The Draft season is well underway and team boards are starting to become clearer so I reached out to one of my favorite draft writers, Willie Hood from Guardians Baseball Insider, to imagine Day 1 of the MLB Draft. Willie and I factored in historical drafting tendencies, bonus pools, signability considerations, and team information as we alternated picks through the first round. Don’t forget to check out picks 16-30 at Guardians Baseball Insider available right now. Buckle up because this mock goes 55 picks deep. Willie and I will be bringing you the second half this Friday.
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1. Baltimore Orioles – Kevin Parada, C, Georgia Tech
Greg: A growing consensus seems to be building around Drew Jones being the top overall player in the class. It’s possible that Baltimore simply takes the player that many scouts feel is the best bet to be a superstar, after all the last time Baltimore had the top overall pick, they selected the consensus best player in Adley Rutschman. But if we dive into Baltimore’s selections since Mike Elias took over, the Orioles have taken three straight college hitters with strong batted ball data: Rutschman, Kjerstad, and Colton Cowser. There are some within the game who feel Kevin Parada has the best bat in the college class and a team selecting him could choose to play him part-time at catcher or simply let the bat dictate his progress. Additionally, the Orioles love to shop around their selections to see if they can spread around their draft pool. It’s a strategy that relies on teams buying down certain players to their selections promising an overslot. Here, the Orioles take a strong college hitter while setting themselves up excellently at picks 33 and 42.
I really had to take a hard look at whether Mike Elias would make a repeat of 2012’s draft when the Astros under Elias took the best high school shortstop who wowed team officials and was willing to take a discount, Carlos Correa. Could Jackson Holliday repeat that process? It’s a real possibility.
Other players under consideration: Druw Jones, Termarr Johnson, Brooks Lee, Jackson Holliday
2. Arizona Diamondbacks – Druw Jones, OF, Wesleyan (HS)
Willie: After watching arguably the best player in the 2021 MLB Draft slide to them last year the Diamondbacks have another opportunity to grab the best player in the 2022 MLB Draft in this scenario. Jones is a premium athlete following in his father’s (Andruw Jones) footsteps. The younger Jones is a legit five-tool talent with room for growth offensively as he physically matures and fills out his 6’4, 180 lb frame. There are several ways Arizona can go with this pick in July with players like Jones, Termarr Johnson, Kevin Parada, Brooks Lee, Jackson Holliday, and Elijah Green all possibilities.
3. Texas Rangers – Temarr Johnson, 2B, Mays (HS)
Greg: Termarr Johnson came into the season labeled as having a “generational hit tool” by esteemed prospect analysts like MLB.com’s Jim Callis. That’s not to be taken lightly. It’s hard to know exactly where Termarr will end up. Finding a natural fit for a player who likely slides over to second base isn’t easy based on historical data, but in this mock, Texas doesn’t overthink the selection. They take a player who performed well in showcases while demonstrating soft hands, a plus or better hit, and power grades. The position doesn’t matter if you’re bringing in that kind of a bat. Brooks Lee, Kevin Parada, and Jace Jung make a ton of sense here and were all seriously considered.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates – Brooks Lee, SS, Cal Poly
Willie: Brooks Lee falls here, in this mock but he’s a possibility at number one overall as arguably the best overall college player in the draft. Pirates GM Ben Cherington has a history of playing it safe with a college pick with his club’s first selection setting up over slot picks down the board. Lee is the son of Cal Poly coach, Larry Lee. The young infielder has good tools and should move quickly through the minors thanks to an advanced skill set. If Cherington and the Pirates stick with the status quo this pick will likely be one of the college hitters; Kevin Parada, Brooks Lee, Jace Jung, Daniel Susac whoever is willing to cut a deal with team. Pittsburgh picks again at 36 & 44 with a chance they will be able to go over slot for prep talent.
5. Washington Nationals – Elijah Green, OF, IMG Academy
Greg: There isn’t a player with more split opinions in the class than Elijah Green. For some, he’s an absolute superstar who will succeed even with some strikeouts. For other teams, the Ks could become unsustainable and hold down what could be a dynamite toolset with his power, defense, and speed. Green has had a rollercoaster spring season already by racking up strikeouts early and making improved swing decisions more recently. At this juncture, it wouldn’t surprise to see Green land with a team that’s been willing to gamble on the upside despite strikeouts early. Washington fits that bill and also places a premium on size. Green looks like a linebacker playing a strong centerfield. It’s a risky play, but the potential reward is massive.
6. Miami Marlins – Jace Jung, 2B/3B, Texas Tech
Willie: Picking in the top 10 again, the Marlins have another opportunity to add talent to their system. After trading away their Comp A selection for bullpen help (Scott & Sulser) the organization could go the safe route with the loss of over $2 million from their draft pool. As this scenario played out Miami grabs an advanced bat. The younger brother of Rangers infielder Josh Jung, Jace Jung has a similarly advanced hit tool with 30-homer power. He’s an offensive-oriented player that should breeze through the minors. Defensively there’s work to be done, but the hit tool carries his profile with ease. Jung gets comps to the Dodgers Max Muncy. This is a spot where Miami sits back and waits for whoever is there. They can go big, take a risk, or try to play it safe should one of the other top pieces like Green, Lee, Holliday, etc., slip to number 6.
