Happy New Year to everyone and welcome to the first Pipeline Inbox of 2022. Let’s get to your questions…
Termarr Johnson gets rave reviews for his hit tool, but Druw Jones has the bigger upside. If you picked No. 1, you’re swinging for the fences (Jones), right? [email protected]
If I were really swinging for the fences, I’d go for the guy with the highest ceiling in the 2022 Draft, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) outfielder Elijah Green. He has crazy tools but also comes with some swing-and-miss concerns, which is why he ranks No. 3 and not No. 1 on our 2022 Draft Top 100 Prospects list.
My strategy with the No. 1 overall pick is simple — give me the best player available. Don’t worry about hitter vs. pitcher, high school vs. college, floor vs. ceiling or trying to move bonus pool money around. Identify the top talent and take him.
I do think the race to go No. 1 is more wide open than usual heading into the year, and a lot can happen between now and when the Orioles exercise the first selection in July. Right now, I keep going back and forth between Jones, a Wesleyan HS (Peachtree Corners, Ga.) center fielder, and Johnson, a Mays HS (Atlanta) shortstop who figures to wind up at second base. Johnson is the best high-school hitter I ever can remember, but Jones (son of Andruw) is going to be at least a solid hitter with plus power to go with plus-plus speed and center-field skills to match.
I’d take Jones, but it’s close. It’s hard to go wrong betting on bat like Johnson’s.
Which 2021 draftee currently outside of the Top 100 prospects is most likely to enter the Top 100 next year? [email protected]
There are 14 2021 draftees on MLB Pipeline’s current Top 100 Prospects list, which was mostly assembled in August. Not surprisingly, all of them are first-round picks, as is the next candidate to join the Top 100: Cubs left-hander Jordan Wicks.
Drafted 21st overall in July out of Kansas State, Wicks was the best left-hander available in the 2021 Draft and possessed the best changeup in the class. His cambio can be a plus-plus pitch at times and plays well off his 91- to 97-mph fastball and improving low-80s changeup. He’s polished, he’s durable and he has drawn some comparisons to Reid Detmers, albeit with a changeup rather than a curveball serving as his out pitch.
What can we expect from Austin Martin this year considering it’s his first full year in the Minnesota Twins organization? [email protected]
Martin is a conundrum. The Blue Jays drafted him fifth overall in 2020, then traded him last summer as part of a package to acquire José Berrios from the Twins. He lived up to his reputation as a gifted hitter by going straight to Double-A and batting .270, but questions about his power and defensive value persist.
Martin produced just five homers in 93 games last year while slugging .382 and he doesn’t throw well enough to play on the left side of the infield. He might be able to handle second base or center field, but there’s also a possibility that he will fit best in left field, which will put more demands on his bat. I expect him to hit for average in 2022, but I’m curious to see how the rest of his game develops.