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Draft  | Story  | 1/3/2023

PG Year in Review: Draft

Brian Sakowski     
Photo: Jackson Holliday (Perfect Game
Bloodlines Atop The Class

As was written about with frequency leading up to the 2022 MLB Draft, the progeny of professional athletes dotted the top of this draft board. Jackson Holliday, son of longtime MLB’er Matt, went 1st overall to Baltimore. Druw Jones, son of legendary Atlanta Brave Andruw Jones, went 2nd overall to Arizona. Elijah Green, son of NFL tight end Eric (and the best player in the draft on our board) was selected 5th overall by the Washington Nationals. There’s more to come in the class of 2023, with Grand Canyon’s Jacob Wilson looking like a potential top 10 overall pick.

PG All-Americans Dominate First Round

As expected and as has become an annual occurrence, PG All-Americans dominated the first round. In fact, 10 of the 30 first round picks were high school players who had been PG All-Americans the previous summer, and that number grows to 16 if you include college picks who were PGAA’s during their prep careers. In fact, only 3 of the high school players selected in the first round weren’t PG All-Americans. Those 10 PGAA first rounders earned a total of $49.89 million in signing bonuses in 2022, a number that swells to $75.77 million once you include the college drafts who were PGAA’s as preps.

College Still Leads The Way

A total of 85 high school players signed to play professionally following the draft, which breaks down to 13.8% of total draftees (not total signees). The vast majority of players selected and signed played at least some college baseball, with “some” doing a lot of work there, as that includes JUCO players who maybe played 1-2 seasons of college baseball as well as traditional four-year school signees who played anywhere from 2-5/6 seasons of college baseball. This is unsurprising given the proclivities of MLB teams during the draft, which can be broken down way too succinctly by saying teams, on average, prefer to draft more seasoned players with more data available, which oftens means college players. The premier talents of a given prep class always get their money and sign, for the most part, but once you get beyond that first or second tier of prep players, the draft skews very heavily towards college.

JUCO Players Play a Role

There’s always a handful of JUCO players in the first few rounds of a given draft, and 2022 was no exception. Cam Collier, who was originally in the prep class of 2023 before reclassifying to 2022 and then graduating early to attend Chipola College, was selected 18th overall by Cincinnati and given a $5 million signing bonus. Following Collier were Crowder RHP Jacob Misiorowski (Brewers-2nd round), Northwest Florida State RHP Jake Madden (Angels-4th round), Chipola RHP Kenya Huggins (4th Round-Reds), and Riverside CC 3B Ignacio Alvarez (5th round-Braves). In total, 23 JUCO players signed in this class. That number is way down compared to pre-2020 totals, but in the age of the 20-round draft as well as the new-again draft and follow system, those numbers are pretty solid overall.

Kumar’s Return

Everyone is at least peripherally aware of Kumar Rocker, who was one of the most famous players in amateur baseball for several years, dating back to his time playing travel ball with Team Elite as young as 15 years old. He famously spurned the draft in 2018 to head to Vanderbilt, where his star shined even brighter on a big stage. He was selected 10th overall by the Mets in 2021 before they nixed his medical and did not sign him, leading up to the surprise of the night in 2022, when the Rangers picked him 3rd overall and handed him a $5.20m signing bonus. The Rangers weren’t done being creative, as the savings on Rocker at pick 3 (roughly $2.39m) allowed them to float prep RHP Brock Porter way down to the 4th round, where they selected him and paid him $3.60m. Don’t be fooled, this was in the works well before draft night, as both Rocker and Porter are repped by Scott Boras. But regardless of timing, this was a good example of how teams can be creative within their bonus pool, and allowed the Rangers to get a pair of top 10-15 caliber picks.