The Orioles’ recent drafts played a significant role in their turnaround. A key figure in those selections is leaving the organization.
Brad Ciolek, Baltimore’s director of draft operations, is joining the Washington Nationals as their senior director of amateur scouting, a source with direct knowledge of the agreement confirmed. Ciolek has been with the Orioles for more than a decade and has overseen their past five drafts — each of those under executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias.
A rare holdover from the previous front office, Ciolek served as Baltimore’s interim scouting director for the 2019 draft, in which the Orioles had the No. 1 overall pick. They used it on catcher Adley Rutschman and took infielder Gunnar Henderson with their second-round selection. Those two players ranked first and second among Orioles in FanGraphs’ version of wins above replacement as the club won 101 games and the American League East this season.
The 2019 draft also produced major leaguers Kyle Stowers and Joey Ortiz, with fifth-round pick Darell Hernaiz traded to the Oakland Athletics to acquire left-handed pitcher Cole Irvin. Baltimore’s top two choices in 2020, No. 2 pick Heston Kjerstad and No. 30 pick Jordan Westburg, and 2021 No. 5 pick Colton Cowser all reached the majors in 2023; Ciolek spent those two drafts as Baltimore’s supervisor of domestic scouting operations.
Jackson Holliday, the first overall selection in 2022, ranks unanimously as baseball’s No. 1 overall prospect. That draft was Ciolek’s first in the directing role. Of the top 30 prospects in the Orioles’ top-ranked farm system, 20 were products of Ciolek’s drafts, based on Baseball America’s rankings.
After the initial turnover surrounding Elias’ November 2018 hiring, the Orioles have enjoyed relative consistency across the top of their baseball operations department. Assistant general manager of analytics Sig Mejdal and director of senior director of international scouting Koby Perez were among Elias’ first hires after he joined Baltimore. Ciolek, director of pro scouting Mike Snyder, director of minor league operations Kent Qualls and director of baseball systems Di Zou were already in the organization at that time. Director of player development Matt Blood and assistant general manager of baseball operations Eve Rosenbaum were brought in ahead of the 2020 season.
Brendan Fournie, hired as Baltimore’s director of baseball strategy in late 2021, is the only member of the baseball operations department with a director or assistant general manager title who was hired within the past three years. That could change if the Orioles make an external addition to replace Ciolek.
The Athletic first reported Ciolek was joining the Nationals. 106.7 The Fan first reported his position with Washington.