With the opening weekend of 2022 in the books, let’s have a quick rundown of notable performances from a draft perspective. Obviously, since we’re dissecting just a handful of games, all the necessary small sample size caveats apply. Just remember, it’s terribly early and so much can change between now and July.
While some hitters certainly had banner weekends, the common tenor among scouts was that most of the vaunted names on the ’22 draft board had lackluster performances. Chase DeLauter, Brooks Lee, Brock Jones, Jace Jung, Jud Fabian, Kevin Parada, and a host of others were unable to burst out of the chute as pitchers—as they usually are this time of the season—were far ahead of the hitters.
DeLauter’s weekend was particularly rough. A consensus top-10 talent after an eye-opening summer on the Cape, DeLauter struggled through a 3/14 3-game stretch against Florida State with 8 Ks and no BBs. A lion’s share of these ABs came against tricky southpaws Parker Messick and Bryce Hubbart, themselves in the 1st round conversation. DeLauter, according to ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel, had trouble handling pitches up and in and lifted his back foot off the ground on every swing.
As much as DeLauter struggled, fellow top-10 candidate LSU’s Jacob Berry put on a show. The switch-hitting transfer from Arizona was 6/14 with 2 dingers and a double. And even more interesting was Berry’s appearance in LF and RF. If Berry proves to be adequate in either corner, he should cement his status at the very top of the draft.
Speaking of LSU, this year’s Tiger squad might prove to be the best college lineup EVER. That’s right—in Berry, Tre Morgan, Cade Doughty, and Dylan Crews, LSU might have as many as FOUR future 1st rounders on the club.
While we’re still on the topic of LSU, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Crews’ exploits this weekend. The super sophomore was 6/11 with a double and 2 3Bs. And his batted ball data were even more impressive than the gaudy stats he put up. For example, on Saturday the center fielder hit two balls with exit velocities that eclipsed the 110 MPH mark. Crews, along with Wake Forest third baseman Brock Wilken (5/10 this weekend with 3 XBHs and 5 BBs), have begun to separate themselves from the rest of the pack among the 2023 bats.
Vanderbilt’s Carter Young was another 2022 bat whose weekend didn’t go according to plan. After K-ing 84 times in 279 PAs last season, Young’s top priority this year was to improve his contact—especially against high heat. Unfortunately, the Washington native went 1/12 against Oklahoma State with 6 Ks.
California's Dylan Beavers had an uneven opening series in Arizona but was still able to show why he may have as much upside as anyone in this year’s draft class. His weekend was bookended by mediocre showings on Friday and Sunday, but on Saturday the left-handed slugger went 2/3 with a homer and 2 BBs. He also demonstrated a strong arm in RF and enough athleticism and defensive chops to warrant a look in CF.
Oregon State’s Jacob Melton isn’t a household name after an injury-riddled 2021, but he’s another hitter to keep an eye on. Despite missing half the season in ’21, Melton still slashed .404/.466/.697 and he’s off to a 9/17 start this season with 3 XBHs.
On the pitching side, if Mississippi State RHP Landon Sims has more Friday nights like opening night, he’ll establish himself as the college hurler to go off the board first in July. The young flamethrower required just 81 pitches to strike out 13 hitters in 7 IP while featuring his customary mid-90’s fastball and nuclear slider. It will be interesting to follow how Sims works in his burgeoning changeup as the season progresses.
Finally, while NC State’s Tommy White received extensive praise—and all of it well deserved after his 5-HR tour de force—we urge all fans to keep an eye on another freshman first baseman. West Virginia’s Grant Hussey went 5/13 with 2 dingers and just 2 Ks. As we highlighted in our CBN Freshman All America article, Hussey showed immense power last summer in the MLB Draft League.