LOS ANGELES — The 2021 draft didn’t work out as planned for the Mets. New York manipulated their bonus pool money to be able to provide a $6 million bonus for 10th overall pick Kumar Rocker but had no backup plan to use the savings after failing to sign right-handed Vanderbilt due to concerns about his elbow.
The Mets spent just $4.3 million on the draft, the second-lowest in baseball, and walked away with only one player in the MLB Pipeline’s top 100. But they should feel much better about their efforts in 2022.
Armed with an additional first-round pick as compensation for not signing Roker, they had two of the top 14 picks. Potential top-five pick Kevin Parada fell in their lap at No. 11, and they followed them three picks later with one of the top high school hitters and runners in Texas prep shortstop Jett Williams. As three days of preparation drew to a close right before the All-Star Game, no team attracted more talent than New York.
Yes, we know it’s too early to tell how the 2022 draft will play out. But based on first impressions and the assumption that every player selected in the first 10 rounds will turn pro, these six clubs have fared the best:
New York got more than Parada, the Georgia Tech catcher who was one of the top all-rounders in the college class, and Williams, the scout-favorite 5-foot-8 spark plug. The Mets finished day one with Tennessee right-hander Blade Tidwell (Round 2), who likely played halfway through the first round before he missed the first six weeks of the season with a shoulder problem, and a Washington, D.C. high school outfielder , by Nick Morabito (optional second ), who combines striking ability with brute strength and speed. The hits kept coming after that, including a power arm in Florida, right-hander Brandon Sproat (third), and an offensive upside in California, setting up third baseman Jacob Reimer (fourth).
2. Rocky Mountains
Colorado was the only club to receive three of the top 30 MLB Pipeline top-rated prospects and one of two (along with the Reds) to receive 10 top 250 draft prospects in the first 10 rounds. In addition, the only team with three picks heading into the second round, Colorado turned them into one of the best college rookies (right-hander Gabriel Hughes Gonzaga, first round), a college quality bat (Florida outfielder Sterlin Thompson, extra first) and one of the best athletes- college all-rounder (Tennessee outfielder Jordan Beck, first extra). Want more superlatives? The twist ball of Washington prep right-hander Jackson Cox (second), shortstop Ryan Ritter of Kentucky (fourth) and the raw power of Mississippi State outfielder Brad Cambest (ninth) all ranked among the best in this draft.
Baltimore used the No. 1 overall pick in Oklahoma High School shortstop Jackson Holliday, a potential five-tool shortstop similar to Bobby Witt Jr. and with more developed hitting ability at the same stage. The Orioles spent the rest of the first day adding strength to the college with California outfielder Dylan Beavers (extra first), Clemson third baseman Max Wagner (second), and Florida outfielder Jud Fabian (extra second). Oklahoma State right-hander Nolan McLean (third) also offers huge popularity as a third baseman, but Baltimore billed him as a pitcher – he hits 98 mph with his fastball and wields a couple of power breakdunches. Texas catcher Silas Ardoin (fourth) was the top quarterback in the college ranks.
Cincinnati tied the Rockies with 10 Top 250 draft prospects, starting with charming baseman Chipola JC (Florida), third baseman Cam Collier (first), who seemed destined to get the first 10 picks before he fell to 18th place. The Reds spent all four of their first-day picks on positional players, including Florida high school slugger third baseman Sal Stewart (extra first), Mississippi State strong catcher Logan Tanner (second) and Oregon State outfielder Justin Boyd (extra second) . They then shifted their focus and used 11 of their next 13 options on pitchers, including polished Florida State left-hander Bryce Hubbart (fourth) and live-gun right-hander Chipola Kenya Huggins (fifth).
James Madison outfielder Chase DeLother (first) had the best combination of tooling, plate discipline, and performance of any college hitter, but Cleveland was able to catch him in 16th. The Guardians have succeeded in improving the college’s advanced weapons and they have won three in Oklahoma. State right-hander Justin Campbell (extra first), Florida state left-hander Parker Messick (second) and Mississippi right-hander Dylan DeLucia (sixth). DeLucia received the “Most Outstanding Player” award at the College World Series. They also added some of the best contact hitters, starting with Arizona State’s energetic outfielder Joe Lampe (third) and a pair of real high school talents Jackson Humphreys (eighth) and Jacob Zibin (10th).
San Diego isn’t afraid to take risks and has used two of its top four right-handed picks coming out of Tommy John surgery. Georgia Prepster Dylan Lesko (1st) was scheduled to be the first drafted pitcher, and Duke’s Henry Williams (3rd) was headed for the first round before their elbows were broken. Iowa right-hander Adam Mazur (second) would also have retired earlier if he hadn’t had back problems by the end of his college season. The Padres may have lured high school lefty Robbie Snelling into the trap (first in the extra rankings) by finishing 39th overall. Their top pick as a player was Maryland High School’s Lamar King (fourth), who had late helium.
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