2022 MLB Mock Draft: Jonathan Mayo over at MLB Pipeline has a new mock draft out, as does Baseball America, and both mocks have the Texas Rangers taking high school outfielder Elijah Green at #3.
Every year it seems like the internet picks someone about 12-15 months out as the “OMG THIS GUY IS GOING #1” early choice, despite the fact that only in the rarest of instances (Bryce Harper, for example) is there an obvious, no doubt #1 guy in the draft class that far out. Green was that guy for 2022, and Twitter was abuzz in the spring and summer of 2021 about how whichever team had the worst record was going to have this superstar hitter fall into their hands.
Green, the son of former PIttsburgh Steelers tight end Eric Green, is still well-regarded and seen as a likely top five pick, but didn’t turn out to be the runaway top guy on the board. He appears to have been surpassed as the consensus top prospect by Georgia prep shortstop Druw Jones, the son of former All Star center fielder (and former Ranger) Andruw Jones. Both mock drafts have Jones going to the Baltimore Orioles at #1, with Jackson Holliday, another prep shortstop (and another offspring of a former pro player — he’s the son of Matt Holliday), going second to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
I see Green mocked to the Rangers quite frequently, and while I wouldn’t be shocked if the Rangers took him, I have a hard time seeing him as being the top guy on their board, given their recent change in philosophy and emphasis. Under the old way of doing things, Green, as a toolsy guy with huge upside, would probably be the most likely pick.
But as we all know, the Rangers’ focus has changed the last few years. The emphasis now with position players is on hit tool, exit velocity, contact ability. Green has big time power and some great exit velocities, but there are questions about how much swing-and-miss he has, whether he can turn on high-velocity fastballs, and about his pitch recognition. Given how Jon Daniels has talked about the organization’s shift towards reducing risk and downside with their premium picks, and given the emphasis on bat-to-ball skills, I struggle to see them using this pick on a guy whose hit tool is his weakest tool (weak still being relative) when there are players who better fit their profile available.
BA, in their mock draft write-up, says that the Rangers love Holliday, but that in their scenario they say the Rangers “will have to settle for the biggest pure upside player in the class” before going on to acknowledge that Brooks Lee and Kevin Parada “[b]oth...make plenty of sense” at #3. My guess, based on the organization’s recent history and what they’ve tended to weight heavily, is that Lee or Parada is more likely than Green to go at #3. Both are college bats who have performed well at the collegiate level and whose scouting reports seem to reflect the type of hitter profiles that the Rangers look for at this point.