Daniel Klein was coming off a stellar senior season at Servite High School. In 56 2/3 innings over 11 starts, he posted a 2.59 ERA and a K:BB ratio of 84:10. He also managed to face 266 batters without giving up a home run.
So despite his commitment to UCLA, Klein heard his name called in the 24th round of the Draft. Jordan used the 729th overall pick to nab the projected starting pitcher, but Klein wound up being their third-highest drafted player to go unsigned.
"At that time, the money was pretty significant, and we didn't get it done," Jordan said. "We followed him all summer and just didn't come up with the money."
Klein got off to an unusual start in his freshman year at UCLA, picking up both his first win and his first loss on the first day of the season, a doubleheader against Oklahoma. He proved to be much more effective as a reliever than a starter, notching a 1.82 ERA out of the bullpen compared to a 7.64 mark in two starts.
He missed more than two months of that season with shoulder soreness and wound up redshirting his sophomore season to have surgery. When he returned to the Bruins in 2010, he quickly became one of the most dominant closers in college baseball. He posted nine saves, a 5-0 record and a 2.03 ERA in 35 appearances and was right back on Jordan's radar.
"We had him evaluated in high school exactly where we have him now as far as what we feel like he's going to be," said Jordan. "His stuff got better, everything improved like we hoped it would when we took him in high school and tried to sign him."
That stuff includes four pitches that Klein regularly throws for strikes. His fastball averages 91 mph and has good sink. He has an 82- to 85-mph slider with late bite and a 77- to 78-mph curveball. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound righty rounds out his repertoire with a low-80s changeup that has splitter-type movement on it.
That impressive arsenal leads Jordan to maintain his opinion that Klein still projects as a starting pitcher, despite his success as a closer at UCLA.
"We don't see him particularly as a guy that's gonna be a closer," Jordan said. "We like him as a starter. He's 6-4, he's got size, just a durable-type body."
Jordan didn't expect to get another shot at drafting Klein, but was quick to pounce on the opportunity.
"We had him on our board in really good shape and just didn't expect him to be there," Jordan said. "It's one of those things that happens every year. Hopefully we're closer to right than maybe the industry."
Noah Rosenstein is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.