As the dust settles on the 2022 MLB Draft, I’ve begun looking ahead to next year’s class, and while it’s far too early to put together a comprehensive set of rankings, you can consider this my ‘first pass.’ A lot more information will begin to flood in over the next several months, and this list will change drastically, but these are my initial thoughts as I begin the work.
1. Dylan Crews, OF, LSU
Considered a top high school pick in 2020, Crews opted out of the draft to attend LSU, where he won Freshman of the Year honors and followed that up with a solid sophomore campaign. Crews is a prototypical power-hitting corner outfield type, despite spending some time at centerfield with LSU, with bat speed to spare and a feel for the barrel. Some swing-and-miss in his profile, but overall his swing decisions are solid.
2. Max Clark, OF, Franklin Community HS (IND)
All Max Clark does is hit line drives to all fields. One of the best pure high school hitters of the past several years, Clark is a true five-tool player, especially now that his in-game power is developing. A great deal of physical upside, combined with a fairly high floor for a high schooler, thanks to a polished approach and solid skills. Double-plus speed in center, with good initial reads, clean routes, and a strong and accurate arm.
3. Chase Dollander, RHP, Tennessee
Look quickly, and you could be forgiven for mistaking Dollander for Jacob DeGrom. They have similar builds and pitch repertoires. Dollander is more likely a number two or three starter in the big leagues, but he pairs a devastating 95-98 mph fastball with two plus breaking balls and a fringe-plus changeup, all from a low three-quarters arm slot that challenges hitters to pick up.
4. Jacob Gonzalez, SS, Ole Miss
I have a soft spot for high school quarterbacks who stick with baseball, and Gonzalez fits that mold. A physical specimen who has only continued to improve since hitting campus. After a strong freshman campaign where he slashed .355/.443/.561 with more walks (38) than strikeouts (34), Gonzalez’s numbers took a slight hit this season (it’s hard to maintain a four-digit OPS through three years in the SEC), but were still very strong, continuing his trend of more walks (50) than strikeouts (32) while also improving his home run total. He followed up that campaign by playing shortstop for Team USA. A solid left-handed bat with power who could stay at the shortstop position. That’s a franchise-defining role if everything goes right.
5. Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida
Langford went from backup catcher to starting left fielder as a sophomore and took to it quite naturally. Now, with Jud Fabian out of the picture in Gainesville, there’s a very good chance he takes the reins as the Gators’ new center fielder, where his fringe-plus run speed could play very well. He has excellent instincts in the outfield, to go with his plus arm strength. Langford has a very clean, quiet, consistent swing that should play at the next level, and while his power may lag a bit behind the hit tool, I’m tempted to hang a 60 on it at present.
6. Walker Jenkins, OF, South Brunswick HS (NC)
Jenkins has a really exciting profile, and I won’t be surprised if he inches his way up my list during the approach to the draft. A big left-handed bat at 6’3″, 210 lbs., he has a smooth swing with excellent barrel control, good bat speed, and solid swing decisions. I’m not convinced he can stay in center field long-term, especially if he continues to grow, but he runs well enough for the position and has plenty of arm. Don’t be surprised if his eventual home is in right, however.
7. Enrique Bradfield, OF, Vanderbilt
Bradfield is an old-school leadoff hitter in the build of Kenny Lofton: He reads spin very well and rarely chases, he has really solid bat-to-ball skills, and he has game-changing speed on both sides of the ball. His power is still coming along, too. Plus defender in center with one of the easiest gloves in recent memory. He always seems to be where the ball is, waiting for it.
8. Jacob Wilson, SS, Grand Canyon
The son of longtime Pittsburgh Pirates mainstay Jack Wilson, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The younger Wilson brings an excellent all-fields approach to a strong ability to read spin and a stubborn unwillingness to expand the zone. I’m not sure he quite has the footspeed or the instincts to stay at shortstop; likely a third baseman at the next level.
9. Kevin McGonigle, SS, Monsignor Bonner HS (PA)
All McGonigle does is hit. A real standout on the summer showcase circuit, who has turned heads with his ability to put bat to ball. The power should continue to develop, as well, though I don’t expect it to ever be a huge part of his game. Fringe at shortstop for now.
