There's still little concrete intel about teams locking in on players because the Draft is five-plus weeks away. But there have been some significant developments in the past week, especially on the pitching front.
Tennessee right-hander Blade Tidwell, who missed the first six weeks with shoulder soreness and hadn't pitched more than 4 2/3 innings in a game all season, went a career-high 7 2/3 frames against Alabama State in the NCAA Regionals on Friday. He threw 95 pitches, averaged 95.6 mph with his fastball and threw his last three fastballs at 96, 95 and 94. In a 2022 pitching class decimated by Tommy John surgeries and other health questions, Tidwell could be the first college arm selected if he continues to throw well during the postseason.
Kumar Rocker, the No. 10 overall pick last July whose $6 million bonus deal with the Mets blew up when they didn't like the results of a post-Draft physical for reasons still unknown, returned to the mound for the first time since the 2021 College World Series on Saturday. He worked four innings for the independent Frontier League's Tri-City ValleyCats, sitting at 95-97 mph while touching 99 mph with his fastball, parking at 85-87 mph and reaching 89 mph with his signature slider. He'll have to continue to perform every six days for the ValleyCats and teams will have to be comfortable with what they find in his medical records once they become available, but it was a good first step.
Brebeuf Jesuit Prep (Indianapolis) right-hander Andrew Dutkanych also helped himself on Saturday. Once the favorite to be the first pitcher taken, he took a hit when he walked eight batters in front of a crowd of scouts on May 10. He has rediscovered the strike zone since and excelled in the Indiana state 3-A quarterfinals with a four-hit shutout and 17 strikeouts in seven innings against West Vigo (West Terre Haute).
Upcoming events to monitor include the NCAA super-regionals, which begin Friday and feature nine potential first-rounders; the Cape Cod League schedule, which starts Sunday; the Draft Combine, which will be held June 14-20 at Petco Park in San Diego; and the College World Series, which opens June 17 in Omaha, Nebraska.
The Cape's marquee Opening Day matchup will feature East Carolina left-hander Carson Whisenhunt on the mound for Chatham, pitching in a game for the first time following a season-long NCAA suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug he said came from a supplement he bought at a national nutrition store chain. A first-round possibility, he'll face Cotuit and Chipola (Fla.) JC third baseman Cam Collier, a potential top-10 pick and one of the youngest players in Cape League history at age 17.
It's still too early to have much feel for where Rocker or Whisenhunt might fit, so I've omitted them (and many of the injured pitchers) from the first-round projection below. Detailed scouting reports for all players can be found with MLB Pipeline's Draft Top 200 (rankings in parentheses).
1. Orioles: Jackson Holliday, SS, Stillwater (Okla.) HS (No. 3)
The Orioles continue to work on five players for the No. 1 overall pick, a group believed to include the top three prospects (high school outfielders Druw Jones and Elijah Green, plus Holliday) and the highest-ranked college player (Cal Poly shortstop Brooks Lee) on our Draft Top 200. Baltimore may prefer an infielder after taking outfielders Heston Kjerstad and Colton Cowser with top-five selections in their last two Drafts, and Holliday may cost less than Jones or Green.
2. D-backs: Druw Jones, OF, Wesleyan HS, Peachtree Corners, Ga. (No. 1)
The D-backs will pounce on Jones if the Orioles pass on him. If that doesn't happen, Green looks like the front-runner ahead of Holliday, Georgia prep middle infielder Termarr Johnson, Georgia Tech catcher Kevin Parada and Lee.
3. Rangers: Elijah Green, OF, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. (No. 2)
Assuming Jones will be gone, the Rangers likely will be choosing between Holliday, Green and Parada.
4. Pirates: Brooks Lee, SS, Cal Poly (No. 5)
I keep hearing college hitters for the Pirates, and this is the fifth straight MLB.com projection in which Jonathan Mayo or I have put Lee here. Parada wouldn't be the best fit after Pittsburgh spent last year's No. 1 overall choice on fellow catcher Henry Davis, though Parada is a better receiver. The Bucs also have interest in Collier, who would come with a discount.
5. Nationals: Kevin Parada, C, Georgia Tech (No. 6)
The Nationals' top realistic choice seems like Parada. If he's off the board, they'd probably wind up with Green or Lee.
