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Short-Term Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Prospect Impact of the 2022 MLB Draft

fantasy baseball prospects MLB prospects rookies call-ups

With the 2022 MLB Draft in the books and the 2022 season turning up in intensity with each at-bat, we have another treasure-trove of prospects entering the professional ranks, ready to get down to immediate business for their new clubs and prove their major-league-metal against a daunting learning curve.

It's been a turbulent few years to be a minor league player (yet, thanks to NIL rights and ESPN+, it could be the best time ever to play in college). One can not help but get giddy over looming prospect arrivals from every position, especially when the injury plague leaves your Fantasy Baseball roster in desperate need of a mid/late-season spark that only a certain caliber of talent and skill can ignite while still remaining widely-available heading into the fall. Prospect call-ups at the tail-end of the regular season offer a last shot at acquiring difference-making talent; but for that success to manifest, you need the ideal player, personnel, timing, and context. Difficult, yes; but quite doable.

We are going to take a look at ten 2022 MLB Draftees: the five who are most likely to arrive in the majors quickly without missing a beat and the five who are in great position to rise quickly through the minors and find sustained success early despite under-the-radar status. Whether you need reinforcements for this season, 2022-23 x-factors, or long-term Dynasty League power moves, there are potential solutions for you peppered throughout this draft. If we don't want such opportunities to slip through our fingers (and even worse, into the hands of someone else), we must familiarize ourselves with the class so we're prepared to capitalize when they're called to the show.

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Trial by Fire: Astute Arms

Kumar Rocker (RHP, TEX): Kumar Rocker has had a weird couple of years, and the Texas Rangers have such a stacked minor league system that the #3 overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft is ranked #8 on their organizational prospect list according to MLB.com (now reunited with former Vandy teammate Jack Leiter). The 6'5, 245-lb. 22-year-old produced a 2.89 ERA and 1.00 WHIP with just ten homers allowed and 12.2 K/9 in 236.2 IP in college, and after five starts (20.0 IP) at Frontier League Tri-City, sported a 1.35 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, four walks, and 32 K. In a down college pitching draft class, Kumar Rocker is as MLB-ready as a draftee gets. Too bad for the Mets.

Gabriel Hughes (RHP, COL): Gabriel Hughes was the #10 pick in the 2022 MLB Draft, and is now the top pitching prospect in the Rockies farm system (#5 overall). The Gonzaga alum netted a 3.22 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over 25 starts (159.1 IP) through his last two college seasons, and even hit seven XBH (four doubles, three home runs) with a .716 OPS in 2021. In 171 total IP for the Bulldogs, the lanky Hughes allowed just nine total HR, making him a prime fit for hitter-friendly Coors field. Even with a handful of staples at the major league level, the Rockies are always willing to try something new when it comes to young pitching, making Gabriel Hughes a strong candidate for a fast rise through the minor league ranks.

Cooper Hjerpe (LHP, STL): Southpaw Cooper Hjerpe took a big leap and was a centerpiece of the 2022 Oregon State Beaver baseball season, posting a 2.53 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, just three HR, 23 walks, and 161 total K in 103.1 IP across 18 games (17 starts). The 22nd overall pick in this year's draft now ranks #8 among Cardinals prospects and is the fourth highest-touted pitcher. The only lefty ahead of him is Matthew Liberatore, who has already graced the MLB. There may be no need to rush, but the improvement demonstrated by Cooper Hjerpe in the last year coupled with his LHP specificity and well-rounded game mean that you shouldn't be surprised if you see him sooner rather than later.

Landon Sims (RHP, ARI): Pitching in the SEC is as close as college baseball gets to minor league play, and Landon Sims demonstrated he could do that at a high-level in RP doses over three seasons with Mississippi State. The 34th pick in 2022 to the Diamondbacks, he held a 1.69 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and 13 saves through 85.0 NCAA innings, and reduced his walk ratio each year. Currently slated as Arizona's #7 organizational prospect, his proven ability in high-leverage innings could easily yield him an early MLB opportunity for a D-Backs squad that tends to have every incentive to let their younger prospects take more of the helm down the regular season homestretch.

Hunter Barco (LHP, PIT): Left-handed pitchers from the University of Florida have a solid track record over the last several years, and Hunter Barco (second-round pick) has an excellent sleeper's chance of continuing that trend. The 6'4, 210-lb. SEC arm ranks #14 on the Pirates prospect list, but is #2 among LHP, with only Anthony Solometo in his path. While he had some issues with the long ball in his final two collegiate seasons, he demonstrated solid control of the strike zone (2.5 BB/9, 11.1 K/9) and steady durability (30 games, 29 starts, 152.2 IP) for the Gators, ultimately sporting a 3.18 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. Pittsburgh has many intriguing prospects, but mostly on the offensive side of the sport, presenting Hunter Barco with a quiet opportunity to make a quick ascent through the minors for either spot-starts or low-leverage/long-relief innings.

 

Fast-Track: Brash Batters

Jacob Berry (3B, MIA): The 6th overall pick in this year's draft is already #3 among Marlins prospects according to MLB.com, and while he only holds a .695 OPS in his first 88 Single-A AB, that still includes five XBH (two HR, three doubles) and a .343 OBP. In two college seasons (455 AB) with Arizona and LSU, Jacob Berry hit 32 dingers with a .360/.450/.655 slash, and that well-rounded bat and demonstrated eye for the strike zone should be his quick access ticket to the upper levels of professional baseball.

