Some say Draft season commences when the amateur year gets underway in late winter/early spring. Others think that the new that rankings come out, like the Draft Top 150 we dropped earlier this week, are the crocuses of the season.
But for Jim Callis and myself, in many ways things really don’t heat up until mock Draft time kicks in. And here we are, the first projection of the first round of the 2022 Draft.
What a year to try and figure this out. There are so many wild cards, particularly with a number of college arms on the shelf. You’ll notice that I did not put the injured ones (Connor Prielipp and Peyton Pallette would be the leading contenders) or the suspended one (Carson Whisenhunt) into this first go-round. All three could very easily end up in the first round, with teams likely to get looks at Prielipp and Whisenhunt in the Cape Cod League this summer before the Draft arrives.
So here’s the first of many editions as we try to bring you the most up-to-date buzz from the scouting industry as we inch closer to the Orioles making the No. 1 pick on Sunday, July 17.
1. Orioles: Brooks Lee, SS, Cal Poly (No. 5)
The Orioles have saved money by taking a top college bat the past two years, so for this first edition, I’m going that route. They’re heavily scouting the top four high school bats (Druw Jones, Elijah Green, Termarr Johnson, Jackson Holliday) as well as Lee and Jacob Berry on the college hitter side of things.
2. D-backs: Druw Jones, OF, Wesleyan HS, Ga. (No. 1)
Arizona won’t hesitate to take the best player on the board, much like they did last year when Jordan Lawlar got to them at No. 6. And right now, Jones is that player.
3. Rangers: Elijah Green, OF, IMG Academy, Fla. (No. 2)
Yes, they went the college arm route last year with Jack Leiter, but he arguably was the best choice at No. 2 and there definitely isn’t an arm to take here, so I’m going with chalk and Green’s five-tool potential.
4. Pirates: Termarr Johnson, 2B, Mays HS, Ga. (No. 3)
All the high school hitters could be in play here, along with those other college bats, so there’s no reason to stray from the order of our Draft 150 at this point.
5. Nationals: Jackson Holliday, SS, Stillwater HS, Okla. (No. 4)
No player has done more to improve his stock than Matt’s kid, making a huge jump to close to the top of the board. It’s not overselling him to say he’s in play in any of these top five picks.
6. Marlins: Kevin Parada, C, Georgia Tech (No. 8)
It’s time for a small run on college bats now. Parada has been going off, with 19 homers and a .384 batting average, while proving to a lot of scouts he can stick behind the plate.
7. Cubs: Jace Jung, 2B, Texas Tech (No. 7)
He’s a little dinged up right now, but the left-handed bat is legit. In this first mock, he goes one spot ahead of where his brother Josh went in 2019 (No. 8 to the Rangers).
8. Twins: Jacob Berry, 3B/OF, Louisiana State (No. 6)
While he’s in the mix throughout the top 10, and he’s performed well (1.128 OPS) overall, there’s just a slight “unenthusiastic” vibe I’m getting from some scouting directors I talked to this week.
9. Royals: Andrew Dutkanych, RHP, Brebeuf Jesuit HS, Ind. (No. 14)
An arm! Right now, if there is going to be a pitcher who breaks into the top 10, it might be Dutkanych, the big right-hander from Indiana who has been lights-out as the weather warms up in his home state.
10. Rockies: Gavin Cross, OF, Virginia Tech (No. 11)
Virginia Tech is having a big year and Cross is a huge reason why, with an OPS of 1.133. So we’ll have him resume the run on hitters here.
11. Mets: Daniel Susac, C, Arizona (No. 10)
Some think Susac goes ahead of both Berry and Cross, and he’s certainly performed (.372/.429/.607) while playing a premium position. The Mets might be really happy if he lands here.
12. Tigers: Brock Porter, RHP, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s HS, Mich. (No. 13)
The Tigers certainly don’t shy away from high school pitching in the first round (see Jackson Jobe in 2021 and Matt Manning in 2016 as recent examples), and you never want to miss out on a future star in your own backyard.
13. Angels: Jackson Ferris, LHP, IMG Academy, Fla. (No. 15)
The Angels had an unprecedented all-pitching Draft in 2021, using every selection to take a college arm. There may not be one that fits at this point of the round, so they could stick to the mound, but go the high school southpaw route.
