Early mock: 2022’s Top 20 Draft prospects

Detroit Tigers

While the 2021 Draft is still very fresh in everyone’s memories, scouts don’t get to rest on their laurels. After taking a minute of congratulations for putting one Draft in the books, they almost immediately have to turn around and start evaluating the Class of 2022.

All summer, scouts will scour events like the recently completed Perfect Game National, the upcoming PDP League, the East Coast Professional Showcase for the high school players and circuits like the Cape Cod League for college players, while also monitoring USA Baseball’s work with both groups. They’ll start to build follow lists for next spring, which will eventually lead to next year’s Draft.

Obviously, it’s way too soon to know what the top of that class will look like, but here’s an early snapshot of what the top 20 could look like based on some early returns. The projected Draft order is based on the league-wide standings entering Tuesday, July 20.

1. D-backs: Elijah Green, OF, IMG Academy (Fla.)

There are those who are already coronating Green as the No. 1 pick, and some who say he would have been the No. 1 pick in this year’s Draft. The tools are undeniable, though the Miami recruit does have some swing-and-miss issues he’ll need to iron out to be the slam-dunk choice next year.

2. Orioles: Dylan Lesko, RHP, Buford HS (Ga.)

The top overall arm in the class thus far, some think Lesko is talented enough to be in 1-1 conversations, though the fact a high school right-hander has never been taken with the top pick hurts his chances. The national Gatorade Player of the Year as an underclassman in 2021, Lesko was up to 96 mph at the recent MLB/USA Baseball All-American Game in Denver, showing off his plus changeup and solid breaking stuff. The Vanderbilt recruit showed off a combination of now stuff, feel for pitching, size and projection.

3. Rangers: Jacob Berry, 3B, Louisiana State

After a very strong freshman year at Arizona, where the corner infielder hit .352/.439/.676 with 17 homers and 70 RBIs in 63 games, Berry is heading to LSU, following coach Jay Johnson there. He’s a switch-hitter who has the chance to hit for average and power and be a true run producer at the next level, one who has continued to hit well for USA Baseball this summer.

4. Pirates: Jackson Ferris, LHP, IMG Academy (Fla.)

Teams will be flocking to see IMG Academy again in 2022 to see Green and Ferris, a projectable 6-foot-4 lefty who is committed to Mississippi. A North Carolina transplant, Ferris has plenty of fastball now, up to the mid-90s, to go along with an upper-70s breaking ball and a low-80s changeup. It’s easy to dream on there being more in the tank as he adds strength.

5. Royals: Termarr Johnson, SS/2B, Mays HS (Ga.)

One of the best hitters in the entire class, Johnson is a left-handed-hitting middle infielder with an innate ability to find the barrel. While he’s just 5-foot-10, he showed at both the MLB All-American Game and the High School Home Run Derby that his bat speed and strength can provide more pop than you might think, thanks to an extremely strong lower half. He runs well too, with the only thing holding him back some uncertainty about a permanent defensive home.

6. Twins: Andruw Jones, OF, Wesleyan HS (Ga.)

That’s right, it’s the son of former All-Star Andruw Jones. The 6-foot-3 right-handed hitter has a very high ceiling and premium athleticism to go along with a very good feel for hitting. He can drive the ball to all fields with more raw power to come and has plus speed that should make him a threat on the basepaths and enable him to cover a ton of ground in the outfield.

7. Marlins: Jace Jung, 2B/3B, Texas Tech

Jace’s older brother, Josh, was the Rangers’ first-round pick in 2019 and he is coming from the same Texas Tech program. He hit 21 homers and walked more than he struck out in 2021 and is currently playing in the Cape Cod League. He’s spent more time at second than anywhere else, but he has played third and could have the offensive profile to play the hot corner at the next level, just like his brother.

8. Rockies: Jayson Jones, SS, Braswell HS (Tex.)

It’s not a Draft without a big high school shortstop from Texas, right? Following Jordan Lawlar in this year’s Draft, Jones is growing into his 6-foot-2 frame with power now and more to come. The Arkansas recruit can drive the ball to all fields and probably profiles as a run-producing third baseman at the next level.

