Favorite picks from 2022 MLB Draft

Favorite picks from 2022 MLB Draft

Teams finished drafting 616 players over three days on Tuesday, and it will be years before we know how all of them pan out. But there’s still a lot of excitement about all of the shiny new prospects, so we’ll single out our favorite picks for each organization.

Our selections generally fall into three categories — and sometimes more than one. There are prospects with tools and skills that jump out, some who are quality talent values for where they went in the Draft and some who are just plain intriguing.

Orioles: Jackson Holliday, SS (first round)
Baltimore kept the baseball world in the dark right up until their No. 1 overall announcement, and it ended up going with the 18-year-old Oklahoma high school shortstop. Holliday ranked No. 2 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 250, so this wasn’t a reach by any means, and he brings a plus hit tool, good speed, budding power and above-average defensive ability to the O’s system. In other words, he could be a true five-tool player in time, and that’s exactly who clubs should be taking at the top of a Draft. The thought of Holliday manning a Camden Yards infield alongside current Top 100 prospects Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg should bring 80-grade excitement to O’s fans.

Red Sox: Brooks Brannon, C (ninth round)
The Red Sox may have gotten a steal in the ninth round with Brannon, who led Randleman (N.C.) HS to state 2-A championships in each of the last two years while topping national prep players with 20 homers and 91 RBIs in 34 games this spring. He offers plus raw power and arm strength, though he’ll need to improve his receiving and blocking to remain behind the plate.

Yankees: Drew Thorpe, RHP (second round)
Though his fastball sits in the low 90s, Thorpe ranked second in NCAA Division I with a Cal Poly-record 149 strikeouts in 104 2/3 innings, thanks to his well above-average changeup, solid slider and command of all three pitches. He has some similarities to Kyle Hendricks and joins an organization that has helped several pitchers tap into more velocity and spin.

Rays: Brock Jones, OF (second round)
Had Tampa Bay selected Jones (MLB Pipeline’s No. 33 Draft prospect) with its first pick at No. 29 overall, it wouldn’t have been much of a reach. To get him at No. 65 feels like a steal. The Stanford outfielder is an easy plus runner and shows promising power from the left side, having hit 21 homers with a .664 slugging percentage this past season. Concerns about his chase rate likely caused his fall, but the Rays system has long been able to build on existing tools and iron out weaknesses. Jones’ speed is a good building block for what’s to come.

Blue Jays: Brandon Barriera, LHP (first round)
The Florida high-school southpaw provided one of the best interview highlights of Day 1 when he told MLB Network shortly after going No. 23, “Looking at those 22 teams before me, they’re going to regret this.” Time will tell, of course, but the pieces are there for that to happen. Barriera shows three above-average pitches with his fastball, slider and changeup, and he isn’t afraid to go right after hitters. The Jays have had success in developing prep left-hander Ricky Tiedemann into prospect prominence and could do the same with Barriera. His competitiveness is already Major League-level.

White Sox: Peyton Pallette, RHP (second round)
The White Sox got a college pitcher with first-round talent in the second round because Pallette had Tommy John surgery in January. Before he got hurt, he drew comparisons to Walker Buehler with his wiry 6-foot-1 build and quality stuff, including a 93-95 mph fastball that touches 99 and a hammer 78-83 mph curveball.

Guardians: Chase DeLauter, OF (first round)
The first-ever first-round pick from James Madison, DeLauter had the best combination of tools, production and plate discipline in the college class. Scouts don’t love his left-handed stroke, but he batted .402/.520/.715 in three shortened college seasons before breaking his left foot sliding into second base on April 9. He also tied for the Cape Cod League lead with nine homers last summer.

Tigers: Peyton Graham, SS (second round)
Graham already brings plenty of versatility to the table having played shortstop and third base at Oklahoma and some outfield on Cape Cod, so he should be adaptable into the Detroit system. That’s even better because the Tigers will want to find any place in the lineup they can for his power (20 homers in 2022) and speed (34 steals). Ranked as MLB Pipeline’s No. 28 Draft prospect, Graham has the tools to look like he belonged more comfortably in the first round.