10. Brayden Taylor, 3B, Texas Christian
Taylor features a very polished, mature approach at the plate, pairing excellent swing decisions with good bat-to-ball skills. The result is a well-rounded hitter who plays to his strengths and doesn’t get himself into trouble at the plate.
11. Rhett Lowder, RHP, Wake Forest
A strike-thrower with good present velocity (mid-90s, touching 97) and obvious remaining projection, Lowder also utilizes a good low-80s slider and a mid-80s changeup. Good command of the entire arsenal, and he feels comfortable throwing all three pitches for strikes.
12. Eric Bitonti, SS, Aquinas HS (CA)
Bitonti is one of the younger hitters in the class, with tremendous present power and more on the way as he fills into his frame. That may cause him to move off of shortstop, and some teams are already looking at him as a corner infielder. But with a left-handed hit/power combo like Bitonti’s, that shouldn’t matter too much to the team that drafts him.
13. Thomas White, LHP, Phillips Academy (MA)
An early standout of the 2023 class, White has seen his stock fall a bit as the rest of the class has caught up to him, but there is still some real projection left here, so don’t be surprised if he fights his way back into the top of the class this spring.
14. Cade Kuehler, RHP, Campbell
After the recent successes of Seth Johnson and Thomas Harrington, Campbell has gained a reputation for pitcher development, and Kuehler is the next in that line. 93-95 with the fastball, touching 98; his secondaries include a plus slider, which generates whiffs. He rounds out his arsenal with a split-change, curveball, and cutter.
15. Tommy Troy, 2B, Stanford
Troy isn’t physically impressive at 5’10”, 195 lbs., but he reads spin well, makes excellent swing decisions, and has a strong sense for the barrel, helping his power play up considerably. I have him listed at second base, but he’ll likely get looks at shortstop this season, and I think there’s a reasonable chance for him to play well there.
16. Yohandy Morales, 3B, Miami
Morales was a solid prospect in the 2020 draft; he’s a much better one now. He’s overhauled his swing, loading much more quickly and getting into the zone early, with a real knack for finding the barrel. There are some mishits and a bit of swing-and-miss due to his aggressive approach. But he has loud power and a good defensive profile at third base to help make up for the average hit tool.
17. Will Sanders, RHP, South Carolina
Three-pitch mix, with a 92-94 fastball that runs up to 96, a mid-80s changeup, and a mid-80s slider. He should continue to improve as his considerable 6’6″ frame fills in. Struggled with walks a bit in 2022, but misses bats as well as anybody, and also generates swings and misses.
18. Hurston Waldrep, RHP, Florida
Waldrep improved steadily over his time at Southern Miss, first in the bullpen and later in the rotation. His 140 strikeouts was 8th among all Division I pitchers in 2022. A 95-96 fastball touches 98, with a mid-80s slider with hard late break that generated whiffs at a 53% rate. He also features a mid-80s changeup.
19. Brock Wilken, 3B, Wake Forest
One of the best home run hitters in Division I baseball, and he’s also shown an ability to translate that to wood bats, with a .302/.430/.519 line in the Cape Cod League as a freshman. At 6’4″, 225 pounds, he creates an intimidating profile in the box. There is some swing-and-miss to his game, but a 70-grade power tool is going to keep teams dreaming.
20. Kyle Teel, C, Virginia
Above-average hit and power tools, with the ability to stick at catcher. Quick and athletic behind the plate with good hands and a good arm. The swing is a bit loud, but he’s shown a good approach so far at Virginia. Should still be able to tap into a bit more power down the line.
21. Noble Meyer, RHP, Jesuit HS (Ore.)
People love to mention the 98mph that Meyer has hit, and it’s easy to see why, but he’s more than just a fastball. A 3,100-rpm slider and an 89mph changeup pair nicely with the heater, and he combines them all with a very difficult arm angle.
22. Maui Ahuna, SS, Tennessee
Ahuna turned heads in the Big 12 as a freshman, and his sophomore campaign gained him even more fans. Now, having transferred from Kansas to Tennessee, he’ll have a chance to do it on the biggest stage. With Ahuna, you’re buying into the entire package, as there isn’t one carrying tool. Some swing-and-miss hinders the hit tool; he’s a good shortstop, but perhaps lacks the range and instincts of a pro shortstop; he’s more quick than fast on the basepaths. Still, he’s a solid all-around player and pro prospect.
