2022 Top 100 Draft Analysis And Breakdown
Today we released our first combined draft ranking of the 2022 class, moving from separate high school and college lists to one combined top 100.
While you can see scouting reports for every player with that top 100 list, here we are going to dive into the class a bit more.
After a well-regarded 2021 class, most of the industry seems to be excited about the 2022 class with most scouting directors we polled either giving the overall talent of the group 50 or 60 grades.
College Bats Are Back
The biggest difference between this year’s class and the 2021 class appears to be in the quality of college bats at the top of the group. On our preseason rankings a year ago, there were just four college bats that ranked among the top 15 players in the class: Miami catcher Adrian Del Castillo (3), UCLA shortstop Matt McLain (8), Louisville third baseman Alex Binelas (9) and Florida outfielder Jud Fabian (11).
Three players of that group underperformed during the season and wound up going much lower than those preseason ranks, with only McLain holding steady and maintaining his first round status.
In conversations with scouts and scouting directors, the excitement for the top group of college hitters in 2022 is much greater. There are twice as many college hitters ranked among the top 15 including: Cal Poly shortstop Brooks Lee (3), Texas Tech second baseman Jace Jung (4), James Madison outfielder Chase DeLauter (6), Louisiana State corner infielder Jacob Berry (8), Stanford outfielder Brock Jones (9), Virginia Tech outfielder Gavin Cross (10), Arkansas second baseman Robert Moore (11) and Georgia Tech catcher Kevin Parada (15).
The depth of top-of-the-first-round college hitters speaks for itself in comparison to the 2021 group, but scouts also feel better about the collective power this group has compared to the class a year ago. There’s simply a better track record of thump in this year’s top-end college hitters.
The top eight college bats have averaged 14.5 home runs as a group so far in their collegiate career, compared to 11.75 for the four top among the top 15 on last year’s list, entering their draft seasons.
At this point it certainly seems like an above-average class for college hitters, with intriguing depth bats including outfielders Dylan Beavers, Jordan Beck, Sterlin Thompson and Anthony Hall and shortstops Carter Young, Jordan Sprinkle, Zach Neto, Eric Brown and Ryan Ritter poised to make jumps with solid performances.
High School Bats Remain Solid
It’s tough to follow up a 2021 prep hitting class that set the record for first round shortstops and was overflowing in tooled-up athletes, but like the college hitting group, most directors we talked with are giving the prep bats 50 and 60 grades.
The class simply doesn’t compare to 2021 in terms of prep shortstops—it’ll be hard to match that any time soon—with just two shortstops ranked among the top 30 players at the moment and one of those players (Georgia shortstop Termarr Johnson) expected to move to second base at the next level.
Even with fewer shortstops, there’s plenty of excitement with the top of the high school class this year between Johnson and outfielders Druw Jones and Elijah Green.
Each of those players has received consideration as the top overall prospect in the class and where you place them on a board could simply be an exercise in which profile you value more than anything else. All three are unique and how these players line up on draft day will be telling on what the industry values—assuming good performance and health from the trio this spring.
Jones is perhaps the most classic top-of-the-class high schooler in terms of toolset, profile, current skills and body. He has the best collection of all-around tools in the class, with a solid offensive approach and bat-to-ball skills. On top of that, scouts are dreaming on his physical projection and future power potential with a lean frame that should add plenty of strength at physical maturity. He has all of this while profiling as a lockdown defensive center fielder—just like his father Andruw.
Johnson is one of the most unique top-of-the-class high school profiles we have ever seen. He’s a physically maxed-out, 5-foot-8, 194-pound middle infielder who most scouts view as a second baseman. His supplemental toolset is simply average, with a fine throwing arm, average speed and solid defensive ability. What separates him and vaults him towards the top of the class is his precocious feel for hitting and hitting with power. His bat speed is electric, he is always in charge of his at-bats and knows how to recognize pitches, read the strike zone and laugh off velocity. He can turn on balls over the plate for impressive power to his pull side or flick his hands and slap a ball to the opposite field for a single. He’s one of the most advanced high school hitters of at least the last 10 years.