Royals: Cayden Wallace, 3B (second round)
After Kansas City went pitching-heavy to start the 2021 Draft, many thought it would balance out with early bats this July, and it did that by taking Virginia Tech outfielder Gavin Cross at No. 9 overall and Arkansas third baseman Wallace 40 picks later. Cross is a solid pick, but Wallace might be an even better value for where he was taken. The 20-year-old slugger has good power and speed tools, and his plus-plus arm makes him well-suited to third base (or even right field should a roster move require it). The Royals have a strong recent history of developing infielders like Bobby Witt Jr., Vinnie Pasquantino, Nick Pratto and Michael Massey, and Wallace could plug himself well into that group.

Twins: Connor Prielipp, LHP (second round)
The Alabama southpaw was an early, early candidate to go first overall in 2022, but Tommy John surgery in May 2021 hurt those chances. Prielipp threw bullpens in front of scouts this past May and pitched again at the Draft Combine, showing a double-plus slider and low-90s fastball. Along with good control, the pieces are there for a potential No. 2 starter, and while we can’t assume health for any Tommy John recoveree, Prielipp has the chance to be a huge second-round get for the Twins.

Astros: Jacob Melton, OF (second round)
Melton rebounded from shoulder surgery in 2021 to win Pacific-12 Conference player of the year honors, bat .360/.424/.670 and set Oregon State records with 83 RBI and 175 total bases. He has unorthodox swing mechanics but comes with plus raw power and speed and a track record of production.

Angels: Ben Joyce, RHP (third round)
This wasn’t Los Angeles’ all-pitcher Draft of last season, but we’re going back to the mound. You may have heard of Joyce’s fastball. It already touches 105 mph. From the second he unleashes that heat as a pro, Joyce is likely to have the fastest pitch in Minor League Baseball. It’ll be the velocity that pushed the Tennessee right-hander because his slider and changeup are just average pitches, but the separation between them and triple-digits is stark enough. Bringing Joyce into the fold adds some much-needed electricity to the Halos farm.

A’s: Henry Bolte, OF (second round)
The 18-year-old outfielder won’t have to go far from his native Palo Alto to find his new Major League organization. True to his name, Bolte is a 65-grade runner with wheels that play on the basepaths and in center field. His plus raw power plays well in batting practice, but he’ll need some fine-tuning to tap into it during games. The raw tools are still good enough to make Bolte Oakland’s new best outfield prospect whenever he signs.

Mariners: Walter Ford, RHP (Collective Balance Round B)
This isn’t strictly for Ford’s nickname as the Vanilla Missile, but it doesn’t hurt. The 17-year-old right-hander already touches 96-97 mph and throws the fastball with riding life that gets plenty of swing-and-miss. His low-80s slider can leave batters frustrated too, while a changeup should be a focus in pro ball. High-school pitchers certainly come with a good amount of risk, and Ford’s age — he reclassified late last summer to move up a year — might add to the risk. It also gives him a longer runway to work within the Seattle system, and the building blocks he brings to the group are already special enough.

Rangers: Kumar Rocker, RHP (first round)
The Rangers shocked the industry by using the third overall choice on Rocker, who went 10th overall in 2021 to the Mets but failed his post-Draft physical and had shoulder surgery last September. He returned to pitch 20 innings in the independent Frontier League this spring, touching 99 mph with his fastball and flashing his trademark wipeout slider. There’s still health risk with Rocker but there’s also a lot of upside, and getting him to agree to sign for $5.2 million ($2.4 million below slot) enabled Texas to pull another stunner by floating the Draft’s best pitching prospect, Michigan prep right-hander Brock Porter all the way down to its next pick at No. 109 in the fourth round. Rocker also is reunited with 2021 No. 2 overall choice Jack Leiter after they shared the NCAA Division I strikeout lead and pitched Vanderbilt to the College World Series finals a year ago.

