The 2022 MLB draft is just under three weeks away, and it’s time for my second mock draft projecting the first 40-plus picks of this year’s event.
The draft will take place July 17-19 in Los Angeles, and we’re still approximately two weeks away from when agents start to know whether their players are definitely in or out at certain picks — not to mention at what signing bonus. That said, these camps know where the interest lies, scouts have noticed which teams have lined up at certain games and teams have done all of their information gathering now.
In order to break down the various scenarios and explain how one decision impacts the others, I’ve used percentage odds for each team’s potential choices with the top picks. This also serves to tell you how confident I am in each projection, what could change the choice, and the spots where I’m just not sure what’s going to happen right now.
Druw Jones, CF, Wesleyan HS (Ga.), Vanderbilt commit
I’ve been going back and forth on this one. I still think Jones is the full-freight (i.e. at or near slot) option for the O’s and Jackson Holliday is in the mix — but a secondary option that would also cost near full price. There has been momentum (some smoke and maybe fire, depending on your definition) the past few weeks that selecting Termarr Johnson is the cut-rate option here, rather than picking one of the college bats. Johnson appears to not have another landing spot until at least the No. 6 pick and might then accept a bonus of $2 million or so less than Jones would demand at No. 1. I’ll handicap it as 60% chance of Jones, 30% chance of Johnson and 10% chance of Holliday or other.
This is extremely similar to the situation that landed the Astros SS Carlos Correa as the top overall pick in the 2012 draft when current Orioles GM Mike Elias was Houston’s scouting director. Correa signed for $2.4 million under slot, and Houston used the savings to sign Lance McCullers as the No. 41 pick.
Jones and Johnson are the top two players on my board, so either of those picks would be fine with me, while I would heavily criticize the Orioles for taking any of the college players at this pick. The O’s decision, once they settle on their two options at the two price points is: (1) how much better of a player is the more expensive option (likely Jones) than the less expensive option (possibly Johnson); and (2) what sort of player can they expect to get with that extra money later in the draft?
In response to the first question, I think it’s close, like within 10-12 spots on a Top 100 list the moment they sign — let’s say Jones would be 25th and Johnson would be in the 30s somewhere. And yes, I updated my Top 100 this weekend just to answer this question.
Addressing the second question, this is why I think Jones makes a little more sense, as covered in my last mock.
If the O’s were to give Johnson $6.5 million, then spend $2.5 million on each of their next two picks and $2 million each for the next two picks after that (and it might be tough to find good enough players to actually make it worth doing that), in that situation, the Orioles would be picking at the top of the fourth round, No. 107, and still have (if you include their 5% overage) roughly $2.27 million left to spend on the next six picks, which gets into the territory of running out of good players who will sign. There isn’t a never-ending supply of players who will sign for $1 million that your team likes that also haven’t been picked yet. I’ve sat in draft rooms, watched all the good players be picked and found that there isn’t anyone on our board worth giving more than a $150,000 bonus with 200 picks left to be made.
My point is that it’s an enormous amount of money to spend and it’ll be a challenge to spend it all wisely, quickly and efficiently. If the Orioles think there’s any real gap between Jones and Johnson, they should just take the best player, because the savings won’t get them enough to make up the difference.
Jackson Holliday, SS, Stillwater HS (Okla.), Oklahoma State commit
If Jones gets here, Arizona will almost certainly take him. If he doesn’t I think there will be a full-freight option in Jackson Holliday or a discount option of Cal Poly’s Brooks Lee (25% chance). Elijah Green is also mentioned here, but I think he’s a secondary consideration. I’ll give Green, Jones and others a collective 25% chance.
Kevin Parada, C, Georgia Tech
Every indication is that Texas wants Jones (5% chance), then Holliday (35% chance), in that order, and it appears that Parada is the Rangers’ third preference, again with Green (15% chance for him, plus others) being mentioned but I think he’s the backup option here as well. If Johnson goes first, then Jones likely goes second, and Holliday would appear to be a slam dunk here.
Cam Collier, 3B, Chipola JC (Fla.)
I’ve heard only the college bats are being seriously considered here, and Collier is securely in their mix, but I’m not sure how the Pirates stack up those college hitters right now. Brooks Lee (25%) and Parada (15%) seem likely options, but there’s a hearty 30% here on “other.”
