After finishing 52-110 in the 2021 season, and thanks to a tiebreaker that was decided three seasons ago, the Arizona Diamondbacks will pick 2nd overall in the 2022 MLB Draft. This will be the team’s highest selection since the 2015 draft, when the team selected Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson first overall. Under the current front office the team has made three selections in the first ten picks of the draft, a benchmark that General Manager Mike Hazen probably isn’t too thrilled about having.
Looking at the ‘22 draft class, there is one demographic that stands out at the top and that’s position players from both the prep and college ranks. Given the team’s current outlook with position player prospects, it’s almost a sure thing that the team will draft a position player with the second overall pick. With the draft being 5 months away, things can change over the course of the high school and college seasons such as injuries, physical developments, and signing bonus demands that changes the D-backs calculus on who to select 2nd overall.
Since Hazen has taken over the front office, the D-backs have had a prototype for hitters and pitchers on the first day of the draft. For hitters, it’s up the middle players with a more developed hit tool and typically also have at least one other plus tool to go with it. With pitchers, they like pitchers that utilize a more vertical/overhand arm slot with an emphasis on athleticism and spin rates.
Let’s get down to an early list of candidates of who the team may consider with their top selection. These first four players are the obvious candidates that the team should be considering. All four of these players at a minimum would threaten, if not surpass, both Jordan Lawlar and Corbin Carroll for the top prospect in the D-backs system.
Termarr Johnson, 2B, Mays HS (GA)
HT: 5’8”, WT: 194, B/T: L/R, Age: 18
I have the floor for Johnson being the D-backs pick at 2nd overall. While he lacks the defensive and baserunning upside that the other two top prep bats have, he has the most polished bat with the potential for plus-plus hit and plus raw power that could translate into a run producer at the top of the order. Defensively he’s limited to 2B or LF due to average defensive tools, although with his upside with the bat that’s not a strong concern. Only 20 times has a player 5’10” or under has been selected in the Top 10, although few of them have the same offensive tools that Johnson possesses.
Brooks Lee, 2B/3B, Cal Poly
HT: 6’1”, WT 190, B/T: S/R, Age: 21
If Termarr Johnson is the first overall pick, then there’s a strong likelihood that Brooks Lee will go next. Lee is another shortstop who is likely facing a positional change in pro ball, either to 3B or 2B. He’s a switch hitter with above-average power and a plus hit tool on both sides of the plate, which projects well in the top of a lineup. Like Johnson, I consider Lee a contender for the first overall selection based on the Baltimore Orioles’ past history in the draft when there wasn’t a slam dunk pick. For Arizona, he fills the long term need at 3B although they shouldn’t fixate on him just for that positional fit alone.
Druw Jones, OF, Wesleyan HS (GA)
HT: 6’4”, WT: 180, B/T: R/R, Age: 18, Commit: Vanderbilt
Jones is the third and final candidate I consider in the running for the first overall pick. In terms of total tools, no one in this draft class has a higher ceiling than the son of a 10-time Gold Glove winner and 5-time All Star Andruw Jones. The hit tool is still a work in progress, but Jones projects extremely well for both center and right field thanks to plus-plus speed and arm grades. The team is full of left/left outfielders who are more about hit and speed as opposed to someone who can hit the ball over the fence in their system. Jones will fit in just fine and allow both Alek Thomas and Corbin Carroll to play their best positions in LF and CF while also complementing them in the lineup.
Elijah Green, OF, IMG Academy (FL)
HT: 6’3”, WT: 225, B/T: R/R, Age: 18, Commit: Miami (FL)
To me, Green is the most polarizing prospect in the Top 5. He’s the son of two-time NFL Pro Bowl tight end Eric Green, who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1990s, you can see a very impressive physical profile and loud tool set. The issue is Green has a lot of swing and miss against higher velocity in the summer showcase circuit, which could limit his near limitless upside as a total player. If he can limit the punchouts and make use of walks to boost his OBP, I think there’s a chance you end up with an outcome not too dissimilar to Justin Upton with better outfield defense although I’ll argue J-Up had a much better hit tool at 18 years old.
