MLB Mock Draft 2022: Jackson Holliday, Druw Jones go 1-2; no pitcher taken until No. 13; Mets primed to spend

1

Pick: SS Jackson Holliday, Stillwater HS (Oklahoma) ($8,842,200 slot value)

Between his time as Astros scouting director and Orioles GM, Mike Elias has picked in the top five eight times in the last 10 drafts, including four No. 1 picks (2012, 2013, 2014, 2019). Despite that, Elias and the Orioles are very difficult to pin down. He sometimes takes the consensus best available player (like Adley Rutschman in 2019) and sometimes goes for the portfolio approach (like with Colton Cowser in 2021). So, your guess is as good as mine. This pick is hardly set in stone.

Baltimore is rumored to have narrowed its preference for the No. 1 pick down to five players: Holliday (Matt’s son), Cal Poly shortstop Brooks Lee, LSU slugger Jacob Berry, and high school outfielders Druw Jones (Andruw’s son) and Elijah Green. With a field that wide open, the portfolio approach seems likely, and Holliday is a decent bet to take a below-slot deal because he could fall as far as the No. 7 or 8 pick if he doesn’t go No. 1. For him, a below-slot deal at No. 1 will be more lucrative than a slot deal at No. 7 or 8 (not that the money will be life-changing for the Holliday family either way), plus he gets to say he was the No. 1 pick. Holliday it is.

2

Pick: OF Druw Jones, Wesleyan HS (Georgia) ($8,185,100 slot value)

The Diamondbacks are all about upside in the first round and Jones is now the consensus No. 1 prospect in the draft class. Arizona will jump on Jones if the Orioles pass.

If the O’s take Jones, Arizona will likely pivot to Elijah Green or high school second baseman Termarr Johnson, either of whom would satisfy their desire for significant upside. There is very little chance Jones is still on the board after this pick.

3

Pick: OF Elijah Green, IMG Academy (Florida) ($7,587,600 slot value)

Rumor has it the Rangers badly want Druw Jones to slip here, but a) that is very unlikely, and b) it doesn’t happen in our mock draft. Green has similar upside and was considered the better prospect coming into the spring, so he’s the next best thing. If Green, Jones, and Jackson Holliday go in the top three picks like they do in our mock draft, it would be the first time the top three picks are high schoolers since 2017 (Royce Lewis, Hunter Greene, and MacKenzie Gore).

4

Pick: SS Brooks Lee, Cal Poly ($7,002,100 slot value)

GM Ben Cherington had two top-10 picks in his first two drafts with the Pirates and used both on college hitters (Nick Gonzales in 2020 and Henry Davis in 2021). Might as well make it three straight college hitters in the top 10. Lee might not be long for shortstop, but he’s a switch-hitter with tremendous bat-to-ball ability, a skill with increased value in the high strikeout/high shift era.

5

Pick: C Kevin Parada, Georgia Tech ($6,494,300 slot value)

Parada and the Nationals have been a constant connection the last few weeks. The Yellow Jackets backstop had nearly as many home runs (26) as strikeouts (32) this spring, and his work behind the plate has improved. It’s more likely Washington would go with Brooks Lee over one of the high school bats if they’re on the board here.

6

Pick: 2B Termarr Johnson, Mays HS (Georgia) ($6,034,300 slot value)

The case can be made Johnson is the best pure hitter in the 2022 draft class. The Marlins are said to be on the top high school bats (Johnson, Elijah Green, Jackson Holliday, Druw Jones) more than the top college bats (Brooks Lee, Kevin Parada), and Johnson is the only one of those players still available in our mock draft, so to Miami he goes. He has some similarities to Kahlil Watson, a potential top 5-10 pick last year who slipped to the Marlins at No. 16.

7

Pick: 3B Cam Collier, Chipola JC (Florida) ($5,708,000 slot value)

The Cubs have been connected to Collier, the son of former big leaguer Lou Collier, more than any other team this spring. He’s a fascinating prospect — Collier got his GED and finished high school early, and hit .333/.419/.537 with eight homers in 52 games as a 17-year-old in junior college this spring — and one of the youngest players in the draft class. Teams that lean on analytical models love Collier’s hard-hit ability and performance relative to age and competition. 

