The 2022 Major League Baseball draft is less than a week away with the first round set to kickoff on Sunday, July 17 in Los Angeles. The Pirates have the fourth selection in this year’s draft, giving them the opportunity to add another high-profile prospect to their minor league system
Drafts Under Cherington
It will be the third draft under Ben Cherington’s watch as the team’s general manager. Cherington selected Nick Gonzales with the seventh pick in the 2020 draft, a draft that was reduced to just five rounds due to the pandemic. The Pirates selected all pitchers with their next five picks, including Carmen Mlodzinski and Jared Jones.
Last year, the Pirates had the first selection and took Louisville catcher Henry Davis. The savings used to sign Davis enabled the Pirates to select multiple highly-regarded prospects with their next three selections. The Bucs landed left-handed pitcher Anthony Solometo, outfielder Lonnie White Jr., and two-way player Bubba Chandler, giving them one of the top draft hauls in 2021.
Potential Pirates Targets
So far, most of the buzz surrounding the Pirates have them linked to college bats, and there are quite a few options that fill that criteria at the top of the board. Cal Poly shortstop Brooks Lee is certainly a name to watch. Lee possesses an advanced hit tool and has the ability to hit for some power. Defensively, Lee has a plus-arm and could wind up at third base as a pro.
Another name to watch is Cam Collier, son of former Pirates player Lou Collier. Collier hails from Chipola Junior College, one of the top JUCO schools in the country. The left-handed hitter has advanced bat-to-ball skills and is a natural hitter. His athleticism and rocket for an arm allow him to play his natural position of third base or a corner outfield spot. One of the thing’s that make Collier so intriguing is that he is one of the youngest players available, as he doesn’t turn 18 until November.
If the Pirates decide to go in another direction, one name to monitor is prep infielder Termarr Johnson, who likely could be had at an under-slot signing. Johnson is considered to have the top-hit tool available in this year’s class. He has solid tools across the board, including plus-power potential.
The reason Johnson is listed as a potential target over some of the other top prep names is because it’s rumored the Pirates could execute a strategy similar to last year’s. By selecting a player that could sign for below the slot value that comes with the fourth pick ($7,002,100), the Bucs can use the money saved from that pick and allocate it to a high-upside player who falls into their laps with their next selections.
The Pirates have two other picks inside the top 50 — 36th and 44th. Keep an eye on players who slide due to signability concerns (i.e. Solometo, White and Chander last year)
What About the Pitchers?
One of the biggest takeaways in this draft class is the lack of pitching at the very top of the draft board. A number of top pitching prospects were injured leading up to and through this season, causing some of the top arms available to slide down the board.
With that being said, there are plenty of solid arms that will be available for when the Pirates find themselves on the clock in the Competitive Balance Round A as well as early in round two. The Bucs seemingly will target pitching at some point in this class as the system seems to be more position-player heavy.
The 2022 draft is filled with legacies, sons of former Major League players. In addition to Collier, there are three other projected first rounders who are the sons of former Major League All-Stars. Druw Jones, the son of Andruw Jones, is widely considered the top prospect available this season. Jackson Holliday, the son of Matt Holliday, isn’t too far behind. Justin Crawford, son of Carl Crawford, has soared up draft boards and is a potential top-10 pick.