How MLB Scouting Departments Grade The 2022 Draft Class
Last year, in addition to having MLB scouts vote on our preseason All-America teams for the high school and college class, we also asked teams to grade the draft class on a 20-80 scouting scale.
Every year we discuss the various strengths and weaknesses of the class and compare one group to an “average” draft year. So why not quantify that from the experts and have some numbers to compare year over year and potentially get a more instructive bird’s eye view of the class.
That’s the goal with this exercise. While much can change with how the industry views the class as the season unfolds, below are how 14 scouting departments graded out the 2022 draft class as they saw it entering the season.
Average Grade: 56
This category is the most vague and all-encompassing of all the categories we surveyed. The industry is mostly settling on average and plus grades for the class, with one 70-grade vote received.
Average Grade: 53
Whether you prefer impact talent or depth in a given draft class likely depends on your personal taste—and perhaps where your team is drafting during any given year. Most of the industry views this category as average, though we received a trio of plus grades, one double-plus grade and one below-average grade.
It seems impressive for the class to get an average grade of 53 given the attrition we have already seen with many of the first round college pitchers in this class. If we had a normal year with health, it would be interesting to see what this number would be.
Average Grade: 57
Like the 2021 class, depth appears to be one of the strengths of the 2022 group. That makes sense, as the five-round draft in 2020 still has lingering effects that will impact this group and the 2023 group on the college side. Only one other category received a higher average grade than the 57 received here for overall depth.
Average Grade: 41
This is clearly the weakest area of the 2022 draft class and the only area that received a below-average grade. A strong majority of teams viewed the group as below-average, while one team gave the college pitching a well below-average grade and just three viewed the college pitching as average.
The 2022 class suffers from injuries to top-end players as well as significantly less track record (in terms of both innings pitched and starts) overall, thanks to the lost time that this group had to establish resumes as underclassmen.
Average Grade: 55
Plurality: 50 & 60 tied
After a down year in 2021, the college hitting looks strong in the 2022 class. Currently six of the top 10 players in the class are college hitters and the group has a strong combination of hitting for both average and power, with a number of players who project to stick in the infield or have a chance to play up the middle in the outfield.
Brooks Lee, Jace Jung, Chase DeLauter, Jacob Berry, Brock Jones and Gavin Cross have a strong mix of production, tools and impact that the top hitting group from the 2021 class didn’t have entering the year.
High School Pitching
Average Grade: 54
The industry had the most consensus on the high school pitching group, with every respondent putting either an average or plus grade on this category. Righthander Dylan Lesko is the clear top pitching prospect in the class, but there’s a wave of interesting talent behind him in righthanders Brock Porter, Andrew Dutkanych and JR Ritchie, as well as lefthanders Jackson Ferris, Brandon Barriera, Tristan Smith and Noah Schultz.
It’ll be interesting to see whether this group of prep arms moves into the first round vacuum that could be created on the college pitching front—or if the perceived risk of the demographic and/or surges from college arms down the board prevents that.
High School Hitting
Average Grade: 58
The industry views the high school hitting in the 2022 draft class as the best category with an average grade of 58—just barely edging out overall depth. The top three high school bats are exceptional with outfielders Druw Jones and Elijah Green and shortstop Termarr Johnson. Jones and Green pair exceptional athleticism and overall tools, while Johnson is one of the best pure hitting prospects we’ve seen in years.
Beyond that, there are plenty of options at a number of demographics. Cole Young, Jackson Holliday and Mikey Romero provide intriguing options at shortstop with solid hitting foundations. There’s a cluster of uber toolsy outfielders including Justin Crawford, Gavin Turley and Henry Bolte. Then there are offensive-oriented corner infield profiles including Jayson Jones, Sal Stewart and Tucker Toman. There’s also a mix of catchers with Malcolm Moore, Brady Neal, Ike Irish and Adonys Guzman that are all viewed as top-three round talents at the moment.
No matter your preference in hitting profiles, you should be able to find it in this year’s prep class, with exciting impact talent at the top and plenty of depth pieces with tools and upside throughout the top 100.
So, how does the 2022 class look when we put all the pieces together? Let’s round every average grade to the nearest half-grade and see.
Overall: 55 (above-average)
Impact: 55 (above-average)
Depth: 60 (plus)
College Pitching: 40 (below-average)
College Hitting: 55 (above-average)
High School Pitching: 55 (above-average)
High School Hitting: 60 (plus)
That’s a very loud package of tools. The 2022 class is viewed as above-average or better in every single category except for college pitching. On paper prior to the season, this year’s class seems better than the 2021 group, which had two average grades (impact talent, high school pitching) and one fringe-average (college hitting).
So, as long as you don’t have a strong preference for polished, proven college arms you should enjoy this class.