2022 MLB Draft Guide: What to keep an eye on
It often gets overlooked amidst all the events during All-Star week, but the 2022 MLB Draft is upon us! The future of Major League Baseball will be hand-picked by each team in this 20-round draft starting Sunday at 7 PM EST.
We will see sons of former major-league stars paired with stars coming fresh out of high school. This offensively-heavy draft class is one of the most unpredictable groups of young superstars we have seen in a very long time, assuring that this year’s draft will be much-watch television.
How it works
The order of the draft is the standings from 2021 in reverse, so the Phillies have the seventeenth overall pick. The Orioles have the first overall pick, followed by the Diamondbacks picking second, the Rangers picking third, the Pirates picking fourth, and the Nationals making the fifth overall selection.
The Mets, who have picks 11 and 14, will be the only team with two first-round picks. The eleventh overall pick is a compensation pick for Kumar Rocker—the Mets’ first-round selection in 2021, who went unsigned. Rocker failed to confirm a deal with the Mets because of a hiccup during his post-draft physical. The Mets discovered a minor shoulder procedure that Rocker had done the previous fall, so the Mets backed away from their first-round pick.
Now one year later, Rocker is back on the table after spending a season in the Frontier League—an independent league unaffiliated with Major League Baseball.
Rocker won’t go in the top ten like last year, but he could be targeted by a team looking for a relief pitcher with copious amounts of collegiate and professional experience.
Following the first round, the Rockies and Reds will also receive two additional compensatory picks, but they will be a little different from the Mets’.
These are granted to teams who have a player decline a qualifying offer, become free agents, and sign elsewhere for at least $50 million.
For those who need a reminder on qualifying offers, here is your review.
Teams can extend qualifying offers to any impending free agents on their team as long as they have never had one offered before and were on the team for the entire season (meaning a midseason pickup cannot receive a qualifying offer). The player gets ten days to accept or decline this offer. If the offer is accepted, the player receives the average salary of the 125 highest-paid players in the league. If rejected, the player is a free agent, gifting the player’s former team the additional draft pick I was referring to.
Think of them as the dreaded 8:00 AM consolation games.
The Rockies will receive one of these picks for Trevor Story declining his qualifying offer and signing with the Red Sox, and the Reds will receive one of these picks for Nick Castellanos declining his offer and coming to our Phillies.
Compensation picks are also happening later on in the draft.
The Mets, Braves, Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Astros have compensation picks right before the start of the third round. The Rockies and Reds, on the other hand, will get theirs after the first round of regular selections, but before the first round of competitive balance picks.
Teams getting the compensation picks early on in the draft had to be revenue-sharing recipients, and their former players had to sign for at least $50 million with their new team. If the Rockies and Reds did not meet all these thresholds, their compensatory picks would have come later in the draft.
Another type of draft selection, these called competitive balance picks, are rewarded for having a low payroll and/or a low revenue pool in 2021. And quite a few teams have one or more of these.
There will be two competitive balance rounds, one before round two and one before the second set of compensation picks.
The last caveat includes the 2020 World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers went over the Competitive Balance Tax last offseason, so they had their first pick pushed back ten spots. Since the quick-spending Dodgers were in line to have the thirtieth pick in the first round, the pushback will bump their first selection to the second round, diminishing their first-round pick.
Click here for a list of all the picks and the reasons behind them.
As we know, money is always an issue in one way or another. And to no one’s surprise, the teams also must be aware of how much money they are spending. Each pick is assigned a certain amount of money, and the value of each team’s picks added together is called their pool. If a team spends more than what is in their pool, they will be taxed. Depending on how much a team overspends, they could even lose future draft picks.
The Phillies’ pool has $6,307,000 total, and $3,792,800 of that is assigned to the Phils’ first pick. You can find the rest of the pick values here.
This is also where strategy, along with financials, comes into play. Some teams go all out on their first pick. These are usually the teams that have a higher (lower numerical value) pick and pinpoint one specific player that they think has the most potential among the top names. Other squads will select an inexpensive player in the first round and save money for the later rounds of the draft. Then, of course, there is the team that follows the assigned value almost exactly to the dollar and does it just like it was written up.
Who are the big names?
The 2022 draft has a common theme among prospects and their parents—a major-league bloodline. Andruw Jones and Matt Holliday will get to see their sons get drafted, and both of them should go in the top three.
Druw Jones, son of former superstar Andruw Jones, is the guy that everyone is talking about. Jones stands about 76 inches tall and weighs in at 180 pounds. He is a five-tool player who covers a lot of ground in centerfield and works very fluidly. He is in the ninety-sixth percentile among players with the strongest outfield arms and still has not fully developed muscularly. In 227 games at Perfect Game, he has a .435 batting average. Jones attended the Wesleyan School in Georgia and carried his school team to a division championship. He won the Gatorade Player of the Year award in Georgia and played travel ball with the Phillies Scout Team. Jones committed to Vanderbilt but is still expected to go first overall in the draft. He would be a great fit for the Phillies, but he will never drop to 17, especially after all the hype around his name.