8

Pick: SS Zach Neto, Campbell ($5,439,500 slot value)

The Twins are a model-driven club (they’re said to be in big time on Cam Collier, who is not available in our mock draft) and Neto is a model darling thanks to his excellent contact rates and sneaky great exit velocities. The righty hitter authored a .407/.514/.769 line with 15 homers, 19 steals in 20 attempts, 39 walks, and only 19 strikeouts this spring. Whether it’s the Twins or another team, Neto is a lock to become the first first-round pick in Campbell history.

9

Pick: OF Justin Crawford, Bishop Gorman HS (Nevada) ($5,200,200 slot value)

Crawford is the son of four-time All-Star Carl Crawford and one of the biggest risers in the draft class. He’s gone from possible late first-round pick to having a real chance to go in the top 10, with the Royals rumored to have the most interest. Kansas City would grab either Elijah Green or Termarr Johnson if they last this long, and they’re believed to be the earliest a pitcher could come off the board.

10

Pick: 3B/OF Jacob Berry, LSU ($4,980,400 slot value)

Berry is a unique case because he’s a candidate to go No. 1 overall, but also has a chance to slip out of the top 10 entirely. There are concerns about his lack of defensive value, plus he was very good rather than otherworldly as a bat-first college prospect this spring (.370/.464/.630 with 15 homers in 53 games). In the end, Berry is regarded as one of the best bats in the draft class, and I have a hard time seeing him lasting much longer than this, so the Rockies it is.

11

Pick: SS Jett Williams, Rockwall-Heath HS (Texas) ($4,778,200 slot value)

As noted in the intro, the Mets have several extra picks and a ton of bonus pool money. They’ve been connected to Williams and a few other second-tier high school hitters in recent weeks, suggesting they’re looking to cut an underslot deal here so they can go big later on. That’s standard practice for teams taking the portfolio approach — lock in the savings first, then figure out where to spend it later. Williams is a 5-foot-8 contact machine and a scouts’ favorite. It should be noted this is the compensation pick for not signing Kumar Rocker last year, and if the Mets do not sign the player they select here, they will not receive another compensation pick next year. This is a must sign.

12

Pick: OF Gavin Cross, Virginia Tech ($4,587,900 slot value)

It is college hitter all the way for the Tigers with Cross, Texas Tech second baseman Jace Jung, and Arizona catcher Daniel Susac the best available in our mock draft. Cross has a strong blend of power and bat-to-ball skills, and he’s a sound defender as well. The Tigers were expected to take a step forward this season and instead have taken a step back, and while drafting for need isn’t a good idea (who knows what your MLB team will need 2-3 years down the road), I can’t help but think Detroit wants a player who will be MLB ready in fairly short order to help turn things around. Cross is as good a candidate to zoom up the minor-league ladder as anyone still on the board. 

13

Pick: LHP Robby Snelling, McQueen HS (Nevada) ($4,410,200 slot value)

The Angels drafted 20 pitchers with their 20 picks last year, and while they aren’t expected to do that again, all indications are it will be another pitching-heavy draft. Snelling was originally committing to play baseball and football at Arizona before switching his commitment to baseball only at LSU. He’s a high upside lefty with a knockout curveball and a chance to move relatively quickly for a high school pitcher. Snelling is the first pitcher taken in our mock draft. This would be the latest the first pitcher has been selected in draft history.

14

Pick: RHP Dylan Lesko, Buford HS (Georgia) ($4,241,600 slot value)

There’s been chatter the Mets will go with Williams at No. 11 and a college hitter at No. 14 (possibly Daniel Susac). I think Lesko fits best and is the wisest use of all the bonus pool money. He was the top pitching prospect in the draft class prior to having Tommy John surgery a few weeks back. Elbows are generally fixable, and while Tommy John surgery isn’t perfect, it does have a high success rate. Lesko has true ace-upside and is the kind of prospect you cut an underslot deal with another pick(s) to make sure you sign. 

