Prep Baseball Report

2022 MLB Draft - Top 10 Sleepers

Justin Goetz , Chaz Crawford
PBR Georgia Staff

There are high school players every year taken on Days 2-3 that become consistent big leaguers. Mookie Betts, Tim Lincecum, Tyler Mahle, Victor Vodnik, Reese Olson, Mike Napoli, Zach Davies, Josh Hader, Carl Edwards Jr. These are just a few MLB players that were drafted in the 5th Rd or later out of High School, as well as 2 top prospects taken after Rd 10.

Mookie was a 5th rounder (2011) by the Boston Red Sox out of John Overton HS as a 2nd Baseman (signed 750k), we all know how that turned out. 2 time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum was drafted in the 48th Rd by the Cubs (2003) and even though he didn’t sign, it was the essential building block to his track record with MLB teams. Reds ace Tyler Mahle was drafted in the 7th Rd (2013) out of Westminster HS signing for 250k, and has developed into a strikeout artist. The No. 15 prospect for the Detroit Tigers RHP Reese Olson, was selected in the 13th Rd of 2018 by the Milwaukee Brewers out of North Hall HS (GA), signing for 442.5k.

RHP Victor Vodnik is the No. 10 prospect in the Atlanta Braves system, and was drafted 2018 in the 14th Rd, signing for 200k out of Rialto HS (CA). Mike Napoli was drafted out of Flanagan HS (FL) by the Angels as a 17th Rounder by world series champ scout/agent Hank Sargeant out of HS and skipped LSU. DBacks starter Zach Davies was drafted in the 26th Rd out of Mesquite HS (AZ) signing for 575k as an undersized RHP. World Series winner RHP Carl Edwards Jr was drafted out of Mid-Carolina HS (SC) in the 48th Rd and was 140 lbs! Finally, 4 time MLB All Star Josh Hader was drafted Rd 19 by the Baltimore Orioles, signing for 40k as a skinny 84-87 LHP from Old Mill HS (MD).

We say all that to point out every player's path is different, and it doesn’t mean a player won’t make it if they aren’t drafted as a high pick. Remember, these are high schoolers who haven’t fully developed physically and mentally. They can make drastic improvements over a year or two of time, especially with development of MILB hitting/pitching coordinators and strength staff. We certainly feel there are players on this list we will see in the show someday!

Eric Snow, SS, Mary Persons
South Florida Commit. 5 foot 10, 175 pounds. This stocky & explosive future everyday SS is a low risk prospect and one of the most underrated in recent Peach State memory. Instead of putting him in our last article, we wanted him to stand alone at the top of this one, as the Sleeper King. He impacts the game with 5 developing tools and seems to have every intangible imaginable. What stands out most with Snow is his rare ability to control his body at a high level in every avenue of his game. Why? Big leaguers with the best body control are typically the most efficient and consistent. They make the most hard contact and the least mistakes. He’s able to create free movement & explosive torque in one compact spot while making his forward move to the baseball. The Snow Man slashed .628/.678/1.372 2.050 OPS with 17 HR, 13 2B, 3 3B, 18 BB and only 5 K’s in 28 games! He has potential to be an A/AVG bat with A/AVG power production, with the floor being MLB average on both. Visually the swing flows like water in perfect sequence, which all starts in the hips. They pick his front foot up for him as they rock back, and they control the foot as it goes forward in stride. Eric’s knees stay angled inside his feet with smooth tempo, minimizing head movement (allows him to recognize pitches early and adjust on fly) and maintaining a near perfect center of balance as he works to landing & throws the hands. There’s optimal separation & leverage in launch position and a great feel for stretching his hips & hands to decelerate on offspeed pitches. His back elbow tucks in perfect sequence with the knob being thrown, creating loose+quick muscles and a lengthy stay thru the hitting zone for his barrel. He’s able to repeat his swing and manipulate at the level of Jones and Johnson, with hard contact to all fields. It's a combo of bat speed & bat strength - Snow produces a perfect blend of top spin & backspin to the pull side due to a special ability to front arm shrink in a split second. He currently shows his most raw power there, will have just as much oppo pop in the future, where he can easily create different plane for a smooth inside-out swing producing backspin doubles. Snow positions his body well defensively, flowing with his hips & shoulders square to 1st. He takes the most direct path and quietly pushes thru the ball with his future avg or better glove. The exchange and ability to throw from all angles work in one motion, and we love his easy short circle arm action which is AVG now with A/AVG future potential. He’s also an above average runner! Snow is a Rd 3 talent (Rd 4-5 projection) with 5 tool potential, and could also receive that value as a Day 3 pay up. Separators - Hit for Avg, Body Control, Timing, Baseball IQ.