14. Mets: Cole Young, SS, North Allegheny HS, Pa. (No. 18)
They got a college bat at a premium position with their first pick (compensation for not signing Kumar Rocker), now they can get a high school bat at a premium position, having shown an affinity for prep hitters in the past (Pete Crow-Armstrong, Brett Baty, Jarred Kelenic).
16. Guardians: Gabriel Hughes, RHP, Gonzaga (No. 19)
Hughes has pretty electric stuff, has performed consistently well and is healthy, all while being pretty young for his class. In other words, he checks off a lot of boxes for a team that likes college performers on the mound.
17. Phillies: Brandon Barriera, LHP, American Heritage HS, Fla. (No. 16)
While it might seem a bit unusual to see a healthy high school pitcher shut it down in April, given all the injured arms in this class, maybe it was smart for Barriera to do so? The Phillies took high-school right-handers in the last two first rounds, so I’m switching it up to a southpaw here.
18. Reds: Chase DeLauter, OF, James Madison University (No. 12)
Not all scouts are believers in DeLauter’s hit tool at the next level, but he hit, and with power, on the Cape. It’s hard to figure out where he might land because a broken foot cut his season short way too early.
19. A’s: Cam Collier, 3B, Chipola Junior College (No. 17)
Lou’s kid can really hit with consistently professional at-bats. And he gets extra points for challenging himself by graduating early and heading to the JUCO ranks. He’ll be just 17 at Draft time.
20. Braves: Blade Tidwell, RHP, Tennessee (No. 22)
Shoulder soreness kept him out of action for six weeks and he just re-joined the Volunteers’ weekend rotation last week, so there’s still a bit of a question mark here. But he was pretty lights-out in that start and a few more of those could help prove his health, which means he probably goes earlier than this.
21. Mariners: Jordan Beck, OF, Tennessee (No. 21)
The second of two players from the top-ranked Volunteers I have in the first round, Beck is athletic with a ton of power, drawing some comps to Hunter Renfroe.
22. Cardinals: Kumar Rocker, RHP, No school (No. 31)
He has to go somewhere around here, right? No, seriously, I’m asking, because even with all of the injured college arms, Rocker’s stock might be the biggest mystery in this year’s Draft.
23. Blue Jays: Malcolm Moore, C, McClatchy HS, Calif. (No. 44)
There are always high school hitters who are ranked a bit lower but sneak into the back end of the first round. Moore’s name has been brought up all over this last part of the round, and he’s a hot commodity -- a left-handed-hitting catcher who has been compared at times to A’s 2020 first-rounder Tyler Soderstrom.
24. Red Sox: Jett Williams, SS, Rockwall-Heath HS, Tex. (No. 25)
The Red Sox have taken a high school infielder the last three years they had a first-round pick, so we know they don’t shy away from that demographic. Yes, Williams is undersized at 5-foot-8, but he can really hit and several evaluators brought him up as a back-end first-rounder.
25. Yankees: Dylan Beavers, OF, California (No. 20)
A rough summer concerned some scouts about how his bat might play at the next level, but Beavers’ power has been back on display this spring. This would be the third straight year New York took a college bat with its first pick, and the fifth straight year taking a hitter.
26. White Sox: Zach Neto, SS, Campbell (No. 26)
For four straight years (2016-19), the White Sox took a college bat in the first round. Neto has the chance to stick at short and has hit his way into first-round consideration with a .373/.493/.682 line.
27. Brewers: Justin Campbell, RHP, Oklahoma State (No. 48)
There are a number of college arms who are performing well, and those types often float up into the first round, especially in a year like this with its dearth of college pitching. Campbell’s been getting it done in the Big 12 with a four-pitch mix coming from a 6-foot-7 frame.
28. Astros: Jud Fabian, OF, Florida (No. 29)
A second-rounder in 2020, Fabian couldn’t come to terms with the Red Sox and headed back to campus. He’s answered questions about swing-and-miss, cutting his K rate down considerably -- and the power is still showing up.
29. Rays: Justin Crawford, OF, Bishop Gorman HS, Nev. (No. 37)
His name has definitely been creeping up Draft boards, and I couldn’t resist having Carl’s kid get drafted by the team that took Carl in the second round back in 1999.
30. Giants: Drew Gilbert, OF, Tennessee (No. 27)
This finishes off the Volunteers trifecta and could be low for Gilbert, who is having a terrific year and has the skills to play center field for a long time.