After posting the Top 100 2022 MLB Draft Average Rankings last week, Prospects Live and The Athletic shared their updated rankings. Keith Law provides his rankings for The Athletic, and what jumps out to me is not seeing any pitchers in the Top 14 of his rankings. I can’t blame him for being pessimistic about this pitching class. Many promising arms have gone under the knife getting Tommy John surgery.
For teams selecting in the Top 15, it’s a risky proposition handing out a $3+ million signing bonus to a player you know who is hurt. The New York Mets selected Kumar Rocker last year and didn’t sign him because of the post-draft health evaluation. I’m skeptical teams will be handing out a $5 million signing bonus to Dylan Lesko, who recently had Tommy John surgery. Despite being one of the most talented pitchers in recent memory, I think there’s a good chance he attends Vanderbilt and is available again in the 2024 MLB Draft. He’s got the kind of arsenal to be taken number one overall, and that’s a signing bonus of way more than $5 million.
I’ve paid a lot of attention to the pitching class because I find this to be a need within the White Sox farm system. They are short on arms, predominantly starting prospects. We all know well the clock is ticking for Lucas Giolito to enter free agency after the 2023 season. Dylan Cease will enter free agency after the 2025 season. The time is now to develop a new rotation preparing for the scenario if Giolito or Cease become too expensive, or they desire to play elsewhere.
Rick Hahn and Mike Shirley will have $6,289,100 to work with for this draft class. That’s the third-lowest bonus pool amount and will force White Sox scouts to get creative. In the last two years, we’ve seen the White Sox go full slot in Round 1 but then take pool money away from later picks in going over slot in Round 2 to maximize return.
|White Sox Pick||Pick Bonus Amount|
|1st Round – Pick 26||$2,788,000|
|2nd Round – Pick 62||$1,158,600|
|3rd Round – Pick 101||$606,300|
|4th Round – Pick 131||$452,700|
|5th Round – Pick 161||$337,400|
This strategy has netted them prep players in SP Matthew Thompson, Andrew Dalquist, Jared Kelley, and 3B Wes Kath. All four still need more development seasoning, but there’s hope they will turn into better players. The process has been slower than initially thought, thanks to COVID-19 wiping out the 2020 season and injuries.
I expect the White Sox to continue going this draft spending route. Aiming to draft and sign another Top 50 player in this class. They could copy their plan from last year in taking two prep position players again. Or, they could take a calculated gamble on one or a couple of the Top 20 college starting pitchers I’ve outlined below.
|1||Connor Prielipp||LHP||Alabama||Out (Tommy John Surgery)|
|2||Blade Tidwell||RHP||Tennessee||14 IP 1.93 ERA 23 K 5 BB|
|3||Gabriel Hughes||RHP||Gonzaga||70.1 IP 2.43 ERA 108 K 25 BB|
|4||Carson Whisenhunt||LHP||East Carolina||Out (Suspended)|
|5||Justin Campbell||RHP||Oklahoma State||70.1 IP 3.20 ERA 100 K 15 BB|
|6||Peyton Pallette||RHP||Arkansas||Out (Tommy John Surgery)|
|7||Landon Sims||RHP||Mississippi State||Out (Tommy John Surgery)|
|8||Cooper Hjerpe||LHP||Oregon State||67.2 IP 2.13 ERA 109 K 13 BB|
|9||Kumar Rocker||RHP||Independent||Not Playing|
|10||Thomas Harrington||RHP||Campbell||65.0 IP 1.25 ERA 93 K 12 BB|
|11||Adam Mazur||RHP||Iowa||71.0 IP 2.41 ERA 79 K 22 BB|
|12||Hunter Barco||LHP||Florida||Out (Tommy John Surgery)|
|13||Parker Messick||LHP||Florida State||69.1 IP 2.60 ERA 116 K 12 BB|
|14||Drew Thorpe||RHP||Cal Poly||77.0 IP 2.57 ERA 105 K 18 BB|
|15||Reggie Crawford||LHP||UConn||Out (Tommy John Surgery)|
|16||Bryce Hubbart||LHP||Florida State||56.2 IP 3.64 ERA 66 K 14 BB|
|17||Jonathan Cannon||RHP||Georgia||57.1 IP 2.04 ERA 53 K 4 BB|
|18||Trystan Vrieling||RHP||Gonzaga||67.1 IP 3.61 ERA 91 K 30 BB|
|19||Carson Palmquist||LHP||Miami||58.0 IP 2.76 ERA 86 K 20 BB|
|20||Jake Bennett||LHP||Oklahoma||65.2 IP 3.29 ERA 75 K 11 BB|
The Injured Pitchers
Connor Prielipp, LHP, Alabama
2021 Stats: 7.0 IP 3.86 ERA 12 K to 1 BB
Getting Tommy John surgery in May 2021, Connor Prielipp is closer than the other injured college arms to returning. There’s not much of a college track record for Prielipp. He was limited to just four starts in 2020 due to COVID-19 and pitched only seven innings in 2021 before getting injured.