Jacob Berry, RF, LSU
This fit has gained a lot of momentum in the past week or so. Washington tends to shoot for the moon with tools and upside on its early picks, so Green is also mentioned here (15%) as he absolutely fits the bill. They also love Holliday but he won’t make it to this pick. Beyond those three, I’ve heard mostly the college bats here like Parada (25%) and Lee (10%) with a 5% chance it’s someone I haven’t mentioned yet.
Termarr Johnson, 2B, Mays HS (Ga.), Arizona State commit
Here’s where Termarr lands in this projection, with the Marlins benefitting again from a number of teams passing on a superlative talent like they did with Kahlil Watson last summer. I think this is Johnson’s floor, but if it isn’t then the Cubs at the next pick would be. If Johnson goes No. 1 overall, I think Parada (20%) then Berry (25%) would be the preference among players who would make it to this pick, but I also think this is around where you’ll see surprise under-slot options (10%) start to be in play if a team’s board falls apart; let’s call it the Mozzicato option.
Brooks Lee, 3B, Cal Poly
I think the Cubs want Collier (30%) or Johnson (10%) to get here, and in this scenario they don’t, but Collier has a much better chance to make it. I think almost every team in the top 10 has a real amount of interest in Elijah Green (15%) and he’ll go somewhere in the top 10 picks, but I’m not sure which team is ready to pick him — though that should come into focus over the next few weeks.
This is also where I’ve already started hearing some surprising names like Campbell SS Zach Neto (5%) and Alabama LHP Connor Prielipp (5%) (who made a lot of money with his outing at the MLB draft combine), which is normally an indication that a team isn’t super pleased with the players it thinks will make it to its pick. You also can’t rule out Parada, Berry and others (5%) landing here. You can see that there are now enough options that pegging a percentage is becoming less viable, so we’ll switch to the non-odds mock style.
Gavin Cross, RF, Virginia Tech
I think the Twins are looking to scoop up a college hitter who slides here from the Collier, Parada, Berry and Lee group, but none of them make it in this scenario. Cross is the head of the next group of college bats and this is his high-water mark, but he will be gone by Pick 14.
Elijah Green, CF, IMG Academy HS (Fla.), Miami commit
The Royals are always a bit of a wild card as they won’t hesitate to take a swing on tools, or go way under slot, and aren’t afraid to take a high school pitcher high either. Green slides to them in this scenario, even if it’s probably a 10-20% chance he actually gets this far. In the draft, someone always slides for no real reason, and in this mock it sets up to be Green.
Because only a couple of the top tier of 8-10 players will get here, there are lots of rumors that if there isn’t anyone left the Royals really like (I think they’d take Gavin Cross if he gets here), they’ll do something bold like an under-slot deal for a pitcher, or just pick whoever they think the best pitcher is (Prielipp? Brock Porter?) to set up big spending later, or gamble on a (likely under-slot) toolsy type in Justin Crawford.
Jordan Beck, LF, Tennessee
The Rockies like Beck, Brandon Barriera and Gavin Cross — and guesses on whom they’ll actually take here from industry observers are all over the map and not very confident. I get the impression, given where their pick is in the draft, that the Rockies aren’t sure of their mix yet, either.
Justin Crawford, CF, Bishop Gorman HS (Nev.), LSU commit
I’d been hearing for months that the Mets would take a good college bat (or Prielipp) depending on who fell to them here, but otherwise would target Crawford and Jett Williams as under-slot prep options. The sentiment is that Crawford is in the lead between those two. This is the Kumar Rocker compensation pick, so if they don’t sign the player they pick this year, it becomes unprotected in next year’s draft, which has significantly less value than a normal pick. They need to either have a deal cut before the pick is made or find a college player who will take around slot value.
Connor Prielipp, LHP, Alabama
I get the impression that the Tigers don’t want to take a prep arm given where they are in the competitive cycle, which is unlucky as they might well have their pick from a deep class. I’m hearing they are almost only on college players, and I think they’d prefer a pitcher. Prielipp now seems to be the clear best college arm in the draft, and this is about where he likely goes.
Gavin Cross and Jordan Beck aren’t here in this scenario, but I think, in that order, those are the college bats they’d like to get. Jace Jung is an option and Detroit was deep at his regional. As with Elijah Green, I’m not sure who has the conviction to pick Jung, but he should be in the conversation for every team in this range.
