The Major League Baseball draft is exactly 3 months from today. The NCAA D1 baseball season is half over and many high school teams in the northern part of the country are just getting out on the field. As a result, there’s been a little bit of movement in the prospect rankings. Today, I’m going to check out a few of the prospects who are rising up the rankings.
While there has been some movement in the top 10, most of the rising action is starting to trickle its way up towards the top 10. We’ve seen Dylan Lesko rise up to number three over at Prospects Live while Elijah Green has taken a little tumble. If Elijah Green is available for the Cubs at number seven, that might be the fastest call the Cubs make in the history of the draft. Then again, some of the guys moving up are also very talented.
In in his recent Mock Draft 2.0, North Side Bound’s very own Greg Zumach picked shortstop Jackson Holliday to go to the Cubs at number seven. Holliday is the son of former Cardinals and Rockies outfielder Matt Holliday and he is nothing like his father. For one, Jackson is a shortstop who bats left-handed and has an extremely sweet stroke.
Here is what Greg had to say about the young shortstop”
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 am one of the few people out there that think the Cubs should take a pitcher at number seven. I’ve been on the record that Dylan Lesko, if available, it is a no brainer because you don’t know when you’re going to get a pick this high and that pick is going to be the ace of your staff. Getting Lesko would be like getting Jack Leiter before he went to college. But the problem now is that at Lesko has moved up almost to the top.
This is where Lefty Brandon Barriera comes in.
At the beginning of the draft season, Barriera was slated to go somewhere in the back of the first round. With an increase in velocity of 2 to 3 miles an hour, he’s now moved up into the low tens and the latter part of the top 10. What I like most about him is he’s pretty well polished and knows how to pitch in the strike zone. After Lesko, this is the number two pitcher on the board. There’s going to be plenty of hitting later for the Cubs to get, but it would be hard to pass on Barriera as well.
Here is what Prospects Live said about their seventh ranked prospect.
Barriera has some of the best stuff in the 2022 class, from the left side no less. It’s a stress-free operation with very little effort and seamless fluidity. Barriera throws a heavy sinker that’s been up to 98 with significant arm speed and top-of-the-class athleticism on the mound. He sits 92-94 in late innings, though even that seems to be ticking up. He’s got a wipeout slider that tunnels the heater well, diving on right-handed hitters and disappearing for lefty bats. He’s shown good feel for a changeup with solid separation and depth. He’s also shown a cutter to lefties. It’s a bulldog mentality, filling up the strike zone and coming right at hitters with attitude. Just 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Barriera is still getting more and more physical as he matures into more strength.
I’m going to save Jordan Beck and Dylan Beavers for another day. Both are college outfielders who I want to see more of before I do a mini-write up.
Florida left-handed starter Hunter Barco has just been dazzling this semester in Gainesville. I thought he would’ve been an interesting pick three years ago coming out of high school, but he’s had some setbacks and it looks like he’s overcoming them in a big way this spring. So far, he’s thrown48.1 innings with 65 strikeouts with an ERA of 2.23. He did leave last night’s start with an apparent cramp or forearm injury,
Here is was what MLB Pipeline said about Barco, who they had at 53 in their initial ranking.
In some ways, Barco is very similar to the prospect he was back in high school, albeit now with a track record of SEC success. The 6-foot-4 southpaw relies mostly on his fastball-slider combination. His fastball typically sits around 92 mph and touches 95. When he commands it well, that’s plenty, given the life it has and the lower-slot, cross-body delivery that causes some deception. His 80-mph sweeping slider misses a ton of bats and he can manipulate the shape of it to give it more of a curveball look at times. He sells his changeup well with excellent arm speed.
For me, he’s probably the third best arm on the board right now. I think the Cubs want to go with some one that has a little more upside.
And that upside is JR Ritchie.
2 and 1/2 months ago, you would’ve found Ritchie somewhere in the 60s or 70s. He came screaming up the rankings breaking into the first round about a month ago and is now closing in on the top 10. Armed with a fastball that sits in the upper 90s now, the Cubs should give Ritchie serious consideration at number seven. He is slated to go to UCLA for college, but I think a few million could be dangled in front of him to get him to come the Cubs way.
Here is what MLB Pipeline had to say about the young right-hander.
Ritchie showed off three or four outstanding offerings this past summer. He’s touched as high as 97 mph but typically sat in the 93-95 mph range with his fastball. His go-to breaking ball had been his curve, and he still throws it, but he featured a sharper low-80s slider that missed a ton of bats against good competition. He throws his changeup with good arm speed and similar velocity as his slider.
That second to last sentence means everything to me, “missed a ton of bats against good competition.”
Over the next two months, these type of short profiles are going to continue. There’s a lot of baseball still to be played and just because a player has fallen doesn’t mean that he can’t rise back up with a nice six-week stretch. Then again, individual workouts could be everything considering the amount of time between the end of the spring season and the draft.
Here are some previous draft articles on North Side Bound