Braves: Cole Phillips, RHP (second round)
The Texas native had an up arrow next to his name this spring until he underwent Tommy John surgery in April. Before that, he was regularly touching the upper-90s with a running fastball, allowing scouts to put a plus-plus grade on his fastball. A low-80s breaking ball with good depth gave him another above-average pitch, and he was showing good strike-throwing ability for his size at 6-foot-3. The surgery may have scared off teams picking above No. 57, but Phillips’ stuff could be a big get for Atlanta in the second round.

Marlins: Jacob Berry, 3B/OF (first round)
When none of the coveted high school prospects fell to the Marlins at No. 6, they didn’t try to get cute and instead selected the top offensive player available. Berry may not provide much defensive value but he offered the best combination of hitting ability, power and plate discipline in the college ranks. He batted .370/.464/.630 with more extra-base hits (24) and walks (27) than strikeouts (22) at Louisiana State.

Mets: Kevin Parada, C (first round)
The New York Draft room must have been doing cartwheels when Parada fell to No. 11. The Georgia Tech product won multiple awards as the best Division I college catcher this year after he hit .361/.453/.709 with 26 homers this spring, and scouts don’t hesitate to put plus grades on his hit and power tools. He may be just an average framer and lack arm strength, which hurts his ceiling behind the plate, but the offense seemed good enough to earn him a spot in the top 10 picks alone. Any debate about him or Francisco Álvarez can wait for another day when they’re on a collision course in Queens.

Phillies: Justin Crawford, OF (first round)
A tooled-up outfielder from the Las Vegas area. Think the Phillies know anything about guys like that? Crawford’s comparisons to Bryce Harper might end at position, handedness and hometown, but it was noteworthy that the two-time NL MVP seemed excited to add Carl’s son to the fold. The younger Crawford is himself a 70-grade runner who can defend well in center, and his impressive bat-to-ball skills could make him an above-average hitter. The Phils lacked a second-round pick but still went for ceiling in Crawford at No. 17.

Nationals: Elijah Green, OF (first round)
As part of its rebuild, Washington needed to take a big swing at No. 5 overall. Boy did it ever in selecting Green, arguably the toolsiest player of this class. The IMG Academy product has some of the best raw power of any high-schooler in the country, and his 70-grade run tool, plus glove and plus arm will play immediately in the pros. The biggest drawback: some scouts are worried Green’s whiff rates will keep him from reaching his considerable ceiling. If Green can make enough contact, he would give the Nats the true superstar their system needs.

Cubs: Cade Horton, RHP (first round)
After missing 2021 following Tommy John surgery and posting a 7.94 ERA during this regular season, Horton was spectacular in five postseason starts as Oklahoma placed second at the College World Series. He topped out at 98 mph with his fastball and at 90 with his wipeout slider in Omaha, stamping himself as the best college pitcher in a Draft where that demographic was riddled by injuries to top prospects. By presumably getting Horton to agree to a below-slot bonus at No. 7, the Cubs also were able to land Florida prepster Jackson Ferris — the top high school lefty for some clubs — at No. 47 in the second round.

Reds: Cam Collier, 3B (first round)
Once a candidate to go in the top-four picks, Collier dropped to the Reds at No. 18. Assuming the two can work out a deal, Collier brings incredible bat speed and strong overall hitting ability to the Cincinnati system. He tested that bat against JuCo and Cape Cod competition this year at just 17 years old, so the low levels of the Minors shouldn’t scare him off even at such a young age. A plus arm will give him the chance to stick at third base too, and a left-side infield pairing of Collier and Elly De La Cruz is rather enticing.

