By Jared Stanger
2022 MLB Draft starts exactly 4 weeks from tomorrow. It’s been just over a month since my last Mariner mock draft. Let’s go through another take on one, but this time I’m going to be incorporating a bit more statistical analysis. Now, one downside to going heavy on players’ actual season performance stats is that it all but eliminates the high school players, so you won’t be seeing any of those in this version. We’ll talk about some of them, but my eventual picks have all stood out via a combination of the stats that I’ve found to be most useful in predicting future success.
#1.21 – LHP, Oregon State, Cooper Hjerpe
Cooper Hjerpe is arguably the college Cy Young winner for this year. He’s #24 in the country in ERA (2.53), he’s #5 in WHIP (0.87), he’s #2 in wins (11-2), he’s #15 in SO-BB (7.00), and he’s #1 in strikeouts (161). Hjerpe made a huge leap forward this year in his performance, and a big part of that Cooper himself attributes to the time of his offseason that he spent at Driveline here in Washington.
In a year in which most of the preseason highly-ranked college pitchers lost some part (beginning, middle, end) of their seasons to arm injuries; Hjerpe came out healthy. And that good health may be a reason he doesn’t actually make it to #21 (I’ve seen him mocked higher, I’ve seen him mocked lower). The potential reason he does make it to #21: his mechanics.
Hjerpe is 6’3″ throws from a very sidearm slot with a release point that ends up at 3’9″ high. For reference, Hjerpe’s OSU teammate Jake Pfennigs is 6’7″, also trained at Driveline, and was measured to have a release point approaching 7′ high. Some people feel the arm slot limits Hjerpe’s ability to gain future velo (he currently sits probably 92mph). The armslot and the velo may scare some teams off of drafting Hjerpe early in the 1st. But there is recent precedent for similar armslots to Cooper’s working in MLB, with the ceiling being Chris Sale, and probably the floor being Alex Wood. Split the difference between those two and I think Hjerpe is worth the #21 pick.
If Hjerpe is off the board; I flip my sights to the high school arms. I keep seeing prep lefty Jackson Ferris dropping in media mocks. I don’t understand why that is happening. He’s a 6’4″ southpaw that throws present 97mph with at least one plus secondary. Only thing I can think of is people being wary of his college commitment being too serious to risk drafting (committed to Ole Miss). To me, Ferris would easily have the higher upside to Hjerpe if you can get him here.
The other one I like is local product (Bainbridge Island) Ian JR Ritchie. More in the 6’2″ range and a righty; it’s tougher to see teams taking him this early. Maybe he falls to the 2nd, or maybe his commitment to UCLA is strong enough teams just leave him undrafted altogether.
#2.58 – 1B/3B, VCU, Tyler Locklear
As part of the lead-up to this mock draft; I did unique and separate statistical studies of the college pitchers and college hitters. In my study of the hitters; Tyler Locklear emerged as perhaps the most underrated hitter in college ball this year.
For the year, Locklear (6’3″/230lbs) hit .402/.542/1.342 with 25 doubles, 2 triples, 20 homeruns, 78 RBI, and 6 stolen bases (also 23 hit-by-pitch). On defense, Tyler split time almost equally between 1B and 3B (29 games at 1st, 33 games at 3rd), but this version of a mock really doesn’t put much stock in defense. I’m going pretty aggressively after the best bats available.
In addition to the straight stat line, I believe Tyler finished top 10 in NCAA exit velocities. More good info in the embedded tweet.
I feel like Locklear’s floor is Todd Frazier, but there’s enough in his profile to think Tyler will have better plate discipline longterm than Frazier. Plus, Seattle sports has had good luck in the past with athlete’s named Tyler Lock-xxx.
In general, the 2nd round is a good spot to target a third-baseman. I like Tennessee’s Trey Lipscomb a ton with his 6’3″/200lb, athletic build, and sweet swing. Clemson’s Max Wagner (6’0″/215lbs) also finished very high in my statistical breakdown and would be appropriate here. There’s also some possibility a guy like Cade Doughty or Sterlin Thompson, who each played more college 2B, could fall to #58 and then be moved to 3rd (a la Kyle Seager 2009). Finally, I also like prep IF Jalin Flores’ bat here as a present shortstop that may end up at third in the future.
