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2022 MLB Draft Top Prospects

Draft500 (1)

The BA 500 is an attempt to capture the industry’s consensus on the talent of the 2022 draft class—not to predict where players will be selected. The list was compiled in consultation with major league scouts, front office executives, scouting directors, college coaches and other professional evaluators. Ben Badler, Teddy Cahill, JJ Cooper, Kyle Glaser, Joe Healy, Tom Lipari, Bill Mitchell and Carlos Collazo contributed to reporting and writing. Chris Trenkle contributed to editing.

Related: 2022 MLB Mock Draft Version 4.0

July 15: A last-minute rankings update to account for player movement and prospects removing themselves from the draft.

Georgia high school outfielder Druw Jones continues to lead the class in the No. 1 spot, as the industry’s consensus top prospect.

Given the extreme attrition to the top-end pitching talent of the class, it’s a hitter-heavy group up top, with high-upside high school players like SS Jackson Holliday, SS Termarr Johnson and OF Elijah Green.

For teams more inclined to chase the safer college demographic, there are plenty of proven bats to be found among the top 10 as well: SS Brooks Lee and C Kevin Parada have cases as the best pure hitters in the college class, while 3B/1B Jacob Berry, 2B Jace Jung, OF Gavin Cross and 3B Cam Collier have varying degrees of high-level hitting ability and power.

Prep righthanders Brock Porter and Dylan Lesko lead the pitching class, with power arms and elite changeups to go with them, while former Vanderbilt star Kumar Rocker ranks at the top of the non-prep pitching demographic.

BA Grades

Baseball America has used BA Grades and risk factors for minor league prospects as part of our team top 30 rankings and annual prospect handbook for more than a decade. Starting in 2021, we assigned the top draft prospects BA Grades as well. This is an attempt to further contextualize the talent of the class and create a more seamless transition from amateur to professional talent rankings.

Below is a brief overview of BA Grades:

For the BA Grade, we used a 20-to-80 scale, similar to the scale scouts use, to keep things familiar. However, most major league clubs put an overall numerical grade on players, called the Overall Future Potential or OFP. Often the OFP is merely an average of the player’s tools.

The BA Grade is not an OFP. It’s a measure of a prospect’s value, and it attempts to gauge the player’s realistic ceiling. We’ve continued to adjust our grades to try to be more realistic, and less optimistic, and keep refining the grade vetting process.

BA Grade Scale

Grade

Hitter Role

Pitcher Role

75-80

Franchise Player

No. 1 starter

65-70

Perennial All-Star

No. 2 starter

60

Occasional All-Star

No. 3 starter, Game's best reliever

55

First-Division Regular

No. 3/No. 4 starter, Closer

50

Solid-Average Regular

No. 4 starter, Setup reliever

45

Second-Division Regular/Platoon

No. 5 starter, Middle reliever

40

Reserve

Fill-in starter, Low-leverage reliever

35

Quality Org Player

Quality Org Player

Risk Factors

Low: Likely to reach realistic ceiling, certain big league career barring injury.

Medium: Some work left to refine their tools, but a polished player.

High: Most top draft picks in their first season, players with plenty of projection left, players with a significant flaw left to correct or players whose injury history is worrisome.

Very High: Recent draft picks with limited track record of success or injury issues.

Extreme: Teenagers in Rookie ball, players with significant injury histories or players who struggle with a key skill, especially control for pitchers or strikeout rate for hitters.

8 Matches
Expand Collapse All Updated on: 7/15/2022
  1. 10
    Last: 10

    Gavin Cross

    Virginia Tech OF
    Notes:

    HT: 6-3 | Wt: 210 | B-T: L-L
    Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
    Age At Draft: 21.4
    BA Grade: 55/High
    Tools: Hit: 55. Power: 60. Run: 50. Field: 50. Arm: 60.

    Cross was one of the breakout stars in college baseball in 2021 with Virginia Tech. He hit .345/.415/.621 with 11 home runs, 13 doubles and five triples, then followed that up by being the most consistent hitter with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team over the summer. In fact, he’s been tremendously consistent as a hitter throughout his collegiate career, never hitting below .300 for the Hokies and turning in a .318/.399/.627 line in 2022, with a career-best 14 home runs, while adding 13 doubles and 11 stolen bases. Cross is a large and physical, 6-foot-3, 210-pound outfielder who primarily played right field before transitioning solidly to the everyday center field job during his junior season. While moving to the middle of the outfield, Cross also showed an improved approach at the plate as a junior, cutting his strikeout rate from 20% in 2021 to 14% in 2022 and boosting his walk rate from 7% to 11%. While Cross has made improvements, scouts still view him as a power-over-hit lefthanded bat, thanks to a long-striding, low bat path that has been exploited at times and a tendency to chase out of the zone—though he showed progress in this area in 2022. While most of his power came to the pull side, Cross has easy plus juice and can homer to the opposite field, with exit velocity numbers that stack up with (and in many cases surpass) the elite college hitters in the class. Cross has annihilated fastballs—including impressive results against 93-plus mph velocity—but does swing and miss against breaking stuff and offspeed offerings, which could cap his overall hitting upside at the next level. Cross profiles as a corner outfielder at the next level despite his impressive showing in center with Virginia Tech, where he is an average runner and fielder with a big, plus throwing arm that could allow him to profile as a classic powerful, lefthanded-hitting right fielder. Given his track record of performance in both the ACC and with Team USA, as well as his power and physicality, Cross should be drafted somewhere among the top 15 picks.