23. Paul Skenes, RHP/1B, LSU
A dominant two-way player for Air Force in 2021, Skenes will join the packed-to-the-rafters LSU squad after spending a summer with Team USA. His fastball sits 93-94 mph and touches 99 with loads of spin, and he adds a mid-80s slider and upper-80s changeup. Tall and athletic, he’s got some contact questions at the plate, but he does have present power and a feel for the barrel. Could develop as a true two-way player.
24. Blake Mitchell, C/RHP, Sinton HS (Tex.)
Another exciting two-way prospect, most evaluators prefer him behind the plate, where he’s quick and agile, with a big, strong arm. He has plenty of raw power and a feel for the barrel, particularly to the pull side, though there have been some issues with expanding the zone. On the mound, he throws his fastball in the low-to-mid-90s, touching 96, with a promising breaking ball and a feel for a sinking changeup.
25. Aidan Miller, 3B, Mitchell HS (Fla.)
Miller has been on the showcase circuit for a long time, so we’ve had a chance to watch him develop. He has some of the best bat speed in the class and a feel for the barrel. Even against top velocity, which indicates that he could very well grow into a plus power tool. Defensively, he has the footwork and arm strength to play a plus third base. The biggest question may be how Miller – a big, strong, athletic kid – ages into his body, which could ultimately decide his defensive home.
26. Travis Honeyman, OF, Boston College
27. Jake Gelof, 3B, Virginia
28. Travis Sykora, RHP, Round Rock HS (Tex.)
29. Jack Hurley, OF, Virginia Tech
30. Roch Cholowsky, SS, Hamilton HS (Ariz.)
31. Matt Shaw, SS, Maryland
32. Tanner Witt, RHP, Texas
33. Roman Martin, SS, Servite HS (Calif.)
34. Antonio Anderson, SS, North Atlanta HS (Ga.)
35. Dylan Cupp, SS, Cedartown HS (Ga.)
36. Gavin Grahovac, IF/OF/C, Villa Park HS (Calif.)
37. Dillon Head, OF, Homewood Flossmoor HS (Ill.)
38. Nolan Schanuel, IF/OF, Florida Atlantic
39. Jackson Baumeister, RHP, Florida State
40. Justin Lee, RHP, Notre Dame HS (Calif.)
41. Drew Bowser, 3B, Stanford
42. Nolan Souza, SS, Punahou HS (Haw.)
43. Arujun Nimmala, SS, Strawberrry Crest HS (Fla.)
44. Tre Morgan, 1B, LSU
45. Carson Montgomery, RHP, Florida State
46. Teddy McGraw, RHP, Wake Forest
47. Patrick Reilly, RHP, Vanderbilt
48. Ryan Lasko, OF, Rutgers
49. Charlee Soto, RHP, Reborn Christian Academy (Fla.)
50. Tai Peete, SS, Trinity Christian HS (Fa.)
51. Campbell Smithwick, C, Oxford HS (Miss.)
52. Juaron Watts-Brown, RHP, Long Beach State
53. Adam Hachman, LHP, Timberland HS (Mo.)
54. Bryce Eldridge, RHP/1B, Madison HS (Va.)
55. Max Anderson, 3B, Nebraska
56. Andrew Wiggins, CF, Heritage Christian HS (Ind.)
57. Kade Morris, RHP, Texas Christian
58. Grant Taylor, RHP, LSU
59. Jared Dickey, OF, Tennessee
60. Cameron Johnson, LHP, IMG Academy (Fla.)
61. Cole Schoenwetter, RHP, San Marcos HS (Calif.)
62. Chase Davis, OF, Arizona
63. Blake Wright, SS, Clemson
64. George Lombard, Jr., SS, Gulliver Prep HS (Fla.)
65. Braden Holcomb, SS, Foundation Academy (Fla.)
66. Alex Mooney, SS, Duke
67. Christian Knapczyk, SS, Louisville
68. Jaxon Wiggins, RHP, Arkansas
69. Christian Little, RHP, LSU
70. Aidan Keenan, RHP, Live Oak HS (Calif.)
71. Alonzo Tredwell, RHP, UCLA
72. Wyatt Crowell, LHP, Florida State
73. Gabe Gaeckle, 3B, Aptos HS (Calif.)
74. Daniel Cuvet, 3B, ESB Academy (Fla.)
75. Colby Halter, 3B, Florida
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