9. Tigers: Brooks Lee, SS, Cal Poly

A solid high school prospect in California in 2019, Lee went to play for his father at Cal Poly and is coming off a very strong 2021 season in which he posted a slash line of .342/.384/.626. He is continuing to rake so far on the Cape. A switch-hitter with elite hand-eye coordination, he’s still growing into his power. A steady infielder who is reliable at shortstop with good hands and strong arm, Lee might eventually profile better at second at the big league level.

10. Nationals: Carter Young, SS, Vanderbilt

Young, a standout on USA Baseball’s 18U National Team in 2019, had a strong freshman year during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, but struggled at the plate in his first full season with Vanderbilt. He tried to do too much, so while he did homer 16 times, he also had a 30 percent strikeout rate.

11. Cubs: Daniel Susac, C, Arizona
Susac hit .335/.392/.591 with 12 homers and 24 doubles as a true freshman, earning several national accolades in the process. The younger brother of Andrew Susac, Daniel is a former high school quarterback with tremendous raw pop, some feel for hitting and a very strong arm behind the plate.

12. Braves: Brock Porter, RHP, Orchard Lake St Marys HS (Mich.)
At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, Porter is the prototype for a high school right-hander with some exciting now stuff and plenty of projection. Committed to attend Clemson, Porter has a fastball that is approaching the upper 90s to go along with a mid-70s breaking ball and a low-80s changeup.

13. Angels: Brandon Barriera, LHP, American Heritage Plantation HS (Fla.)
Hailing from the same high school as Eric Hosmer and Zack Collins, Barriera is a 6-foot-1 lefty with excellent stuff (a fastball that runs up to the mid-90s to go along with a good feel for his changeup and spinning a breaking ball) and excellent command. He’s committed to Vanderbilt.

14. Cardinals: JR Ritchie, RHP, Bainbridge Island HS (Wash.)
The top player in the Pacific Northwest, Ritchie is a 6-foot-2 projectable right-hander committed to UCLA. He has a loose, whipping arm action that fires fastballs up to 95 mph with good life to go along with a solid breaking ball and feel for a changeup.

15. Phillies: Kevin Parada, C, Georgia Tech
Parada was a top-50 Draft prospect a year ago who went undrafted because of his commitment to Georgia Tech. A Draft-eligible sophomore in 2022, he kept up his reputation as an advanced hitter with a .929 OPS and continued to swing the bat well this summer for USA Baseball, though the jury might still be out regarding his ability to stay behind the plate.

16: Reds: Hunter Barco, LHP, Florida

One of the top high school arms in the 2019 class, Barco has been in the Gators’ rotation since he got to school. He relies heavily on his fastball and slider, though he does have a potential four-pitch mix, all coming from a 6-foot-4 frame.

17. Indians: Jared Jones, C, Walton HS (Ga.)

A 6-foot-5 backstop committed to LSU, Jones has about as much raw power as anyone in the class. His right-handed pop was on display as he tied with Sal Stewart for the High School Home Run Derby win during the All-Star break in Denver. He also showed off his plus arm behind the plate in the High School All-Star Game.

18. Yankees: Brock Jones, OF, Stanford

College power bats are often hard to find and ones who are left-handed are truly coveted. Jones’ bat took a big jump forward in 2021 as he hit 18 homers and drove in 62 runs. He also swiped 14 bases, using that speed to play center field.

19. Blue Jays: Cole Young, SS, North Allegheny HS (Pa.)

A Pittsburgh area standout committed to Duke, Young shows an innate ability to barrel up the baseball and he displayed an advanced approach from the left side of the plate at the High School All-American Game in Denver. There’s power to come, he runs well and he has excellent defensive actions.

20. Mariners: Sal Stewart, 3B, Westminster Christian HS (Fla.)

The Vanderbilt recruit can flat-out hit from the right side of the plate and he showed off his power by tying Jared Jones for the High School Home Run Derby win in Denver. He has plenty of arm for third base, with solid hands as well.

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