It’s six weeks into the NCAA season and there is a lot of season left before the MLB Draft, but certain trends have begun to emerge. First, the college pitching came into the season as a weakness and injuries have only ravaged it further. How teams navigate the injured players is something that won’t be known till the day of the draft. Second, there is some real high-upside talent in the high school class. And finally, the college hitters offer security and safety with their profiles. There is a divide in how some teams value a few of the college bats whose value is primarily derived from their offense. A good final reminder that this far out you shouldn’t place too much into specific player-team connections. Let’s dive into the picks!
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1. Baltimore Orioles – Druw Jones, OF, Wesleyan (HS)
The Orioles are a true wildcard in this draft since they could repeat their strategy from 2020 and 2021 where they used slot-saving picks on Heston Kjersted at pick two and Colton Cowser at five or they could just take the best layer in the draft like 2019 when they picked first overall. I’d strongly lean hitter for them at the present. There are scouts who believe that Druw Jones is the one player who could be a true superstar from this class. In this mock, Baltimore seizes the opportunity to go best player available at 1:1.
Mock Draft 1.0: Josh Jung
2. Arizona Diamondbacks – Temarr Johnson, 2B, Mays (HS)
In December I wrote that Diamondbacks made sense as a landing spot for Elijah Green since they took a player with a similar profile in Jordan Lawler in 2021 before linking them with Druw Jones. Since then, Green has continued to strikeout in over 30% of his plate appearances. Even with Lawler’s strikeout issues, he dropped his K% to 16% his senior year of high school. We’ll get to Green later, but here the Diamondbacks could go a number of directions. One of which would be to take what some are viewing as a generational hitter in Termarr Johnson. Johnson is likely a second baseman at the next level but the bat may just be worth it.
Mock Draft 1.0: Druw Jones
3. Texas Rangers – Brooks Lee, SS, Cal Poly
The Rangers have historically leaned college players and with the 2022 class, I’d guess that continues as of now. Brooks Lee probably gets a chance in pro ball to play shortstop but may end up sliding over to third base eventually. He has the bat to profile at the position. The switch-hitter has all-star upside and could move fairly quickly up to Texas, which is clearly identifying now as the time to push all their chips in. As a reminder, it’s best not to factor in who is currently playing for the Rangers in the majors.
Mock Draft 1.0: Brooks Lee
4. Pittsburgh Pirates – Dylan Lesko, RHP, Buford (HS)
Dylan Lesko entered the season as not only the best high school arm, but the best arm in the entire class. He has done nothing to dissuade that argument. I could see another hitter here as well, but the Pirates have had a good deal of success with investing in high school arms. Lesko would add another dynamic arm to the Pirates organization.
Mock Draft 1.0: Chase DeLauter
5. Washington Nationals – Noah Schultz, LHP, Oswego East (HS)
Fifth may be too high for Schultz, but the sky is the limit for the ultra-projectable lefthander. Standing 6’9″, Schultz can really sling the ball from a sidearm slot. His fastball only sat 88-92 last summer, but despite the pedestrian velocity, it beat hitters due to the severe angle and extension. This spring, Schultz looks more physical and he’s using that physicality to generate more velocity. He sat 92-96 mph in a recent start. In addition to the velocity, Schultz employs a slider with sweepy movement. It is frontline potential and a team that gables on upside and giant pitchers like Washington does may just take Schultz off the board quickly.
Mock Draft 1.0: Elijah Green
6. Miami Marlins – Jace Jung, 2B/3B, Texas Tech
It’s hard to decipher Miami’s target profile, but this is an organization that has placed a higher emphasis on bat rather than position in the past. Of the main bat-first college hitters (Jung, Berry, DeLauter), I personally think Jung gets taken first of the three in that scenario. In December, I mocked Daniel Susac here to Miami and that could be a logical landing spot here as well.
