With the 2023 Draft just a few weeks away, we thought it was a good time to check and see how last year’s class has fared in pro ball thus far. Below, we shine the spotlight on each team's top performer from the 2022 Draft.
There are already two players from last year’s Draft in the big leagues, both with the Angels. While Zach Neto and Ben Joyce are setting the bar high in terms of reaching the final goal so quickly, each organization has at least one 2022 draftee who is off to a very good start as they all work to join the Los Angeles duo at the highest level.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: Alan Roden, OF (Unranked among Top 30)
The third-rounder became the highest Creighton player selected in the Draft since Rick Heiserman went 73rd overall in 1994. He’s made the program proud with his hot start at High-A Vancouver, where he’s produced a .303/.422/.457 line with three homers and 18 doubles through 46 games entering Tuesday. Most notably, he’s walked more times (26) than he’s struck out (24) in that span – no surprise for an outfielder who punched out only eight times in 242 plate appearances with the other Bluejays in 2022.
Orioles: Jackson Holliday, SS (No. 1/MLB No. 3)
Could this have gone any better so far? The No. 1 overall pick of the Draft made quick work of Single-A ball, earning a promotion up to High-A Aberdeen after hitting .396/.522/.660 in 14 games with Delmarva. He’s “slowed” down since moving up a level, with a .321/.463/.536 line in 39 games, leaving many of us thinking the 19-year-old shortstop might not be done with promotions this season.
Rays: Dominic Keegan, C (No. 25)
The Vanderbilt product got off to a roaring start with Single-A Charleston, hitting .382/.477/.618 through 17 games in April. He’s cooled off a bit since, but he still enters the week with a 146 wRC+ with the RiverDogs. After finally emerging as a starter with the Commodores last spring, Keegan posted a 1.065 OPS over 60 games as a junior, proving his hit and power tools were at least average, and the 2022 fourth-rounder has carried those into pro ball. A more challenging move to High-A can’t be far off.
Red Sox: Chase Meidroth, 2B (No. 19)
Meidroth stood out with his bat-to-ball skills and strike-zone management at San Diego, prompting the Red Sox to pop him in the fourth round, where he signed for a well below-slot $272,500. Those abilities are translating well to pro ball, as he's hitting .321/.463/.478 with six homers in 44 games and more walks (37) than strikeouts (36) in 44 games between High-A and Double-A.
Yankees: Chase Hampton, RHP (No. 24)
Hampton overcame a midseason bout with salmonella poisoning to finish strong at Texas Tech last spring, reaching 99 mph with his fastball against Notre Dame in the NCAA regional playoffs. A sixth-rounder, he also has a pair of solid breaking pitches with his slider and curveball. He leads the High-A South Atlantic League in strikeouts (77) and strikeout rate (14.7 per nine innings) while posting a 2.68 ERA and .179 opponent average.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Guardians: Parker Messick, LHP (No. 17)
Messick compiled the best K/BB ratio (6.7) in Florida State history, thanks in large part to his quality low-80s changeup with tumble, and his polish led the Guardians to select him in the second round. His advanced feel for pitching has enabled him to log a 3.40 ERA with a 49/11 K/BB ratio in 45 Single-A innings.
Royals: Javier Vaz, OF (Unranked among Top 30)
There are some solid pitching options in David Sandlin and Steven Zobac here too, but we’ll go with 15th-rounder Vaz, who continues to display elite plate discipline in his first full season. The Vanderbilt product owns a 15/24 K/BB ratio through 44 games with High-A Quad Cities and leads High-A batters with a paltry 7.5 percent K rate and 3.0 percent swinging-strike rate. Those have helped him bat .291 with a .379 OBP, and the left fielder has added 16 steals for good measure.
Tigers: Jace Jung, 2B (No. 1/MLB No. 69)
Josh isn’t the only Jung infielder performing well in 2023. Last year’s 12th overall pick has been especially hot of late by going 16-for-37 (.432) with three homers and three doubles for High-A West Michigan through nine games in June – proving that some players need to warm up with the weather in the Midwest League. Jung’s nine homers are tied for third-most in the MWL while his .849 OPS ranks eighth among 82 qualifiers in the circuit.
Twins: Cory Lewis, RHP (No. 30)
The Twins took Lewis out of Santa Barbara (former home of Shane Bieber, among others) in the ninth round of the Draft and he’s moved from Single-A to High-A. Brandishing a four-pitch mix, including a legitimate knuckleball, Lewis tossed five shutout innings in his High-A debut to give him a season ERA of 2.44, a .178 batting average against, 1.02 WHIP and a 12.9 K/9 rate.
