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Overall Rankings: Top 25 Release


Shooter Hunt
Vice President, Scouting

With just three months left until July’s MLB Draft, PBR’s immense staff of boots-on-the-ground scouts have been scouring the country to crosscheck the talented prospects that have now been followed for close to four years. Offseason advancements combined with spring performances have provided clearer evidence to the upside and potential of a slew of the top prospects.

But it has not been an easy process to delineate the talent.

For that reason, more time was given to this update. Winter workouts and showcases provided an initial glance at where these players would start the year, and with spring schedules so drastically staggered, the chance for each prospect to get his fair share of game play seemed most important to help compile the industry’s most credible and up-to-date list.

 

+CLICK FOR THE TOP 25


Termarr Johnson (March 2022)

+ At the top, our conviction that SS Termarr Johnson (Mays HS, GA) is the top player in the class remains fortified, but not without challenge. Johnson’s elite bat-to-ball skills combined with present and future power are elevated thanks to a keen sense of the strike zone with premium pitch recognition. Perhaps lost, somewhat, in the evaluation of the compactly-built 5-foot-10, 180-pounder is the fact that he also possesses some of the best hands on the infield with an easy, confident transfer.

+ It would come as little surprise to hear OF Elijah Green’s (IMG Academy, FL) name called with the first pick in the draft. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder is a physical specimen with tremendous upside, and the hopes of acquiring a potential future star in the making is likely providing heated conversations in draft rooms daily. Green has done what he’s had to do all spring, showcasing an ability to drive the ball with authority to all fields, and has actually improved since his strong junior season providing evidence of what might be still more advancements to come.

+ Perhaps the biggest statement of this updated list comes in the form of SS Jackson Holliday (Stillwater HS, OK) moving to No. 3. Internally, the PBR staff has long been bullish on the Oklahoma State recruit since he first shined at the Future Games in 2019 as an uncommitted rising sophomore. A dynamic hybrid hitter with the innate ability to get off big swings in all counts, Holliday’s track record for delivering in game is what drove our push, and he has taken his game to new heights so far this spring. A baseball player in every sense, the left-handed future slugger has demonstrated over and over acute barrel accuracy with a propensity to change planes in delivering a heavy barrel through the zone. The son of 15-year big leaguer and seven-time all-star Matt Holliday, the bloodlines are strong and the future upside is potentially stronger.


Brandon Barriera (February 2022)

+ Now the top arm in the class, LHP Brandon Barriera (American Heritage HS, FL), electrified in his final start of the spring with a fastball that ran into the upper 90s. Loose and whippy with some electricity coming out of the hand, Barriera stands out even more thanks to a vicious breaking ball with plus potential for spin, and a killer offering to counter the elite velocity of the fastball. Wiry-athletic, the frame should continue to develop in coming years, and the hopes of acquiring an elite starter is surely being considered by clubs picking in the top 10.

+ Closing out the top five, OF Druw Jones (Wesleyan HS, GA) presents a highly enticing skillset with elite athleticism on both sides of the ball. The son of former all-star Andruw Jones, he shares the same premium defense along with a similar power package at the plate from the right side. Still very much maturing physically at 6-foot-3, 175-pounds, the wiry athlete is easy to dream on, and given the present power production that he produces, his prospect profile is strong enough to warrant the earliest of considerations.

+ A tough blow to the class came with the news of RHP Dylan Lesko (Buford HS, GA) going down with an injury after what had been a dominant start to the spring. Now at No. 6, he was up to 97 mph in his final appearance. Here is what Nathan Rode had to say:

“Lesko has been the top pitcher in the 2022 class for some time, and he solidified that distinction last week, not that there was much debate in the first place. I first saw Lesko as a freshman and the ceiling was pretty obvious then. He sat 89-90, showed a loose, easy delivery and offered projection in his frame. What stood out the most then was his feel for a changeup. Fast-forward to last week and he was sitting 94-97 and making hitters look silly against his plus-plus changeup. In 15 years of covering high school baseball, it’s the best changeup I’ve ever seen. Possibly the best I’ve seen in amateur baseball overall. But the question for Lesko going into this year was never how good is the changeup? It was, will the breaking ball be a usable third pitch? He only threw three curveballs in the game, but if they were any indication, he has a third offering that projects to be at least average. It was 76 with 2900 rpm and sharp, late break with depth. It’s a bonafide starter package and warrants a top 10 pick.”

+ Cold weather states claim OF Paxton Kling (No. 7; Central HS, PA) and RHP Andrew Dutkanych (No. 8; Brebeuf HS, IN), which provides for some challenging looks in the spring, especially for a high school hitter like Kling. Still, the LSU recruit carries a thunderous barrel to the plate from the right side to go along with premium instincts in the outfield, and ultimately five-tool potential. Whether that potential is valued in this draft or after a residency in Baton Rouge is yet to be seen, but the talent value remains. Dutkanych, much like Lesko, has been a focal point of this class since entering high school. At 6-foot-3, 205-pounds with defined, imposing strength throughout, the big right-hander has a workhorse frame and the power stuff to match. Working 93-96 in a recent early season outing on a blustery day, Dutkanych turned in his most dominant performance in a no-hitter that included 17 strikeouts. Showcasing more separation between the curveball (75-80) and slider (84-88), it is the latter that shines as a plus pitch, and is elevated by his intent to finish hitters.