6. Marlins: Termarr Johnson, 2B, Mays HS, Atlanta (No. 4)
The Marlins may prefer Parada but in this scenario, the consensus would have them taking a different bat, either the best pure hitter in the Draft (Johnson) or perhaps the best all-around offensive talent in college (Louisiana State third baseman Jacob Berry). They also could throw a changeup by taking the first pitcher -- Michigan prepster Brock Porter is the top arm available -- or saving money on a lower-rated prospect.
7. Cubs: Cam Collier, 3B, Chipola (Fla.) JC (No. 12)
This pick may come down to Johnson vs. Collier. If the Cubs want a money-saving deal, South Carolina prep third baseman Tucker Toman could be a target.
8. Twins: Zach Neto, SS, Campbell (No. 25)
The Twins also like Johnson and Collier, who would both be off the table if the Draft plays out like this. That could lead them to Neto, who batted .407/.514/.769 for a gritty Campbell club and would become the first first-round pick in school history.
9. Royals: Justin Crawford, OF, Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas (No. 13)
Clubs believe this is the earlier a pitcher will get taken, with Porter the top candidate. But the Royals are one of several teams in on the fast-rising Crawford, who's moving past some of the second-tier college hitters.
10. Rockies: Jacob Berry, 3B/OF, Louisiana State (No. 7)
Once in the mix to go No. 1 overall, Berry is slipping a bit amid concerns that his lack of athleticism will land him at first base, but it's hard to imagine him dropping lower than this. If he's already gone, Virginia Tech outfielder Gavin Cross, Texas Tech second baseman Jace Jung or Arizona catcher Daniel Susac could fit here.
11. Mets: Jace Jung, 2B, Texas Tech (No. 8)
(compensation pick for failure to sign 2021 first-rounder Kumar Rocker)
Jung also is dropping slightly after looking worn out at the Big 12 Conference Tournament and the Statesboro Regional, and the Mets could try to finesse him down three more picks if there's someone else they prefer here. They also like Crawford, most of the college bats mentioned above and Porter.
12. Tigers: Gavin Cross, OF, Virginia Tech (No. 9)
Just like my last first-round projection two weeks ago, this one has 12 consecutive hitters at the top, something that never has occurred in the previous 57 Drafts. Cross' strong postseason and high exit velocities could push him into the Top 10. While the Tigers ideally would land a position player, they could be tempted by a high school arm (such as homestate product Porter) or Alabama left-hander Connor Prielipp, who will throw at the Draft Combine after missing the entire season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
13. Angels: Brock Porter, RHP, Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary's Prep (No. 10)
After taking all pitchers in last year's Draft, the Angels could grab the first one in 2022. The leading contenders are Porter and high school left-handers Robby Snelling and Brandon Barriera. Oregon State left-hander Cooper Hjerpe, the NCAA Division I strikeout leader, is a college possibility.
14. Mets: Daniel Susac, C, Arizona (No. 11)
The Mets could just grab one college bat at 11 -- and take Susac there -- and opt for Porter, Snelling, Barriera or Georgia prep right-hander Dylan Lesko here.
15. Padres: Dylan Lesko, RHP, Buford (Ga.) HS (No. 14)
If he hadn't blown out his elbow and had Tommy John surgery in April, Lesko would have been the first pitcher selected and unavailable to the Padres at No. 15. He's the type of high-upside play GM A.J. Preller is known for. San Diego also has scouted the top high school shortstops: Crawford, Jett Williams and Cole Young.
16. Guardians: Jett Williams, SS, Rockwall-Heath (Texas) HS (No. 26)
After giving Neto to the Guardians in my first two projections, I'm going with another sweet-swinging shortstop in Williams. He plays bigger than his size (5-foot-8) and is a scout favorite who probably won't get past the teens.
17. Phillies: Brandon Barriera, LHP, American Heritage HS, Plantation, Fla. (No. 15)
The Phillies used their previous two first-rounders on high-school arms Mick Abel and Andrew Painter, and that demographic might provide the best value at No. 17. Prep left-handers Barriera, Snelling and Jackson Ferris are ranked in any variety of orders by different clubs, and Philadelphia might have its pick of all three.
