The 2022 Major League Baseball draft gets underway on Sunday night at 7 PM ET. Similarly to last year when the Pirates had the top pick, not many across the industry know what Baltimore plans to do with the first selection.
The top of this year’s class is heavy on position players with Georgia prep outfielder Druw Jones seemingly the consensus top prospect available. In fact, it’s even possible that no pitchers are taken in the top 10 selections this year.
The first day of the draft will cover the second set of compensations picks after the second round of the draft. This means that the Pirates will have three picks on day one — Nos. 4, 36 and 44.
Here are my predictions for how the first round will unfold.
1. Baltimore Orioles: Druw Jones, outfielder, Georgia (H.S.)
Outside of those actually in Baltimore’s front office, nobody else is exactly sure which direction the Orioles will go with the first pick. They could look to cut a deal as they have done in the past, but last time Baltimore had the first selection, they took the best prospect available (Adley Rutschman in 2019). I went that route again with Jones over the other options which include Jackson Holliday, Termarr Johnson and Brooks Lee.
2. Arizona D-backs: Jackson Holliday, shortstop, Oklahoma (H.S.)
The D-backs probably take whichever out of Jones and Holliday the Orioles don’t select. If Jones makes it here, I think he is the pick, but Arizona will have no problem selecting Holliday.
3. Texas Rangers: Kevin Parada, catcher, Georgia Tech
Parada, arguably the top college bat available this year, is generating a lot of buzz here with Texas. This pick could come down to Parada, Lee and Green with that trio being the most commonly linked to the Rangers.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates: Termarr Johnson, second baseman, Georgia (H.S.)
If I was a betting man, I’d say this pick boils down to four players — Johnson, Lee, Cam Collier and Zach Neto. Truthfully, I had a tough time deciding between Johnson and Collier with this pick. Lee is in the mix as well, and the Pirates could cut a big deal with Neto and allocate those savings for later in the draft.
In Johnson, the Pirates would be getting the prospects who comes with arguably the top hitting tool available in this year’s draft class, as MLB Pipeline gives him a 70-hit on the 20-80 scouting scale. The bat also comes with plus-power potential. According to Fangraphs, Johnson would rank as the 27th-best prospect in baseball on their Top 100 list.
5. Washington Nationals: Brooks Lee, shortstop Cal Poly
Lee gets the edge over Elijah Green and Jacob Berry. If Parada is available here, I think he’d be the Nats choice.
6. Miami Marlins: Jacob Berry, first baseman/third baseman, LSU
Miami is likely selecting from which of the top bats available slides to them. In this scenario, I have them going with Berry over Green.
7. Chicago Cubs: Cam Collier, third baseman, Chipola JC
The Cubs have been linked to Collier throughout the entire draft process, so if he’s available here, he very well could be Chicago’s pick.
8. Minnesota Twins: Zach Neto, shortstop, Campbell
The Twins probably want a college bat and I have them cutting a deal with Neto, who is climbing draft boards of late.
9. Kansas City Royals: Elijah Green, outfielder, Florida (H.S.)
Green, who could go as high as the top three and as low as a couple picks after this, puts an end to the run on college bats. Green has some of the highest upside of anyone available in this draft.
10. Colorado Rockies: Gavin Cross, outfielder, Virginia Tech
This looks like a spot where the Rockies will opt for the top college bat remaining. I have that being Cross over some others such as Jace Jung and Daniel Susac.
11. New York Mets: Justin Crawford, outfielder, Nevada (H.S.)
Crawford could go to the Royals at nine. The Mets are in an interesting spot with two picks in the top 15 after failing to sign first-round selection Kumar Rocker a year ago.
12. Detroit Tigers: Connor Prielipp, left-handed pitcher, Alabama
Finally, the first arm is off the board. Prielipp was in the running to go 1-1 before an elbow injury kept him out of action this year.
13. Los Angeles Angels: Brandon Barriera, left-handed pitcher, Florida (H.S.)
Back-to-back arms and the first prep arm lands in Anaheim. This pick has made sense to me for a while now.
14. New York Mets: Jace Jung, second baseman, Texas Tech
Another bat, this one from the college ranks, for the Mets.
15. San Diego Padres: Dylan Lesko, right-handed pitcher, Georgia (H.S.)
The Padres aren’t afraid to take risks and that’s what they’d be doing here with Lesko, who is coming off an injury. He might have the most upside of any pitcher in this draft.
16. Cleveland Guardians: Jett Williams, shortstop, Texas (H.S.)
Cleveland could take Lesko if the Padres pass, but with him gone I like them as a spot for Williams.
17. Philadelphia Phillies: Brock Porter, right-handed pitcher, Michigan (H.S.)
The Phillies last two first-round selections were both prep pitchers, so why not make it third times the charm?
18. Cincinnati Reds: Cade Horton, right-handed pitcher, Oklahoma
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Horton went before this, but I couldn’t find a home for him.
19. Oakland A’s: Dylan Beavers, outfielder, California
College, college, college. Beavers has been linked to the A’s for a while, so I went with him.
20. Atlanta Braves: Gabriel Hughes, right-handed pitcher, Gonzaga
College arms seem to be generating the most noise here, so I went with the top one left on my board.
21. Seattle Mariners: Cooper Hjerpe, left-handed pitcher, Oregon State
The Mariners have had success with college arms in recent drafts, so keep a good thing going.
22. St. Louis Cardinals: Daniel Susac, catcher, Arizona
Susac is probably gone by this pick but if he’s there the Cardinals could pounce.
23. Toronto Blue Jays: Chase DeLauter, outfielder, James Madison
DeLauter is a tough one for me to pin down as to where he might land, but Toronto does make some sense.
24. Boston Reds Sox: Kumar Rocker, right-handed pitcher, Tri-City (Frontier League)
Remember the #TankForKumar trend from Pirates twitter last year? the Red Sox didn’t have to tank to land him.
25. New York Yankees: Cole Young, shortstop, Pennsylvania (H.S.)
I was tempted to put Young at multiple spots before this, with Cincinnati at 18 the start of that debate. But, I decided to put him here to the Big Apple. Young of course is from Pittsburgh and recently graduated from North Allegheny.
26. Chicago White Sox: Tucker Tolman, third baseman, South Carolina (H.S.)
This pick makes sense for the White Sox if he’s still on the board.
27. Milwaukee Brewers: Peyton Graham, shortstop, Oklahoma
I went Graham over a host of other college bat options.
28. Houston Astros: Jordan Beck, outfielder, Tennessee
The Astros are picking in the first round after being stripped of draft picks the last two years after the sign-stealing scandal.
29. Tampa Bay Rays: Robby Snelling, left-handed pitcher, Nevada (H.S.)
Something about the Rays pouncing on a high-upside prep arm who falls into their lap just makes sense to me.
30. San Francisco Giants: Justin Campbell, right-handed pitcher, Oklahoma State
I like college here for the Giants, who could opt for a bat instead of a pitcher.