The Newbies:

Closing out the Top 10 are a pair of newcomers: SS Jett Williams (Rockwall-Heath HS, TX) and LHP Noah Schultz (Oswego East HS, TX). At 5-foot-8 and 6-foot-9 respectively, the two are the perfect pair to highlight baseball’s “Everyman” status, and especially the craving to find outliers. Williams, a Mississippi State recruit, shines brightest in big spots against top competition, and carries the crown for the notion that “undersized in the new 6-foot-4.” A gamer with tools who commands the batter’s box from the right side, his quick hands and surprising power stand out along with the ability to get off swings with controlled aggression. Slowing the game down while still playing fast, the only thing greater than the tools is the energy and blue-collar approach that he brings to the diamond. Meanwhile, Schultz might be the most intriguing prospect in the entire class. Long-limbed with outlier stuff that includes breaking ball spin rates over 3000 rpm and an effortless mid-90s fastball that comes out of the sleeve from a low slot, there simply are not many (if any?) pitchers that look the way he does. This clearly provides value, and while he has always been featured prominently on the 2022 Overall Rankings list, the jump into the Top 10 comes thanks to early season looks that saw an even greater understanding for repeating the delivery and slot, and a jump in velocity.



Storylines:

Pacific Northwest Arms Race
Side by side, RHP J.R. Ritchie (No. 22; Bainbridge Island HS, WA) and RHP Jackson Cox (No. 23; Toutle Lake HS, WA) carry the torch for a region that has enjoyed eye-opening draft success in recent years. Ritchie, a UCLA recruit, carries impressive polish and makeup to go along with a 97 mph fastball and a starter’s profile thanks much to the fact that he is an elite mover down the mound with an athletic arm. His high floor limits risk, and he is easy to bet on thanks to his high baseball IQ and the ability to make adjustments. From a small town, Cox holds electric stuff that is generated from a quick, whippy arm, and might hold even more upside than his PNW counterpart. Effortlessly ripping off sliders at close to 3200 rpm sans Spider Tack to go along with command of a low- to mid-90s fastball, and especially intriguing feel for a changeup, Cox is a metrics darling that is sure to excite analytics departments. Few enter player development systems with his stuff, and it is exciting to envision the heights that he could get to in coming years with that guidance.

Cali Boys
Lacking a slam dunk top 20-25 pick can harbor discussion of a “down year” in the country’s most talent-rich state historically, but there is depth in a group of players who could go anywhere from the end of the first round through the second. The most noteworthy aspect of them is that they’re largely outside Orange County. C Malcolm Moore (McClatchy HS, CA) hails from Sacramento and reclaims the top spot in California, checking in at No. 14. His strong 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame and loose swing produces big power from both sides of the plate to go with a solid defensive profile. The biggest question around him is his signability, as he is committed to Stanford and The Cardinal typically only loses one, maybe two, recruits to pro ball per decade. SS Mikey Romero (Orange Lutheran HS, CA) slides in behind him at No. 20. Everything he does is quiet, smooth and easy, but it’s his pure left-handed swing and knack for barreling balls to all fields that gets the most attention. He may not be putting together a loud season that scouts may have hoped for, but as the shortstop and a middle-of-the-order hitter for one the nation’s best programs, he surely hasn’t hurt himself either.

The big jump on the West Coast comes in the form of SS/RHP Austin Charles (Stockdale HS, CA) and his rangy 6-foot-6, 218-pound frame. While the physicality might not look like a typical shortstop, he moves well, has soft hands and a strong arm with the ability to make throws on the run too. He is balanced at the plate and does well to stay compact with his longer levers, producing power to all fields. The arm strength translates to the mound, where the UC Santa Barbara recruit easily sits 90-91, touching 93, and mixing in a short, power curveball in the low 80s. At No. 25 is OF Henry Bolte (Palo Alto HS, CA). A Texas recruit, some questions surround his contact rate, but when everything works, it’s loud. His 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame carries present strength with more to come and he is an above-average runner, giving him an enticing power-speed combination.
-Nathan Rode

Sunshine State Teammates
As has been routine the last few years, IMG Academy, FL, is the target for seeing multiple draft prospects in one stop. Green understandably and deservedly garners most of the attention, but the battery of LHP Jackson Ferris and C Brady Neal makes for a powerful trio. They check in at Nos. 11 and 15 respectively. Ferris, a Mississippi recruit, racks up swings and misses with a fastball that sits in the mid 90s and he flashes a breaking ball that has the potential to do the same. Neal, an LSU recruit who reclassed from 2023, is packed with strength in his 5-foot-10, 180-pound frame and he has the confidence to match. He has always played against older competition and shown he belongs, with an impactful left-handed swing that can drive the ball to all fields. Coupled with his potential to hit for average and power, Neal is a field general, controlling the game from behind the plate with strong catch-and-throw skills.
-Nathan Rode


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