7. Chicago Cubs – Jackson Holliday, SS, Stillwater (HS)
Greg: With each passing day, it feels less and less likely that Jackson Holliday is still on the board at the time the Cubs make their selection. He is surging up draft boards in part because he “checks a lot of boxes”. His makeup is reportedly exceptional, and he combines a projection that could be both plus hit and power in an infield profile. The track record of the top high school shortstop in the draft class is excellent. Jackson Holliday is making a name for himself.
8. Minnesota Twins – Chase DeLauter, OF, James Madison
Willie: After popping prep right-hander Chase Petty last year the Twins find themselves with a top 10 selection. The club has a recent history of popping college outfielders early, and this is another opportunity to grab one of the toolsiest college bats available. If DeLauter rakes upon returning from a broken foot there’s a chance he can go higher. Minnesota should be able to save some money here while betting on their ability to get the most out of the center fielder. Having a top 10 selection for a team with playoff aspirations could be a huge boost to their farm system. Minnesota has an opportunity to add an impact bat and get a quick return if they are willing to go with a premium college player. Watch for someone like DeLauter, Susac, Beck, Berry, Cross, or they could go premium upside with JUCO star Cam Collier.
9. Kansas City Royals – Brandon Barreria, LHP, American Heritage (HS)
Greg: I entered the draft cycle with Barriera as a top 10 prospect in my personal rankings but did receive feedback that the fastball shape wasn’t strong. Asking around about Barriera, scouts absolutely love him. He’s an ultra-competitor who has been up to 99 with a wipeout slider from the left-hand side this spring. Kansas City favors lefties and has been known to be an organization that puts a stronger emphasis on scouting opinions (not that analytics aren’t included). Additionally, we’ve received some feedback that Barriera could go even higher than this and it’s our theory that he has offers in the top ten, which is why he shut it down this season.
10. Colorado Rockies – Daniel Susac, C, Arizona
Willie: Colorado likes power and this is a good opportunity to grab a premium value defensive position, hitting ability, and power rolled into one bat. MLB bloodlines are important to a lot of teams, because of the advanced skill sets that often come with them. Daniel Susac is the younger brother of former big league backstop Andrew Susac. The Arizona Wildcats’ backstop should be off the board somewhere between picks 5-15. Cam Collier, Jordan Beck, and Gavin Cross are others that Colorado could see as fits here.
11. New York Mets (compensation) – Cam Collier, 3B, Chipola JC
Greg: Looking at the Mets’ strategy for the draft, it’s critical to view both the 11th and the 14th picks together. So Willie and I teamed up to make these selections. We looked at the Mets’ desire to add pitchers and their ability to embrace risk. We ultimately decided with Cam Collier here. Collier, the son of Lou Collier bet on himself when he enrolled in a junior college early. He’s done nothing but justify that decision. Currently, Collier is slashing .333/.431/.525 against older competition.
I personally think this could be an excellent landing spot for Dylan Lesko and he was seriously considered. Even though the Mets neglected to offer Kumar Rocker a contract after seeing results from his physical, Lesko’s Tommy John surgery is known. There are no secrets there.
12. Detroit Tigers – Jordan Beck, OF, Tennessee
Willie: The Tigers go college corner bat with power here. Beck gets Hunter Renfro comps because he is a strong-armed right fielder with 30-homer power. Detroit could go several ways here with Susac, Collier, DeLauter, Cross, Tanner, Porter, Berry, Fabian, Tidwell, and others as possibilities.
13. Los Angeles Angels – Adam Mazur, RHP, Iowa
Greg: Adam Mazur is a college righty from outside the big four conferences (SEC, ACC, Pac-12, and Big-12) who features big-time stuff with his mid to upper 90s fastball, sweeper slider (he mixes in a changeup and curveball). For organizations willing to go outside one of the major baseball conferences, Mazur is an intriguing option. It’s not a strong class of upper-level college pitchers so teams may flock to the mid-major and prep ranks looking for arms. Mazur has been electric recently. A strong finish to the season could put him squarely in the sights of teams that favor college pitching early in the draft.
14. New York Mets – Blade Tidwell, RHP, Tennessee
Willie: The Mets could go several ways with two top 15 picks they can manipulate the draft in their favor. Frankly, we know they aren’t afraid to spend big and they could blow past their draft pool. There are rumors they want college pitching but with so many injuries impacting the class that may wait until pick 52. In this scenario, Tidwell is a young for the draft class SEC performer with huge upside. He has been up to 99 mph this spring after coming back from shoulder soreness that cost him some time this spring.
15. San Diego Padres – Dylan Lesko, RHP, Buford (HS)
Greg: Lesko could go in the top three overall, but a recent injury clouds an illustrious pedigree. It’s been reported that Dylan Lesko now requires Tommy John surgery, which adds even more risk to a risky demographic. Here we’re still operating under the assumption that Lesko could be signed for a signing bonus in the Top 10. It’ll require some financial maneuvering, but San Diego picks at 39 and 53 where it can take some deeper cuts. AJ Preller also likes to go “big-game hunting” by taking a premier player well above slot in each draft (Josh Woods and Cole Wilcox recently).
Don’t miss Picks 16-30
How did the rest of the first round end up? Who is still on the board to start the Comp A round? Make sure to check out picks 16-30 right now at Guardians Baseball Insider. This collaborative mock goes all the way to pick 55 with the second half of the mock draft dropping Friday May 6th.