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2022 MLB Draft Stock Watch: Elijah Green Flashes Tools, FSU Lefthanders Dominate



Welcome to Baseball America’s 2022 Draft Stock Watch. This is a recurring feature we’ll bring throughout the draft season to explore rising and falling prospects and dig into different themes and topics with the class at greater length. 

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I traveled down to Florida for the opening weekend of the college baseball season to get looks at at least four potential first round talents on the high school and college side.

First, I checked out Prep Baseball Report’s Florida Preseason Classic, which has consistently brought together some of the top talent in the state over the last few years. The 2022 event was no different, with three potential first-round picks in the field, including outfielder Elijah Green and lefthanders Jackson Ferris and Brandon Barriera.

After that, I went up to Tallahassee to see a strong opening weekend matchup that saw Florida State lefthanders Parker Messick and Bryce Hubbart take on James Madison and Chase DeLauter.

There was a large scouting contingent present for both events. Below you’ll find notes on all the players previously mentioned, as well as a few others who piqued my interest or stood out in some form or fashion. Later in the week we’ll have notes on other prominent draft prospects who I didn’t see in person, but are still worth discussing. 


Elijah Green, OF, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. (No. 5)

Green is one of the toolsiest overall players in the class, and he showed that tool set in this look during the primetime matchup that pit IMG against American Heritage, with Ferris and Barriera taking the mound for their respective clubs.

In game, Green went 3-for-4 with a home run and won his first battle against Barriera, muscling a 95 mph fastball the other way into shallow right field for a base hit. Later in the game, Green sat on a mid-70s breaking ball that stayed up and crushed the pitch over the left field fence for a no-doubt home run. TrackMan had the homer at an estimated 363 feet and 109 mph exit velocity. After showing his power, Green also flashed his speed when he clocked a 4.08-second home to first time on an infield single—a plus-plus run time for a righthanded hitter.

While he wasn’t challenged much defensively in this look, Green’s arm strength was quite obvious during pre-game, where he showed terrific carry and power on his throws from center field. Scouts view his arm as one of the best from the prep outfield class.

It wasn’t a flawless look, however. The swing-and-miss concerns that scouts have with Green surfaced in this outing as well. He swung through one 94 mph elevated fastball in his at-bat against Barriera, but most of his worst swings came against spin. He took a few ugly swings and checks against breaking stuff and expanded the zone multiple times against breaking balls, with his lone strikeout of the game coming against a 76 mph curve.

Still, Green showed three plus or better tools between his power, speed and arm strength and he doesn’t need to be the best pure hitter in the class to do damage and profile as a slugging, power/speed threat in the middle of a lineup.

Chase DeLauter, OF, James Madison (No. 6)

DeLauter was the industry starlight last summer after he ravaged the Cape Cod League while also showing off impressive physical tools and surprisingly good center field defense for a player listed at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds.

His opening weekend debut was disappointing for a player who has received some industry feedback as a potential No. 1 overall pick, going 3-for-14 with eight strikeouts and plenty of swing and miss. He did tally a multi-hit game on Sunday, but looked overmatched against Florida State’s top arms Parker Messick (Friday) and Bryce Hubbart (Saturday), where he combined to go 1-for-9 with six strikeouts and one blooped double down the left field line.

DeLauter struck out in all three plate appearances against Messick (94 mph FB, 93 mph FB and 85 mph CH as out pitches) and struck out in both plate appearances against Hubbart (91 and 90 mph FB as out pitches). Throughout the weekend, DeLauter looked off-balance and off-time at the plate and he also showed a tendency to leak out towards his pull side and give up the outer half of the plate. On Friday he looked uncomfortable against spin and on Saturday (like every other hitter), Hubbart’s fastball ate him up.

DeLauter did show solid raw power to the pull side during batting practice on Saturday, but his swing looked significantly steeper than would be expected for someone with the sort of batting average production and bat-to-ball skills that he has shown over the last two seasons. DeLauter does have quiet hands with minimal pre-pitch movement and a simple step to get the swing started, but the bat path was extremely steep and some evaluators thought he looked a bit stiffer than last summer.