Mock Draft 1.0: Daniel Susac
7. Chicago Cubs – Jackson Holliday, SS, Stillwater (HS)
Looking at all the Cubs selections who received a first-round caliber bonus under Dan Kantrovitz (James Triantos, Ed Howard, and Jordan Wicks), there are some common threads. Most importantly, all of these players received rave reviews for their make-up. If a team is going to make a significant investment, they are making that investment in both the player and the person. Additionally, each of Triantos, Howard, and Wicks have qualities that dramatically reduce risk: Triantos’ high contact ability, Howard’s plus defense at shortstop, and Wicks’ college LHP demographic and offspeed pitches. Finally, these three have a significant ceiling. Triantos’ hitting ability isn’t just suburb, it’s “freaky” plus-plus hitting. Howards has all-star upside with even just average offense. Wicks added a spike-curve and a sweeper slider and has the Cubs pumped that he just may showcase a frontline profile. So, when we look at who the Cubs may target at pick 7, we identify players with supreme make-up, high floor, strong ceiling potential. There are a handful of players who fit that category, but one left on the board is a name rising fast: Jackson Holliday.
Jackson Holliday is the son of Matt Holliday, but he’s making a name for himself. The Stillwater, Oklahoma shortstop combines much of what the Cubs look for. In evaluation terms, he “checks a lot of boxes”. First, Holliday gets high marks for his makeup from those I spoke with. The Cubs and any teams that dig into Jackson will have to make their own evaluation of that and I haven’t spoken with him, but . I lacked data on Jackson Holliday during my pre-season ranking, but one note that stuck with me from prior to the season was a note he “swung and missed”. I don’t know where that note originated, but it simply wasn’t the case on the showcase circuit. Based on available data I charted him with a 90.8% contact rate, which is upper echelon and causes him to rank very high in my model. Even more so, he didn’t chase the ball out of the zone, which continues to raise his future projections as a hitter and reduces any risk associated with the selection. But picking 7th overall, you’d want an all-star. Holliday is displaying power as well and limited looks suggest he has a shot to stick at in the infield. This is a player who looks like he’s worthy of being drafted in the top 10. I have him ranked even higher. Make sure you learn the name Jackson Holliday because you’ll likely hear it for a very long time.
Mock Draft 1.0: Termarr Johnson
8. Minnesota Twins – Kevin Parada, C, Georgia Tech
The Twins favor hitters who have strong batted ball data, which Parada showcases. Scouts are more mixed as to whether he is a long-term catcher, but the bat should play elsewhere on the diamond if needed. Parada has a unique starting position in his hitting mechanics, but he gets to a solid position at launch. The bat is legit and a team that believes he can catch at the next level will take him early in my opinion.
Mock Draft 1.0: Jacob Berry
9. Kansas City Royals – Daniel Susac, C, Arizona
Five out of the last six first-round picks by Kansas City have been pitchers, but I think that strategy changes this season. Daniel Susac combines a strong college bat with a position at catcher that can be appealing for some teams. The Royals were looking into catching options last year during the draft before pivoting to a slot-saving strategy. I think they go that route this season. There are some who are mixed on Susac behind the plate, but I buy into his future defensive profile.
Mock Draft 1.0: Dylan Lesko
10. Colorado Rockies – Cam Collier, 3B, Chipola JC
Collier is a recently reclassified player in the 2022 class. This means that he now will be eligible for the 2022 draft versus the 2023 draft. It also means that he’ll be one of the youngest players in the class (projected to be about 17 and a half years old). In the past two drafts, the Rockies have gambled on upside players and Cam Collier fits that bill. I’ve consistently seen Collier ranked/mocked in the 20s, but I see a player who bet on himself and is succeeding against older competition. I think a team buys into the talent, work ethic, and bloodlines early.