15

Pick: LHP Connor Prielipp, Alabama ($4,082,900 slot value)

Padres GM AJ Preller is all about upside early in the draft and they’re the most likely landing spot for Dylan Lesko, though he’s no longer on the board in our mock draft. Prielipp is the next best thing. He was an early candidate to go No. 1 overall this year before blowing out his elbow and needing Tommy John surgery last May. Prielipp has completed his rehab and he threw a bullpen session for scouts last month. He’s among the 250 players who will participate in the draft combine later this month. Preller drafted Cal Quantrill while he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery a few years ago, so he’s not afraid of kids coming back from elbow reconstruction.

16

Pick: LHP Brandon Barriera, American Heritage HS (Florida) ($3,935,500 slot value)

The Guardians typically seek out refined power arms and up-the-middle athletes with plus hitting ability early in the draft. The former is the smart play here given who’s on the board, with Barriera and prep righty Brock Porter the best available. It’s a toss up between the two, they’re both very talented, but Cleveland tends to skew young with their top picks (they’ve selected several 17-year-olds in recent years) and Barriera is almost a full year younger than Porter, who just turned 19. 

17

Pick: RHP Brock Porter, St. Mary’s Prep (Michigan) ($3,792,800 slot value)

The Phillies went high school pitching with their last two first-round picks and landed two studs in Mick Abel and Andrew Painter, and the available player pool in our mock draft says another prep arm is the way to go. Porter and Brandon Barriera could go in either order to the Guardians and Phillies. This could be a “Philadelphia will take whichever one Cleveland doesn’t take” situation. 

18

Pick: SS Cole Young, North Allegheny HS (Pennsylvania) ($3,657,900 slot value)

Young has shot up draft boards the last few weeks and now seems like a lock to go in the top 20 picks after coming into the spring as a fringe first rounder. He and the Reds have been linked in recent weeks. Cincinnati is also a candidate to grab Brandon Barriera, Brock Porter, or Robby Snelling depending how things play out in front of them.

19

Pick: 2B Jace Jung, Texas Tech ($3,529,400 slot value)

The Athletics have not taken a pitcher in the first round since AJ Puk in 2016 and they’re again connected mostly to bats this spring, college more than high school. There’s a small army of outfielders available here, including Cal’s Dylan Beavers and James Madison’s Chase DeLauter, but it would be hard to pass up Jung. In fact, I would be a bit surprised if Jung is still available to the A’s on draft day, though I can’t find a spot for him earlier than this in our mock draft.

20

Pick: LHP Cooper Hjerpe, Oregon State ($3,407,400 slot value)

Nearly every top college pitcher got hurt this spring. Hjerpe (pronounced “Jerpy”) is the best healthy college pitcher in the draft class and he’s an analytics standout with great shape on his fastball and slider. He should move through the system quickly, which fits the Braves‘ competitive window, plus there’s a chance he signs underslot. Atlanta has an extra pick (No. 76) as compensation for losing Freddie Freeman to free agency. Hjerpe here and an overslot player later may be the best way to maximize the two picks. Other (healthy) college arms who would make sense in this range are Oklahoma State righty Justin Campbell, Campbell righty Thomas Harrington, Gonzaga righty Gabriel Hughes, and Iowa righty Adam Mazur.

21

Pick: OF Jordan Beck, Tennessee ($3,291,200 slot value)

The Mariners used their first-round pick on a high school player last year (catcher Harry Ford) for the first time since 2014, though they are expected to go back to the college ranks this draft. Neto was a candidate to go in this range coming in the spring, but he’s more likely to be a top-10 pick now, so forget that. Beck has the most refined all-around skill set among the available college bats, which include Dylan Beavers, Chase DeLauter, Oregon State outfielder Jacob Melton, and Beck’s teammate Drew Gilbert.

22

Pick: RHP Gabriel Hughes, Gonzaga ($3,180,600 slot value)

It sounds like the Cardinals are hoping one of Brandon Barriera, Brock Porter, or Robby Snelling falls to this point. Alas and alack, that didn’t happen in our mock draft, so St. Louis has to go in another direction. Hughes throws strikes with three pitches and is a dogged competitor. He also frequently plays first base when he’s not pitching, and is exactly the kind of prospect who can level up once he commits to pitching full-time and gets under pro instruction. In a draft class short on healthy college pitchers, Hughes is a candidate to come off the board earlier than the public draft prospect rankings would lead you to believe.

