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MLB - US Sports: Joe Casey's Guide to the Draft

The MLB Draft begins on Sunday and Racing Post writer Joe Casey has taken a look at how everything could play out.

How it works

The MLB draft order is based on the reverse order of the 2021 MLB season standings. As a result, the worst team last season, the Baltimore Orioles, get first pick in the draft.

Teams must then negotiate with the player that they select for a contract, based on their draft bonus pool, which is allocated to the position in the draft.

For example, the number one draft position has the highest bonus pool amount but if a team can persuade a player to take less than that money, they can spend more on later picks.

Teams also get compensation picks if they failed to sign their selection last year, the New York Mets failed to agree a deal with Kumar Rocker in 2021 and so receive the 11th selection in this year's draft as compensation.

Later in the first round teams can also pick up compensation picks for big-name stars they have lost through free agency.

Keeping up with Joneses

There is always a great deal of hype surrounding who will be the number one selection in the draft. Some of the best players in the history of the game, such as Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr, have gone at number one.

However, for every success story, there is a Bryan Bullington or Brien Taylor who never make an impact in the major leagues.

The number one pick remains something of a lottery and this year the Baltimore Orioles have the ticket, their second time choosing first in the last three years.

Baltimore selected catcher Adley Rutschman with the first pick of their 2019 draft and he came into this season ranked as the number one prospect in baseball and is now the Orioles' starting catcher.

That time around Baltimore kept it simple by selecting the best player available and despite their general manager Mike Elias keeping his cards close to his chest, it seems likely they will keep it simple again by taking high school outfielder Druw Jones.

Jones is the son of former All-Star Andruw Jones and has all the tools to make a big impact in centre field, with plus defending skills and raw power. The 5/7 about Jones going first is more than fair.

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Porter could benefit from lack of pitchers

If there's one thing that this draft class is notable for it is the prevalence of hitting prospects over pitchers, particularly among those expected to go in the early first round.

A player who could benefit is pitcher Brock Porter, a high school right-hander who is six foot four and has reached 97 miles per hour this spring.

In a class where there aren't many outstanding pitchers, Porter stands out and, as a result, the 4/5 that he goes under 12.5 in the draft is of interest.

The Colorado Rockies pick at 10 and that is a viable landing spot given they tend to target pitching in the draft thanks to the unique circumstances of Coors Field.

Johnson could win battle with Lee

Brooks Lee and Termarr Johnson are two of the most highly coveted middle infielders in this year's draft and the expectation is that both will be selected inside the top 10 picks, and there is a distinct possibility both could go within the top five.

Lee is a college star who has hit solidly throughout his career at that level. However, his swing is unorthodox, something that could put off potential suitors.

Johnson is considered to be the best pure hitter in the draft class, with whispers among scouts that he could have the best pure hitting of a high school player for a decade. He has impressed in off the field evaluations and arguably has a higher ceiling than Lee so it is worth taking the 6/4 that he is drafted before him.

Hughes to win pitching battle with Hjerpe

Gabriel Hughes and Cooper Hjerpe have both been earmarked as mid-to-late first round selections but it is the former who looks likely to be picked first.

Sitting at 97 miles per hour and weighing 225 pounds, Hughes has the frame and fastball to be a workhorse starter and that translates better to the big leagues than Hjerpe's fastball which tops out at 92 miles per hour.
There are also question marks about Hjerpe's delivery and whether he may end up as a reliever so the 10/13 about Hughes being taken before his fellow college pitcher looks a solid selection.

By Joe Casey

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