#2.74 – OF, Mercer, Colby Thomas
Seattle has had some luck drafting outfielders from Mercer University before. But they’ve also had some bad luck with injuries to Mercer outfielders. Both were Kyle Lewis.
Colby Thomas is a 6’1″/190lb OF that played primarily RF for Mercer in 2022 before injuring his shoulder labrum (has already had surgery). Prior to injury; Thomas was hitting .325/.451/1.184 with 14 doubles, 2 triples, 17 homerun, 45 RBI, 11 stolen bases in 11 tries. Pre-injury, he also had a hell of an arm from the outfield.
#4.126 – RHP, Central Michigan, Andrew Taylor
Andrew Taylor was a tall, skinny, lightly recruited high school righthander that got to CMU and proceeded to grow into his 6’5″/218lb frame. Currently a 20 year old, draft-eligible redshirt sophomore; Taylor’s 2022 season went 3.21 ERA, 1.048 WHIP, 13.5 SO/9, 4.67 SO/BB with present fastball up to 94mph. There’s some resemblance to dream on a George Kirby comparison. Kirby, in his age 20 season, was 2.89 ERA, 1.273 WHIP, 9.6 SO/9, 3.56 SO/BB.
#5.156 – RHP, Coastal Carolina, Michael Knorr
In 2021, Seattle drafted Baylor Senior catcher Andy Thomas in the 5th round, and later signed him for about $350k under his draft slot value. Arguably, Thomas’ talent was 5th round value, but his negotiating power was limited. Such is the life of the college senior in the MLB Draft. This year, a guy that has 5th round talent, but that might have to sign underslot is CCU senior starter Michael Knorr.
Knorr is a 6’6″/215lb righty that transferred to Coastal after three years at Cal State Fullerton. After the move, Knorr proceeded to post a 3.39 ERA, 1.058 WHIP, 11.2 SO/9, and 6.62 SO/BB. He’s a very consistent strike-thrower who also happens to top out presently at 97mph, and throws a pretty filthy breaking ball.
#6.186 – LHP, UCF, Hunter Patteson
Last year, the M’s drafted Cal Poly righty Bryan Woo in the 6th round, even though it was known he was having Tommy John surgery. This year, there are so many TJ guys coming out of the college season (and some from before the season started) that you can assume Seattle will go that route again at some point, when they feel the future value surpasses the development time lost. I’m going with UCF lefty Hunter Patteson.
Patteson is 6’5″/200lbs, managed to make 7 starts this year and post 1.82 ERA, 0.910 WHIP, 12.4 SO/9, and 8.20 SO/BB before the injury. To be clear, I haven’t seen report of what his injury was, I just know he walked off the mound injured on April 15th and never pitched again since. Just like Bryan Woo; Patteson was up to 97mph before the injury.
#7.216 – RHP, Kentucky, Tyler Guilfoil
This is a spot in the draft where it just sort of looks good to draft a relief pitcher. They can oftentimes be senior signings that save you some money towards your draft bonus pool. I’ve got three names penciled in to this range: Kentucky Senior Tyler Guilfoil, McNeese State Senior Cameron Foster, and Texas State Senior Tristan Stivors.
Stivors is 6’4″/220lbs, led the country in saves (18) while also posting 2.21 ERA, 1.082 WHIP, 12.7 SO/9. He is already 23 years old and soon to be 24.
Foster is 23 years old, posted 12 saves, 1.86 ERA, 0.873 WHIP, 12.0 SO/9 this year. Might be the most underrated of these three.
Guilfoil is 6’4″/215lbs and finished with 6 saves, 1.59 ERA, 0.863 WHIP, 14.1 SO/9.
I think all of these guys are legit, but if you can get your pick of all three; I’d go with Guilfoil with the present fastball up to 95mph, and that slider.
#8.246 – RHP, Portland State, Brett Gillis
Brett Gillis is a local product out of Everett, WA who played down the road at PSU where he went 9-2 this year in 14 starts with 2.24 ERA, 1.103 WHIP, 12.3 SO/9, 3.59 SO/BB after switching from playing two ways as recently as 2021 to focusing on just pitching this year. Listed at 6’2″/190lbs, Gillis reminds me a little of M’s 2021 pick Jimmy Kingsbury.