Defensively, DeLauter looked solid in center field. He had a number of routine plays that he made with ease, and had two more challenging plays that he converted as well, both coming in on the ball and making a sliding catch in shallow center and tracking back on a deeply hit ball near the warning track in center field. His first step isn’t elite, but when he’s under way he moves well.

The pressure will be on DeLauter this spring as a small-school bat, and while he stumbled out of the gate, there’s plenty of time left to give teams confidence in his bat with an impressive foundation of performance to fall back on.

Jackson Ferris, LHP, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. (No. 18)

Ferris entered the spring as the top-ranked lefthander in the class and matched up with the second-ranked lefthander in the class in Brandon Barriera. He got the better end of the matchup of the two, as Ferris overwhelmed an American Heritage lineup that is quite as solid 1-9 as IMG is. The 6-foot-3, 199-pound lefthander worked three shutout innings and allowed just one hit on 55 pitches, striking out six and walking two.

Ferris pitched in the 92-95 mph range over all three innings and held his velocity well. He touched 96 in the first inning and didn’t quite get back to that range after, but was still hitting 95s in the second and third. He showed advanced fastball command at times, spotting the pitch to both sides of the plate with good tempo and mound presence, though he did lose his release point at times, and he overthrew or saw his arm trail as well.

Ferris mostly pitched off of his fastball and a 79-80 mph slider that ticked down into the 76-77 mph range in the third inning and got slurvier in shape as the velocity tapered off. The pitch was thrown in the 2,600-2,700 rpm range, and was the better of his two breaking balls in this look.

Ferris also threw a slower curve around 73 mph, but he wasn’t on top of the pitch and it came out of his hand with a lazy, loopy break and wasn’t as sharp as his slider. He also flashed one changeup at 86 mph, with 1,800 rpm and eight inches of vertical break—though he didn’t go back to the pitch again.

It was a fairly complete three-inning look for Ferris, and he didn’t need much more than his fastball/slider combination to overwhelm his competition, with plenty of whiffs generated with the fastball.

Brandon Barriera, LHP, American Heritage High, Plantation, Fla. (No. 20)

Barriera’s assignment was a tougher one than Ferris, given the lineup he had to navigate, and while he showed good pure stuff over three innings, the Vanderbilt commit did allow four hits and four earned runs while striking out five and walking two. He threw 62 pitches in this outing—58% for strikes.

Barriera throws with a loose and fluid arm action that’s whippy throughout his delivery. Despite a slight head whack, he finishes in a balanced position and fields his position well, with impressive athleticism.

In this outing, Barriera pitched in the 90-95 mph range and touched 96 mph in both the second and third innings. While he mostly pitched in the low 90s, he showed the ability to reach back for mid-90s velocity in counts and at-bats where he needed it. His fastball started getting hit hard in the third inning and he began to overthrow at times, but generally showed solid feel for a three-pitch mix.

His secondaries were a 79-82 mph slider that featured plenty of horizontal movement, with late turn and solid bite at its best. He was comfortable throwing the pitch for strikes consistently, and began relying on it more frequently after his fastball got hit. The pitch was in the 2,500-2,600 rpm range and flashed plus, though it wasn’t consistently in that range in this look.

Barriera also threw a firm, 85-88 mph changeup that didn’t show much movement, either in tumbling life or horizontal fading action, but he threw the pitch with fastball arm speed.

Parker Messick, LHP, Florida State (No. 56)

Scouts voted Messick as the top command pitcher in the college class entering the season, and though he admitted he didn’t have the best feel for his secondaries on Friday night, he dominated James Madison, throwing 5.2 innings and allowing just two hits and one earned run, while striking out 11 batters and walking two.

The only damage against Messick came in the second inning, when he left a 90 mph fastball up to catcher Travis Reifsnider, who homered over Florida State’s shallow right field fence. Outside of that pitch, Messick dominated by mixing and matching a solid three-pitch mix. He has an aggressive, competitive demeanor on the mound and came right after batters, getting ahead in counts often with his fastball. Messick started 14 of the 21 batters he faced with strikes.