Green is unique for different reasons. He’s one of the most physically advanced players scouts have seen at the level in years and looks like he would fit in perfectly on a football field like his 10-year NFL veteran father, Eric. He has a truly unique power and speed combination with potential double-plus raw power at the plate and double-plus run times at his best, giving him a chance to play center field. There’s a fairly easy case to be made that no player in the class has more pure upside than Green, and for teams excited about tools, physicality and upside he’s the clear choice.
Plenty Of Depth With High School Pitching
The 2022 class also stands out for its depth of pitching on the high school side.
Righthander Dylan Lesko has an unimpeachable track record of performance throughout his high school career and has the pure stuff and athleticism to match it—making him the obvious top pitching prospect in the class.
Behind him, though, there’s plenty of firepower.
Michigan righthander Brock Porter isn’t too far behind, with perhaps more accessible power now and one of the only changeups in the class that will give Lesko’s a run for its money. After Porter, Andruw Dutkanych and JR Ritchie are both potential first round arms and there’s also an extremely deep mix of lefthanders.
The last few years have seen an impressive number of highly touted southpaws in the prep ranks, but this year four players of that demographic rank among the top 30 on our initial draft list, including Florida lefthanders Jackson Ferris and Brandon Barriera, South Carolina lefty Tristan Smith and Illinois product Noah Schultz.
Lining those four up in a consensus order seems impossible at the moment, with different scouts preferring one over the other for various reasons after getting different looks at the group last summer. Do you like a complete package with a track record of strikes? Perhaps Ferris is your man. Do you want arguably the best curveball of the group? That’ll be Smith. Are you more into intense athleticism, arm speed and a fiery competitor? Barriera is your guy. Is outlier height and top-end spin characteristics more your speed? Take Schultz.
It’s a deep and intriguing group of arms that doesn’t stop there, with reinforcements coming in the way of 2023 reclassified righthander Walter Ford, a two-way player with a cannon arm who should touch 100 mph soon in Nazier Mule and many more.
2023 Pittsburgh Pirates Top 10 Prospects Chat
Mark Chiarelli answered questions regarding the Pirates system today. You can read the transcript here.
College Pitching The Clear Weak Link
All of the groups we’ve touched on so far have been solid or better, compared to the average draft class. The one demographic where that is not the case is college pitching.
Most scouting directors we’ve received feedback from view the class as a 40-grade group. There are few established pitchers with starting track records and first round stuff to match as we enter the 2022 season. The player with the best combination of physicality, stuff and starting track record is likely Kumar Rocker, who will be an enigma in his own right after the 2021 fiasco with the Mets and the fact that he’s not returning to Vanderbilt to pitch this season.
Two other prime candidates who could have pushed for a top-of-the-class college pitching nod are lefthanders Connor Prielipp (Alabama) and Reggie Crawford (Connecticut). The former was dominant in every one of his seven starts for Alabama over the last two years, while the latter was arguably the most impressive pitcher in a brief look last summer—both are now injured and won’t have a chance to add to their very limited resumes.
Of players who are healthy and expected to pitch in college this year, Blade Tidwell might offer the best combination of size, stuff and performance after posting a 3.74 ERA last spring over 18 starts. Arkansas righthander Peyton Pallette has intriguing pure stuff and potentially offers the best breaking ball in the class, while lefthanders Carson Whisenhunt (East Carolina) and Hunter Barco (Florida) form the top of the healthy college lefty group and could move up the board more with strong performance this spring.
Teams are hoping to look up five months from now and have much different feelings about the college pitching than they do presently. There’s an opportunity here for players to come out with better stuff and impress in a starting role all season to cement themselves in the first round because of the lack of marquee names in the group.