Brandon Barriera, LHP, American Heritage HS (Fla.), Vanderbilt commit
The buzz has shifted in the past few weeks, and now people seem convinced the Angels will take what the board is giving them by selecting one of the high school pitchers available here, then switch back to stocking the system with lower-upside collegiates (mostly pitchers) as they did last year. Barriera seems to be their preference of that prep group, but the Angels have been connected to a lot of players here in the past month, in part based on where GM Perry Minasian was spotted down the stretch, so it’s still wide open.
14. New York Mets
Dylan Lesko, RHP, Buford HS (Ga.), Vanderbilt commit
I think Lesko lands at picks No. 14-18, and he makes sense here because the Mets seem to be using this pick for something bold. The question is whether they select a money-saver college player they like (Spencer Jones? Sterlin Thompson?) to set up an over-slot player or two later, or they take their big upside swing here and play it close to slot the next few picks.
Brock Porter, RHP, St. Mary’s HS (Mich.), Clemson commit
The Padres are another team that seems to be taking a long look at prep pitchers (Lesko, Porter, Barriera, Robby Snelling, J.R. Ritchie) and also some of the prep position players in this range (Crawford, Young, Williams). That group will get picked over a bit before their turn, so it makes sense the Pads have a larger group under consideration.
Jace Jung, 2B, Texas Tech
I couldn’t find a spot for Jung, but I think this is as far as he would slide. Cleveland also seems to like the prep middle infielders like Young and Williams here, but Jung is a slam dunk hitter to take at this juncture. The Guardians are also tied to some prep arms, but I get the sense they’re leaning college at this pick, with Cooper Hjerpe securely in the mix and late-rising Florida RHP Brandon Sproat an under-slot option (or at their next pick), and then Cleveland will opt for some falling prep talents with its next pick or two.
Gabriel Hughes, RHP, Gonzaga
Philly has long been predicted to take another prep arm here after Mick Abel and Andrew Painter have succeeded so much as the team’s past two first-round picks. In this scenario, Porter/Barriera/Lesko are off the board, and the Phillies still could pick Snelling, but getting to take the second college pitcher right before a lot of them will get picked makes more sense. You can always float some high school pitchers down the board.
Daniel Susac, C, Arizona
The Reds seem like the end of this run of teams not scared to take a high school pitcher — we’re about to hit a run where most teams won’t take one with their first pick — but the Reds’ mix is hard to narrow down because of so much uncertainty about what will happen ahead of them. I could totally see zero or one prep pitcher taken before here, or as many as four.
The logjam of seemingly similar college bats is differently ranked by every team and will take shape with the serious stages of team meetings getting underway now that basically all scouting events and private workouts are over. Susac seems to have interest ahead of this pick, but is another player for whom I’m not sure which team has the conviction to turn in the card with his name on it. The Reds historically have not been shy about taking catchers up high.
Zach Neto, SS, Campbell
The A’s have been tied to mostly college players here, with the aforementioned glut of college bats (Drew Gilbert is a leading candidate among those) and lots of potential under-slot college arms (Justin Campbell, Jake Bennett, Cade Horton et al)
Cooper Hjerpe, LHP, Oregon State
I’m also hearing mostly college arms, some under slot, with prep RHP Jacob Miller as the only divergence if their preferred scenarios don’t play out. Hjerpe, Jonathan Cannon, Justin Campbell and Gabe Hughes get mentioned the most, but at this juncture a lot of teams haven’t narrowed down their focus to just a couple of players yet.
Cole Young, SS, North Allegheny HS (Pa.), Duke commit
I’m hearing mostly hitters for Seattle, and given the really strong early returns on Harry Ford and Edwin Arroyo from last year’s draft, I think there’s a better shot for a prep bat at this pick than there has been the past few years. Zach Neto, Drew Gilbert and Jett Williams all fit the profile here.
Jett Williams, SS, Rockwall Heath HS (Texas), Mississippi State commit
The Cardinals have been sneakily effective in the draft the past few seasons (among early picks Masyn Winn, Nolan Gorman, Michael McGreevy and Jordan Walker, while later selections like Gordon Graceffo, Alec Burleson, Connor Thomas and Brendan Donovan are all clear arrow-up guys since being drafted). St. Louis also doesn’t have a clear preferred type of prospect, so this is one of the tougher picks in the draft to project, especially this early. Prioritizing plus-physical tools seems to be a through line of the Cards’ picks for over a decade, so I’ll stick with that tendency here — this also seems like near the bottom of Williams’ range.
