Which Draft prospect with family ties will be best?

June 17th, 2022

The College World Series, my favorite baseball event of this or any year, begins today in Omaha, Neb. My quick picks: Texas over Oklahoma in the finals of the first bracket, Auburn over Stanford in the finals of the second bracket and the Longhorns over the Tigers for the championship.

Now let's get to a few of your questions before I resume my Draft Combine duties ...

With many Draft prospects having a family lineage with baseball, which Draft prospects do you believe will be the best of them? -- @StevieDAles97

This Draft has more potential first-rounders with sports ties than any other I can remember. I count 10 players with baseball or football connections who could go in the top 30 picks, and it's possible that the first four choices all could fit that bill. Here's how I'd line up those 10, with their relatives in parentheses (former big leaguers unless otherwise noted):

1. Druw Jones, OF HS/Georgia, (son of Andruw)
2. Jackson Holliday, SS, HS/Oklahoma (son of Matt, nephew of Oklahoma State coach Josh)
3. Elijah Green, OF, HS/Florida (son of NFL tight end Eric)
4. Brooks Lee, SS, Cal Poly (son of Cal Poly coach Larry, nephew of 1974 Giants first-rounder Terry)
5. Cam Collier, 3B, Chipola (Fla.) JC (son of Lou)
6. Justin Crawford, OF, HS/Nevada (son of Carl)
7. Jace Jung, 2B, Texas Tech (brother of 2019 Rangers first-rounder Josh)
8. Daniel Susac, C, Arizona (brother of Andrew)
9. Kumar Rocker, RHP, Tri-City/Frontier League (son of NFL defensive lineman Tracy)
10. Tucker Toman, 3B, HS/South Carolina (son of Middle Tennessee State coach Jim)

Is there a better duo of shortstop prospects on one farm than CJ Abrams & Jackson Merrill in San Diego? -- @KyleWeatherly6

My initial thought was that although Abrams and Merrill are impressive, I would find a better pair of shortstop prospects in the same system. But after considering tools, past and present performance and the likelihood that both players would remain at short, I came to the conclusion that the Padres do have the best tandem. I rank the top half-dozen duos in this order:

1. Padres: C.J. Abrams, Jackson Merrill
2. Yankees: Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza
3. Rockies: Ezequiel Tovar, Adael Amador
4. Mariners: Noelvi Marte, Edwin Arroyo
5. Reds: Elly de la Cruz, Matt McLain
6. Pirates: Oneil Cruz, Liover Peguero

You previously stated that you have Druw Jones ahead of Marcelo Mayer from when he was drafted. Is that still the case or has the burgeoning power from Mayer pushed him ahead? -- @CaoChadTTV

Back in the Jan. 19 Pipeline Inbox, I compared the top three prep prospects from each of the last four Draft crops and started my list with Bobby Witt Jr., followed by Jones and Mayer. Though Mayer is batting .295/.376/.516 with 19 extra-base hits and eight steals in 30 Single-A games at age 19, I'll still give Jones a slim edge.

Jones has more power and significantly more speed than Mayer, and Jones also is a better defender in center field than Mayer is at shortstop. It's certainly possible to make a case for Mayer based on superior hitting ability and the value of a shortstop versus center field. But I'll stick with the guy with the higher ceiling over the dude with the higher floor.

Which player at the College World Series will have the best MLB career? -- Chris B., Olathe, Kan.

There are three potential 2022 first-rounders who will play in the CWS: Stanford outfielder Brock Jones, Oklahoma shortstop Peyton Graham and Arkansas third baseman Cayden Wallace. They could be eclipsed by Mississippi shortstop Jacob Gonzalez, who isn't eligible until 2023, and Arkansas infielder Peyton Stovall and Stanford outfielder/right-hander Braden Montgomery, both part of the 2024 class.

Gonzalez is the best prospect who will take the field in Omaha over the next 10 days. He's a quality left-handed hitter with at least average power and fine mastery of the strike zone, not to the mention the athleticism and strong arm to remain at shortstop. He's a potential No. 1 overall pick for next year.