Inbox: Looking at the top of the '22 Draft

May 20th, 2022

We'll have some rankings updates for you early next week. We'll make our first in-season adjustments to the Top 100 Prospects (beyond our typical replacing of graduates by adding new names at the bottom of the list) and we'll also expand our Draft rankings to a Top 200 with a lot of shuffling going on among the holdovers.

While you ponder that, I'll ponder your questions ...

First time, long time.

What is the likelihood any of the big four HS bats (Jones, Green, Johnson, Holliday) slip out of the Top 10 picks? -- @SamDykstraMiLB

Sam Dykstra not only is a fine writer for MLB Pipeline, but he also crafts a good Inbox question as well. I have gotten related queries from fans of specific teams picking in the middle of the first round wondering if their club might get a shot at one of the four position players who sit atop our current Draft Top 150: outfielders Druw Jones and Elijah Green and middle infielders Termarr Johnson and Jackson Holliday.

The Draft is still eight weeks away, so much can change, but I don't anticipate any of those four players lasting long and they're all candidates for either the Orioles or the D-backs with at least one of the first two picks. Right now, I don't see Jones getting past Arizona at No. 2 or Holliday lasting longer than the Rangers at No. 3. Maybe Green could get to the Marlins at No. 6 or Johnson could be available for the Cubs at No. 7 or the Twins at No. 8, but that's the extreme low end on both players.

How much do teams perhaps "boost" a player base on last name - if Holliday and Jones were say Smith and Rogers, would they even be in the conversation up there? -- @funwithnumberz

Teams do put stock in bloodlines, not so much that the talent just automatically flows from father to son. But the added reps and the knowledge of the game that come from growing up around baseball often give those players an advantage, and they're usually better prepared to handle pro ball.

Bloodlines don't trump talent, however, and Druw Rogers and Jackson Smith still would be candidates to go 1-1 to the Orioles. Jones has a chance for plus tools across the board while becoming a perennial Gold Glover in center field, while Holliday is a superior hitter with five solid or better tools. The fact that their fathers combined for 12 All-Star Game selections enhances their appeal but doesn't drive it.

Is Andrew Painter poised to be the Anthony Volpe of the 2023 top 100 updates? -- @CaoChadTTV

Volpe went from unranked on the Top 100 entering the 2021 season to No. 15 on our midseason update, and he presently sits at No. 6. Painter, who like Volpe was a high school first-round pick who didn't crack the Top 100 at the outset of his first full pro season, joined the list Wednesday when Bobby Witt Jr. graduated and will get a boost when we adjust it next week.

Painter has upward mobility and could rank significantly higher among pitching prospects at midseason, but No. 15 overall seems too rich -- though I would have said the same thing about Volpe at this time last year. The 13th overall pick in 2021 out of a Florida high school, he didn't surrender a run until his ninth pro start and sports a 1.14 ERA with 47 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings in Single-A. His fastball hit 101.5 mph in his last outing on Saturday and features good metrics, and he also can miss bats with a curveball, slider and changeup that all show signs of becoming plus offerings.

How long before Mets fans start to lament the PCA deal more than the Kelenic deal? -- @nvt3312

What has happened to Jarred Kelenic in the big leagues is an entirely different question. I still have faith that he can snap out of it, but his 30 percent strikeout rate (38 percent in 2022) just shocks me. But dealing Pete Crow-Armstrong to the Cubs last July for Javier Báez and Trevor Williams very well may be more regrettable than including Kelenic in a five-player package to get Robinson Cano and Edwin Díaz from the Mariners in December 2018.

At the time, a front-office executive with another club told me that he couldn't believe the Mets gave up Crow-Armstrong for Báez, who didn't make a difference in New York before signing with the Tigers as a free agent. The 19th overall pick in 2020 out of a California high school, he was one of the best pure hitters and the top defensive outfielder in his prep class. He since has made some swing changes to unlock some power and is raking at a .363/.459/.532 clip in Single-A with four homers and 10 steals in 30 games.