Top two '22 picks Holliday or Jones -- who ya got?

December 1st, 2022

The Winter Meetings start Sunday in San Diego and before the Hot Stove heats up, let's delve into your prospect questions ...

Jackson Holliday vs Druw Jones? Who would you take to rebuild your team? -- @logan_clark_1 (Instagram)

I have gone back and forth on this answer several times since first seeing this question. The Orioles and D-backs took Holliday and Jones in that order with the top two picks in the 2022 Draft. MLB Pipeline ranked them as the two best prospects available, albeit with Jones ahead of Holliday.

Jones has a solid bat and raw power, speed, arm strength and center-field skills that all grade as well-above-average. Holliday is a five-tool shortstop who had the best combination of hitting ability and ceiling in the Draft.

If you want comparisons, Jones is reminiscent of his father, Andruw, who made five All-Star teams and won 10 Gold Gloves, and Holliday is similar to Bobby Witt Jr. but with a better bat. Holliday has outstanding baseball family ties, too, as the son of seven-time All-Star Matt.

Jones offers a slightly higher ceiling, while Holliday comes with a higher floor. I'd be thrilled to have either one of them, but I'll use upside as my tiebreaker and go with Jones.

Both Noelvi Marte & Jasson Dominguez struggled greatly in the AFL. However both have VERY high ceilings so I wonder how their struggles in the AFL may affect their prospect rankings? -- @KyleWeatherly6

Reds infielder Marte (.211/.321/.310) and Yankees outfielder Domínguez (.159/.250/.217) struggled more than any Top 100 Prospects in the Arizona Fall League, and the latter posted the lowest OPS in the developmental circuit. They also were two of the younger players in the AFL -- Domínguez at 19, Marte at 21 -- and I wouldn't overreact to their difficulties there.

Marte seemed flummoxed by trying to play third base for the first time in his career, committing six errors in 20 games at the hot corner and letting his glove woes affect his bat. He needs to get more selective but still has some of the best power upside in the Minors. If there's a negative takeway from the Fall League, it's that his future defensive home may be left field or first base.

Domínguez has been more hyped than any international amateur ever -- yes, we've contributed to that -- and he's probably not going to fulfill (who could?) the early Bo Jackson, Mickey Mantle and Mike Trout comparisons. But he's still a teenaged switch-hitter who could have at least solid tools across the board and should become at least a big league regular.

Is Joey Ortiz the real deal? -- @jopo12191

As if the Orioles didn't already have an embarrassment of shortstop riches with Gunnar Henderson (who can make a case for being the very best prospect in baseball) and Holliday (the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 Draft), Ortiz had a breakout season. He batted .284/.349/.477 with 19 homers between Double-A and Triple-A and gives Baltimore another potential everyday shortstop.

Ortiz is the best defensive infielder in the system. A fourth-round pick out of New Mexico State in 2019 -- where he formed a stellar double-play combo with future Pirates first-rounder Nick Gonzales -- he has gone from a contact hitter with questionable thump to a possible 20-homer threat. If he can maintain the offensive strides he made in 2022, he could be the Orioles' shortstop of the future, with Henderson manning third base and Holliday playing second base.

Which prospects that are available for the Rule 5 Draft would you pick for your team? -- @StevieDAles97

Limiting my choices to players with a reasonable chance of sticking on a big league roster, I'll give you one position player and one pitcher: Rays infielder Ronny Simon and Red Sox right-hander Thad Ward. I saw them both perform well in the Arizona Fall League.

Simon led the AFL with 24 RBI in 21 games after batting .260/.303/.479 with 22 homers and 34 steals between High-A and Double-A. Originally signed by the Cubs for $10,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2018, he was traded to the Diamondbacks for Andrew Chafin in 2020 and the Rays for Jordan Luplow in 2021. He might be more utilityman than regular unless he adds some plate discipline, but he's a versatile defender who could have average power and solid speed.

A 2018 fifth-round pick from Central Florida, Ward owns a 2.53 ERA, .218 opponent average and 261 strikeouts in 216 2/3 innings in the Minors. He made a successful comeback from 2021 Tommy John surgery, pitching well in Double-A and in the Fall League. Working with a plus 81-85 mph slider and a 92-96 mph sinker, he could fill a bullpen role in 2023 before sliding into the rotation in future years.

For those of you craving more Rule 5 information, Jonathan Mayo will have a full preview early next week.