By Jared Stanger
We’re finally rounding the final turn onto the homestretch of the 2022 MLB Draft season. Day 1 of the draft comes next Sunday, July 17th, with the first two rounds, rounds 3-10 on Monday, and rounds 10-20 on Tuesday the 19th. M’s have their first selection at #21 overall, 2nd round at #58, and a 2nd round competitive balance pick at #74 on day one. Day two the miss their 3rd rounder for signing Robbie Ray, followed by 4th round pick at #126. Then just add 30 to 126 for every round through the 20th.
The highest of the high end picks this year look to come from the high school hitter ranks, followed by college hitters, then possibly prep pitchers, and finally college pitching where this class has been decimated by injuries. It’s very tough to predict what will be on the board and targeted by Seattle at #21.
They finally broke the seal on drafting high school players early when they went to the prep ranks for three consecutive picks to start the 2021 Draft; so you can’t rule that out. They’ve frequently gone college pitching in the 1st round, and though this year is not strong there, picking at #21 might put them in the right range to get the first college pitcher off the board. Three of the Mariners’ top five prospects are currently teenage position players; so there is some potential “need” for quick to the show college bats. And, personally, I like the chances there will be some very good high school pitchers available when Seattle is on the clock…although, I feel like this personnel group has struggled most at evaluating teenage arms.
People often talk about the baseball draft being the draft that should be the least about team needs because of the prolonged timeline of developing draftees up through the minors, but it still has to creep in to a degree. The MLB Draft also differs in the way that draft bonuses are slotted (by each pick), but then grouped (each team’s top 10 rounds), and then given back to the teams to be anarchonistic within the assigned top 10 rounds. And there’s a degree of recruiting, a degree of intelligence-gathering, a very large degree of budgeting, that all decrease the frequency of truly drafting straight “best player available”. Then, multiply all of those factors by the number of teams that are doing the same geometry while drafting ahead of you. Bottom line: I have no idea what they’re gonna do. I’ll just write what I’d like them to do
#1.21 – LHP, IMG Academy, Jackson Ferris
I’ve noticed multiple times in the Dipoto era that the eventual first round pick is a guy that fell from projection to Seattle’s pick. It happened with Kyle Lewis, with Emerson Hancock, to a slight degree with Harry Ford. It’s tough to predict the guy that will fall, but Jackson Ferris is one that consistently ranks higher on draft big boards than he does in mock drafts. MLB ranks him #19 on their board, but don’t have him picked until #39 overall. And it’s like that on most mock drafts. Why?? I have no clue.
Jackson stands about 6’4″/195lbs and has a fastball that already touches 97mph, and at least one plus secondary in his curve, and a little-used changeup for his third offering. My biggest concern for Ferris is that he’s committed to college ball at Ole Miss, and the Rebels JUST won this year’s college world series. And that could be incredibly enticing for a guy coming out of high school. The counter to that is: pick #21 has bonus slot of $3,291,200, and you could tinker with your other picks to bump that up to $4 million pretty easily. There’s kind of only two reasons you turn that down: 1) you genuinely want the college experience (which now includes possible NIL money), 2) you genuinely think you could end up a top 10 pick in 2025.
#2.58 – RHP, Don Bosco Prep, Caden Dana
I don’t really love any player that is projected near the #58 range. It kinda feels like a spot you reach on someone. The M’s kind of did that in 2021 when they drafted Edwin Arroyo, projected at #83, in the 2nd round, #48 pick. Or maybe it’s a guy you can underslot to help cover an overlsot at #21. Caden Dana is more to the “reach” side of the spectrum.
I kind of like the symmetry of drafting two high school pitchers to start this draft after drafting two high school bats to start the 2021 draft. Dana is another big guy currently listed between 6’4″-6’5″ and already 215lbs. He’s already touching 95mph with the fastball, and I really like the tight curve.
#2.74c – 3B, VCU, Tyler Locklear
A few weeks back I did a very analytics driven deep dive on the hitters coming out of this college class, and Tyler Locklear was one of the best bats to emerge from it. Obviously, you can question the competition level, but the results are still pretty compelling. Lock has put up consecutive seasons at VCU hitting over .345 with over .500 OBP, 16+ homeruns, 65+ RBI, and more walks than strikeouts. Plus, another 9 homeruns in 34 games with the wood bats in the Cape Cod league in 2021.
At 6’3″/230lbs, Tyler isn’t quite as big as Giancarlo Stanton, but his swing reminds me a bit of Stanton’s. It’s a very muscular swing, but it’s not sacrificing much in pitch selection.
#4.126 – RHP, Central Michigan, Andrew Taylor
Andrew Taylor is one of the younger true Juniors available in this draft class, as he won’t turn 21 until September 23rd. Normally, a college player has to be 21 within 45 days of the draft to be eligible, but Taylor graduated high school at 17. He’s now a 6’5″/218lb righty, with fastball up around 94mph, and three secondary pitches. He posted a 3.21 ERA, 1.048 WHIP, and 13.5 SO/9 this year. I like the frame, I like the clean mechanics, and I like that there’s still some projection left.
#5.156 – C, St. Joseph’s, Andrew Cossetti
Cribbing a bit of the format of the M’s 2021 draft, Cossetti marks the 5th round, senior-signing catcher that you try to get for underslot, a la the Andy Thomas pick from last year. Cossetti is a 6’0″/215lb backstop that hit .327/.454/1.167 with 19 HR, 65 RBI, 34 walks, 30 strikeouts in 54 games. He also posted very solid caught stealing rate. Additionally, he is hitting .406/.487/1.143 in the auxiliary MLB Draft league currently underway.
