We’re just under one week away from the 2022 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. The 2022 version of the MLB draft will begin on Sunday, July 17, and end July 19.
I’ve always been attentive to the MLB Draft process. However, for whatever reason this year, it is captivating my attention even more. Last month, more than 50 high school/college prospects participated in on-field workouts at the MLB Draft Combine.
Obviously, not all of the top prospects were able to attend the combine due to the College World Series going on around the same time. With that being said, we had two final chances to see all of the draft prospects showcase their abilities in preparation for the draft.
After gathering data from MLB.com and the eye test, here are five of my most intriguing prospects in the 2022 MLB Draft.
Druw Jones, OF Wesleyan HS (GA)
It’s been a while since there has been a prospect in the MLB Draft who is the consensus prediction for the number one overall selection. In fact, you may have to travel back to the 2015 MLB Draft with Dansby Swanson going number one to the Arizona Diamondbacks. This year, we may have that clear cut number one with high-school outfielder Druw Jones (the son of former MLB player Andruw Jones). He can’t help but to draw comparisons to his father’s game, only he is more athletic and taller than his dad as the age of 17.
As a five-tool centerfielder at such a young age, this kid has future superstar written all over him. Over the spring and early summer, Jones has shown an improved selective approach at the plate which has resulted in more consistency at the plate. At 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, he already has the build for an everyday ballplayer, Not only is Jones the clear-cut best defensive outfielder, he also projects to have the most power of the outfielders as well.
He is committed to Vanderbilt, but it’ll be surprising to see him forgo being a top-five overall pick. It will come down to whether or not he wants to play for the Baltimore Orioles.
Draft Prediction: #1 Baltimore Orioles
Termarr Johnson, 2B, Mays HS (Ga.)
Along with Jones, Termarr Johnson is another intriguing prospect in this year’s draft class. Johnson is another high schooler, but not just any high schooler. He is likely the best pure prep hitter in several years. I remember watching him last year in the MLB All-Star HS Home Run Derby and everyone was appalled at his power pummeling home runs over the wall at Coors Field.
Noticeably, Johnson has made adjustments from last season to this season has been hand-eye coordination and swing decisions. Those improvements to his game has elevated him as an elite hitter from the left side of the plate. Though he’s only listed 5-foot-10, he has a swagger and disciplined approach at the plate that can’t be taught. You’ll notice some small changes in his swing from last year’s Home Run Derby, to this year’s MLB Draft Combine.
Simply put, he’s more calm and collected at the plate. Although, he will likely be making the switch from shortstop to second base at the next level, he is still a lock to be a top-five draft pick come Sunday night. He is committed to Arizona State University if he is unable to reach a contract agreement.
Draft Prediction: #4 Pittsburgh Pirates
Kevin Parada, C, Georgia Tech
The best power hitting catcher in college baseball. Kevin Parada finished tied for sixth in home runs in NCAA College Baseball Division I with 26 homers. Coming out of high school, Parada was one of the best high school catchers and would have likely been a third-round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. Instead, Parada decided to attend Georgia Tech and, two years later, finds himself more than likely the first backstop drafted this year.
One of the most impressive parts of Parada’s game is his controlled swing and consistency to make contact. He doesn’t try to be too flashy and many traditional scouts love that about his game.
Parada has improved his defensive play behind the plate and has worked on his agility, He will not be the best defensive catcher and he won’t be the most athletic catcher, but he will hit and will hit for power. MLB scouts project Parada to be a .280, 20-25 home run hitter at the next level. I expect Parada to be selected within the first 10 picks of the draft on Sunday.
Draft Prediction: #5 Washington Nationals
Brock Porter, RHP, St. Mary’s Prep HS (Mich.)
Personally, high school pitchers are always more tough for me to evaluate. However, there are times where you just know when a kid is ready for the next level and another one of those players in right-handed pitcher Brock Porter. To start off, Porter is a winner. He won three Michigan State titles in three seasons at St. Mary’s Prep.
At only 19 years old, Porter has the best fastball in the draft. Consistently sitting between 95-98 MPH on the radar gun and occasionally reaching 100 mph. On top of that, he also has one of the best changeup in the draft as well hitting lower 80s with some movement.
As you see, he overpowers hitters with his fastball. Porter is coming off receiving Gatorade’s National Player of the Year after finishing with a 9-0 record, an unbelievable 0.41 ERA, 115 strikeouts in 58 innings, and three no-hitters. As a 6-foot-4, 208-pound right-handed pitcher, Porter has the combination of size and IQ you love on the mound. Other than remaining healthy and working on some of his breaking balls, Porter has a bright future on the mound in MLB. He is currently committed to Clemson University if doesn’t reach an agreement to a contract.
Draft Prediction: #8 Minnesota Twins
Cooper Hjerpe, LHP, Oregon State
While Cooper Hjerpe isn’t going to light up radar guns, he does contain everyday start capabilities. His fastball typically only sits around the 91-93 mph range, and some of that could be due to his unorthodox delivery, but he has hit 95 mph on occasion. His strengths are his sweeping curve, a tight slider, and an above-average changeup that should make him a weapon down the line. He’s only gotten better since putting on the Oregon State uniform.
At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Hjerpe has the size and competitiveness you want in a ballplayer. Although he doesn’t throw 100 mph, Hjerpe is the best strikeout pitcher in this draft and proved that by finishing with the most strikeouts in Division I College Baseball with 161 and also setting a school record. While also ranking in the top 15 in strikeout-to-walk ratio, this left-handed pitcher is going to be a guy that was passed on by teams and will be a steal for someone in the later part of the first round.
Draft Prediction: #26 Chicago White Sox
As anticipation grows more by the day as we inch closer to Draft Day on Sunday, July 17, we will keep watching more scouting videos and will work on talking with some of the top prospects that will be taken in the draft. There are so many great players available this year, but these are the five names that I am the most intrigued to see play at the next level.