2022 MLB Draft Rankings and Offseason List Primer by Eric Longenhagen November 30, 2021 We begin this year’s run of lists with an update to and expansion of the 2022 Draft rankings, which can now be found over on The Board. I’ll do the same for the next two draft classes later this week, and follow that with a fresh coat of paint on the International Players list, which was completed with the aid of Brendan Gawlowski, Kevin Goldstein, and Tess Taruskin. Team lists will start rolling out next week, beginning with the East Valley pod of teams (Angels, Cubs, A’s, and Brewers). Before I talk about this draft class, here are a couple of process-oriented reminders and changes. The grading system we use here is called Future Value (you’ll typically see it abbreviated FV), which maps WAR production and player roles to the 20-80 scale. In short, a 50 FV prospect is the equivalent of a good everyday player (2-3 annual WAR), with grades above 50 telling you how good of an everyday player we expect the prospect to be. Grades below that either describe a role (for example, a 45 FV for a left-handed hitting corner platoon or set-up man, a 40 FV for fifth starters or stopgap first base sluggers, etc.) or are trying to balance upside and risk (for instance, a 50 FV talent with an injury history will get rounded down to account for that history). Time factors into this as well. For example, if two players are exactly the same in every way except one could be in the big leagues in three months and the other is a very young player who is several years away, there will be a gap between the two players’ FV to account for time and risk. This is especially relevant as we’re discussing draft prospects at this particular stage, as they’re about eight months from being drafted and typically another couple of years (at least) from being big leaguers. By the time the draft rolls around, we usually have six to eight 50 FV or better prospects who immediately port over to the pro Top 100(ish) list. For more process-oriented discussion, be sure to read this primer, as well as Future Value. For even more of it, as well as a tutorial regarding how to use The Board, check out this video: The 2022 Class The industry has much better feel for the 2022 class than it had for the 2021 group at this stage, as something resembling normal baseball activity occurred throughout the calendar year. There’s arguably reason to be more confident in this year’s group than usual, since the shortened 2020 draft made the 2021 college talent pool a few fathoms deeper than it typically would be. If you were a college sophomore in 2021 and performed on paper, there’s heightened confidence in that performance because of the quality of talent it came against. This draft has lots of pitching depth, though it’s short on obvious top 10 arms, college or high school. There are several candidates to possibly move into that territory either via upticks in stuff (Carson Whisenhunt, Henry Williams) or command/consistency (Brandon Sproat, Blade Tidwell). For the high schoolers, there’s a deep group of arms who aren’t even ranked on our current 67 who might show up with better stuff next spring and either work their way into the comp round, or become a team’s preferred place to take a $1-1.5 million overslot shot (Michael Barnett, Austin Charles, Gabe Davis, Michael Kennedy, Justin Lamkin, Jacob Miller, Hayden Murphy, Chase Shores, Robby Snelling, JD Thompson, and many others). While data and video have made pitching easier to evaluate, technology and science have made it easier for pitching prospects to change very quickly, and modern training methods and equipment has reached the (mostly affluent) high schoolers. A bunch of those guys will pop up next spring. Knowledge of the model-driven importance placed on draft prospects’ age is impacting the career tracks of more players, such that it’s noticeable at a glance with this year’s draft group. Mostly, it’s becoming more common for players to reclassify and/or matriculate to college early in an effort to become draft eligible while still shy of their 21st birthday. Eight of our current top 67 are college prospects who won’t yet be 21 on draft day. Justifying Some Weird Takes Multiple sources have warned me to move Peyton Graham down due to swing-and-miss concerns related to his breaking ball recognition. He has above-average bat control to my eye, and I think there’s more hit tool ceiling here than most others do. Remember, Graham’s freshman season was only four weeks long. He was not a showcase fixture, which means we watched him try to make the leap from varsity to Big 12 pitching in 2021 with a gap year in between. I also think Graham has a shot to stay at shortstop, or else be an amazing defensive third baseman. I don’t see much daylight between his profile and Brooks Lee’s, a player who a few of my sources have first overall on their personal boards, and with the two of them so close, I’d rather have the one with a better frame/athletic projection and a clean bill of health (Lee has back and hamstring injuries). Florida righty Brandon Sproat has been dinged or wild, but he also has three real weapons, and we just saw Sam Bachman come off the board very early despite having relief projection and some health concerns. Maybe I’m going through a phase, but I’ve become warier of long swings that are vulnerable to big velocity, which is common in meaningful big league situations. As such, I’m a little lower on LSU designated hitter Jacob Berry, whose left-handed swing struggles to catch fastballs on the outer edge. Without a position, there’s not much room for an exploitable offensive flaw.