One thing about the draft in general that I noticed doing this analytics study of this class: there are more value finds for position players towards the middle rounds than there are for pitchers. There’s actually a nice natural flow to draft pitchers in rounds 4-8 and then turn to bats rounds 9-12, or so.
#9.276 – C, St. Joseph’s, Andrew Cossetti
This is a good class of college catchers. Deep class, too. Starting all the way at the top with Kevin Parada and Daniel Susac who are probably gone before pick #21…I like Dalton Rushing in the 2nd, Cade Hunter in the 3rd, Drake Baldwin in the 4th…but the best value I found was Andrew Cossetti. Listed 6’0″/215lbs, he hit .327/.454/1.167 with 16 doubles, 2 triples, 19 homers, 65 RBI. Good arm behind the plate, too.
#10.306 – SS/2B, Louisiana Tech, Taylor Young
I love using a consistent analytic method to dig into an entire class of athletes because of the surprises. If you follow it truthfully the numbers will point you towards players you had otherwise not looked at, or perhaps ever heard of. Many in this stretch of my mock draft fall into this category including Taylor Young. He’s listed 5’9″/170lbs and hit .364/.506/1.151 with 23 doubles, 2 triples, 12 homers, 51 RBI, and 28 stolen bases in 30 attempts while starting at SS for LaTech. Oh, and by the way, he also won the 2021 College Golden Glove award when he was playing 2B for the Bulldogs. So good defense, good basestealer, and a great on-base man. Only downside is that he’s almost 24 years old.
#11.336 – OF, Tulane, Ethan Groff
Ethan Groff is a personal favorite of mine. 6’0″/200lbs and he hit .404/.503/1.211 with 15 doubles, 2 triples, 9 homerun, 35 RBI in 41 games. Solid defender with a great arm. And maybe a bit of clutch gene, if you believe in that.
#12. 366 – 1B, Xavier, Luke Franzoni
Luke Franzoni is a 6’3″/215lb first baseman (and occasional right fielder) that hit .354/.485/1.306 with 12 doubles, 29 homeruns, 78 RBI in the 2022 college season, not to mention 2 HR in his first 4 games of the currently on-going Cape Cod Baseball League. The power is so legit and clearly the carrying tool, here.
#13.396 – 2B/3B, Nevada, Josh Zamora
Josh Zamora is a 5’11″/190lb infielder that played exclusively 2B in 2022 after playing mix of 2B and 3B across his Nevada Wolfpack career. This year he hit .362/.470/1.145 with 18 doubles, 1 triple, 16 homerun, 69 RBI, and 4 stolen bases.
#14.426 – RHP, Houston, Ben Sears
Ben Sears is a 6’5″/208lb righty reliever who posted 3.11 ERA, 1.005 WHIP, 6.5 SO/9, 1.1 BB/9 and 12 saves this year. He’s got a fastball that he throws 95mph, and has a solid slider. He clearly throws a ton of strikes, he has the frame to add even more velo, so it’s really just a question of if there is something in pitch design that could help bump up his strikeout rate.
#15.456 – RHP, Southern Illinois, Mike Hansell
We close on another pitcher that came out of the Pacific NW. Mike Hansell is a 6’4″/235lb pitcher with 4 starts and 5 relief appearances this year before he was shut down. Originally pitching at Eastlake HS in Seattle, before a stop at JUCO, Hansell has been at SIU the last couple years where he posted 3.60 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, 11.1 SO/9, and 3.91 SO/BB in 2022.
1- LHP Cooper Hjerpe
2- 3B Tyler Locklear
2c- OF Colby Thomas
4- RHP Andrew Taylor
5- RHP Michael Knorr
6- LHP Hunter Patteson
7- RHP Tyler Guilfoil
8- RHP Brett Gillis
9- C Andrew Cossetti
10- SS Taylor Young
11- OF Ethan Groff
12- 1B Luke Franzoni
13- 2B Josh Zamora
14- RHP Ben Sears
15- RHP Mike Hansell