With the MLB draft coming up in July, MLB.com has posted two mock drafts in the last two-plus weeks. The Baltimore Orioles have the No. 1 pick overall, but there is yet to be consensus on who they will select; reporters Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis predicted two different players to go first in 2022.
Will Baltimore go with high school phenom such as Druw Jones of Wesleyan High School (Peachtree Corners, Ga.) or college star like Cal Poly shortstop Brooks Lee?
Mayo argued that precedent set by the Orioles indicates it will be the college player. He wrote:
“The Orioles have saved money by taking a top college bat the past two years, so for this first edition, I’m going that route.”
In 2020, Baltimore took Heston Kjerstad with the No. 2 pick and last year selected Colton Cowser at No. 5. In 2019, the Orioles also went the college route when they drafted catcher Adley Rutschman, but that was because he was the top player in the draft, not a money-saving move in the vein of Mayo’s description of the 2020 and 2021 picks.
Lee is a switch-hitter who showed power and contact in the Cape Cod League last summer, slashing .405/.432/.667 and hitting six home runs in 84 at-bats. During the school year at Cal Poly, he hit .371 with 11 home runs and had an OPS of 1.141.
Mayo said the Orioles are “heavily scouting” Lee and DH/3B/RF Jacob Berry at the college level, and Druw Jones, Elijah Green, Termarr Johnson and Jackson Holliday at the high school level.
Callis projected the Orioles to go with one of those high school selections — Jones, son of former MLB outfielder Andruw Jones.
Baltimore will pick “the best player available, like it did with Rutschman,” Callis predicted.
For what it’s worth, Mayo also appears to believe Jones is the best player, saying that the team with the No. 2 pick (Arizona Diamondbacks) would pick “the best player on the board … right now, Jones is that player.”
A five-tool prospect, Jones hits for contact and power, has speed, is a very good defender and does stuff like this:
Saw Druw Jones tonight (son of Andruw), my top prospect for the 2022 draft.
Hostile road crowd and faced 90-93 mph from Georgia State commit Brady Jones.
— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) March 3, 2022
As the Orioles continue scouting, they’ll have a chance to take yet another young star to help on their rebuild. With what will be their fourth top-five pick in a row, they’ll add to what they hope is going to be a strong nucleus going forward.