Here are 10 Draft picks who will be quick to the bigs

July 19th, 2022

In most years, the quickest draftee to reach the big leagues arrives via the mound. A pitcher beat a hitter to the Majors in 17 of the previous 21 Drafts, though Austin Hays (2016), Nico Hoerner (2018) and Andrew Vaughn (2019) are recent exceptions,

Garrett Crochet (2020) became the first draftee since Mike Leake (2009) to go straight to the big leagues, and the first to appear in the Majors in the year he was picked since Brandon Finnegan (2014) pitched in the College World Series and World Series four months apart. Chase Silseth (2021) went from the 11th round to the Angels rotation in just 10 months.

But in a 2022 Draft beset by injuries to many of the best pitching prospects, a position player stands a better than usual chance of getting to the Majors first. In our annual look on the potential fastest movers, half of our 10 candidates are hitters. As usual, we've listed them alphabetically and most of them are collegians.

Where's Kumar Rocker, the former Vanderbilt star whom the Rangers drafted No. 3 overall? Though he did showcase himself with five short starts in the independent Frontier League this spring, he also had shoulder surgery 10 months ago and Texas will be more cautious than aggressive with him.

Jacob Berry, 3B/OF, Marlins (first round, No. 6 overall)
While his position may be in question, and there's some concern that Berry could wind up at first base or DH, his offensive game will get him to Miami in a hurry. He batted .379/.464/.630 with 15 homers in 47 games at Louisiana State and offers the best combination of hitting ability, power and plate discipline in this year's college crop.

Blake Burkhalter, RHP, Braves (supplemental second)
Relievers often jump on the fast track and Burkhalter could do so after finishing second in NCAA Division I with 16 saves while posting a 71/7 K/BB ratio in 46 1/3 innings and helping Auburn reach the College World Series. He has three solid or better pitches in an upper-80s cutter, a 92-95 mph fastball that reached 98 and a low-80s changeup with fade and sink.

Justin Campbell, RHP, Guardians (supplemental first)
A two-way star at Oklahoma State before focusing on pitching this season, Campbell has a 6-foot-7 frame and unusual angle that provide deception. Working with a high-spin fastball that sits at 92 mph and touches 97, not to mention a pair of solid secondary options in his fading changeup and curveball, he ranked seventh in D-I with 141 strikeouts in 101 1/3 innings.

Drew Gilbert, OF, Astros (first, No. 28 overall)
The Astros have a hole in center field and could plug it in the near future with Gilbert, a sparkplug who batted .362/.455/.673 with 11 homers in 58 games at Tennessee. His hair-on-fire style can get the best of him at times, but he's an aggressive hitter with a knack for finding the barrel, plus speed and fine instincts in center.

Cooper Hjerpe, LHP, Cardinals (first, No. 22 overall)
With his low arm slot, Hjerpe creates a ton of deception and a flat approach angle on a 91-95 mph fastball that hitters just can't seem to catch up to. Mixing in a potentially solid slider and changeup, he topped D-I with 161 strikeouts while logging a 2.53 ERA, .180 opponent average and 23 walks in 103 1/3 innings at Oregon State.

Jackson Holliday, SS, Orioles (first, No. 1 overall)
Most high schoolers aren't talented enough to race to big leagues, but Holliday isn't most high schoolers. The son of seven-time All-Star Matt Holliday, he's a five-tool shortstop in the mold of Bobby Witt Jr. -- and a more advanced hitter than Witt was at the same stage. Holliday broke J.T. Realmuto's national high school record for hits in a season with 89 in 41 games at Stillwater (Okla.) HS.

Cade Horton, RHP, Cubs (first, No. 7 overall)
Horton bounced back from missing 2021 following Tommy John surgery and posting a 7.94 ERA during the 2022 regular season to blowing away hitters in five postseason starts and vaulting to the top of the college pitching class. He helped Oklahoma reach the CWS finals while running his fastball up to 98 mph and his wipeout slider up to 90.

Termarr Johnson, 2B, Pirates (first, No. 4 overall)
A second prepster on our list, Johnson is the best pure hitter to come out of the high school ranks in years. The Mays HS (Atlanta) product probably will wind up moving from shortstop to second base and need some time to adjust, but his elite bat-to-ball skills and Robinson Canó upside give him a quick path to Pittsburgh.

Brooks Lee, SS, Twins (first, No. 8 overall)
The most advanced hitter in the college pool, Lee batted .357/.462/.664 with more extra-base hits (41) and walks (46) than strikeouts (28) in 58 games at Cal Poly. He may need time to hone his defense if he moves from shortstop, though his ability to make repeated hard contact from both sides of the plate still should expedite him to Minnesota.

Parker Messick, LHP, Guardians (second)
The Guardians do an excellent job of maximizing the talents of polished college arms, so it shouldn't be a surprise to see two Cleveland picks from that phylum on this list. Messick pounds the zone with four pitches, including a plus changeup with tumble and a low-90s fastball with carry, and he notched 144 strikeouts in 98 2/3 innings at Florida State.