Jackson Chirello, OF, Etowah
Kennesaw State Commit. 6 foot 5, 190 pounds. This lean muscled thoroughbred is a future AVG or better bat with potential for top of the scale power. The reality is, most amateur prospects never realize the full potential of their power because it takes many intangibles to consistently reach the ceiling of the power tool. We feel Chirello has the current bat speed, frame, and projection to reach his raw power ceiling. The skills he shows to turn raw power into power production are 1. Pitch recognition -  seeing spin early to make the right swing decision. Chirello showed throughout the playoffs the ability to make the right decision on specific pitches, tracking early out of hand against some of the better arms. 2. Plate Discipline - Chirello shows rare restraint for a HS bat on pitches above & below the zone, as well as pitches off the outside edge. It’s especially surprising to see this restraint in one of the longer levered bodies in the 2022 class, who usually have more difficulty decelerating before reaching their eventual physical strength. The rare patience for his age Chirello shows puts him regularly in favorable counts where he can do damage on FB’s in the zone. When he gets them, he rarely misses. 3. Approach - Jackson is a student of the game who follows pitchers tendencies inning by inning, looking to exploit their perceived strengths. He’s currently got a right center approach, which allows him to have consistent success from the middle of the field to the RF line. The State Champ Runner Up forces pitchers into his zone in hitters counts with his discipline. He’s shown an inside-out swing much more this year than previously, but has always had quick twitch fibers. Growing 3-4 inches in height and gaining 40 pounds in the last two years have brought on a scary set of tools. In that time he’s developed even more bat speed, a lot more raw power, and timed up his forward move. Time will tell what type of runner and defender he is, ultimately deciding his position. But he will certainly end up in the outfield, where his instincts and A/AVG (plus potential) arm will make his game more complete. He’s either a top of the order CF, or a corner OF in the middle of a lineup with light tower power and a good OBP/OPS. Since Chirello bloomed late in HS, it's unlikely he has enough track record with teams to sign. But, there have been clubs popping in & out of his games late in the season. This is a player who has the skill set and projection to wow the higher ups at a pre draft workout and possibly change his likelihood of being selected. Even though he’s under the radar and likely to go to school, this is a Day 2 talent with Rd 5-6 value who should drastically improve his draft status in college. Separators - Projection, Pitch Recognition, Raw Power.

Blake Gillespie, RHP, Team Elite Academy (Lucan, ON)
UGA Commit. 6 foot 1, 185 pounds with insane core & lower half strength. What a treat it was getting to scout this well built future front end starter from the great province of Ontario. When we hear his name the 1st thing that comes to mind is explosive twitch and good mechanics. The body, delivery, and arm speed combo reminds me of Spencer Strider, and I believe he can develop into that type of arm whichever path he takes after the 2022 MLB Draft. One of the most talented players in the state has flown under the radar until this spring, due to playing most of his HS career in Canada, and he’s going to be listed on PBR Ontario’s rankings instead of GA. He works with purpose and innate balance in delivery. It’s the MOST compact delivery we’ve seen in 2022, creating explosiveness in a small area with zero wasted movement to throw off balance or direction. He has good hip+shoulder separation & lower half mechanics. His extremely clean and efficient short circle arm swing stays connected to his largest muscles on the backside (hamstrings, glutes, obliques, abdominals, back, lats) in stride and gains momentum by a loose drop out of glove, producing effortless arm speed. Gillespie passes the eye test, has an impressive warmup routine + bullpen approach, and carries it seamlessly to the game. This is a young man who already treats his career like a professional. He executes his plan in the bullpen to perfection - Dedicates 20-30 min to stretching, bands, and plyos. He then works to 300 ft of long toss followed by pull downs while coming in. Starts in the pen by working vertically with his 4 seam, running 2 seams arm side in the top & bottom of the zone, throwing his CB for strikes and burying it, then finishing off with the nasty Circle CH. Although it's improving, I’d say 25% of HS pitchers or less put this amount of detail into their game routine. Gillespie’s FB sat 91-92 throughout the outing with many 93’s coming from a steep plane & violent run. The 4 seam has easy carry up due to low release height but he can also pound it low in the zone, it will be a future A/AVG or better pitch due to velocity (up to 95), AVG to solid AVG command, and life. The 2 seam has A/AVG potential with gradual edge to edge run directly out of hand and flashes A/AVG life at times. It will be extremely effective to righties and will certainly tunnel with his CH and play up his 4 seam and will possess A/AVG command. He rips the 74-76 CB w/ nice & consistent shape, tight rotation & two plane depth. It figures to have A/AVG life and AVG command. His low 80’s CH has a very similar life to his 2 seam and has avg potential especially because of its use against LHH. Very competitive & focused. The ability to hold velo late into starts, command 2 live FB's, and feel to spin have placed him on draft boards this spring. Separators - Arm Speed, Delivery, Competitiveness.

