2022 MLB Draft Report: Top 100 Update and Top 20 College Starting Pitchers

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 PickPick 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. 

RankPlayerThrowsSchool2022 Status
1Connor PrielippLHPAlabamaOut (Tommy John Surgery)
2Blade TidwellRHPTennessee14 IP 1.93 ERA 23 K 5 BB
3Gabriel HughesRHPGonzaga70.1 IP 2.43 ERA 108 K 25 BB
4Carson WhisenhuntLHPEast CarolinaOut (Suspended)
5Justin CampbellRHPOklahoma State70.1 IP 3.20 ERA 100 K 15 BB
6Peyton PalletteRHPArkansasOut (Tommy John Surgery)
7Landon SimsRHPMississippi StateOut (Tommy John Surgery)
8Cooper HjerpeLHPOregon State67.2 IP 2.13 ERA 109 K 13 BB
9Kumar RockerRHPIndependentNot Playing
10Thomas HarringtonRHPCampbell65.0 IP 1.25 ERA 93 K 12 BB
11Adam MazurRHPIowa71.0 IP 2.41 ERA 79 K 22 BB
12Hunter BarcoLHPFloridaOut (Tommy John Surgery)
13Parker MessickLHPFlorida State69.1 IP 2.60 ERA 116 K 12 BB
14Drew ThorpeRHPCal Poly77.0 IP 2.57 ERA 105 K 18 BB
15Reggie CrawfordLHPUConnOut (Tommy John Surgery)
16Bryce HubbartLHPFlorida State56.2 IP 3.64 ERA 66 K 14 BB
17Jonathan CannonRHPGeorgia57.1 IP 2.04 ERA 53 K 4 BB
18Trystan VrielingRHPGonzaga67.1 IP 3.61 ERA 91 K 30 BB
19Carson PalmquistLHPMiami58.0 IP 2.76 ERA 86 K 20 BB
20Jake BennettLHPOklahoma65.2 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.

The Mystery 

Kumar Rocker

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. 

The Risers

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

RankPre. RankPlayer NamePosition(s)School
11Druw JonesOFWesleyan HS (GA)
24Elijah GreenOFIMG Academy (FL)
32Termarr Johnson2BMays HS (GA)
43Brooks LeeSSCal Poly
56Jackson HollidaySSStillwater HS (OK)
67Kevin ParadaCGeorgia Tech
78Jace Jung2BTexas Tech
85Dylan LeskoRHPBuford HS (GA)
913Gavin CrossOFVirginia Tech
1010Daniel SusacCArizona
119Jacob Berry3BLSU
1217Cam Collier3BChipola JC
1316Jordan BeckOFTennessee
1411Brandon BarrieraLHPAmerican Heritage Plantation HS (FL)
1515Brock PorterRHPOrchard Lake St. Mary’s Prep (MI)
1614Jackson FerrisLHPIMG Academy (FL)
1712Chase DeLauterOFJames Madison
1824Andrew DutkanychRHPBrebeuf HS (IN)
1921Zach NetoSSCampbell
2022Connor PrielippLHPAlabama
2119Blade TidwellRHPTennessee
2220Cole YoungSSNorth Allegheny HS (PA)
2326Jett WilliamsSSRockwell-Heath HS (TX)
2418Dylan BeaversOFCal
2523Noah SchultzLHPOswego East (HS)
2636Drew GilbertOFTennessee
2731Sterlin ThompsonOFFlorida
2825Jud FabianOFFlorida
2932Justin CrawfordOFBishop Gorman HS (NV)
3033Gabriel HughesRHPGonzaga
3130Walter FordRHPPace HS (FL)
3235Ian (JR) RitchieRHPBainbridge Island HS (WA)
3328Logan TannerCMississippi State
3427Carson WhisenhuntLHPEast Carolina
3543Justin CampbellRHPOklahoma State
3638Peyton PalletteRHPArkansas
3746Jacob MillerRHPLiberty Union HS (OH)
3829Cade Doughty2BLSU
3937Landon SimsRHPMississippi State
4051Tucker Toman3BHammond HS (SC)
4144Brock JonesOFStanford
4242Cooper HjerpeLHPOregon State
4340Kumar RockerRHPIndependent
4445Mikey RomeroSSOrange Lutheran HS (CA)
4552Thomas HarringtonRHPCampbell
4634Henry BolteOFPalo Alto HS (CA)
4750Peyton GrahamSSOklahoma
4849Eric BrownSSCoastal Carolina
4947Cayden Wallace3BArkansas
5041Tristan SmithLHPBoiling Springs HS (SC)
5155Adam MazurRHPIowa
5239Hunter BarcoLHPFlorida
5356Parker MessickLHPFlorida State
5448Cole PhillipsRHPBoerne HS (TX)
5563Drew ThorpeRHPCal Poly
5661Reggie CrawfordLHPUConn
5764Sal Stewart3BWestminster Christian (FL)
5854Bryce HubbartLHPFlorida State
5959Malcolm MooreCC.K. McClatchy HS (CA)
6057Gavin TurleyOFHamilton HS (AZ)
6170Jonathan CannonRHPGeorgia
6266Brady NealCIMG Academy (FL)
6371Ryan CliffordOFPro5 Academy (NC)
6473Spencer Jones1BVanderbilt
6553Robert Moore2BArkansas
6658Gavin KilenSSMilton HS (WI)
6762Owen MurphyRHPRiverside Brookfield HS (IL)
6868Josh KasevichSSOregon
6960Jackson CoxRHPToutle Lake HS (WA)
7084Dalton RushingCLouisville
7165Jacob MeltonOFOregon State
7269Trystan VrielingRHPGonzaga
7372Carson PalmquistLHPMiami
7482Jordan SprinkleSSUC Santa Barbara
7586Roman AnthonyOFStoneman Douglas HS (FL)
7691Cutter CoffeyRHP/SSLiberty HS (CA)
7775Cameron SmithSSPalm Beach Central (FL)
7878Clark ElliottOFMichigan
7967Jaden NootRHPSierra Canyon HS (CA)
8076Jake BennettLHPOklahoma
81NEWRyan CermakOFIllinois State
8274Nazier MuleSS/RHPPassaic County Tech (NJ)
83NEWRobby SnellingLHPMcQueen HS (NV)
8480Paxton KlingOFCentral Martinsburg HS (PA)
8581Chase ShoresRHPLee HS (TX)
8690Max MartinSSMoorestown HS (NJ)
8783Brycen MautzLHPSan Diego
88NEWJake MaddenRHPNorthwest Florida State JC
8992Trey DombroskiLHPMonmouth
9079Luis RamirezRHPLong Beach State
9195Connor StaineRHPCentral Florida
92NEWSam HornRHPCollins Hill HS (GA)
9387Caden DanaRHPDon Bosco Prep (NY)
9494Karson MilbrandtRHPLiberty HS (MO)
9577Carter YoungSSVanderbilt
96NEWIke IrishCOrchard Lake St. Mary’s Prep (MI)
97NEWHenry WilliamsRHPDuke
9889Gavin GuidrySSBarbe HS (LA)
9985Hayden DunhurstCOle Miss
10093Michael KennedyLHPTroy HS (NY)
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Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson is the host and producer of the Sox Machine Podcast. For show suggestions, guest appearances, and sponsorship opportunities, you can reach him via email at josh@soxmachine.com.

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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.