Jackson Holliday, the son of five-time all-star Matt Holliday, is the highest-ranked shortstop in his class and has all the tools justifying his top-three placement. Holliday added strength in the offseason while also keeping his speed intact. He is expected to have a lot of power and to be a plus defender at short, but his mature offensive approach is Jackson’s real ‘wow’ factor.
The third big name in this draft is Elijah Green, who is another high schooler. Green could give Jones a real run for his money as the best defensive outfielder in his class. He is the quickest of the bunch and has an incredible arm to go with his stellar glove. Green could definitely be considered a raw power hitter, but swings and misses are a concern. While that is a pretty significant negative, Green is just 18 years old and still very far away from the big leagues. And the only way to prevent swings and misses is by getting reps, which he will get a lot of in the minor leagues.
The similarities among these three are obvious: They are all above-average defenders, fast, power hitters, and (yes, you know it) high schoolers.
High schoolers and hitters have filled the prospect charts in the last few months, and starting pitchers are coming at a premium. Likely, a pitcher won’t even get drafted in the first ten picks, and all of the first five picks may be high-school bats, something you rarely see.
So once get past all of the young hitters, who could we see after?
Brooks Lee, a switch-hitting shortstop from Cal Poly is ranked the highest among players with collegiate experience. Lee hit .351 in three years of college baseball and held an OPS of 1.073. Kevin Parada and Daniel Susac are two catchers with collegiate experience, and both of them are expected to go in the first round.
Cade Horton, one of the more intriguing options in the draft, is a two-way player from Oklahoma who struggled in the regular season after Tommy John surgery in the offseason. Despite his struggles, he kept pitching and found himself with 49 strikeouts and a 2.61 ERA in 31 innings through the 2022 college playoffs.
Termarr Johnson, a second baseman at just 5′ 10″, is also deserving of a mention. He is one of the only pure contact hitters with elite bat-to-ball skills that we will see in this draft. Johnson has a .543 OBP in the three years on his high school’s varsity baseball team.
Realistic options for the Phillies
Drafting has not been the Phillies’ strength over the last couple of years, and it is really starting to show. Mickey Moniak was selected first by the Phillies in 2016 and now has an embarrassing .129 career average in the bigs. Adam Haseley was selected in the first round in 2017 and has not returned to the major leagues since stepping away from baseball in 2021. Alec Bohm is a viable option at third base, but he has not held the expectations he set for himself after dominating minor-league pitching.
But drafting strategy in baseball is much different from the NBA and NFL.
In the MLB, it is hard to pick a certain position that you want to draft, especially when you know your selection is three to five years away from even sniffing the big leagues. Trades and free agent signings are so unpredictable that you never know what you’ll need when the time comes to promote your draft pick. So, the Phillies’ best choice will be to take whoever is available.
Justin Crawford, an 18-year-old outfielder committed to Louisiana State, has all the big-league connections. His dad, Carl Crawford, won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger in 2010. And by the looks of it, he could have some of the same strengths. He is one of the most athletic prospects in his class and has bat-to-ball skills from the left side, giving him the potential to be a leadoff hitter who hits for a high average. The Phillies haven’t had a solid leadoff hitter who gets on base regularly in nearly a decade, and Crawford could be major-league ready right as Kyle Schwarber’s contract expires, opening a spot in the outfield along with a spot at the top of the order.
Zach Neto is going to be the first ever baseball player from Campbell to be selected in the first round of the MLB Draft. Could the middle infielder be suited for Philadelphia? It’s possible. Neto can play all four positions in the infield but is primarily a second baseman and shortstop. Taking him could provide the Phillies with much-needed organizational infield depth. Neto also has professional experience, so he could get to the show quicker than some of the other prospects in his class.
The Phillies are stacked with pitching prospects across all different levels of their major and minor leagues, but as I said, you have to take the best that is available. Robby Snelling and Brandon Barriera, a pair of left-handed starting pitchers out of high school, pitch around the zone and attack hitters—Snelling with a running fastball and a 1/7 curveball and Barriera with his fastball-changeup combination. Barriera also features a slider that can produce swings and misses. He locates his fastball well and is not afraid to challenge hitters early.
You cannot trade picks (excluding competitive balance selections), but it would be a nice steal if Cam Collier or Jacob Berry dropped to 17. Berry has a 1.105 OPS in two years of collegiate baseball and is very versatile defensively. He plays all three outfield positions as well as some third base.
Collier is one of the more well-known prospects in this draft class, and part of the reason is that he is only 17 years old. Nonetheless, he posted a .537 slugging percentage in his freshman year at Chipola College and would be a very nice pickup for a Phillies team that could thrive off another pure hitter with an approach very similar to Jean Segura’s.