The 2022 MLB Draft, which begins on Sunday, won’t be as exciting for the Red Sox as it was last year.
Boston held the No. 4 pick overall and the fourth pick in every round (outside of the compensatory and competitive balance rounds) in the 2021 MLB Draft. Because their 2021 season was much better than their 2020 season, the Red Sox won’t pick until the 24th pick in the draft this year.
There is, however, a similarity for the Red Sox between last year’s draft and this year’s draft. Former Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker is once again a popular prospect. Draft analysts picked the Red Sox with their first-round pick.
Rocker was once expected to be one of the top picks in the 2021 MLB Draft, but medical issues saw him drop to the 10th overall pick, where the Mets selected him. However, New York didn’t sign Rocker, so the right-hander became draft-eligible again this year.
Rocker did not return to Vanderbilt. Instead, he signed with the Tri-City ValleyCats, who play in the Frontier League. The 22-year-old had a strong sting, going 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in five starts. Rocker, who underwent surgery on his right shoulder for a “minor non-pitching injury,” according to his agent Scott Boras, again pitched at high speed. His fastball traveled between 96 and 98 mph on a start with the ValleyCats, according to ESPN’s Tim Keown, to accompany an “erasing slider and hard curveball that buckles the knees of anyone looking for one of the two others”.
The Boston Globes Alex Speier noted that the Red Sox are the only team not to have selected a pitcher in the first two rounds in the past four years. ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel thinks the Red Sox are looking to change that on Sunday.
“It appears Rocker’s lineup starts around 13 and ends around 40, with larger budget type teams mentioned almost exclusively,” McDaniel wrote. “The Red Sox seem like a team that would like to prioritize building throwing depth close to the majors and are value-driven enough to see the opportunity here. The Sox have mostly been tied to college players who maybe shouldn’t be part of this pick more than specific guys they like more than the industry, so that’s fitting in that regard as well.
There aren’t many college pitchers expected to make the first round of the draft. McDaniel has only Oklahoma’s Cade Horton, Oregon State’s Cooper Hjerpe, Oklahoma State’s Justin Campbell, Alabama’s Connor Prielipp, Gonzaga’s Gabriel Hughes and East Carolina’s Carson Whisenhunt among the first 40 choices of his fictional project. So Rocker might be the only first-round ranked prospect who’s more Major League-ready and available to the Red Sox when they’re on the clock.
Bleacher Report’s Joel Reuter is also calling on Boston to select Rocker with their first-round selection.
“The Red Sox were on Rocker with the No. 4 overall pick last year before Marcelo Mayer fell on them, and there’s plenty of reason to think they’ll be interested again even after concerns undisclosed information about his shoulder and elbow caused his deal with the New York Mets to fall through,” Reuters wrote. had 321 strikeouts in 236.1 innings at Vanderbilt.”
The Athletic’s Keith Law also thinks the Red Sox are “seriously considering” Rocker if he lands on them at 24. The Sox pick in his previous simulation.
Law, like several other draft pundits, is asking Boston to select a hitter in its mock draft. He has the Red Sox selecting Florida second baseman and outfielder Sterlin Thompson.
“Thompson is a draft-eligible sophomore with a nice left-handed swing and the potential for more power, showing a solid two-shot approach for the Gators this spring while hitting well even in SEC play,” Law wrote. in his Thompson scouting report. “He’s a below-average runner who’s limited to an outside corner and could end up at first base, which definitely caps his value on the upside. His best tool is the punch tool, which is the hardest to gauge, and if he doesn’t end up with a 55 or 60 shot tool, he won’t have much of a role in the majors.
CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa also has the Red Sox selecting Thompson at 24, touting his versatility as a reason Boston might select him.
“This is where the second-tier college bat race should begin,” Axisa wrote. “The Red Sox have been connected to all of the college hitters who are expected to enter that lineup this spring, especially offense versus defense players. Thompson is a sweet swinger who has held his own when dropped off at second base at times this season, and Red Sox baseball chief Chaim Bloom loves a versatile player. It fits.”
Thompson had two good seasons at the plate with Florida. In his college career, he hit .332/.424/.524 with 16 home runs and 78 RBIs in 121 games.
Boston selected a player from Florida with one of its top picks in last year’s draft, selecting outfielder Jud Fabian with the 40th overall pick. But Fabian did not sign with the Red Sox, giving them the 41st overall pick in this year’s draft as compensation. McDaniel mentioned he thinks the Red Sox are “on” LSU infielder Cade Doughty with the pick.
“Doughty has shown good barrel feel and a quick, compact right-hand swing since he was a regular member of the U.S. national teams in high school,” MLB.com wrote in its Doughty scouting report. “One of the best contact hitters in the Southeastern Conference, he’s hit at least average power after adding 20 pounds since coming to campus. He’s an average runner with good base instincts .
But McDaniel asks the Red Sox to select right fielder Roman Anthony with the 41st pick. Anthony is an Ole Miss clerk who is known for his power punching ability.
McDaniel has the Red Sox selecting Texas first baseman Ivan Melendez with the 79th overall pick. Melendez is a hard-hitting right-handed hitter who hit 32 homers, breaking Kris Bryant’s NCAA Division I single-season homer record during the BBCOR era. McDaniel mentioned prep receiver Brooks Brannon and center back Drew Faurot as other hopes to keep tabs on the Red Sox after the first three rounds.
The first two rounds of the 2022 draft will take place on Sunday. Rounds 3 to 10 will take place on Monday and the last 10 rounds will take place on Tuesday.
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