2022 MLB Draft Prospects With The Loudest Scouting Tools at Perfect Game National
The day after the 2021 draft ends, the first major high school showcase of the summer begins.
The Perfect Game National showcase brought in more than 300 of the top high school players in the country to Tropicana Field for a six-day showcase from July 13-18. These were the players who showed the best tools in different categories at the event, as well as other notable standouts that should give a good overview of the top high school players to watch for next year's draft.
Termarr Johnson was the star of PG National. It's still early, but the uncommitted shortstop from Georgia has the look of a top 10 overall pick in next year's draft, with tools and maturity in the batter's box well beyond his years. Johnson has phenomenal bat speed, whipping the barrel through with both ferocity and fluidity. He has good bat path through the hitting zone from the left side, and while he's only around 5-foot-9, his bat speed helps him drive the ball with some of the best raw power in the class. Johnson does have big power, but it's his pure hitting ability that still stands out the most. He's a smart hitter who has an advanced approach for his age and barrel control that leads to frequent contact.
There are some similarities here to Rays shortstop Wander Franco when he was Johnson's age. Franco is a switch-hitter while Johnson hits lefthanded only, but the bat speed from both is about as fast as you will see at that age, they're both high-contact hitters with big power, similar builds with thick lower halves, good hands at shortstop but questions about whether they will stick there or go somewhere else in the infield, and they're both baseball rats with high baseball IQs. That's not saying Johnson is going to develop into the same player as Franco is now, but a lot of the same traits that made Franco such a good prospect at the same age are there.
Dominic Hellman made sure this one wasn't close. An Oregon commit from Washington, Hellman showed more power than any other hitter during batting practice, with swing after swing resulting in baseballs launched into the seats in left field. He's an enormous 6-foot-6, 245 pounds with outstanding strength and a swing geared to lift the ball, resulting in raw power that's at least plus now and projects to be an easy 70 if not better. In games, Hellman showed a lot of swing and miss, so it's very much a power-over-hit profile with adjustments he will have to make as a pure hitter. Hellman worked out at shortstop and moves surprisingly well underway for his size, though long term he probably projects as a corner outfielder.
Johnson also put on an outstanding lefthanded power display during BP and delivered with a home run when the games started. Michigan outfielder Nolan Schubart (Michigan commit), Arizona outfielder Gavin Turley (Oregon State commit), Georgia outfielder/righthander Riley Stanford (Georgia Tech commit) and Maryland outfielder Kaden Martin (Miami commit and son of Baltimore Ravens wide receiver coach Tee Martin) also showed big power in BP.
As a minor leaguer in 2012, Billy Hamilton stole 155 bases in 132 games, the second straight year he stole at least 100 bases in the minors. North Carolina outfielder Michael Gupton has a chance to have that type of impact with his speed.
Gupton isn't just an 80 runner—the North Carolina State commit is one of the fastest high school athletes in the country, with an indoor 55-meter dash time of 6.22 seconds that ranked No. 1 in the nation in 2020. Scouts have consistently clocked his 60-yard times between 6.1 and 6.2 seconds. A 6.3 runner is flying. A 6.2 runner is going to be among the fastest players in professional baseball. Getting into the 6.1s is another level of speed, the type of speed we just rarely see in baseball.
Gupton showed that explosive speed in the game. In this showcase setting, when a batter draws a walk, they put a runner on first base and have the batter stay at the plate to continue his at-bat so scouts can see him swing the bat. So when Dominic Krupinski walked, Gupton went to first base to run, and everyone in the arena knew what was going to happen. Gupton didn't even wait for the first pitch to run. He just took off for second. The righthander on the mound turned, stepped off and threw to second base, but Gupton was still safe.
Of course, Gupton is going to have to hit to have value, and he went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts in his only two trips to the plate here. But while Hamilton had a slender build and minimal power, Gupton has the strength and bat speed from his muscular 5-foot-11, 190-pound build with what looks like negative four percent body fat to be able to drive the ball with impact when he does connect.