Sterlin Thompson, RF, Florida
The Jays are tied mostly to bats here, with Tucker Toman and Zach Neto the two most mentioned players. There are a number of college position players whose camps think they are almost certain to be picked by the mid-to-late 20s, so I’d expect a run of the leftover college bats to start right around here. The Jays have oddly been connected to a lot of old-for-the-class high school position players at later picks, to the point that it seems like a strategy this year.
Drew Gilbert, CF, Tennessee
The Red Sox seem to lean toward hit-first position players with high picks of late, and I think they’ll lean that way at this pick. Gilbert seems destined to be an annoying-to-29-teams Brett Gardner type for a long time.
Spencer Jones, RF, Vanderbilt
The Yankees have been tied almost exclusively to the college bats widely expected to go in this range of picks. Sterlin Thompson, Dylan Beavers, Jordan Beck and Jones come up the most, and I’d bet at least one of them gets to this pick. Jones sneakily has a lot of similarities to Aaron Judge as a draft prospect.
Dylan Beavers, RF, Cal
I think the White Sox will play cleanup on the back end of this run of college bats. Since a similar group of scouts/execs took a college power hitter with a divisive hand move (Zack Collins in 2016) at 10th overall, I could totally see them taking another divisive hand-move guy in Beavers this year.
Chase DeLauter, RF, James Madison
DeLauter is model-friendly given his Cape performance, exit velos and raw tools, but isn’t loved by more traditionally leaning scouting organizations due to a bad spring and injuries that limited his looks versus good pitching this year. It’s a safe bet that a numbers-leaning team will take DeLauter, and the Brewers are that sort of team at the right juncture of the draft.
Dalton Rushing, C, Louisville
Rushing is a late riser, along the lines of a more compactly built Austin Wells (28th overall pick of the Yankees in 2020 out of Arizona, who now looks like a Top 100 prospect). I think this is around the end of the college bat run, but I could also see Houston not liking what is available at this pick and opting for a data-friendly upside pitcher like Cade Horton or Owen Murphy.
Tucker Toman, 3B, Hammond HS (So. Car.), LSU commit
Toman probably doesn’t get this far, but I think he’ll go in the 20s and he fits Tampa Bay’s approach with prep hitters, which I pointed out to a steely-faced Rays exec when we were watching him this spring. Like Houston, I could also see Tampa Bay opting for an upside pitcher here, trying to jump the line of teams that saved money with their first pick to spend it in the comp round.
Jake Bennett, LHP, Oklahoma
Bennett and Cade Horton both benefited greatly from strong postseasons and both (along with teammate Peyton Graham) seem like they’ll go in the top 50 picks with support in the late 20s. The Giants are considered an absolute floor for a lot (like maybe a half dozen) of the college bats that I have going just ahead of this pick, so that’s a more likely outcome as one of them probably gets to this pick.
31. Colorado Rockies – Robby Snelling, LHP, McQueen HS (Nev.), LSU commit
32. Cincinnati Reds – Cade Horton, RHP, Oklahoma
Competitive balance round A
33. Baltimore Orioles – Peyton Graham, SS, Oklahoma
34. Arizona Diamondbacks – Owen Murphy, RHP, Riverside Brookfield HS (Ill.), Notre Dame commit
35. Kansas City Royals – Jacob Miller, RHP, Liberty Union HS (Ohio), Louisville commit
36. Pittsburgh Pirates – J.R. Ritchie, RHP, Bainbridge HS (Wash.), UCLA commit
37. Cleveland Guardians – Brandon Sproat, RHP, Florida
38. Colorado Rockies – Cayden Wallace, 3B, Arkansas
39. San Diego Padres – Jacob Melton, CF, Oregon State
40. Los Angeles Dodgers – Eric Brown, SS, Coastal Carolina
(The Dodgers’ first pick drops 10 spots, from 30 to 40, due to their exceeding the competitive balance tax threshold.)
The Dodgers are largely tied to upside pitchers with traits they like (Cade Horton, Jacob Misiorowski, Owen Murphy, Peyton Pallette) and have a track record of developing or unique/swing-change type hitters with more upside than you’d expect to get at this pick (Brown, Ryan Cermak, Malcolm Moore, if they can meet his price).
41. Boston Red Sox – Cade Doughty, 3B, LSU
(Compensation for unsigned 2021 second-round pick Jud Fabian)