When you’re two months out from the Draft, you have to change things up. Jim Callis had his first full first-round projection last week, and he and I are going to alternate the rest of the way, giving you a fresh mock every week. In my first projection, I had the Orioles do the ol' “take a college hitter and cut a deal” trick with Brooks Lee, as they’ve done the last two years. Jim opted to go with the “best guy on the board” in Druw Jones, like the O's did the last time they picked 1-1, taking Adley Rutschman in 2019.
This time around, I’m heading in a slightly different direction. There obviously is no hard evidence on what Baltimore will do, but this is a bit reflective of some buzz that this could happen. It’s a bit of a hybrid approach -- a high schooler who could also allow the organization to save a little more money at the top to use later in the Draft.
The biggest wild card in this continues to be Kumar Rocker, the former Vanderbilt star who was taken No. 10 overall by the Mets last year, but couldn’t come to terms after concerns surfaced regarding his medical reports. The first step in clarity is coming soon, as it was announced that he’ll be pitching for the independent ball Tri-City ValleyCats leading up to the Draft. He didn’t make this week’s mock, but as he pitches and is evaluated -- and if teams get a look at his medical info -- he could easily climb in.
1. Orioles: Jackson Holliday, SS, Stillwater HS, Okla. (No. 4)
As I said, there is some buzz about this. Matt’s kid seems to definitely be in the mix for the Orioles, along with Druw Jones, Elijah Green, Termarr Johnson, Brooks Lee and perhaps Jacob Berry. Holliday might not command the same bonus as Jones, the top talent in the class, so the O’s could get a high-end talent and be able to get more creative with their bonus pool.
2. D-backs: Druw Jones, OF, Wesleyan HS, Ga. (No. 1)
The D-backs get to sit and react to what the Orioles do and it’s hard to imagine Jones getting past them. If he goes No. 1, then Arizona likely would look at Green and his high ceiling or Johnson and his plus bat skills.
3. Rangers: Elijah Green, OF, IMG Academy, Fla. (No. 2)
Word on the street is that the Rangers really want Jones to get to them, but that’s not happening in this scenario. Green might have the highest overall ceiling in the class, even if there are some lingering swing-and-miss questions (most of which he’s answered this spring). They could opt for Johnson or go college bat here, with Lee or Kevin Parada as the main contenders.
4. Pirates: Brooks Lee, SS, Cal Poly (No. 5)
Johnson would be the high school bat the Pirates could look at if the other three prep hitters are gone. Lee is the best college bat in the class and Pittsburgh could make it three straight first-round picks spent on an advanced hitter.
5. Nationals: Kevin Parada, C, Georgia Tech (No. 8)
Parada is certainly in the conversation with Lee for best college player in the Draft, a catcher who now has 24 homers. He not only might be the best advanced hitter available in this spot, he also fills a need for the Nats and could move quickly.
6. Marlins: Jacob Berry, 3B/OF, Louisiana State (No. 6)
If it plays out like this, it might be a choice between the college bat in Berry and the high school hitter in Johnson. Berry’s broken finger puts a small question mark next to his name, but he has a long track record of offensive success.
7. Cubs: Termarr Johnson, 2B, Mays HS, Ga. (No. 3)
The Cubs would likely be thrilled if the best pure hitter in the class got to them here. If he goes higher, they likely would be in on one of the aforementioned college bats that would filter down.
8. Twins: Gavin Cross, OF, Virginia Tech (No. 11)
The talk continues to be about college bats here for the time being with the Twins getting to choose between Cross -- who is showing off power and speed at Virginia Tech -- and Jace Jung at Texas Tech, with both perhaps being a shade ahead of Arizona catcher Daniel Susac.
9. Royals: Brock Porter, RHP, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s HS, Mich. (No. 13)
This continues to feel like the first place a pitcher could go in the first round. Porter has risen to the top of the arms list as the best healthy pitcher who has been posting consistently good outings.
10. Rockies: Jace Jung, 2B, Texas Tech (No. 7)
After a one-pick hiatus, we’ll return to the college bat crop here with Jung, whose older brother Josh was a top 10 pick of the Rangers in 2019. Jace has posted a 1.170 OPS for Texas Tech this year.
11. Mets: Daniel Susac, C, Arizona (No. 10)
(compensation pick for failure to sign 2021 first-rounder Kumar Rocker)
The younger brother of former big league backstop Andrew, Daniel’s big Draft-eligible sophomore season makes him a very good choice to end this run on D1 college bats.
12. Tigers: Cam Collier, 3B, Chipola Junior College (No. 17)
With the big college bats off the board, if the Tigers are looking for hitters, Collier could make a lot of sense. He’s more than held his own at a young age in the JUCO ranks, and the son of Lou brings MLB bloodlines to the table as well.