Mock Draft 1.0: Gavin Cross
11. New York Mets (compensation) – Dylan Beavers, OF, California
With two picks in the top 15, it’s intriguing to see what the Mets do. I believe they’ll target a mix of upside and floor with their two selections. Dylan Beavers represents the floor of that pairing. His power profile works well and from a college demographic he offers security. The Ks are still slightly higher than where he’d likely be, but he doesn’t chase the ball and his contact rate is still very solid. He provides a quick-moving bat who should be able to provide value to New York in short order.
Mock Draft 1.0: Robert Moore
12. Detroit Tigers – Chase DeLauter, OF, James Madison
The Tigers have historically leaned college players and a franchise on the rise. Opinions on the bat-first college hitters are mixed, but at some point, they just become incredible value. I think that happens for players like DeLauter. He has a different set of hitting mechanics which causes diverging opinions, but the batted-ball profile is incredible.
Mock Draft 1.0: Kumar Rocker
13. Los Angeles Angels – Jacob Berry, 3B, LSU
The last of the three bat-first college hitters mentioned earlier is taken by an organization that spent 20/20 picks on pitching last year. This is more of a product of the available talent on the board and of prior drafting tendencies where they placed a greater emphasis on the offensive qualities rather than the defensive outlook (Will Wilson).
Mock Draft 1.0: Bryce Hubbart
14. New York Mets – Elijah Green, OF, IMG Academy
With the second pick of the Mets, they go after one of the more physical players in the draft class. Elijah Green offers all-world tools, but his swing and miss add a legitimate concern to his profile. In some ways, Green reminds me of Brady House. Last season who had swing and miss, but he had made strides in his senior year of high school. Green posted ghastly contact rates in the 60s-%. This spring, he’s striking out in nearly a third of his plate appearances. Could he go to school as Dylan Crews did and just mash for a couple of seasons? I don’t know that I’d go that far just yet. As of now, I look at teams like Washington, Minnesota, and New York (Mets) who might be willing to take a chance on the outfielder. I could conceivably see a situation in which the Mets are able to balance any bonus demands of Green along with the risk in his profile. It pays to be able to outspend any mistakes.
Mock Draft 1.0: Brock Jones
15. San Diego Padres – Brandon Barreria, LHP, American Heritage (HS)
When I ask around about Barreria, there are some people who absolutely love his profile. He displays moxie on the mound that is backed up with plus arm strength and a pair of secondaries in his slider and changeup that look to be above-average. Barreria pumps strikes and looks like he could add more to his frame. The Padres like lefthanders and he’d likely need to go somewhat high to buy him out of Vanderbilt.
This is also the range in which we might start to see Ian JR Ritchie’s name pop up. The prep righthander has dazzled in front of a lot of scouts.
Mock Draft 1.0: Peyton Pallette
16. Cleveland Guardians – Hunter Barco, LHP, Florida
Cleveland targets college strike-throwers, especially those in the SEC with bonus points if that player pitches in Gainsville, FL. Hunter Barco fits all of the above criteria. It’s a particularly weak college pitching class at the top, but Barco stands out for his command, however, his stuff makes him worthy of the selection. He sits 92-96 from the left side with a plus slider. He also will flash an above-average changeup.
Mock Draft 1.0: Cam Collier
17. Philadelphia Phillies – Gavin Cross, OF, Virginia
Cross was getting some top 5 overall buzz entering the year. In a deep class for college outfielders it seems that someone always gets lost in the shuffle and gets picked slightly below their talent level. Cross may just be that guy. His contact has improved, but he’s not showing as much power entering conference play. He’s still a fairly quick-moving bat and a team in the mid-teens is going to bring in a valuable contributor.
Mock Draft 1.0: Brock Porter
18. Cincinnati Reds – Jud Fabian, OF, Florida
I’m a Jud Fabian believer. I won’t deny that. After ranking him 1:1 entering the 2021 season at Ivy Futures, I held onto that ranking far too long. The Ks piled up and it just wasn’t the Top 5 overall profile I thought it’d be. Because Fabian was so young last season, he made the decision to go back to campus. That looks like a wise decision as he’s dramatically dropped his K-rate while improving his offensive output. Strikeouts may still be a part of Fabian’s game, but he looks to have regained his shine. Cincinnati has taken players with strikeout risk previously. Fabian’s upside is that of a plus defensive CF with plus power.