Hayden Murphy, RHP, Tift Area
Auburn Commit. Standing at 6’3 195 pounds. Murphy possesses a unique combination of arm speed, projection, and current stuff. The overall athleticism that Murphy possesses along with the amount of moving parts in his deceptive delivery is very intriguing to many clubs and should be. The FB has been up to 95mph and sits in the 90-92 range for the most part with late running life. With his overall repertoire, trying to rebrand his FB into more of a sinker profile may prove more beneficial in the long run. The CH, his obvious best pitch, shows deadly tumbling life in the low 80’s and “drops off the table”. He has shown confidence in it to both right handed and left handed hitters, even throwing it in 3-0 counts at times. The CH during the 2021 summer circuit produced a whiff rate of 100%! It is a legitimate + weapon at the moment that could play well of a sinker if added. The SL works in the low-mid 80’s that can differ from a more gyro movement profile or one with a more sweepy profile. Gaining consistency in the movement of the pitch will establish more opportunity for swing and miss with the already + control/command of the pitch (74% strikes on 2021 summer circuit). This is a super athletic arm whose signability is currently unknown, but could be someone, with the current toolset, that gets taken at potential overslot value past the 10th round. A lot to like here out of the Auburn recruit. Separators - Athleticism, Changeup Life, SL control/command.

Kaden Martin, OF, Buford
Miami commit. Standing at 6 foot 1 210 pounds.The intrigue with dual sport athletes in the state of Georgia continues as the son of former Tennessee Volunteer QB and current Baltimore Ravens WR coach, Tee Martin, attempts to etch his own name into the professional sports world. Martin decided to transfer to Buford HS for his senior year of HS baseball and quickly made a name for himself by displaying his hit+power tools. The stocky left handed hitting outfielder has been a name thrown around many draft discussions and let's take a look at why. A player whose swing has taken dramatic strides forward in the past year to year and a half, his previous setup saw him create a lot of rhythm in the hands with a flat barrel plane. The lower half was a bit sporadic and “jumpy” at times which caused for a lot of inconsistencies as far as contact is concerned. Currently possesses a refined tall setup with the bat staying vertical before start of load. Hips touch and go off the backside with quick leg lift allowing for an efficient shift in weight and balance at foot strike. Slight torque of the upper half just before starting his swing provides Martin with a substantial amount of bat speed through the zone as his hips land on a slanted plane providing natural “lift” into the ball. With this adjustment in overall pace/tempo, controlled lower half, and bat angle, Martin has seen his overall production at the plate skyrocket. We have always seen him post ridiculous exit velocities, but the main question was, “Could he do this on a consistent basis”? He has more than proved this during the 2022 spring/summer seasons. The arm is something to be discussed as a two sport athlete and also pitcher where his FB has been up to 90mph as of last month with tail+sink. The run tool has been fringy at times, but has been clocked at sub 7.00 and proves to Avg in the future. A stocky power bat whose hit tool has come around and possesses a +arm from the outfield, sign me up! The future and signability questions about Martin are not something that has been thrown around very often so it will be interesting to see where he lands in this year's draft or how he performs once he steps on campus at Miami! Separators - Strength, Arm, Genes, Bat Speed.