#6.186 – LHP, Central Florida, Hunter Patteson
I figure this is the safest place to mock taking a pitcher that is injured. Patteson walked off the mound mid-inning back in April and hasn’t pitched since. There is little information or update I can find on what the injury is/was, but let’s assume it’s the worst.
Patteson is a 6’5″/200lb lefty that was touching 97mph before the injury, with ERA of 1.82, WHIP of 0.910, and 12.4 SO/9 over his first 30 innings of 2022.
#7.216 – SS/2B, LaTech, Taylor Young
Taylor Young is a 5’8″/165lb Senior infielder that played shortstop this year after winning the college Gold Glove playing secondbase for the Bulldogs in 2021. The bat is also legit, with Young hitting .364/.506/1.151 with 12 HR, 58 BB, 45 SO, and 28 stolen bases this year. I’d keep him at shortstop initially, with the knowledge he can play a great 2B eventually if Noelvi Marte or Edwin Arroyo blocks him at short.
#8.246 – RHP, Kentucky, Tyler Guilfoil
I sort of have this round set aside for the best relief pitcher still on the board. Names like Cameron Foster, Tristan Stivors, Ben Sears, and Guilfoil. All of those guys check a lot of boxes, but I go with Guilfoil for the repertoire, and the results: 1.59 ERA, 0.863 WHIP, 14.1 SO/9 over 51.0 innings.
#9.276 – 2B, Nevada, Josh Zamora
Second base is a spot that people seem to undervalue, but it’s so hard to find good ones. Zamora is a 5’11″/190lb keystone that hit .362/.470/1.145 with 16 HR, 69 RBI, 40 BB, and 27 SO.
#10.306 – RHP, Portland State, Bret Gillis
Gillis is a local product from Everett that played his college ball down the road at Portland. He’s a 6’2″/215lb righty that posted 2.24 ERA, 1.103 WHIP, 12.3 SO/9 this year, his first focusing solely on pitching.
#11.336 – OF, Tulane, Ethan Groff
Groff is one of the better value outfielders in this class. He’s 6’0″/200lbs, hit .404/.503/1.211 with 9 HR, 35 RBI, 24 BB, 26 SO over 41 games this year. I also like the arm from the outfield. He’s played some center, but is probably a better fit at the corners.
#12.366 – 1B, Coastal Carolina, Tyler Johnson
There are a couple first baseman to consider here: Luke Franzoni, Griffin Doersching, Matt Coutney. I’m going with Tyler Johnson because he provides something that is lowkey hard to find in this draft: a lefthanded bat. Johnson hit .357/.467/1.221 with 19 HR, 61 RBI, 31 BB, and 48 SO. He’s also off to a .365 clip in the Cape Cod League with 6 HR in 17 games.
#13.396 – LHP, Ball State, Tyler Schweitzer
Schweitzer is a 6’1″/178lb lefty starter who posted a 2.65 ERA, 1.080 WHIP, 11.0 SO/9 in 16 starts.
#14.426 – 2B, Florida, Colby Halter
Halter had a down year in 2022 for the Gators, hitting .240/.338/.718 after hitting .302/.379/.832 in 2021. But he’s picked it up a bit in the current Cape League where he’s at .306/.425/.925 over 22 games. He’s also got experience at SS and 3B.
#15.456 – RHP, West Virginia, Trey Braithwaite
Braithwaite is an overaged closer (almost 25 years old), after spending four years at Navy and last year at WVU, but he’s touching 99mph in the MLB Draft League right now, and could be a fast mover through the minors.
#16.486 – C, Western Michigan, Connor Charping
Charping is an interesting cat. He’s primarily a catcher (42 games), but he’s so athletic he’s also played 1B, CF, LF, RF this year, and stole 26 bases while hitting .348/.440/.923. Not much power…only 3 HR in 53 games, but he caught 26% of would-be basestealers.
#17.516 – LHP, New Mexico State, Sammy Natera
Natera is a 6’4″/195lb lefty starter for the Aggies, but I want to flip him to the bullpen. In 26.0 innings this year (7 starts), he allowed 6.92 runs per 9, 8.3 hits per 9, 6.9 walks per 9, but he also struck out 15.2 per 9. He’s originally from Mexico, and kind of reads like a lefty version of Andres Munoz. If you can coach him up…could you have a Josh Hader or Aroldis Chapman?
#18.546 – OF, Louisville, Levi Usher
Usher is a 6’1″/210lb centerfielder that hit .285/.362/.818 with 7 HR, 49 RBI, 25 BB, 67 SO in 64 games this year. BUT…he stole 36 bases in 39 attempts, and won the college Gold Glove. Upside may only be a 4th outfielder, pinch-runner, defensive replacement, but you do need those guys, too.
#19.576 – SS, Albany, Brad Malm
Malm is a 6’1″/185lb shortstop that hit .340/.403/1.058 with 15 HR, 49 RBI, 18 BB, 35 SO over 47 games.
#20. 606 – RHP, Iowa, Duncan Davitt
Davitt is a 6’3″/235lb pitcher that started 4 games, plus 15 relief appearances, finishing with combined 3.38 ERA, 1.125 WHIP, 13.7 SO/9.