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  2. 28
    Last: 28

    Carson Whisenhunt

    East Carolina LHP
    Notes:

    HT: 6-3 | Wt: 205 | B-T: L-L
    Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
    Age At Draft: 21.7
    BA Grade: 50/High
    Tools: Fastball: 50. Curveball: 50. Changeup: 70. Control: 55.

    A year after East Carolina produced a first-round arm in righthander Gavin Williams, the program has a chance for another with lefthander Carson Whisenhunt. However, Whisenhunt didn’t throw a pitch for the program in 2022 after being ruled ineligible by the NCAA after a positive drug test. Whisenhunt said the positive result was from supplements he took over the winter break. Because of that, the only in-game looks scouts will be able to see from the 6-foot-3, 205-pound lefthander will come in the Cape Cod League. As the Pirates’ No. 2 starter in 2021, Whisenhunt posted a 3.77 ERA over 13 starts and 62 innings, while striking out 30.9% of batters faced and walking 8.6%. Last year, Whisenhunt operated with a three-pitch mix that included a fastball, changeup and curveball. His heater averaged 92 mph and touched 95, while his curveball sat in the upper 70s with two-plane break. His best offering is a low-to-mid-80s changeup, which is one of the better changeups in the entire draft class. He throws it frequently (26% of the time in 2021) and generated whiffs at a 59% rate with the pitch in 2021. He has tremendous feel to land the pitch and regularly buries it at the bottom of the strike zone for whiffs and ground balls when hitters do manage contact. He throws the pitch with fastball arm speed, and it will fall off the table hard and sneak under barrels regularly with around nine mph of velocity separation from his fastball. Whisenhunt projects as a starter with good pitching ability and a three-pitch mix, but he is a bit of a wild card after missing his junior season. How he performs in the Cape Cod League will heavily impact his draft stock. If he comes out pitching with similar stuff that he showed in 2021, he should be a first-rounder with a chance to be one of the first college arms off the board. If not, a missed draft year could hurt him, but overall Whisenhunt has a well-rounded and safe profile.

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  3. 85
    Last: 85

    Gavin Turley

    Hamilton HS, Chandler, Ariz. OF
    Video
    Notes:

    HT: 6-1 | Wt: 185 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: Oregon State
    Age At Draft: 18.6
    BA Grade: 50/Extreme
    Tools: Hit: 40. Power: 55. Run: 65. Field: 55. Arm: 60.

    Turley is among the toolsiest players in the 2022 class. He’s turned in double-plus run times in the 60-yard dash, he produced the third-best exit velocity (103 mph) in workouts at Perfect Game’s National showcase and he put on a show in batting practice at Area Code Games, with an in-game no-doubt homer to left for good measure. He showed impressive bat speed and extension, with easy plus power now. His home run at Area Codes was against an 89 mph fastball and came off his bat at 104 mph, with an estimated 429-foot distance. When Turley is making contact, he looks like a future star, but he has trouble making contact consistently. He’s shown a questionable approach and will expand the zone and make poor swing decisions, and he also needs to improve his contact and recognition of breaking stuff. Turley has also played a lot of corner outfield, which will make some teams skeptical, though he has more than enough speed to handle center field and has shown impressive jumps and athleticism as well. Turley is committed to Oregon State but has talent that fits among the top three rounds if a team thinks it can develop him as a hitter.

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  4. 86
    Last: 86

    Gavin Guidry

    Barbe HS, Lake Charles, La. SS/RHP
    Notes:

    HT: 6-2 | Wt: 172 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: Louisiana State
    Age At Draft: 19
    BA Grade: 50/Extreme
    Tools: Hit: 45. Power: 55. Run: 60. Field: 50. Arm: 60.
    Fastball: 55. Slider: 50. Control: 55.

    The biggest thing standing in Guidry’s way as a shortstop is his ability on the mound. Pitching for Barbe High in Lake Charles, La., Guidry went 8-0, 0.16 with 83 strikeouts in 45 innings. As a hitter, he hit .422 with five home runs. If he gets to Louisiana State, he has a shot to be a true two-way player who can help the Tigers as a hitter and pitcher. As a pitcher, Guidry sits 88-93 mph with the potential for plus control and a promising slider. Pitching so much kept him from having as many chances to show what he can do at shortstop, but he’s a plus runner with a plus arm who has a chance to remain at shortstop as a pro. A back injury caused him to miss some time this spring. Guidry has above-average power potential and a smooth, clean swing. Guidry has a number of paths to the big leagues. His shortstop potential and arm make him a better hitting prospect than pitcher, but he’s a pro prospect either way. He’s a second- or third-round talent, but his strong commitment to LSU means there’s a solid chance he heads to school.

