Five Biggest Questions Heading Into the 2022 MLB Draft
The 2022 MLB Draft begins on Sunday and there are a lot of unknowns as we approach the big day. This class features ton of high-end talent but there is also a lot of mystery surrounding what will happen once the event kicks off. What follows are the top five questions surrounding this year's draft.
What will the Orioles do at No. 1?
There are two choices for the Baltimore Orioles at the top of the draft: they can either take the Druw Jones, who has been the consensus top player in this draft class for more than a year, or they can take someone else and save bonus money to use later. There seems to be a lot of momentum towards Jones as the draft approaches, but no one truly knows what general manager Mike Elias will do.
Other options at No. 1 are prep shortstops Termarr Johnson and Jackson Holliday, and Cal Poly third baseman Brooks Lee. We'll see what happens, but just days from the draft it feels like this decision remains pretty wide open.
Where will Kumar Rocker land?
Kumar Rocker was the most famous prospect in the 2021 MLB Draft and he didn't wind up signing a contract. The New York Mets took him with the 10th overall pick but decided not to ink him to a deal after reviewing his medical info. Rocker is currently playing in the Frontier League and his stuff remains excellent. It's recently been revealed he had shoulder surgery in September, but he hasn't turned MRI results over to teams. There is a fair amount of mystery here.
If he's healthy, the 6-foot-5, 245-pound righty has nasty stuff, with a mid-90s, fastball, a devastating mid-80s slider that grades as plus-plus, and a knee-buckling curve in the low-80s. He doesn't have a changeup worth speaking of and can struggle with his control at times, but the upside is tremendous for the 22-year-old. He could conceivably go anywhere from 13 to the mid-40s.
What happens to Dylan Lesko?
Dylan Lesko was almost certain to be the first pitcher taken in the draft before he underwent Tommy John surgery in April. The Georgia prep right-hander was the first junior to ever win Gatorade National Player of the Year after a dominant showing in 2021 when he went 11-0 with a 0.35 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 60 innings. He's elite and likely would have gone in the top five picks. Now his landing spot is anyone's guess.
Lesko sits in the 92-95 mph range with his fastball, touching 97, and has one of the best prep changeups scouts have ever seen. It sits in the low-80s with movement and depth while using the same arm action as his fastball. His curveball is a work in progress but consistently produces very high spin rates. He has a repeatable delivery, good makeup and looks like an ace in the making.
Obviously the injury risk is what will keep teams away. As of now Lesko could go as high as 11 and as low as the late first-round. He's garnered a lot of buzz to the Padres at No. 15. It will be fascinating to see how this plays out.
Who will be the first college player selected?
This is a fairly weak crop of college players, which was further diluted by arm injuries to some of the top pitchers in the class. The consensus top four players (Jones, Holliday, Johnson and Elijah Green) are all high schoolers. Now a college bats have creeped up draft boards, but without a true top option.
Georgia Tech catcher Kevin Parada has some helium as the draft approaches, while Lee might be the best bat of the bunch. LSU outfielder Jacob Berry looks like a top 10 lock at this point, and Texas Tech second baseman Jace Jung should also go in the top 15. The wild card is Chipola College third baseman Cam Collier, who went the Bryce Harper route by leaving high school a year early to enter junior college. Collier has shockingly quick bat speed, an uncanny ability to put bat to ball and good raw power. He'll almost certainly go in the top eight, and could go as high as No. 4.
There is no consensus hierarchy here and no one seems to know how this will all unfold.
How high does Ben Joyce go?
Tennessee reliever Ben Joyce created a ton of buzz this season when he was clocked throwing a 105 mph fastball against Mississippi State. While that sounds great, the fact that he's a reliever who has missed a ton of development time due to injuries has pushed him down draft boards.
Joyce features that explosive fastball, a mid-80s slider that he can struggle to control at times, and a low-90s changeup he rarely throws. He's mostly a fastball pitcher, and while his 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame looks durable, his body hasn't held up over time. He's a big risk, but there is elite closer upside here. He projects to land somewhere around the third round, but could pop up if a team believes it can keep him healthy.