Quick Bit: The first 80 names in the 2022 MLB Draft have been announced. The Sporting News looks at the biggest winners and losers after the first of three days of selecting.
The first night of the 2022 MLB Draft consisted of the first two full rounds, a pair of compensation-pick rounds and two competitive balance rounds on Sunday.
For the 80 players who were selected, each one came away a winner as they accomplished their dreams of being drafted by an MLB organization.
But some of those players had particularly noteworthy nights, and some organizations did better than others on the first night.
The Sporting News looks at the biggest winners and losers from Day 1 of the 2022 MLB Draft.
Yes, the team that picked first overall can be considered one of the winners of the draft. But this is about all its picks Sunday, and not just its first. Of course, the Orioles got their guy at 1/1 in five-tool, second-generation star Jackson Holliday, who has the potential to be a middle-of-the-order hitter with power and speed who can stick up the middle at shortstop. They chose him over the toolsier Druw Jones, who has a slightly more uncertain hit tool.
They still nabbed a toolsy, high-upside outfielder, however. With the 33rd pick (the first pick of Competitive Balance Round A), Baltimore selected Cal outfielder Dylan Beavers. He has power and speed upside but a questionable hit tool. He would have been viewed as a risky gamble in the first round, but after taking a player with a standout hit tool early, Baltimore could afford to use this pick on the 6-4, 206-pound Beavers in hopes he improves his swing and taps into his five-tool potential.
The Orioles then took Clemson breakout third baseman Max Wagner in the second round and Florida standout outfielder Jud Fabian, who was taken in the second round of the 2021 MLB Draft by the Red Sox but did not sign, in Competitive Balance Round B.
Adding slugging college bats to Holliday makes for a really strong first day for Baltimore.
First-round picks won’t always make or break a draft, but Tampa Bay’s first-round pick this year was . . . unconventional. The Rays took North Carolina prep first baseman Xavier Isaac with the 29th overall pick. He is just the 44th high school first baseman ever drafted in the first round, per Baseball America’s draft database. The bat-first Isaac ranked outside the top 100 of most big boards. The selection of Stanford outfielder Brock Jones in the second round was an improvement, but he comes with plenty of risk as a toolsy outfielder with swing-and-miss issues.
Two late picks helped redeem the first two. Georgia Tech shortstop Chandler Simpson is the fastest player in the draft and has a promising hit tool, but he has next to no power and he might have to move off short. Illinois State outfielder Ryan Cermak has a ton of power and speed and should be able to stick in center field, but there are still questions about his bat.
The good by the Rays on Day 1 was probably not enough to redeem by far the biggest reach of the first round.
The Mets appeared to get great value with all of their Day 1 picks. Georgia Tech catcher Kevin Parada, who was considered a top-five talent, fell to them at No. 11. Jett Williams, a high school shortstop with one of the best hit tools in the draft, landed at No. 15. Blade Tidwell, who was viewed by many as a first-rounder, went to them in the second round at 52nd overall. The Mets ended the night with Nick Morabito, a prep bat with a plus hit tool and plenty of speed but also with defensive issues.
New York already boasted one of the best farm systems in baseball with big names like Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty, Mark Vientos and Ronny Mauricio. It built on that by taking one of the best players available at each spot and coming away with a strong early crop. The Mets also made the most of the extra first-round pick they received by not signing Kumar Rocker last year by drafting Parada.
Loser: Red Sox
Tampa Bay was not the only AL East team to have a perplexing evening. Boston’s first two picks were reaches. First, the Sox took Mikey Romero, a high school shortstop with limited upside. Then they draft Cutter Coffey, a high school third baseman who has been inconsistent at the plate against advanced competition and whose hit tool is uncertain, at best.
The Red Sox have a type of prospect, and it has worked for them in the past. Nick Yorke was viewed as a reach when he was selected in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft, and he has ascended up prospect rankings. But that doesn’t mean the Red Sox have earned the benefit of the doubt. These were major reaches, which is not an ideal start to a draft.
Minnesota had to have been happy when Cal Poly shortstop Brooks Lee somehow landed in its lap. Lee had been mentioned at one point as a strong candidate to go first overall, and even was the Vegas betting favorite for a while. He has the best hit tool in the college ranks and adds plus power to his profile. He could stick at shortstop or move to third base, where his bat would still play.