Brooks Lee (SS, MIN): It's easy to trust in Cal Poly infielders, and this year's 8th overall pick Brooks Lee is already living up to that sentiment. Already considered Minnesota's #1 prospect, the 21-year-old shortstop hit for 25 home runs and a 1.073 OPS in 459 AB in college, and is off to a solid start in the minors with five XBH (two HR, three doubles) and a .310/.370/.417 slash in 84 AB across the Rookie and Single-A+ levels. Even with the infield prospects in the Twins farm system, Brooks Lee tops them all, and his emphasis of his bat over base-stealing (unlike many SS prospects) could land him in the majors in short time.

Gavin Cross (OF, KC): The 9th overall pick in the 2022 Draft and the #1 prospect for the Kansas City Royals, Virginia Tech's Gavin Cross has gotten off to a scorching start as a professional, currently netting 11 XBH (six HR, four doubles, one triple), four steals in six tries, and a slash of .273/.400/.584 in only 77 AB at the Rookie and Single-A levels. The 6'3, 210-lb. outfielder put up similar batting figures with 28 homers and 28 steals in his career for the Hokies, and his complete offensive package could punch his ticket quick for a Royals organization ready and willing to throw their young stars into the fire.

Chase DeLauter (OF, CLE): 6'4, 235-lb. outfield prospect Chase DeLauter may be one of the more slept-on players on this list, but it's hard to sleep on his frame, or on his results as an amateur. The #7 prospect (third among OF) and 16th overall pick in the draft, DeLauter has produced since entering the college ranks at James Madison, hitting 15 HR, stealing 24 bags in 30 tries, and batting .402/.520/.715 in 256 AB, and even producing a .986 OPS in 124 AB for Orleans of the CCBL in the summer of 2021. He has yet to play any minor league ball, but his impressive physique and power/speed combo with astuteness at the plate should make for a fast ascent in the Guardians organization.

Dylan Beavers (OF, BAL): The last outfielder on the list, Dylan Beavers was the 33rd pick in 2022 and now ranks 8th among Baltimore Orioles prospects, second among outfielders. The California-Berkeley alum racked up a combined 35 home runs and 17 stolen bases in 23 attempts in 424 AB over his last two years in college, finishing with a total slash of .294/.409/.615. He only took nine AB of Rookie ball before advancing to Single-A Delmarva, where he came in hot to the tune of nine XBH (seven doubles, two triples), four steals in five tries, a 1.112 OPS, and a sharp 11 walks to only 8 strikeouts in 53 AB. The Orioles have proven less-than shy to call up talented offensive players early, so keep an eye out for Dylan Beavers to see promotion in accordance with continued success at the plate.

Kevin Parada (C, NYM): The top college catching prospect in this year's draft, #11 overall pick Kevin Parada played only two years of college baseball at Georgia Tech, but his production there immediately has him slated as the #3 prospect in the New York Mets farm system (although #1 is fellow backstop Francisco Alvarez). In 478 college AB, Parada clobbered 35 home runs, demonstrated athleticism with 12 stolen bases (just two CS), and a well-rounded slash of .341/.420/.636. He only has 22 minor league AB currently under his belt, and Francisco Alvarez has already raked his way to Triple-A play, but the Mets have had several instances of disappointing performances from various players on offense this year, and Parada's skillset could quite easily make him a MLB asset of value in the short term if necessary.

Jace Jung (2B, DET): The brother of top Rangers prospect Josh Jung, Jace's stock was up in the air before ultimately landing as the 12th selection in the 2022 MLB Draft, and he now ranks second among Detroit Tigers prospect behind 2021 RHP draftee Jackson Jobe (Detroit apparently loves JJ alliterations). Jung really didn't have an AB in three years of college play for Texas Tech where he didn't look like a future major league producer, finishing his career with 39 HR, ten stolen bases (two CS), a .328/.468/.647 slash, and 126 walks to 102 strikeouts in 485 AB. Jung went right to Single-A+ West Michigan to start his pro career, so far netting seven XBH (six doubles, one dinger), a .728 OPS, and 19 walks to 22 strikeouts. The Jung brothers are both on their way up, but for Jace, he is at the front of the line for farm system infielders, which is an area that the Tigers have particularly struggled with on offense in 2022 at the MLB level.

Daniel Susac (C, OAK): The 19th pick in 2022, Daniel Susac, like Kevin Parada, played two seasons of college baseball (for the Arizona Wildcats) and despite being the #5 prospect in the Athletics organization, is ranked #2 among backstops behind recent MLB call-up Shea Langeliers (who has gotten off to a solid start for Oakland). Susac hit for 24 HR and a .352/.413/.586 slash in 515 college AB, and has already knocked nine XBH (eight doubles, one HR) and an .856 OPS in 74 AB across Rookie and Single-A play.

Susac has never been known for his plate discipline, but his quality of contact on batted balls speaks for itself through his production. Some wonder if he has the size to stay at catcher, but his defense charts well and with Langeliers and Sean Murphy above him in the pecking order, a switch of positions could be a positive move in the long run. Regardless, the Oakland A's are one of the worst teams in baseball this year, and their batting production has been downright painful to watch for the majority of the time. The potential of adding a potent bat like Susac could be very enticing sooner rather than later for Oakland, as evidenced by the promotion of Shea Langeliers not too long ago.



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