The 2022 MLB Draft is coming up in just under two weeks from today as it starts July 17th. Last week we looked at draft prospects that could and should go in the top half of the first round. This week, after toughing on a prospect or two who’s getting the call this week, we’ll look at some of the more interesting players that could find their way into the first or second rounds of the 2022 MLB Draft. Once the draft happens, we’ll recap some of the surprising picks made and who’s farm system improved the most, as well as having an updated top-300 prospect ranking.
Prospects Coming Up This Week
Brayan Bello — RHP BOS
Bello has been making major leaps in his development in the last year. Signed in 2017, he’s been progressing ever since and has now put everything together this year at Triple-A Worcester. The righty uses three plus-pitches in his arsenal and with his added control this year, his stuff has played up even more. In 85 innings at Triple-A, he’s posted a 114:33 K:BB ratio which is the best of his career to this point. The fastball sits in the upper-90s but relies on location to avoid being hit as there is little run or life on it. The slider and changeup are similar velocities but have different enough breaks to consider them two distinct pitches with both being plus offerings and out pitches. The outlook for him right now is perhaps just a one or two start call-up until a few guys get back from injuries. There’s the off chance he can stick in Boston for the rest of the year but right now he may be riding the shuttle between Worcester and Boston.
David Villar — 3B/2B SF
We talk all the time about how the Giants have guys that come up who no one has heard of and yet they produce. Villar might be the next guy on that long list. He was an 11th-round pick out of South Florida in 2018 and since then he’s never really stopped hitting. Villar has never posted an average worse than .262 and he’s improved his power every year in the minors as well. He’s also improved the walk rate each year while keeping the strikeout rate in check. Overall, Villar has a 45-grade hit tool and 55-grade power skill with average fielding skills. He’s played mainly third base in the minors but a bit at second and first as well and likely gets used as a utility infielder in the majors but should start at second base for a little while to cover injuries. For fantasy, if he gets regular at-bats, he should hit about .255 with a shot at 20 homers over a full season.
Garrett Hill — RHP DET
I’m not normally in the habit of including a 26-year-old arm in the prospect report but Hill is different. He’s been pitching well his whole time in the minors, it was simply a confluence of events that kept him there longer than he should’ve been. He pitched 307 innings in his minor league career posting a 2.70 ERA in that time with 372 strikeouts and 110 walks all while allowing a total of 15 homers. The stuff isn’t electric, but it’s effective. The speeds sit in the lower-90s on the fastball and lower-80s on the secondary offerings but the movement doesn’t allow hitters to get clean contact. In addition to the .44 HR/9 he’s allowed, he’s also produced a lot of ground balls before getting the call to Detroit. In his first start for the Tigers he was effective, again, and he could stick for a while given the injuries in the Tigers’ rotation at this point as well. He’s worth a flier in 12-team or more leagues.
Draft Prospects For The 2022 MLB Draft
Kumar Rocker – RHP
Where will he go in this year’s draft? That’s the major question with Rocker. We all saw what happened last year after being drafted 10th overall last year and then failing the physicals for the Mets. He’s been pitching in the Frontier League this Spring and pitching well — though it was highly-controlled appearances. If he’s truly healthy, a big if, he still possesses ace-caliber stuff and is still the same pitcher who was capable of throwing a no-hitter against Duke two years ago. Teams that have seen him pitch this Spring and trust the medicals might be more willing to take the risk on Rocker for the tremendous upside he still has.
Jud Fabian – OF
Similar to Rocker, Fabian was drafted early in the 2021 draft — 40th overall — but didn’t reach terms with Boston and returned to the Gators. The 2022 season was a good one for Fabian though as he answered some questions about his approach at the plate and his overall skill set. While there’s still plenty of swing-and-miss chances in his right-handed swing, he’s reduced the strikeout rate. Fabian also kept the power that made him an intriguing prospect last year, while improving the contact. He’s got some of the best power in the draft along with above-average speed and improved contact skills but he’s lost the leverage he had last year in terms of being able to return to school which likely has him going in the draft around the same spot he did last year.