Mock Draft 1.0: Jayson Jones
19. Oakland Athletics – Josh Kasevich, SS, Oregon
I believe Kasevich has a chance to land in the first round. His biggest question entering the 2022 season was whether he can adapt his swing to pull the ball. Having watched Oregon games, he tends to incorporate a Derek Jeter-esque swing to go the other way. The early results suggest that he’s making the appropriate adjustments to pull the ball without sacrificing significant contact. He will still have moments where he reverts to his older swing, but that’s not a bad tool to pull out of the box at times. He’s a strong hitter and an organization that sees Kasevich succeed at SS while incorporating swing changes could identify him as a future big league starter at SS.
Mock Draft 1.0: Gavin Turley
20. Atlanta Braves – Bryce Hubbart, LHP, Florida State
Atlanta loves to take successful ACC pitchers and Hubbart is one of the best (alongside his teammate Parker Messick). Hubbart showed higher velocity in the Cape last summer and I think he has the potential to go higher if he starts looking more 92-94 mph than 89-91. The incorporation of his sweeper slider has been a good addition to his repertoire with a changeup and curveball. I’m higher on Hubbart than the consensus, but in a class devoid of impact college pitching I think he goes decently high in the draft.
Mock Draft 1.0: Cayden Wallace
21. Seattle Mariners – Cooper Hjerpe, LHP, Oregon State University
Don’t let the Pacific Northwest bias sway you, I think Kasevich has a chance to play his way into the first round. His biggest question entering the 2022 season is whether he can adapt his swing to pull the ball. Having watched Oregon games, he tends to incorporate a Derek Jeter-esque swing to go the other way. It’s very difficult to live and die with that type of approach, but he’s a strong hitter and an organization that sees Kasevich succeed at SS while incorporating swing changes could identify him as a future big league starter at SS.
Mock Draft 1.0: Josh Kasevich
22. St. Louis Cardinals – Gavin Turley, OF, Hamilton (HS)
For the last few seasons, the Cardinals have alternated between safe college performers and risky profile high school bats. With Nolan Gorman in 2018 and Jordan Walker in 2020, the Cardinals haven’t been shy going for upside despite swing and miss. Gavin Turley fits that profile to a tee and he could be another late-first steal for the Cardinals.
Mock Draft 1.0: Kevin Parada
23. Toronto Blue Jays – Kumar Rocker, RHP
I don’t think there are too many people who truly have a bead for how Kumar Rocker is doing these days. He’s the most volatile player in the class and it’s all due to health. I don’t have much to add here on Rocker other than we’ll hopefully hear one way or the other about him pitching in Independent ball soon. Toronto took Gunnar Hoglund last season after he had Tommy John surgery. I’m not saying that Rocker has an injury, but the Blue Jays will at least entertain the thought of a player with an injury history.
Mock Draft 1.0: Jud Fabian
24. Boston Red Sox – Mickey Romero, SS, Orange Lutheran (HS)
Scouts that like Mikey Romero point to his defensive profile as a likely shortstop at the pro level and to his contact-oriented bat. Where Romero has his detractors is in the two diverging camps evaluating his power profile. During the showcase circuit, Romero got the label of a “slasher” with the bat. He didn’t drive the ball like other premiere players. Based on recent reports, Romero has made a more concerted effort to drive the ball with some authority. It will be something to watch this spring. Certain organizations have prioritized the hit over the power tools in the draft and players with a similar profile – like Jackson Merrill- were drafted towards the back of the first round. Boston is an organization that does fit that bill in recent years. Perhaps they dip their toes back into those waters this July.