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  5. 99
    Last: 100

    Tyler Locklear

    Virginia Commonwealth 3B/1B
    Notes:

    HT: 6-3 | Wt: 210 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
    Age At Draft: 21.6
    BA Grade: 45/High
    Tools: Hit: 45. Power: 60. Run: 30. Field: 40. Arm: 50.

    A large and physical, 6-foot-3, 210-pound corner infielder, Locklear comes from an athletic family. His father, Todd, played college baseball, his cousin, Gavin, played football at North Carolina State and his uncle, Jeff, was a lefthanded pitcher who played five minor league seasons. Locklear stands out for his 65-grade raw power and after hitting 16 home runs and being named the 2021 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, Locklear was one of the most productive college hitters in the country in 2022. He hit .402/.542/.799 with 20 home runs, 25 doubles and 47 walks (15.9 BB%) to just 25 strikeouts (8.5 K%). Locklear has controlled the zone well with VCU and should be a TrackMan darling with loud average and top-end exit velocities. Scouts wonder how much power he’ll get to against better pitching and more consistent velocity at the next level—and question the overall stiffness of his swing—and in the Cape Cod League in 2021, he hit .256/.333/.504 with 32 strikeouts (22.7 K%) and just six walks (4.3 BB%). Locklear has played more third base than first base with VCU but is likely a first base-only type at the next level, with well below-average speed. Locklear’s value is heavily reliant on his righthanded bat and power, but he’s done nothing but mash over his last two seasons.

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  6. 149
    Last: 148

    Gavin Kilen

    Milton (Wisc.) HS SS
    Notes:

    HT: 5-11 | Wt: 172 | B-T: L-R
    Commit/Drafted: Louisville
    Age At Draft: 18.3
    BA Grade: 45/Extreme
    Tools: Hit: 55. Power: 40. Run: 50. Field: 50. Arm: 55.

    The Wisconsin product continues the trend in this year’s draft of high-level prospects spawned from the Badger state. Scouts rave about the 5-foot-11 175-pound shortstop the same way they have of other Wisconsin prep bats like Gavin Lux, Jerred Kelenic and Noah Miller. With a sound offensive approach, Kilen possesses a compact lefthanded swing with good balance in his lower half. His exceptional bat-to-ball skills allow him to lace line drives to all fields and drive balls to the gaps. It may take some time for the 18-year-old to grow into added power, but the ingredients are there to mold into a solid, consistent bat. Kilen has impressed on the dirt as well. A fundamentally sound defender with very good footwork, Kilen has an arm that can sling it across the diamond at 92 mph. His throws are accurate, and his baseball IQ assists in his defensive capabilities. He is projected to stay on the dirt long term, primarily at shortstop, with the ability to move around the infield and contribute elsewhere if needed. Kilen is a solid-average runner and possesses the intangibles scouts identify outside of the main components of the game. It will be interesting to see if Kilen honors his commitment to Louisville in July. If so, expect to see an immediate contributor for the Cardinals next spring.

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  7. 286
    Last: 287

    Gavin Van Kempen

    Maple Hill HS, Castleton-on-Hudson, N.Y. RHP
    Notes:

    HT: 6-6 | Wt: 215 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: West Virginia
    Age At Draft: 17.8
    Van Kempen has elevated his profile this spring, performing well and throwing harder than he did last summer. At 6-foot-6, 215 pounds, Van Kempen has the tall, physical build many scouts value for a pitcher. He’s also one of the youngest players in the class, as he doesn't turn 18 until September, so he could easily fit as a 2023 player based on his age. After touching 93 mph last year, Van Kempen this year has been up to 95 mph, often working around 89-93. Multiple scouts also said Van Kempen is throwing a better breaking ball this spring, a curveball that flashes average and is ahead of his changeup. While Van Kempen's stuff has improved, scouts with more hesitancy have concerns that his fastball doesn't play as well as the raw velocity would suggest. He throws with unusually long arm action, which some scouts have said they think works for him, while others worry about it impeding his ability to repeat and command his stuff. A team that buys in on his youth, physicality and trending-up stuff could make him a day two pick.

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  8. 456
    Last: 455

    Gavin Jones

    North Royalton (Ohio) HS RHP
    Notes:

    HT: 6-3 | Wt: 205 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: Alabama
    Age At Draft: 18.3
    A 6-foot-3, 205-pound righthander, Jones pitched in the 89-91 mph range last summer and touched 93, but this spring that velocity has been increased. He has touched 95 mph and has a big arm, though he does have a short stride down the mound and needs to improve a fringy breaking ball in the upper 70s. A head whack and some effort in his delivery makes some scouts think he will fit best as a reliever at the next level, but his arm strength and still-projectable frame should be appealing to teams as well. Jones is an Alabama commit.

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