13. Angels: Robby Snelling, LHP, McQueen HS, Nev. (No. 79)
Most of the buzz around the Angels right now is still about pitching. There might not be a healthy college arm that fits this high, but they could choose from some prep lefties like Brandon Barriera or Snelling, the two-sport star whose name continues to move up boards.
14. Mets: Connor Prielipp, LHP, Alabama (No. 23)
After getting a hitter in Susac at No. 11, the Mets could be after an arm here. Prielipp had top of the Draft stuff before needing Tommy John surgery last year. He’s going to throw for scouts as the Draft approaches, and if he appears healthy, this could be a good steal for New York.
15. Padres: Justin Crawford, OF, Bishop Gorman HS, Nev. (No. 37)
Crawford joins his state-mate, Snelling, in rising up boards in a hurry. Carl’s kid can really run (big shocker), with a chance to be an outstanding hitter who provides plus center field defense.
16. Guardians: Zach Neto, SS, Campbell (No. 26)
The next tier of college hitters includes the right-handed-hitting infielder in Neto, along with outfielders like Chase DeLauter (James Madison), Dylan Beavers (Cal) and Jordan Beck (Tennessee).
17. Phillies: Brandon Barriera, LHP, American Heritage HS, Fla. (No. 16)
After taking two high school pitchers the last two years in the first round, the Phillies might be interested in one of those college hitters. But Barriera certainly belongs in this area of the first round and Philadelphia does like the prep lefty.
18. Reds: Cole Young, SS, North Allegheny HS, Pa. (No. 18)
If the Reds want to go with a college arm, Gonzaga’s Gabe Hughes could come into play here. But there’s a sense they are leaning bats, with the Pittsburgh-area prepster getting the edge this week over college hitters like Beavers or Beck.
19. Athletics: Chase DeLauter, OF, James Madison University (No. 12)
When a broken left foot ended DeLauter's season early, it deprived scouts who had some questions about his hit tool from getting another look at him. But he’s done nothing but hit -- with power and walks -- wherever he’s been.
20. Braves: Gabriel Hughes, RHP, Gonzaga (No. 19)
The Braves have taken college arms the last two years, so we’ll make it three in a row with Hughes, who has been very consistent as Gonzaga’s ace, making him the best 100 percent healthy college pitcher in the class.
21. Mariners: Dylan Beavers, OF, California (No. 20)
There are some concerns about his hit tool, but Beavers’ power is legitimate, with 18 homers last year and 16 so far in 2022. He has the chance to stay in center field, too.
22. Cardinals: Blade Tidwell, RHP, Tennessee (No. 22)
Where Tidwell lands could depend on how he finishes up the season. He missed the start of the year with shoulder soreness and while he’s back, he hasn’t really been stretched out. A strong conclusion and good medical reports could allow him to float up.
23. Blue Jays: Jett Williams, SS, Rockwall-Heath HS, Tex. (No. 25)
Yes, he’s only 5-foot-8, but he can really hit and run, plus his name keeps being brought up in the back third of the first round.
24. Red Sox: Dylan Lesko, RHP, Buford HS, Ga. (No. 9)
Based on talent, Lesko is the best pitcher in this class, but it’s not easy to place a high schooler who just had Tommy John surgery. It’s quite possible he goes more in the middle of the first round.
25. Yankees: Jordan Beck, OF, Tennessee (No. 21)
The fact Beck is only hitting .250 in SEC play might impact his stock a little, but his raw power is legit, he gets to it in games and the Yankees have taken college bats in the first round the past two years.
26. White Sox: Sterlin Thompson, OF, Florida (No. 36)
Thompson, with his left-handed swing and strong hit tool, may have surpassed his Gators teammate, Jud Fabian, on a lot of team’s boards.
27. Brewers: Cooper Hjerpe, LHP, Oregon State (No. 46)
If the first round looks like this, the Brewers might be looking at college arms. They’re not likely to go after one of the injured ones, with an advanced and healthy lefty like Hjerpe likely in the mix.
28. Astros: Brock Jones, OF, Stanford (No. 40)
After a horrifically slow start, the ultra-athletic Jones has heated up at Stanford, showing off his power-speed combination while raising his OPS over 1.000 for the year.
29. Rays: Tucker Toman, 3B, Hammond HS, S.C. (No. 51)
We keep hearing his name in the back end of the first round as a prep switch-hitter with pop. The Rays took a high school infielder around this part of the round last year and Carson Williams has gotten off to a very strong start.
30. Giants: Andrew Dutkanych, RHP, Brebeuf Jesuit HS, Ind. (No. 14)
The Giants might be eyeing whatever high-end player gets to them to close out the first round. Dutkanych has scuffled of late, denting his stock some. If he rights the ship, he could go much earlier than here, though many teams don’t love the high school right-hander risk.