2022 MLB Draft Buzz: The Orioles Plans At Number 1, College Catchers Rising And More
The draft is a little more than two months away, and high-level decision-makers from every team are scouring the country to ensure they get quality looks at all the players they need to see before day one of the draft arrives.
With the college and high school regular seasons nearing an end in many parts of the country, many players have decidedly improved their stock or are in the process of doing so. While it’s still early, certain teams are starting to be connected to certain players, although much can and will change between now and the start of the draft.
Here is the latest inside draft information based on extensive conversations with national crosscheckers, special assistants, scouting directors, assistant general managers and other executives in recent days. All information is current through May 10.
- Wesleyan (Suwanee, Ga.) High outfielder Druw Jones has separated himself as the clear-cut top prospect in this year’s draft, but industry officials believe the Orioles were targeting Louisiana State third baseman Jacob Berry for an under-slot deal with the No. 1 pick before Berry suffered a broken finger in his right hand during practice last week. Berry’s injury has created lots of uncertainty about what the Orioles will now do with the top overall pick. Jones is expected to command a full slot bonus, but the Orioles have the largest bonus pool in the draft at $16.924 million and can afford to pay it.
- The Pirates are being loosely connected to Chipola (Fla.) JC third baseman Cam Collier with the fourth overall pick, although opposing officials are split over how genuine that interest is. Collier, the son of former big league utilityman Lou Collier, has emerged as a divisive prospect among high-level decision-makers. Proponents are impressed with Collier’s performance as a 17-year-old excelling against junior college competition and see the potential for him to be a power-hitting third baseman with a plus-plus arm. Detractors are skeptical his swing will work against better competition and question his pitch recognition.
- Georgia Tech catcher Kevin Parada is starting to gain on Cal Poly shortstop Brooks Lee for the title of best college player in the class, and some officials believe he has already jumped ahead of Lee. Lee remains the better pure hitter and their power projections are similar, but Parada has improved his defense to the point he now projects to stay behind the plate as a fringy to average defensive catcher. With the concerns about Parada moving out from behind the plate largely silenced, scouting directors and special assistants now believe Parada has a chance to be one of the top offensive catchers in the major leagues at his peak. That projection has many considering him the second-best player in the class behind only Jones, and a slam dunk to go in the top five picks.
- McQueen (Reno, Nev.) High lefthander Robby Snelling, who we highlighted back in March, has emerged as the fastest riser in the draft class and is pushing himself into the first round. A standout quarterback who led his high school to the 5A state title game in the fall, Snelling has been up to 95 mph on his fastball while showcasing a plus breaking ball out of a physical 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame and athletic delivery. He’s tied it all together with plus control, a total package that has evaluators considering him at least on par with the top healthy high school pitchers in the class, if not outright above them.
- Stillwater (Okla.) High shortstop Jackson Holliday has firmly pushed himself into the top tier of high school players in the class with Jones, Mays (Atlanta) High infielder Termarr Johnson and IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) outfielder Elijah Green. Holliday, the son of seven-time all-star outfielder Matt Holliday, has added strength since last summer and his swing has been more connected, giving rise to the belief that he could be potentially a plus hitter with above-average power and speed who stays at shortstop. He has mostly been beating up on bad competition, but his athleticism, tools and projectable frame have high-level evaluators predicting he could go in the top five picks and voicing extreme confidence he won’t fall past the Rockies at No. 10.
- Scouting directors, special assistants and other high-level decision-makers have been swarming the West in recent weeks with most of the draft’s biggest risers coming out of the region. In addition to Snelling, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) High outfielder Justin Crawford (son of four-time all-star Carl Crawford), Gonzaga righthander Gabriel Hughes and Oregon State outfielder Jacob Melton have all pushed themselves firmly into back-of-the-first consideration and have been hot targets in the last two weeks. More than a half-dozen scouting directors alone were at Crawford’s most recent game on Monday. Toutle Lake (Wash.) High righthander Jackson Cox has also had substantial crowds of high-level decision-makers at his games in recent weeks and has moved into compensation round consideration, while Oregon State lefthander Cooper Hjerpe has pitched well in front of large crowds of executives and is moving up, as well.
- Now that the weather is warming up, scouting directors, special assistants and other high-level decision-makers are descending en masse on the Midwest this week to see the region’s top high school pitchers. Brebeuf Jesuit Prep (Indianapolis) High righthander Andrew Dutkanych pitched Tuesday and Oswego (Ill.) East High lefthander Noah Schultz is set to pitch Thursday in games that were on the schedule for many high-level decision-makers. St. Mary’s Prep (Orchard Lake, Mich.) High righthander Brock Porter remains a top target in the region, as well.
- Other players drawing strong reviews and moving up in the eyes of high-level decision-makers include Arizona catcher Daniel Susac, North Allegheny (Wexford, Pa.) High shortstop Cole Young, Campbell shortstop Zach Neto, Florida outfielder Sterlin Thompson and Campbell righthander Thomas Harrington. California outfielder Dylan Beavers and Oregon shortstop Josh Kasevich draw slightly more mixed reviews, but both have enough proponents that they are moving up, as well.
Carlos Collazo contributed reporting.