Off-days are the worst, but on a Friday? Come on, MLB … you can do better than that. At least the unexpected time off provides an opportunity to discuss the 2022 MLB Draft, during which the Chicago Cubs will pick 7th overall. There’s another new mock draft out there from Jim Callis (MLB Pipeline) and, like its predecessors, this mock doesn’t see a ton of pitchers going early in the draft. In this one, the streak of hitters goes all the way down to PICK 12!
Here’s a quick look at the top and the projected Cubs selection. But be sure to head over to the post for write-ups on each player and a mock that goes all the way to Pick No. 39.
1. Orioles: Jackson Holliday, SS (High School)
2. D-Backs: Druw Jones, OF (High School)
3. Rangers: Kevin Parada, C (Georgia Tech)
4. Pirates: Brooks Lee, SS (Cal Poly)
5. Nationals: Elijah Green, OF (IMG Academy)
6. Marlins: Temarr Johnson, 2B (High School)
7. Cubs: Cam Collier, 3B (Chipola JC)
8. Twins: Jacob Berry, 3B/OF (LSU)
9. Royals: Justin Crawford, OF (High School)
10. Rockies: Jace Jung, 2B (Texas Tech)
11. Mets: Daniel Susac, C (Arizona)
12. Tigers: Gavin Cross, OF (Virginia Tech)
Before we get into the Cubs’ pick (and possible other targets), let’s talk about the new-look top of the board. For a while, Druw Jones was seen as a virtual lock to go 1-1 to the Orioles, but Callis believes they’ll skip over the draft’s apparent top talent to grab the infielder, Holliday, which would allow them to save some money to be spent elsewhere in the draft (remember a team’s bonus pool is a zero-sum game). It still feels like Jones might be the first pick, but this would hardly be the first time a team side-stepped the consensus top talent for an under-slot pick instead (the Astros famously took Carlos Correa over Byron Buxton and it worked out very nicely for them).
But the bigger headline here is that there has NEVER been this many position players selected before a single pitcher in the draft since its inception in 1965. And unlike some earlier mocks that had the pitchers showing up right around the 7-8-9 range (where the Cubs are picking), this one doesn’t have a pitcher in arms length of the Cubs. And in fact, the guy the Cubs were most often connected to early on, Dylan Lesko (mocked 15th), is now the third ranked pitcher in the draft, before Cooper Hjerpe (13th) and Brock Porter (14th). Recall, Lesko underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this year.
So I guess it’s a good thing this year’s draft is also considered very strong in positional prospects.
As for Collier, mocked to the Cubs at No. 7, he’s had a real roller coaster spring. He wasn’t initially mocked in the top-10 on most rankings, but then Keith Law had him all the way up at No. 2 overall. Callis had him ranked 12th in his last draft, but he’s obviously rising up the boards: “Collier graduated early from high school to play at a junior college power at age 17, and he’s going to further test himself against older competition in the Cape Cod League.”
And here’s Law’s take:
Collier finished high school early to go to two-year Chipola, probably the best junior college baseball program in the country. As a 17-year-old, he hit .333/.431/.525 despite facing pitchers who were mostly two-to-four years older. He has a plus-plus arm and the athleticism to stay at third base, although ultimately it’s his feel to hit that makes him a top-five talent in this draft. Look for teams that weigh age heavily in their draft models to target him in July.
It seems likely that Collier’s performance in the very competitive Cape Cod League (beginning on June 10) will have an outsized impact on his draft position.
I’m #NotAScout, but Collier seems to have an exceedingly calm plate presence before the pitch. That’s a little less common for younger players. The swing doesn’t look to be particularly explosive, but there are years of development ahead of him. And obviously, he’s a projected first-round pick for a reason.
But Collier isn’t the only player mentioned for the Cubs. Callis also says they could consider Texas Tech second baseman Jace Jung (mocked 10th above) or even go after a “helium” draft prospect (a late, fast riser) like South Carolina Prep 3B Tucker Toman. Toman is currently projected to fall out of the top 20, but he’s a switch-hitter who’s “one of the best high school bats available.” So it’s not entirely out of the question.
No matter what, the Cubs seem to be in a very good position for the 2022 MLB Draft. There may be a consensus top 1-2 picks, but beyond that there’s a group of 6-7 really talented players who could conceivably go anywhere in the top-10. And between all the trades last season, a top-10 pick this year, this coming trade deadline, and likely another top-10 pick next year, the Cubs farm system (already on the right track) sure seems like it’s going to continue its 180.