Focusing on the college ranks in the 2022 MLB Draft for the Tampa Bay Rays
As we inch closer to the upcoming 2022 MLB draft, it seems to be a great time to take a look at some potential picks for the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays hold the 29th pick in the first round in this draft. After taking a look at mock drafts and the top draft prospects lists, I selected a trio of potential players that they might be keen on taking.
These three prospects I have focused on will have already refined their game through the college landscape and have the possibility of falling to them at 29.
Sterlin Thompson, OF, Florida
The first prospect that I focused on is Sterlin Thompson. He could inject a high-level lefty into a lineup that is in much need of one.
Thompson, who plays his collegiate ball at the University of Florida, has had an impressive season this year for the Gators. Thompson is hitting .336 with 10 home runs and 49 RBI and there is still the NCAA tournament left to play for him.
According to MLB.com’s scouting report on Thompson, he has a “very good approach. He can use the whole field and drive the ball to the gaps and rarely missing a fastball.”
Additionally, something that can go under the radar with Thompson is his power potential. While he might only have 10 home runs on the season, he most certainly can launch a ball out of the park. Here is just one example from a game this year against Florida State.
The Florida Gators Baseball account on Twitter tweeted:
Another important note on Thompson is his versatility. According to Perfect Game, a high school baseball scouting organization, Thompson was a shortstop coming out of high school.
Furthermore, in college, he played both second base and right field for Florida. If there is anything that this Rays organization and Kevin Cash like it is versatility.
Drew Gilbert, OF, Tennessee
Next on the list is another outfielder in Drew Gilbert. Gilbert plays for the Tennessee Volunteers and is another lefty option for the Rays in the draft. If you think the Sterlin Thompson stats were good than you might fall in love with Gilbert’s from this year.
In 2022, Gilbert has his average at .385. Additionally, he has nine home runs and 66 RBI.
In the scouting report from MLB.com, they state that Gilbert has an “aggressive approach with the hand-eye coordination to barrel balls.”
His approach being labeled as aggressive is something that is both good and bad. While we could see a similarity in him and Rays’ second baseman Brandon Lowe when it comes to this approach, it could also lead to more strikeouts.
Another small piece of information on Gilbert is his speed. Although he only had 16 career stolen bases, Gilbert does have above average speed on the base path and in the outfield which can always be good for any team.
Oh and one more thing. He has big pop in his bat. In the SEC Championship game against Florida this year he hit this mammoth of a home run and made sure to add some flair as well.
The Tennessee Volunteers Baseball account on Twitter tweeted:
Cooper Hjerpe, LHP, Oregon State
Our last of the crop is the southpaw from out west. One thing about pitching is you can never have too much of it. Cooper Hjerpe also brings a lefty to the Rays who can strikeout any batter he faces.
Different from most, he throws from a slightly lower slot. He releases the ball from a 3/4 slot. And in his arsenal, Hjerpe works with a fastball, changeup, sweeping curve and almost like a hybrid into a slider.
Over 89.0 IP for the Oregon State Beavers, Hjerpe has struck out 140 batters and commands an impressive 2.33 ERA and .191 opponent batting average.
Of Hjerpe’s 140 strikeouts, 17 of them came in one game against Stanford, who is one of the best teams in all of college baseball this year. These 17 strikeouts tied a single-game record for the Beavers program.
One of the top pitchers in college this year, the Rays could bolster their pitching with a strikeout machine in Cooper Hjerpe.