White Sox: Jonathan Cannon, RHP (No. 10)
The White Sox need advanced pitching prospects and were happy to find Cannon available in the third round, where they signed him for an over-slot $925,000. The Georgia product throws strikes with four pitches, the best of which are an upper-80s cutter and a 92-96 mph fastball with heavy sink. He has compiled a 2.59 ERA, .222 opponent average and a 45/18 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings in High-A.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Angels: Zach Neto, SS (Graduated from Top 30)
Neto was a Top 100 guy who posted a solid .853 OPS during his pro debut last summer. The Campbell product and first-round pick began the year in Double-A and after hitting .444/.559/.815 over his first seven games, the Angels wasted no time in bringing him up to be a mainstay in the big league lineup. He’s more than held his own, with 1.8 bWAR over 54 games.
Astros: Zach Dezenzo, 3B/2B (No. 29)
Dezenzo has at least plus raw power and tied an Ohio State record with 19 homers in 2022 before turning pro as a 12th-rounder. He leads the Minors in hitting (.390), ranks eighth in on-base percentage (.470) and OPS (1.067) and has five homers and 12 steals in 43 games between High-A and Double-A.
A’s: Jack Perkins, RHP (No. 30)
Perkins was a senior sign, getting an under-slot $270.75K bonus in the fifth round after an uneven year at Indiana, which came after two seasons of mostly relief work at Louisville in 2019 and 2021. He’s looked better than just a bonus pool saver in his first full season, with a 2.52 ERA, .182 BAA and a WHIP under 1.00 over his first 10 outings with High-A Lansing. The A’s were impressed enough to move him up to Double-A on June 13.
Mariners: Tyler Locklear, 3B/1B (No. 10)
Power was Locklear’s calling card during his college days at Virginia Commonwealth, with 36 combined homers in 2021 and 2022, while he also went deep nine times in the Cape Cod League between the two seasons. He also hit over .400 last year, helping him land to the Mariners in the second round, and he’s continued to mash. He has a .991 OPS so far this year with High-A Everett, tied for second-best in the Northwest League, and he’s in the top six in average (.311), OBP (.419) and SLG (.572).
Rangers: Brock Porter, RHP (No. 5/MLB No. 76)
Though Porter was MLB Pipeline's top-rated pitching prospect in the 2022 Draft, the Rangers were able to float him to the 109th overall pick, where they signed him for a fourth-round-record $3.7 million. Gatorade's national high school player of the year in 2022, the St. Mary's Prep (Orchard Lake, Mich.) product can reach triple digits with his fastball and has an advanced changeup and improving slider. He's dominating in Single-A with a 1.45 ERA, .140 opponent average and 42 strikeouts in 31 innings.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: Cedric De Grandpre, RHP (Unranked among Top 30)
The Quebec native threw well for Chipola Junior College before putting up good numbers (and data) in the Draft League. That helped him catch the eye of the Braves, who took him in Round 13 and went over slot to sign him for $237,500. Thought to have more of a reliever profile, De Grandpre has actually excelled as a starter in the early going, earning a promotion from Single-A to High-A and compiling a combined 1.88 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 5.44 K/BB ratio and .208 BAA.
Marlins: Torin Montgomery, 1B (Unranked among Top 30)
The Marlins drafted Montgomery twice, in the 35th round out of a Washington high school in 2019 and in the 14th round out of Missouri last July. They targeted him for his plate discipline, which has been evident as he has batted .283/.436/.359 with 21 walks in 32 Single-A games.
Mets: Tyler Stuart, RHP (Unranked among Top 30)
There are good starts, and there are “leading full-season Minor Leaguers in ERA” starts. Stuart belongs to the latter group with a 1.47 mark across 49 innings for High-A Brooklyn. The 2022 sixth-rounder out of Southern Miss has struck out 30.5 percent of his batters faced with the Cyclones and has kept batted balls on the ground 46.6 percent of the time, keeping that ERA nice and low thanks to his fastball-slider combo.
Nationals: Jake Bennett, LHP (No. 9)
The 2022 second-rounder out of Oklahoma easily handled an early assignment to Single-A Fredericksburg (1.93 ERA, 54 strikeouts, eight walks in 42 innings) and then shoved in his High-A Wilmington debut last Tuesday with one earned run allowed and eight K’s in five frames. As expected, Bennett’s plus changeup has made him an absolute menace against right-handers, who have just a .508 OPS against him through 10 starts, and that should continue to serve him well at High-A and beyond.