A short and thickly built lefthander, Messick doesn’t have the smoothest operation. He throws with effort and head whack through his finish and throws slightly across his body with some length and wrist wrapping in the back of his arm action. None of that seems to hinder his command, and perhaps adds to the overall deception that hitters have to come to terms with.

In terms of stuff, Messick showed a solid-average three-pitch mix including a 90-93 mph fastball that touched 94, a 79-83 mph breaking ball that varied between fringe-average and solid and an 81-85 mph changeup that seems like his best individual offering. While none of the pitches grades out as plus, the entire mix plays up nicely given Messick’s feel for commanding each of his pitches and his ability to mix and match in different counts. His fastball generated solid whiffs up in the zone and he benefits from solid vertical break as well as a low release height, and his changeup is a real swing-and-miss weapon against righthanded hitters, with impressive arm-side fading movement.

Messick has a long track record of wracking up whiffs at a high rate and that skill was clearly on display during opening night.

Bryce Hubbart, LHP, Florida State (No. 57)

Hubbart followed up Messick’s performance by striking out a career-best 13 batters in five innings of work Saturday. He allowed just two hits and didn’t allow a single run or walk, while throwing just 75 pitches in a dominant showing that was thanks mostly to a fastball with outlier traits.

Hubbart didn’t throw a single pitch harder than 92 mph in this look, but the pitch generated a ridiculous number of whiffs and ugly swings above the strike zone. It’s his clear bread-and-butter offering and was so effective that he rarely went to any secondary offerings.

“Sometimes I can throw a pitch literally 90 mph and blow it past people or just get swings when it’s not in the strike zone,” Hubbart said. “It makes no sense, but I think the analytics of it help.”

Florida State pitching coach Jimmy Belanger said Hubbart’s fastball doesn’t have remarkable raw spin rate, but the outlier vertical break it has allows it to play as a plus offering despite below-average velocity on this day.

“It gets up to like 25 inches (of vertical break),” Belanger said. “It’s crazy. In the bullpen he’s gotten up to 25 inches. It’s pretty wild. And with him he will get it to run a little bit too. So he’ll get 13-14 inches of horizontal (break) at times. It is amazing, he will get more swings and misses up and out to righties than I’ve ever seen.”

Like Messick, Hubbart is a fiery competitor on the mound who comes right after hitters. He is on the shorter and smaller side at 6-foot-1, 181 pounds and throws with effort, but has a clean and repeatable arm action. There’s some significant crossfiring action in his delivery that potentially makes his fastball even more difficult to size up and in this look he showed above-average fastball control.

Hubbart likely won’t be able to rely exclusively on his fastball as he faces better competition, but Saturday’s outing was a clear indication that he has some outlier traits with the pitch that make it play well above what the velocity might indicate.

Brady Neal, C, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. (No. 61)

Neal was originally a member of the 2023 draft class, and after switching to the 2022 class is one of the youngest hitters in the class. In fact, with Cam Collier playing for Chipola (Fla.) JC this spring, Neal is the youngest high school hitter currently ranked among the top 100 draft prospects.

He went 2-for-4 with a triple, a run and an RBI during IMG’s matchup with American Heritage on Wednesday, while also doing a nice job handling Jackson Ferris behind the plate. Neal showed solid feel for the barrel and good hitting instincts in this look, with good rhythm in the box and power to drive the ball deep into the opposite field gap.

Neal looked comfortable and confident behind the plate and showed solid movements in his lower half and with his presentation of the ball. On one instance he could have done a better job anticipating and moving his body laterally to block a pitch spiked to his arm side, but he seems to have the physical tools and athleticism necessary to stick behind the plate with continued development.

Kevin Parada Georgiatechcourtesy (1)

2022 MLB Draft: Baseball America Staff Draft V 1.0

See where the top players for the 2022 draft class landed in our staff draft.

Others to note

Joe Charles, RHP, Florida State: Charles ranked as a top 200 prospect out of high school in the 2019 draft class and initially went to North Carolina, where he threw just 1.1 innings in the 2020 season. Now at FSU, Charles pitched an inning of relief over the weekend and showed a strong two-pitch mix with a 92-94 mph fastball and a potentially plus slider in the 81-82 mph range. The pitch featured hard and late bite in this look, where he went 1-2-3 with a pair of strikeouts and a groundout. In the past, scattered control and inconsistent breaking stuff have given scouts pause, but it was a good—albeit brief—look out of the pen this weekend. Pitching from the stretch now could simplify his delivery and help his control improve.