Mock Draft 1.0: Carter Young
25. New York Yankees – Eric Brown, SS, Coastal Carolina
Eric Brown may utilize an unorthodox hitting stance, but his batted ball data clearly shows it works for him. The Yankees took one of the best college hitters last year when ranked by batted ball data and he was from another small school to boot, in Eastern Illinois’ Trey Sweeney. There are a host of teams in this range who’d likely be very interested in Brown and some team is going to walk away very happy.
Mock Draft 1.0: Connor Prielipp
26. Chicago White Sox – Brock Porter, RHP, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (HS)
It’s hard to peg what direction the White Sox may go this summer, but looking at prior tendencies, they made a big play for Jared Kelly. Kelly was one of the premiere high school arms in 2020 but was knocked a bit for the fact that his primary offspeed was a changeup rather than a breaking ball. There were questions as to whether he could spin the baseball. Porter doesn’t show those later concerns. He showcases a robust arsenal, but that changeup is special. Like Kelly, Porter is overshadowed by the top arm in the class. If he tumbles a bit, he could add an exciting arm to the South Side.
Mock Draft 1.0: Parker Messick
27. Milwaukee Brewers – Jackson Ferris, LHP, IMG Academy (HS)
As I sent the drafts of this mock around for perspectives, I heard I had Jackson Ferris too low. Ultimately I stuck with it since it’s such a strong high-school LHP class and Ferris is primarily a two pitch pitcher. He is a strong mover (biomechanically) and generates easy velocity (92-97 mph) with a dynamite high 70s to low 80s curveball. Milwaukee’s pitching development pipeline has had a lot of success with pitcher’s with Ferris’ foundation. The Brewers also are a club that isn’t shy from taking a pitching prospect and letting them just be elite contributors out of the pen. Ferris could log high-impact outs in his professional career, especially if he lands with a club that can maximize his strengths like Milwaukee.
Mock Draft 1.0: Blade Tidwell
28. Houston Astros – Tyler Locklear, 3B, VCU
You could credit draft-guru Mason McRae for hyping up VCU’s heavy hitter, Tyler Locklear, but his bat has been doing the talking. Locklear features some of the best batted-ball data in the entire draft class. He hits for contact, doesn’t chase pitches out of the zone, and he hits for power. Houston targets players with strong batted-ball profile and it’s hard to argue with their strategy. Someone is going to end up with an impressive offensive player in Locklear. AL West division-mates better hope it’s not Houston. Eric Brown makes a lot of sense here too.
Mock Draft 1.0: Noah Schultz
29. Tampa Bay Rays – Cole Young, SS, North Alleghany (HS)
Another repeat pick in this mock, Cole Young fits a lot of what Tampa Bay consistently looks for in their upper-level draft selections. They aren’t afraid to take cold weather players and they have a developmental system capable of highlighting strengths and addressing deficiencies. For Young, that’s his plate discipline (strength) and lack of power potential (weakness). Tampa Bay has made that profile work before.
Mock Draft 1.0: Cole Young
30. Los Angeles Dodgers – Henry Bolte, OF Palo Alto (HS)
Henry Bolte had quite the showing at Jupiter (WWBA showcase) and demonstrated his plus bat-to-ball skills. LA has success taking players with more of a hit over power profile. Bolte looks the part of a first-rounder. In this mock, LA gets another developmental talent to add to their pipeline.
Mock Draft 1.0: Mikey Romero
31. San Francisco Giants – Walter Ford, RHP, Pace (HS)
The “Vanilla Missile” was set to be in the 2023 class before he reclassified to this year’s draft. San Francisco consistently selects pitchers I like so why shouldn’t that trend continue. Ford throws easy mid 90s velocity with a power curveball and developing changeup. Pace has had a strong scouting presence at games so far this season.
Mock Draft 1.0: Peyton Graham
How did your team do?
Let me know in the comments if you agree with the picks.