Phillies: Justin Crawford, OF (No. 4)
Carl’s kid went No. 17 overall and is definitely making a name for himself in the Florida State League. The power hasn’t come yet, but he has hit 19 balls 100 mph or harder en route to hitting .336/.394/.436, placing him second in the batting race. He’s also third in stolen baes, with 24 in 27 attempts.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Brewers: Jacob Misiorowski, RHP (No. 4)
There was a lot of celebrating among Brewers scouts and analysts when the 6-foot-7 right-hander was available in the second round, and Misiorowski has turned his pure stuff – highlighted by a fastball that can touch triple-digits and an above-average slider – into impressive performance early on. The Crowder (Missouri) Junior College product has struck out 53 of 120 (44.2 percent) of his batters faced between Single-A and High-A so far, giving him the highest K rate among 732 Minor Leaguers with at least 30 innings pitched in ’23.
Cardinals: Max Rajcic, RHP (No. 17)
There are 221 qualified pitchers in the Minor League full-season ranks, and only one of them has a WHIP below 0.75. That’s Rajcic at 0.68 through 51 2/3 innings for Single-A Palm Beach. The 2022 sixth-rounder is keeping batters off the basepaths with only six walks in that span, and Florida State League batters are finding the UCLA product’s four-pitch mix tough to touch with just a .158 average against. Having thrown six strong innings in back-to-back starts to open June, Rajcic should be seeing High-A Peoria before long.
Cubs: Haydn McGeary, 1B (Unranked among Top 30)
McGeary had a legendary career at Colorado Mesa, winning the NCAA Division II player of the year award twice, setting a D-II career record with 75 homers and leading that level in hitting (.481), on-base percentage (.579), slugging (1.061), OPS (1.640), hits (103), homers (35) and total bases (227) last spring. A 15th-round pick whose best tool is his power, he's hitting .318/.425/.517 with nine homers in 55 games between High-A and Double-A.
Pirates: Thomas Harrington, RHP (No. 11)
While Zach Neto went No. 13 overall, his Campbell teammate Harrington went 23 picks later in the Competitive Balance Round A to the Pirates. He recently got bumped up to High-A Greensboro and has made two starts there, the most recent one a seven-inning, two-hit, no-run, no-walk, eight-strikeout masterpiece. For the season, he has a 2.79 ERA, 9.7 K/9 rate and a walk rate of just 2.2/9.
Reds: Chris McElvain, RHP (unranked among Top 30)
After two years pitching out of Vanderbilt’s bullpen, McElvain became the school’s Friday night starter, helping him land in the eighth round of the Draft to the Reds. Making his pro debut with Single-A Daytona, he’s posted a 2.78 ERA while striking out 9.5 per nine while throwing more strikes than he did in college, and FSL hitters have managed just a .202 batting average against him.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs: Ivan Melendez, 1B/3B (No. 7)
Last year’s Golden Spikes Award winner opened the year on the IL with a sore left hand but has been absolutely on fire since the start of May, slugging .692 with 11 homers and 11 doubles in 30 games for High-A Hillsboro since the season’s second month began. Only Spokane’s Yanquiel Fernandez (14) and Jordan Beck (13) have gone deep more among High-A hitters in that span. D-backs fans might be salivating at the thought of what Melendez’s power can accomplish at Double-A Amarillo’s launching pad.
Dodgers: Chris Newell, OF (Unranked among Top 30)
Newell showcased impressive all-around tools but struggled to make consistent contact in three college seasons at Virginia, so he lasted until the 15th round last July. He has struck out 65 times in 53 games this spring -- but he's also batting .307/.411/.634 with 17 homers (fourth in the Minors) and nine steals in 53 games between Single-A and High-A.
Giants: Wade Meckler, OF (No. 30)
A former walk-on at Oregon State, Meckler signed for a below-slot $97,500 in the eighth round and has done nothing but hit since. He batted .367/.500/.544 in his pro debut and .414/.468/.550 in 28 games between High-A and Double-A this spring. He also offers plus speed and solid defense on the outfield corners.
Padres: Robby Snelling, LHP (No. 5)
After signing for $3 million as the 39th overall pick, Snelling continues to solidify his place as San Diego’s best active pitching prospect while Dylan Lesko rehabs from Tommy John surgery. The 19-year-old left-hander has handled the hitter-friendly California League with aplomb, posting a 1.30 ERA and 1.01 WHIP with 48 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings for Single-A Lake Elsinore. Snelling’s above-average fastball, plus curveball and developing change have him knocking on the Top 100 door.
Rockies: Sterlin Thompson, 3B/OF (No. 7)
If Thompson hadn’t missed all of May due to injury, he might be in Double-A by now. The Florida product, who went No. 31 overall, returned on June 2. The Rockies are bringing him back slowly, but he’s still hitting for High-A Spokane. Now playing third every day when healthy, he has a .419/.467/.742 line in 25 games, which would lead the Northwest League in all three slash categories if he had enough at-bats to qualify.