Brewers: Jacob Misiorowski, RHP (second round)
Milwaukee has a history of taking JuCo pitchers and has a specific history with Crowder JC, from where they got Aaron Ashby in 2018. Misiorowski beat Ashby’s selection by two rounds, and he did so on the strength of a plus-plus fastball that already touches 100 mph. A mid-80s slider with good depth gives him two above-average pitches, and at 6-foot-7, the right-hander could add even more power as he adds strength. (He only turned 20 in April.) Misiorowski has the floor of an impact reliever and could be a No. 4/5 starter should he add a third pitch with the Crew.

Pirates: Termarr Johnson, 2B/SS (first round)
“They’re getting the best player in the Draft,” Johnson said when asked what the Pirates are receiving in him as the No. 4 overall pick. It’s tough to blame the Georgia native for being that confident. Johnson was seen as the best pure hitter in the class and perhaps the best pure high-school hitter to enter the Draft in decades. Stellar hand-eye coordination and an advanced approach help the left-handed slugger barrel up balls consistently, and his power should play with better strength than you’d expect from a 5-foot-10 slugger. The Bucs have a deep farm system already, and if Johnson fulfills his sky-high promise, they will have a star to lead that pipeline.

Cardinals: Pete Hansen, LHP (third round)
The Cards took Gordon Graceffo’s promising secondaries, added some velocity and made him into a Top-100 caliber arm this season. Could they do the same with Hansen out of Texas? In fairness, Hansen has a tougher velo hill to climb than Graceffo did, considering his fastball was only in the upper-80s this spring. But his 78-82 mph slider already plays as a plus pitch with good horizontal and vertical break, and his curveball is an above-average pitch with depth. An effortless delivery brings plus control too, so just average fastball heat would make Hansen a solid starting option in the pros.

D-backs: Druw Jones, OF (first round)
Sometimes it’s best not to overthink it. When the Orioles went with Jackson Holliday at No. 1, the D-backs likely sprinted to the phone to announce Jones one pick later. The son of 10-time Gold Glover Andruw Jones has arguably the best collection of tools in this Draft group, earning 70s for his run tool and his fielding abilities in center alongside plus grades for power and arm strength. Even if he’s just an above-average hitter, everything else should make him a valuable member of the roster every time he steps on the field. Add Jones alongside Corbin Carroll, Jordan Lawlar and the graduated Alek Thomas to the young, dynamic players for Arizona.

Rockies: Jordan Beck, OF (Collective Balance Round A)
The Tennessee program was the most dominant regular-season team in Division I this spring, and Beck played a large role before moving on to Colorado. The right-handed slugger utilized his good bat speed and leverage upon contact to show above-average power, and his 55-grade speed gave him another avenue in which to impact games week in and week out. He fits a right-field profile with his plus arm, but Colorado could give him looks in center, now that he isn’t sharing a roster with Drew Gilbert.

Dodgers: Dalton Rushing, C (second round)
With their top pick dropped 10 spots as a penalty for exceeding the luxury-tax threshold in 2021, the Dodgers were the only club without a first-rounder. They still grabbed one of the best catchers available at No. 40 with Rushing, who succeeded 2021 No. 1 overall choice Henry Davis behind the plate at Louisville. Rushing has power, patience and solid arm strength, and he may be a better receiver than Davis.

Padres: Robby Snelling, LHP (Collective Balance Round A)
Taking Dylan Lesko 15th overall may have been high-risk, high-reward. Taking Snelling (Pipeline’s No. 16 Draft prospect) with the 39th overall pick just seemed prudent. Snelling brings good 93-94 mph velocity to the San Diego ranks, and his upper-70s curveball could be one of the best in the system upon arrival. He has the delivery and control to remain a starter too, and unlike Lesko, he is healthy as he heads into pro ball.

Giants: Carson Whisenhunt, LHP (second round)
Whisenhunt ranked as the best healthy college left-hander entering 2022, but a season-long suspension for performance-enhancing drugs and a rough performance in the Cape Cod League dropped him to the second round. (He said his positive test came from a supplement he bought at a national nutrition store chain.) The East Carolina product has one of the best changeups in this Draft, as well as a 91-95 mph fastball and good pitchability.

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