18. Reds: Blade Tidwell, RHP, Tennessee (No. 23)
If Tidwell continues to build momentum in a Super-Regional start against Notre Dame and possibly at the College World Series, he may not make it this far. Lesko, the high school lefties, Young and James Madison outfielder Chase DeLauter also could come into play.
19. Athletics: Dylan Beavers, OF, California (No. 21)
Beavers could start a run on college outfielders with as many as eight going in the span of 16 selections. Non-outfield candidates here include Oklahoma State right-hander Justin Campbell and Toman.
20. Braves: Cooper Hjerpe, LHP, Oregon State (No. 32)
The Braves get linked to several college pitchers, including Hjerpe, Campbell, Gonzaga right-hander Gabriel Hughes and Campbell righty Thomas Harrington.
21. Mariners: Justin Campbell, RHP, Oklahoma State (No. 34)
The Mariners hit with college right-handers in the first round in 2018 (Logan Gilbert) and 2019 (George Kirby). They could go that route again with Campbell or Hughes, or dip into the pool of college outfielders with Oregon State's Jacob Melton.
22. Cardinals: Robby Snelling, LHP, McQueen HS, Reno, Nev. (No. 16)
There are too many teams pursuing Snelling for him to last much longer than this. The Cardinals have spent four of their last six first-rounders on high-school position players and could have interest in Young.
23. Blue Jays: Chase DeLauter, OF, James Madison (No. 19)
It's mostly bats with the Blue Jays, including DeLauter and Toman, though they could go after Hjerpe if available. They took a pitcher recovering from Tommy John surgery (Gunnar Hoglund) in the first round a year ago, so they’re not afraid to take a talented arm that comes with health concerns -- and there are several available.
24. Red Sox: Drew Gilbert, OF, Tennessee (No. 28)
Gilbert is one of the best bets to hit and to play center field among the top college outfielders, and he has moved ahead of Volunteers teammate Jordan Beck. The Red Sox would be the absolute floor for Williams.
25. Yankees: Sterlin Thompson, OF, Florida (No. 27)
The Yankees may be the high-water mark for Thompson or Vanderbilt outfielder Spencer Jones. They also could have interest in Young and Hughes, who weren't expected to last quite this long earlier in the year.
26. White Sox: Brock Jones, OF, Stanford (No. 31)
Jones entered the season as a top-10 candidate, damaged his stock with a two-month slump, then rebuilt it by catching fire in the second half. The White Sox have a penchant for high-school arms and Indiana products, so Dutkanych would be a natural fit.
27. Brewers: Cole Young, SS, North Allegheny HS, Wexford, Pa. (No. 18)
I can't find an obvious home for Young, but I also don't really believe he's going to last 27 picks. Gilbert and Toman probably are more realistic possibilities for the Brewers.
28. Astros: Jacob Melton, OF, Oregon State (No. 54)
The Astros are associated with several college bats, including Melton, Beck, Brock Jones, Oklahoma shortstop Peyton Graham and Clemson third baseman Max Wagner.
29. Rays: Tucker Toman, 3B, Hammond HS, Columbia, S.C. (No. 42)
This is more of a floor for Toman, a switch-hitter with one of the best bats in the high school class. Athletic outfielder Henry Bolte would be another prep option.
30. Giants: Connor Prielipp, LHP, Alabama (No. 24)
The Giants could swing for the fences now that they're not choosing in the top half of the first round for the first time in five years. Prielipp was discussed as a potential 1-1 candidate before he got hurt, and Dutkanych also has huge upside. Ohio high school right-hander Jacob Miller is climbing up Draft boards and could go here.
Supplemental first-round picks
31. Rockies: Jordan Beck, OF, Tennessee (No. 22)
32. Reds: Jackson Ferris, LHP, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. (No. 17)
33. Orioles: Gabriel Hughes, RHP, Gonzaga (No. 20)
34. D-backs: Spencer Jones, OF, Vanderbilt (No. 74)
35. Royals: Andrew Dutkanych, RHP, Brebeuf Jesuit Prep, Indianapolis (No. 30)
36. Pirates: Jacob Miller, RHP, Liberty Union HS, Baltimore, Ohio (No. 44)
37. Guardians: Thomas Harrington, RHP, Campbell (No. 43)
38. Rockies: Cayden Wallace, 3B, Arkansas (No. 37)
39. Padres: Peyton Graham, SS, Oklahoma (No. 33)