23

Pick: OF Chase DeLauter, James Madison ($3,075,300 slot value)

The Blue Jays are opportunists on draft day (last year they selected righty Gunnar Hoglund, a projected top-10 pick who wound up having Tommy John surgery, with the No. 19 pick) and DeLauter was considered a possible top-10 pick earlier this spring. He had a rough opening weekend against Florida State (1 for 14 with eight strikeouts) that has stuck with some, but DeLauter is one of the most physically gifted players in the country. A lefty bat with big power and the speed and athleticism to stay in center field another few years never looks out of place in the first round.

24

Pick: OF Dylan Beavers, Cal ($2,974,900 slot value)

The Red Sox went for high school infielders (Nick Yorke and Marcelo Mayer) in their first two drafts under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom. The board says college hitter is the smarter play here, with Beavers, Drew Gilbert, and Florida outfielder Sterlin Thompson the best available. Beavers has the most upside and has drawn some Christian Yelich comps for his swing decisions and power, though he swings and misses more than Yelich ever has.

25

Pick: RHP Jacob Miller, Liberty Union HS (Ohio) ($2,879,300 slot value)

The Yankees have taken one high school pitcher in the first round in the last 15 years (righty Ty Hensley in 2012) and they’re a model-driven team that has focused on college bats in recent years. There has been recent buzz about them and Miller, however. He’s an analytics stud with big spin rates and competitiveness. The Yankees are also known to like Cole Young, who seems unlikely to make it this far. Sterlin Thompson is another popular rumor.

26

Pick: OF Drew Gilbert, Tennessee ($2,788,000 slot value)

Although the White Sox have had a penchant for the unconventional over the years (Chris Sale’s and Carson Fulmer’s unusual deliveries, the undersized Nick Madrigal, etc.), their recent M.O. has been to take a college hitter early, and then roll the dice on a high-upside high school arm later. Gilbert is a fairly safe bet as a long-term center fielder, and some clubs have him higher on their board than Jordan Beck, his Volunteers teammate who was more highly regarded coming into 2022.

27

Pick: RHP Blade Tidwell, Tennessee ($2,700,500 slot value)

Tidwell was among the many top college pitchers to get hurt this spring, though he made it back a few weeks ago, and he looked better and better as he got further away from his shoulder issue. At one point he looked like a potential top-10 pick. The Brewers know pitching, and at this point in our mock draft Tidwell offers the most upside among available college players.

28

Pick: SS Eric Brown, Coastal Carolina ($2,620,400 slot value)

The Astros are said to be targeting college bats and they’re one of the few teams in on Brown in the first round. He has an unconventional setup with a big bat wrap at the plate, though he barrels up all kinds of pitching and is one of the best defensive shortstops in the country. Clemson third baseman Max Wagner has climbed draft boards in recent weeks and is another player known to interest Houston.

29

Pick: 3B Tucker Toman, Hammond HS (South Carolina) ($2,547,600 slot value)

The Rays have four of the top-71 picks and are a good landing spot for Toman, one of the top pure hitters in the high school ranks and a player who’s forced his way into the first-round discussion. Outfielder Henry Bolte and catcher Brady Neal, two other prep players, would also fit in this range.

30

Pick: OF Jacob Melton, Oregon State ($2,485,500 slot value)

The Giants are picking outside the top 15 for the first time since 2017 and given their recent player development track record, taking a big swing on an upside player like Henry Bolte or prep righty Andrew Dutkanych could be in the cards. Melton has a lot of supporters thanks to his well-rounded skill set, and there’s some belief a few tweaks could turn more of his raw power into game power. I’m not sold on Melton getting out of the first round and this pick gives San Francisco a solid college hitter with untapped potential. It’s a nice fit this late in the draft.

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MLB Mock Draft 2022: Jackson Holliday, Druw Jones go 1-2; no pitcher taken until No. 13; Mets primed to spend

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