Jarvis Evans, LHP, Georgia Premier Academy
UGA commit. Standing at 6 foot 5 210 pounds. There is a lot to like about the uber projectable LHP and his potential has not even begun to be tapped into yet. Easy effort, tall+broad shoulders, and left handed are all things that many Major League organizations look for and Evans has all of these traits. Controlled pace+tempo while gradually progressing towards leg drive. Level shoulders with a short+compact arm circle/arm action that creates some deception to the hitter. The front side needs some cleaning up though as Evans is very soft on the front leg rather than being aggressive which causes some problems with his direction to the plate and ability to control all of his pitches. The FB as of late has been in the mid 80’s and creeping into the upper 80’s at times in his summer ball appearances, but we have seen Evans up to 91mph in the spring here at LP with Georgia Premier Academy. FB possess late tail+sink to armside and mostly 4seam direction to glove side. This makes me wonder if Evans throws two different FB’s depending on the hitter? The FB shows command to the outer half of the plate, but we have seen him be reluctant to throw in a majority of the time and gaining the confidence to do so could prove huge in his development overall. The CH has asserted itself as the “go to” offspeed weapon for Evans which sits in the upper 70’s with fade/depth off FB plane and movement profiles. The CH has shown true swing and miss potential to both left handed and right handed hitters w/ above average command at times. Flashes a fringy CB/SL hybrid pitch that sits in the mid 70’s with, at times, sharp downer 2 plane bite. His upper half can tend to rotate too early when throwing the pitch which causes for it to be left up in the zone. As Evans learns to pitch to both sides of the plate with his FB and show more aggression on his front side with all of his weapons, he could see an uptick in his overall success and stuff (velocity and movement wise). Separators - Frame, Changeup life+command, Left Handed.
Jayce Blaylock, OF/2B, Trinity Christian
Georgia Tech commit. Standing at 5 foot 10 200 pounds. We have all seen Blalock continue to display his insane amounts of raw power both in game and in showcases and it is a joy to watch. The athleticism runs in the family as his cousin, Aaron Gates, is currently committed to the Florida Gators on a football scholarship to play defensive back. Jayce has always shown extremely polished rhythm in his load+swing path. Unconventional setup where we see him create a ton of movement+twitch in the upper half just before load. Open setup with quick torque in lower half shifting weight to the backside in a split second before foot strike. Sudden back elbow adjustment gains him crazy separation at land. A lot of moving parts, but what stands out about Blalock is the balance he has despite all of this. Lands in a very powerful position and basically all he has to do is “throw” his hands at the baseball from this point because of the amount of energy stored up. Blalock is an outlier in the sense that he does not necessarily have a position on the field. His bat is ultimately going to decide where he plays on the diamond whether that be LF, 2B, 1B, or even DH. The arm is fingy for the most part as well and could also be something holding him back. Blalock, per sources, has been said to be an easier sign come draft time so who knows, we could be hearing Blalocks name called on Day 3? Separators - Strength, Balance+Bat Speed.


Jason Avila, CF, Redan
FSU Commit. The 5 foot 8, 175 pound ball of muscle and electricity is a future everyday CF who has a huge impact in every facet of the game and brings an energy boost to any clubhouse. What stands out immediately about Avila is the baseball IQ and incredible linear connection and direction of his swing. In 5 games this year of seeing him, it was a minimum of two barrels between both gaps and only one ball down the line. This is due to his ability to consistently spit on offspeed early in counts and his exceptional feel for the strike zone, which works him into advantageous counts where pitchers have to challenge him. He has plenty of aptitude and shows ridiculous consistency hitting the inner half of the baseball with a beautiful inside out swing, but can shrink his front arm to pull with ease when he needs to. Of every player I’ve seen in 2022, Avila is the most consistent player at hitting the ball where it's pitched. This speaks to his feel for making in AB adjustments as well as during his forward move. Avila is what I like to call a momentum hitter - hitters that use lower half momentum created by the hips to produce perfect timing and take pressure off the upper body. His hip line in stride couldn’t be any more direct to the pitcher, and its so repeatable. It's a short, compact swing that works close to the body and can manipulate on any pitch in any zone. His linear connection of the hands, back elbow + back hip, and back knee are as good as it gets, allowing him to create a consistent thump on every swing. We’re very confident this is an AVG or better MLB hitter in the future who will be an absolute menace on the basepaths. He stole 7 bases in 3 games in their State Championship matchup against Pike County due to plus instincts and plus speed. He gets unreal jumps due to his quick twitch and ability to read a pitcher’s delivery like a book. These instincts put him ahead of the game in CF, where he makes lightning quick reads and will lay out for anything with no regard for his body. What I love about him defensively - he never gives up on the play EVER. Avila believes he can make any play, and he probably can. The speed is long and the arm is plenty enough for the position. We feel he's currently Rd 5-6 talent that will well exceed that projection in the future, and will produce right away at FSU. It will be interesting to see if a team takes a chance on him. Separators - Baseball IQ, Instincts, Inside-Out Swing.