If he does hit, Gupton might become even more valuable in a few years. Major League Baseball is testing new rules this year in the lower minors to encourage stolen bases. In High-A, lefties have an advantage negated because pitchers are required to step off the rubber before attempting a pickoff, while Low-A pitchers can only attempt two pickoffs per plate appearance. It’s going to be difficult for anyone to contain Gupton if you give him those rules.
While Gupton's speed was in a class of its own, outfielders Justin Crawford (the son of Carl Crawford), Elijah Green, Elgin Bennett and Austin Overn all showed plus-plus or better speed
Best Defensive Outfielder
Andruw Jones won 10 gold gloves with the Braves as he became arguably the greatest defensive center fielder of all time. Now his son, Georgia center fielder Druw Jones, is one of the top overall players in the 2022 class and made his mark defensively at PG National. A Vanderbilt commit, Jones is a lean, athletic 6-foot-3, 180 pounds with plus-plus speed, a strong arm and he showed good defensive instincts. There weren't too many defensive highlights with a lot of players who had trouble tracking fly balls in the dome, but Jones provided one with a good reaction off the bat on a shallow fly ball in front of him that he charged in on to make a sliding backhanded catch.
Best Defensive Infielder
At a showcase this size, shortstops only get five groundballs during the workout and don't play that many innings at the position so that everyone can rotate in, so picking a winner here gets a little tricky. Massachusetts shortstop Ivan Arias (Vanderbilt) didn't even take his best infield here, though he looked smooth barehanding a slow roller in the workout and has some of the best hands and defensive instincts in the class, with an arm that continues to get stronger to be able to make the play in the hole.
Best Defensive Catcher
With two games per team and several catchers on each roster, you only get a small window of innings to see catchers in games. The standout here was Michigan catcher Ike Irish, an Auburn commit who had one of the strongest arms among catchers at PG National. He also was an agile mover behind the plate who made a few nice blocks in game. Adonys Guzman from New York (Boston College) also had one of the strongest catcher arms at PG National and showed it off when he back picked a runner at first base. R.J. Rickbaugh, Beck Milner, Fabian Amaro and Salvador Alvarez also threw well here.
Best Infield Arm
It's hard to top Nazier Mule, a two-way player from New Jersey and a Miami commit who has touched 99 mph on the mound. That's from a player who is still 16 and one of the youngest players in the class. New York shortstop Giovanni Colasante (Harvard) and Florida shortstop Giovanni Febus (Alabama State) also showed big arm strength.
Best Outfield Arm
Arizona outfielder Gavin Turley is one of the most tooled-up players in the class, with big power, speed and arm strength in center field. The Oregon State commit has easy arm strength with fast arm speed, good mechanics and plenty of online carry with his throws. Cooper Dossett, Riley Stanford and Jordan Lewis also showed strong outfield arms.
Termarr Johnson Would Be A Very Unusual Top-Five MLB Draft Pick
Termarr Johnson is seen as one of the top players in the 2022 class. If he is taken in the top-five picks, he will be an unprecedented pick in a number of ways.
New Jersey righthander Nazier Mule is the hardest thrower in the class. At PG National, the Miami commit pitched at 94-97 mph, one week after he ran it up to 99 mph at the MLB High School All-Star Game in Colorado.
There were plenty of other big arms there. Jackson Ferris had the biggest fastball from the left side, pitching at 93-97 mph in two dominant innings. Brandon Barreira (91-95 mph) and Tristan Smith (92-95 mph) were two other lefties with big fastballs, with Smith commanding both his fastball and breaking ball well, mixing them effectively to strike out all six batters he faced. Righthanders Brock Porter (92-97 mph), Dylan Lesko (93-96 mph), Chase Shores (92-97) and Riley Stanford (93-96) all showed impressive fastballs too.