I like Prielipp’s ability to throw multiple variations of his slider. I’m curious about his fastball velocity in the upcoming bullpen session he’ll hold in front of scouts. If he’s in the mid-90s again, there’s a chance Prielipp doesn’t make it to Pick 26 for the White Sox.
Peyton Pallette, RHP, Arkansas
2021 Stats: 56.0 IP, 4.02 ERA, 67 K to 20 BB
It was unfortunate when news came after the Fall season that Peyton Pallette would miss the 2022 season. I enjoyed watching Pallette work in 2021, at times dominating hitters with his fastball/curve combination. That breaking pitch is Pallette’s best offering, and I think it could be devastating when he turns pro. There’s a control issue with Pallette’s fastball from the 2021 season. While he had good velocity readings, mainly sitting at 93 mph but able to hit 95+ mph, Pallette wasn’t generating a lot of whiffs with the fastball.
Pallette had Tommy John surgery in January 2022, so teams won’t see him throw a bullpen again until closer to Spring Training.
Landon Sims, RHP, Mississippi State
2022 Stats: 15.2 IP, 1.15 ERA, 27 K to 2 BB
Striking out 10 out of 11 batters faced, Landon Sims was on pace for a special night back on March 4 at Tulane. Unfortunately, his pitching elbow had other ideas, and Sims was forced to get Tommy John surgery.
The biggest question about Sims is if he will stick as a starting pitcher? A mid-90s fastball with carry and a plus-slider certainly plays in any team’s bullpen. I have little doubt that Sims will make the majors with that combination. But if Sims were to go in the first round, he’ll need to prove after rehab he can take the ball and be effective for 75+ pitches in 2023. Then in 2024, Sims demonstrates he can take the ball every fifth day and gradually build up his pitch count closer to 100. The hope in 2022 for Sims was to prove he could handle that type of workload. Unfortunately, everyone still needs to wait to know for sure.
2021 Stats: 122.0 IP, 2.73 ERA, 179 K to 39 BB
I still don’t know what happened between the New York Mets and Kumar Rocker. There’s been a lot of turnover in the Mets front office since the last MLB Draft, but Rocker not part of any MLB farm system is quite baffling to me. Yes, he’s 22 years old, but I believe if Rocker is 100% healthy, he’s got the arsenal to rocket through the minors.
There are a lot of questions surrounding Rocker. Is he healthy? If he is, why didn’t he go back to Vanderbilt and pitch? Will he pitch competitively before July’s draft? The rumor is Rocker will sign with an Independent League team sometime this month. I hope it’s the Chicago Dogs so I can drive up to Rosemont and watch him pitch. If Rocker can still hit 95-mph with the fastball and possess that devastating slider, he should be a first-round pick.
If Rocker’s velocity is still in the low 90s, and his slider doesn’t have the same bite as last year, I wouldn’t be surprised if he fell into the second round. The baseball world is eager to see Rocker in action again.
Justin Campbell, RHP, Oklahoma State
2022 Stats: 70.1 IP, 3.20 ERA, 100 K to 15 BB
At 6’7”, Oklahoma State RHP Justin Campbell uses his body length to get downhill on the mound. The fastball is not explosive velocity-wise, often sitting between 91 to 93 mph in his starts. But Campbell can command the pitch well and lives towards the bottom part of the strike zone, which generates many groundballs.
What intrigues me most about Campbell is his changeup offering. I saw an excellent horizontal movement in his duel against Gonzaga’s Gabriel Hughes earlier this season. It needs more refinement, but with the progress we’ve seen from several White Sox pitchers using the changeup under Ethan Katz’s tutelage, I wonder if the White Sox can help Campbell reach another level of performance.
Cooper Hjerpe, LHP, Oregon State
2022 Stats: 67.2 IP 2.13 ERA 109 K 13 BB
It’s hard to argue the results Cooper Hjerpe is getting for Oregon State, but this throwing motion is odd. Almost a complete sidearm delivery from Hjerpe that’s difficult for hitters to see. I think that aids in him racking up the strikeouts, and Hjerpe has enough control with his pitches to live in the strike zone.
It’s a pretty standard three-pitch mix from Hjerpe with a four-seamer that sits 91 mph, a curveball that’s almost impossible to read out of his windup, and a changeup with sinking action. The stuff is not overwhelming, but his combination of deception and what scouts call “pitchability” is why Hjerpe continues to rise on top draft prospect lists. The White Sox haven’t been afraid of odd deliveries in the past, but Chris Sale was a long time ago in baseball terms.