Davion Hickson, RHP, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.: Hickson entered in relief of Ferris during IMG’s matchup against American Heritage and showed a solid fastball/slider combination. He threw his fastball in the 91-92 mph range with spin around 2,400 rpm, and showed impressive feel for a short-breaking slider in the low 80s with 2,500-2,600 rpm spin. While the pitch didn’t have an overwhelming amount of depth or tilt, he landed it consistently and got whiffs to his glove side against righthanded hitters. Hickson is listed at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds and is committed to Florida State.

Jeanpierre Ortiz, SS, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.: Ortiz is regarded as one of the better defensive shortstops in the 2022 class, but in this look he played second base, with 2023 prospect Stone Russell handling the shortstop position. Ortiz went 1-for-4 with a strikeout and a single, but his single was one of the harder hit balls of the day: a 108 mph line drive off the bat against a 90 mph fastball. Ortiz is committed to Florida International.

Jesus Pena, 2B, Miami Springs (Fla.) High: Pena impressed during batting practice with impressive bat speed, strength and raw power to the pull side. After doing a nice job driving the ball hard the opposite way during his first few rounds, Pena began to let loose in his final rounds and drove a number of deep fly balls to left field and over the fence. Pena is a physically developed infielder with present strength throughout and a 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame that might be a better fit for a corner position at the next level, despite the fact that he worked out at second base in this look. Pena is committed to Chipola (Fla.) JC.

Brett Roberts, 3B, Florida State: Roberts had one of the more impressive hits I saw this weekend when he went with a 93 mph fastball on the outer half and flicked it with impressive bat speed and power the other way over the right field fence. Later, he turned in a plus run time down the first base line on a 6-4-3 double play, and he showed impressive hands and athleticism in pre-game infield while working out at third base, shortstop and second. Roberts played third base in all three games for Florida State, while hitting in the cleanup spot and going 4-for-8 with one home run, three walks and one strikeout. He doesn’t look like a prototypical No. 4 hitter with a lean, 6-foot, 182-pound frame but has good bat speed and showed plenty of comfort driving the ball the other way on multiple occasions with the actions and defensive ability that should give him a chance to play middle infield—potentially second base—at the next level.

Javier Santos Tejada, RHP, Georgia Premier Academy: Tejada was born in the Dominican Republic and is now pitching for the same Georgia Premier Academy program that produced 2019 Indians first-rounder Daniel Espino. Tejada is not the prospect Espino was, but he does have impressive arm strength and velocity. He touched 98 mph on Wednesday against Miami Springs (Fla.) High, mostly pitching in the 94-96 mph range in the first inning before dropping down to 90-92 mph in the second. He also threw a 77-80 mph curveball with 12-to-6 shape, solid depth and spin in the 2,600-2,700 rpm range, but his arm slowed significantly on the pitch and was picked up early out of the hand. Tejada will need to massively improve his control, as he struggled to fill the zone and repeat his release point—both in game and between innings during warmups. He walked five batters in one-plus innings of work and threw strikes with just 39.5% of his pitches. At the moment it’s an arm strength reliever profile, but there is plenty of power to dream on. Tejada is committed to Northwest Florida State JC.

Alex Toral, 1B, Florida State: Toral has been on draft radars since his freshman season in high school, and after four productive seasons at Miami, he transferred to ACC rival Florida State where he is hitting in the three-spot for the Seminole lineup and warmly regarded as “Coach Toral” in the team’s clubhouse. He’s offered the team a veteran presence and plenty of power that should translate into big home run production this spring given FSU’s ballpark. This weekend he went 5-for-11 with a home run, three doubles, one walk and two strikeouts. Toral is a well below-average runner and a definite corner profile with a large, 6-foot-1, 238-pound frame but showed some deft footwork around the first base bag to save an errant throw on one occasion. He’s got more than enough raw power to be an interesting senior sign.

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