But the biggest game-changer for the Twins was when Connor Prielipp fell to them at No. 48. Prielipp is coming off 2021 Tommy John surgery, but with his ferocious fastball-slider combination and the stuff he showed in bullpen sessions during his recovery, some thought he might go midway through the first round. Picking up Tanner Schobel, a utility bat from Virginia Tech, was a nice addition to end the first day.
Loser: Dodgers (and LA fans)
Having one pick in the draft will put you in the loser column, even if that one pick was good. The Dodgers selected Louisville catcher Dalton Rushing with the 40th overall selection. Though Rushing doesn’t have the bat of his predecessor, Henry Davis, who went first overall to the Pirates in 2021, he has plus power and a ton of arm strength. He could stick behind the plate if he continues to improve his receiving skills.
But that doesn’t change the fact that on a night where 80 players were selected, Los Angeles had just the one pick. That’s a lot of talent that won’t be on the board when the Dodgers pick again, especially because they now have to wait until No. 105 for their next pick. And with the draft in Los Angeles, there was certainly not much of a reason for the local fans to get too excited. After the pick was made, the reaction was about what would be expected.
Winner: Kumar Rocker
When Rocker didn’t sign with the Mets in the 2021 MLB Draft, there was no indication of how high or low he might go in the 2022 draft. It was expected he would go in the teens at the highest, and possibly in the second round. Instead, the Rangers stunned the MLB Draft world and selected him third overall.
It was reported late Sunday that Rocker will sign an under-slot deal with the Rangers, but the draft position is closer to where Rocker expected he would be taken when he decided to stick with Vanderbilt rather than sign out of high school. He has been propped up as a near MLB-ready arm who could impact the big league club as a reliever in 2022. Given the Rangers’ 41-49 record, there’s little reason to rush Rocker to the majors this year, but now he’ll have the chance to continue his development with former Vandy teammate Jack Leiter also in the Rangers’ system.
This was a tough night for Rocker’s former team. Obviously, it never expected to see a few commits reach campus. Druw Jones was going to go high. Dylan Lesko was likely going to sign. So, too, was Brandon Barriera.
But Noah Schultz? Sal Stewart? Those two marquee players were also drafted on the first day. Typically, players taken that early are expected to sign, so barring talks falling apart, those two will not make it to Nashville, either.
Andrew Dutkanych had announced that he would withdraw from the draft and Ryan Clifford will likely join him, assuming he isn’t drafted and offered a lucrative bonus. Still, a highly touted recruiting class took a serious blow.
Winner: Pitchers who’ve had Tommy John surgery
It used to be that pitchers coming off Tommy John surgery had red flags attached to them heading into the MLB Draft. That was certainly not the case in 2022. High school right-hander Dylan Lesko was the first prep arm off the board at No. 15 despite needing surgery midway through the 2022 season. UConn southpaw Reggie Crawford pitched eight collegiate innings in three years due to 2021 TJ surgery, and he was picked 30th overall by the Giants.
After the first round, Mississippi State right-hander Landon Sims (2022 surgery) went 34th, Connor Prielipp (2021 surgery) went 48th, Florida southpaw Hunter Barco (2022 surgery) went 44th and Arkansas right-hander Peyton Pallette (2022 surgery) went 62nd. That’s also not counting Cade Horton, who had Tommy John surgery earlier in his collegiate career but returned to the mound for Oklahoma in 2022. That’s a lot of pitchers taken early who have undergone a major procedure that would have scared teams away in the past.
It’s one thing to draft a pitcher who is coming off Tommy John surgery. It’s another thing entirely for the first two pitchers selected by a team to have combined for zero innings pitched in the collegiate season. That was the case for San Francisco. After selecting Crawford, the Giants used their only other pick of the night (66th overall) on East Carolina left-hander Carson Whisenhunt. Whisenhunt was suspended for 2022 after testing positive for a banned substance, and while he pitched in the Cape Cod League before the draft, he has not been seen much in competition since 2021.
There are reasons to like the Giants’ picks. Crawford has an electric fastball-slider combination. Whisenhunt has the best changeup among college arms. But Crawford has reliever risk and Whisenhunt lacks explosive stuff, which limits his upside. Not the ideal 1-2 punch on the first night.
Originally found on Sporting News Read More