Updated Top 100 MLB Draft Average Rankings
|Rank||Pre. Rank||Player Name||Position(s)||School|
|1||1||Druw Jones||OF||Wesleyan HS (GA)|
|2||4||Elijah Green||OF||IMG Academy (FL)|
|3||2||Termarr Johnson||2B||Mays HS (GA)|
|4||3||Brooks Lee||SS||Cal Poly|
|5||6||Jackson Holliday||SS||Stillwater HS (OK)|
|6||7||Kevin Parada||C||Georgia Tech|
|7||8||Jace Jung||2B||Texas Tech|
|8||5||Dylan Lesko||RHP||Buford HS (GA)|
|9||13||Gavin Cross||OF||Virginia Tech|
|12||17||Cam Collier||3B||Chipola JC|
|14||11||Brandon Barriera||LHP||American Heritage Plantation HS (FL)|
|15||15||Brock Porter||RHP||Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Prep (MI)|
|16||14||Jackson Ferris||LHP||IMG Academy (FL)|
|17||12||Chase DeLauter||OF||James Madison|
|18||24||Andrew Dutkanych||RHP||Brebeuf HS (IN)|
|22||20||Cole Young||SS||North Allegheny HS (PA)|
|23||26||Jett Williams||SS||Rockwell-Heath HS (TX)|
|25||23||Noah Schultz||LHP||Oswego East (HS)|
|29||32||Justin Crawford||OF||Bishop Gorman HS (NV)|
|31||30||Walter Ford||RHP||Pace HS (FL)|
|32||35||Ian (JR) Ritchie||RHP||Bainbridge Island HS (WA)|
|33||28||Logan Tanner||C||Mississippi State|
|34||27||Carson Whisenhunt||LHP||East Carolina|
|35||43||Justin Campbell||RHP||Oklahoma State|
|37||46||Jacob Miller||RHP||Liberty Union HS (OH)|
|39||37||Landon Sims||RHP||Mississippi State|
|40||51||Tucker Toman||3B||Hammond HS (SC)|
|42||42||Cooper Hjerpe||LHP||Oregon State|
|44||45||Mikey Romero||SS||Orange Lutheran HS (CA)|
|46||34||Henry Bolte||OF||Palo Alto HS (CA)|
|48||49||Eric Brown||SS||Coastal Carolina|
|50||41||Tristan Smith||LHP||Boiling Springs HS (SC)|
|53||56||Parker Messick||LHP||Florida State|
|54||48||Cole Phillips||RHP||Boerne HS (TX)|
|55||63||Drew Thorpe||RHP||Cal Poly|
|57||64||Sal Stewart||3B||Westminster Christian (FL)|
|58||54||Bryce Hubbart||LHP||Florida State|
|59||59||Malcolm Moore||C||C.K. McClatchy HS (CA)|
|60||57||Gavin Turley||OF||Hamilton HS (AZ)|
|62||66||Brady Neal||C||IMG Academy (FL)|
|63||71||Ryan Clifford||OF||Pro5 Academy (NC)|
|66||58||Gavin Kilen||SS||Milton HS (WI)|
|67||62||Owen Murphy||RHP||Riverside Brookfield HS (IL)|
|69||60||Jackson Cox||RHP||Toutle Lake HS (WA)|
|71||65||Jacob Melton||OF||Oregon State|
|74||82||Jordan Sprinkle||SS||UC Santa Barbara|
|75||86||Roman Anthony||OF||Stoneman Douglas HS (FL)|
|76||91||Cutter Coffey||RHP/SS||Liberty HS (CA)|
|77||75||Cameron Smith||SS||Palm Beach Central (FL)|
|79||67||Jaden Noot||RHP||Sierra Canyon HS (CA)|
|81||NEW||Ryan Cermak||OF||Illinois State|
|82||74||Nazier Mule||SS/RHP||Passaic County Tech (NJ)|
|83||NEW||Robby Snelling||LHP||McQueen HS (NV)|
|84||80||Paxton Kling||OF||Central Martinsburg HS (PA)|
|85||81||Chase Shores||RHP||Lee HS (TX)|
|86||90||Max Martin||SS||Moorestown HS (NJ)|
|87||83||Brycen Mautz||LHP||San Diego|
|88||NEW||Jake Madden||RHP||Northwest Florida State JC|
|90||79||Luis Ramirez||RHP||Long Beach State|
|91||95||Connor Staine||RHP||Central Florida|
|92||NEW||Sam Horn||RHP||Collins Hill HS (GA)|
|93||87||Caden Dana||RHP||Don Bosco Prep (NY)|
|94||94||Karson Milbrandt||RHP||Liberty HS (MO)|
|96||NEW||Ike Irish||C||Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Prep (MI)|
|98||89||Gavin Guidry||SS||Barbe HS (LA)|
|99||85||Hayden Dunhurst||C||Ole Miss|
|100||93||Michael Kennedy||LHP||Troy HS (NY)|
Cam Collier is notable as a (semi)-local guy. He’s the son of Lou Collier, a South Side native who bounced around the bigs as a utility player for 8 years after being drafted in the 31st (!) round. I know Lou personally because I played on his travel team for a couple of years in middle school; he’s a great guy and great coach. Happy for him and Cam.
Cam has been on my since the preseason. I think he’s got a real chance going Top 10 this year.