Gabe Hughes – RHP
If we’re looking for a sneaky ace in this class, Hughes could very well be it. He was the Friday night starter for Gonzaga this year and lived up to the billing basically all year. The 6’4”, 220-pound righty possesses an upper-90s fastball with great life, a mid-to-upper-80s slider that’s an out pitch, and an above-average changeup. The delivery is smooth and repeatable and hides the difference between the fastball and change well. Even though he’s a college righty who was a weekend starter, there’s still room for projection in the velocity and potentially a fourth pitch to be added. Hughes has the floor of a number two starter and the realistic upside of an ace for a major league rotation.
Jett Williams – SS
Rockwall-Heath High School, TX
When I say a 5’8”, 175-pound right-handed hitting middle infielder who do you think of? Do you think of Jose Altuve? That’s who Jett Williams reminds me of. The hit tool is at least above-average if not flashing plus to go with a below-average power tool and plus-if-not-double-plus speed tool. The fielding is smooth as well, though long-term he profiles defensively at second base with his arm strength and height. When on the summer showcase, the bat was consistently one of the best in the lineups. Knowing how to use his speed helps him be efficient on the base paths as a steal threat. Williams could sneak into the end of the first round for teams that view him as the next Altuve as a top-third of the order keystone.
Jackson Cox – RHP
Toutle Lake, WA
There are a few prep arms from Washington in this year’s draft class but there are two fighting for the top spot, Cox and J.R. Ritchie. Physically, they’re pretty similar but it’s the stuff which makes the slight difference, for me at least, in favor of Cox. He sits 92-96 mph with the fastball that has high spin rates and tight movement. The curveball has great late life to it and is considered the best one in the class among high schoolers. Cox has a third pitch in the form of a changeup that’s still burgeoning and hasn’t really been needed in the prep ranks. The delivery is smooth and generates solid control. All of this means that Cox profiles as a mid-rotation starter in the form of a Kyle Wright or Ian Anderson.
Jacob Miller – RHP
Liberty Union, OH
The 6’2”, 180-pound prep righty has all of the velocity scouts like to see as he can hit 97 with the fastball regularly. He also has three other pitches in his arsenal though that are very good as well. Of the four pitches he uses, all of them flash at at least above-average with the fastball, slider, and curveball sitting there and the curve being a plus offering. He’s very good at mixing his pitches in each at-bat as well as through the course of the game but throws the changeup the least right now. His control, especially on the breaking pitches, improves his profile despite the jerky delivery that isn’t exactly the definition of repeatable. Expect him to go in the supplemental first round or very early in the second round and be lured away from his college commitment.
Michael Kennedy – LHP
Troy High School, NY
A prep lefty with an advanced feel for pitching and a solid three-pitch mix sums up Kennedy well. The velocity isn’t top of the chart, as is often the case with southpaws, That hasn’t stopped him from impressing scouts though. All of the pitches have good movement to them including the low-90s with riding life and tight spin on the slider. Both of those pitches come in with 55 grades on the 20-80 while the changeup is a 50-grade pitch right now with room to improve. He’ll throw all three pitches equally to both handedness of batter and put up good strikeout rates against both as well. At 6’1” and 205 lbs. but just 17 years old, there’s still room for physical projection and a bit of added velocity as well. There is a commitment to LSU involved but if he goes high enough in the draft with an over slot deal, a team to snipe him from the SEC school and secure a high-floor number three starter in their rotation.
Henry Bolte – OF
Palo Alto, CA
In terms of raw skills, there’s a lot to like about Bolte. The power is real and the speed is at least double-plus. If he had a better hit tool, he’d be challenging for the top of the first round rather than being questionable to go by the middle of the second round. The speed alone is impressive as he’s got the wheels to still 35 or more bags a year and run down just about any ball in centerfield. The power is enough to produced 25 or so homers a year to all fields. So if we’re talking about a 25-35 producer why are we asking if he’ll go by the middle of the second round? Well, he has a commitment to Texas he feels strongly about and there is a lingering question about his hit tool. To call it below-average right now would be kind as it’s more of a 40-grade tool with hopes of getting better. The main issue is he doesn’t control the zone well, missing pitches in the zone and swinging and bad pitches out of it. If he can fix that, he’s got the skills to match some of the top outfielders we talked about last week.
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Related MLB Links
- 2022 MLB Fantasy Baseball Prospect Reports
- 2022 MLB Fantasy Baseball Prospect Report: 2022 MLB Draft Top-15
- MLB Top 300 Fantasy Baseball Prospects
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