This second groups of players are ones who are no-brainer top 10 picks but will need to have an amazing year to vault themselves into consideration with the second overall pick. In my opinion, I don’t consider these guys as likely options simply due to these guys not offering the upside payout that the first four players listed do.
Brock Jones, OF, Stanford
HT: 6’1”, WT: 185, B/T: L/L, Age: 21
Brock Jones fits the D-backs profile for outfielders, however taking him in the first round would almost seem redundant with Corbin Carroll and Alek Thomas both being left/left outfielders who are hit over power. Jones has a slightly better physical profile than the other two and more power upside, but lags behind both in the hit tool department. Jones could vault himself as an under-slot pick in the Top 10 if he can build on his 14 HR/18 SB season for Stanford in 2021. He’s likely to emerge at least as a platoon option for any given outfield spot and has the range and athleticism to stay in center.
Dylan Lesko, RHP, Buford HS (GA)
HT: 6’2”, WT: 195, Age: 18, Commit: Vanderbilt
Lesko would easily be a Top-5 selection if not for the crazy amount of bats at the top of this draft. A highly athletic pitcher who can command three pitches that flash plus or better, Lesko has #2 starter upside who can field his position well. Expectations are high for him after coming off winning the Gatorade National Player of the Year as a junior thanks to a 12-0 record and a microscopic 0.35 ERA. The one thing that is pushing him down the board is the super risky demographic of right-handed prep pitchers. Whoever drafts this guy, which will probably be Washington, should be happy with adding him to their system as a polished prep arm.
Chase DeLauter, OF, James Madison
HT: 6’4”, WT: 235, B/T: L/L, Age: 20
Thanks to arguably having the best raw power in the draft class, DeLauter would make for an interesting prospect if the team wanted to go cheap at #2 then make a splash later on. Despite being a small school guy there is a track record of performance at the Cape and has great size and athleticism. There is some center field viability in a pinch in DeLauter’s defensive profile, but he seems almost destined to end up in right field to make use of his plus arm and above-average run tools. DeLauter probably doesn’t get into the Top 5, but won’t last much longer due to the loud physical tools he has.
Blade Tidwell, RHP, Tennessee
HT: 6’4”, WT: 200, Age: 21
Tidwell will likely end up in the Top 10 due to giving teams the possibility of upside, remaining projectability, and signability for a pitcher. Like Lesko, I think Tidwell is more of a middle of the rotation arm (#2/3) but has very little risk. At 6’4” 200, there is still projectability left in his frame to add to an already mid 90s fastball. He features the full arsenal of pitches although typically uses fastball, slider, and change-up with the change-up being his best secondary pitch. The one area he’ll need to improve in 2022 is consistency in the strike zone. With the potential for three plus pitches, I could see him making a run at a Top 5 spot with a good year in the tough SEC conference.
One final note before closing, I did leave some Top-10 candidates off this list of potential players due to bad positional fits and not really fitting the team’s model. Position-less bats like Jacob Berry of Arizona/LSU and Jace Jung of Texas Tech weren’t considered simply due to the fact they are further down the defensive spectrum than both Johnson and Lee with equal or less upside with the bat. Neither Berry (no sample size) or Jung (lack of arm and mobility) profile well for 3B and are likely to be on the 1B/DH extreme of the defensive spectrum.
Barring some crazy developments during the upcoming season, I see the D-backs decision with the second overall pick likely coming down to who’s left between Brooks Lee and Termarr Johnson, with a small chance of taking Druw Jones if the team wants to swing for the fences. Performances, signing bonuses, and injuries could very well change the complexity of the board, albeit with the talent at the top of the board I don’t expect to see much movement and this year will be about the team needing that final bit of information to make their selection.
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