You don't typically hear veteran scouts audibly oohing and aahing behind the plate at a high school pitcher's curveball. But that's what happened when Caden Dana broke out his curve at PG National. Dana, a righthander from New York who attends Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey, struck out all six batters he faced. He got swings and misses on 11 of the 27 pitches he threw, with eight on his 92-94 mph fastball and three on his 75-78 mph curveball at 2,300 to 2,550 RPM. A Kentucky commit, Dana landed six of his nine curveballs for strikes, freezing hitters with its sharp break, depth and top-to-bottom shape from his high slot.
Ohio righthander Jacob Miller (Louisville) doesn't have the pure gasoline (89-92 mph) that some of the other top 2022 pitchers have, but curveball is one of the best in the class. South Dakota righthander Austin Henry (Wichita State) threw five of his seven curveballs for strikes, including three swinging strikes, with spin rates that pushed past 3,000 RPM. Arizona righthander Dillon Orr (Tennessee) pitched at 89-91 mph and also showed tight spin (up to 2,800 RPM) on his mid-70s curveball and North Carolina righthander Eli Jerzembeck (South Carolina) pitched in the upper-80s with spin in the 2,900 RPMs on his 75-78 mph curve.
Illinois lefthander Noah Schultz is an intensely uncomfortable at-bat for lefthanded hitters. The Vanderbilt commit looks like Randy Johnson at 6-foot-9, 220 pounds with a low three-quarters arm slot, attacking hitters with a high-spin fastball that sat at 90-92 mph in his two innings and the physical projection for him to eventually throw in the mid-90s or better. Schultz also threw a nasty slider at 73-75 mph, another pitch with tight rotation (2,800 to 3,000 RPMs), deep break across the strike zone and from an angle that can make it a nightmare for hitters. For a 17-year-old who is 6-foot-9, Schultz also showed impressive body control with his mechanics and fielded his position well too.
Washington righthander JR Ritchie (UCLA) struck out five of the six batters he faced with eight swings and misses total. Five of those empty swings came on his 91-94 mph fastball and three were on his breaking pitches that include a slider and a curveball, both of which are in the low-80s with sharp bite and tight rotation.
Georgia righthander Dylan Lesko (Vanderbilt) threw strikes with a 93-96 mph fastball, then got off-balance swings when he mixed in his 82-84 mph changeup. Lesko's changeup has good action and separation off his fastball, and he has supreme confidence in that pitch, at one point throwing four straight changeups to start an at-bat against a lefthanded hitter. Another Vanderbilt commit, Tennessee lefty Joe King, also showed an impressive changeup. King pitched at 89-92 mph over two innings and got three swinging strikes with his 80-81 mph changeup.
It's rare to see a high school pitcher throwing a splitter, so there isn't any competition here, but the splitter that California righthander Mason McGwire threw was a legitimate swing-and-miss pitch. An Oklahoma commit and the son of Mark McGwire, Mason pitched at 87-91 mph and befuddled hitters with an upper-70s splitter. In two innings, McGwire induced six swings and misses over the top of his splitter that dove at the plate with late tumble.
Best Power/Speed Threat
When Luis Robert was a teenager still in Cuba, he stood out among his peers (and even those in the age groups above him) for his physicality, athleticism and high-level performance in the Cuban junior national leagues. Robert had some swing-and-miss risk, but he always hit well with a combination of power and speed, though with more power than speed at the time. Elijah Green has some similarities. He's a man among boys at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, with raw power that ranks among the best in the class. The son of Pro Bowl tight end Eric Green, Elijah is also one of the fastest players in the country. A Miami commit from Florida at IMG Academy, Green dominated the summer circuit last year, though he did show more swing and miss this spring, but the upside to be a dynamic power/speed threat who could play center field and hit in the middle of a lineup makes him the favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick next year. Outfielders Michael Gupton, Gavin Turley, Justin Crawford and Druw Jones also showed promising power/speed potential.