2022 MLB Draft Day One Storylines
Carlos Collazo breaks down three of the most notable storylines of the first day of the 2022 MLB Draft.
Texas Rocks The Baseball World
All we had been saying leading up to this draft was how hitter heavy it was at the top and how it could take some time before the first pitcher was drafted.
Well, Texas had other plans, and made the most surprising move of day one when the team selected former Vanderbilt righthander Kumar Rocker—and reunited him with Vandy teammate Jack Leiter—with just the third overall pick.
We regularly mentioned that Rocker was one of the bigger wild cards in the class given his exceptional talent and the risk associated with him given his medical situation. Around the 10th pick in the draft was the earliest we anticipated him coming off the board and No. 3 was downright shocking, especially considering Texas won’t pick again until the 109th pick (fourth round).
It’s a risky gambit, particularly with a number of highly regarded hitters on the board, but one that could pay off if Rocker simply stays on the mound and logs his innings. There’s a case to be made that he is still the most talented pitcher in the class and the stuff he showed with Tri-City in the Frontier League was essentially equal to what made him a top-five prospect in the 2021 draft a year ago with the Commodores.
New York Snags Two High-Quality Bats
It’s becoming almost commonplace in the draft for one of the top players on our draft board to slide down further than we expect, but to a team with multiple picks and plenty of bonus pool money to make that slide worthwhile.
This year, it was Georgia Tech catcher Kevin Parada—who we expected to be in play as high as the No. 3 pick in the draft—who fell outside of his expected range and landed with the Mets and their third-highest bonus pool.
There’s a case to be made that Parada is the best pure hitter in the draft (he’d be in the running with Termarr Johnson and Brooks Lee) and the fact that he hit 26 home runs and plays the most premium position on the field is simply icing on the cake.
The Mets continued to target standout pure hitters with their subsequent picks, taking Texas high school shortstop Jett Williams with their second first-round pick at No. 14, and then nabbing pop-up Washington D.C. prep infielder Nick Morabito—who was drafted as an outfielder and has more than enough speed to play center—with the No. 75 pick in the second supplemental round.
In between Morabito and Williams, the Mets drafted a flame-throwing righthander in Blade Tidwell, who entered the year as a potential middle-of-the-first round talent.
Having extra picks and pool money always helps and it’s easy to come away from night one excited about what’s happening in New York.
While Rocker was certainly the biggest surprise among players drafted tonight, the player who wasn’t might be equally mystifying.
Michigan high school righthander Brock Porter is the top-ranked pitcher on the BA 500 and was a favorite to be one of the first pitchers selected, but after the 80th pick was made Porter was still the top player on our best available board.
While there are certainly going to be rumors in the next 12 hours or so about the righthander heading to campus at Clemson, it’s imperative to remember how the draft often works: with high-priced high school players being selected with later picks but getting lucrative over-slot bonuses to do so.
In fact, just last year the Pirates employed the same strategy with another Clemson commit in righthander Bubba Chandler. Chandler was ranked as the No. 20 prospect in the class, but didn’t get selected until the third round, where he eventually signed for a well over-slot bonus of $3 million.
That should still be considered an option for Porter, who ranks as the No. 12 player in the class and would presumably still have a few teams looking to move day one savings into a high-upside return at the beginning of day two.