Elgin Bennett, OF, Woodward Academy
Kansas State commit. Stands at 6’0 190 pounds. The first thing to mention when talking about Bennett is the obvious pure speed he displays on the field. As it is with many ++ runners, the hit+power tools do not come around until they are solidified into pro ball, but Bennett possesses a particular ability to drive the ball with gap to gap power. Athletic setup with slight bend of the knees. Quick tap on the shoulder with the barrel signals the start of his load. Hips touch and go off the back side with minimal gain in ground. Front shoulder angled to the ground creating a natural line drive plane at foot strike as the hips start to incline/level out. This creates a “whippy” bat through the zone and one that can hit to all fields. The power potential is mostly to the pull side at the moment, but the athleticism and frame project that he could grow into some power to the opposite field at some point in his development. The defense has been suspect in the OF, but as he learns how to use his speed, it could make him an above average player out there. Overall, the hit+power tools are very sneaky when it comes to Bennett even though the speed is what “jumps” out to you as a prospect. This could be a sneaky 200K type player who finds himself developing under a Major League organization. Separators - Run Speed, Bat Speed, Raw Power.

Leighton Finley, RHP, Richmond Hill
UGA Commit. 6 foot 5, 205 pounds. A legit 2 way who creates easy velocity and hits effortless bombs from an XL frame. He has the potential to develop into an exciting #9 on the mound or a middle of the order power bat in the future. There aren’t many players in the state that possess the explosive tools of Finley, both as a pitcher and a position player. Leighton has a slightly raw, generic delivery that stays compact & connected over the rubber with good balance and direction. He repeats a lightning quick, short circle arm action very well from an OH slot with plus deception. The FB sits low 90’s and regularly touched 95 this spring. The pitch is AVG overall when stacked up to pro arms but flashes A/AVG due to deception, steep downhill plane (created by posture and short stride that stays strong on legs), and heavy sink+run. easily one of the best FB’s in the state and will surely be a plus or better pitch in the future with AVG or better command. His CB is currently fringe average but flashes A/AVG, with tight spin and sudden two plane snap. This is a pitch he can consistently throw for strikes and bury when ahead in counts. The command will play this pitch up throughout his career, and also play up his FB. The verdict is a potential upper 90’s closer with an elite FB and A/AVG breaking ball. He’s definitely got the athleticism to develop as a starter and would absolutely be developed as one were he to sign, but has potential to be one of the best closers in the country in college. At the plate he's got AVG or better MLB raw power, consistent bat to ball skills, and A/AVG run with long athletic strides that should tick up. It's a smooth, repeatable swing with strong hands through contact. It's unlikely Finley will sign, but we can’t rule it out due to the raw tools and strength potential. Separators - Strength, Fastball, Raw Power.

Other Names to Know :

Omari Daniel, SS, The Walker School

NW FL Commit. The 6 foot 2, 180 pounder has long levers and elite athleticism. He has the potential to be a plus or better defender at the #6 position with very impressive instincts and wizard-like glove work. Daniel has a plus arm that will eventually be top of the scale to round out his standout defense. It’s a timed up, athletic swing with solid hand eye coordination. His switch from the Oregon commitment to a powerhouse Juco leads us to believe he’s focused on the pro side of things, and is likely to have a decision to make in the 2022 draft. 

Gage Harrelson, OF, Houston County
Texas Tech Commit. Stands at 6 foot 3 175 pounds. Harrelson possesses + speed (6.5 runner) with a funky left handed swing. Texas Tech has been known to love unique swing mechanics with Jace Jung and Gabe Holt to name a few. Harrelson will have a chance to be taken in this year's draft and for good reason. Projectable frame where his tools will only get better as he gets stronger.

Luke Fernandez, RHP, West Forsyth
Oklahoma State commit. Stocky, durable 6 foot 2. 215 pound frame. Would be a guaranteed draft pick if it weren’t for his high signability. FB has been up to 94mph and he mixes a 4 pitch arsenal better than almost anyone in the class. He has 2 breaking balls with the chance to be AVG or better MLB and really showed feel for the CH late in the spring. The arm speed and pitchability are noticeable, and so is the competitiveness. Going to be special in college and will end up freakishly strong.

Will Fincher, OF, Kennesaw Mountain
Jacksonville State Commit. 6 foot 3, 215 pounds of pure lean muscle and quick twitch. This is a raw but improving bat with 5 tool potential, the loudest of those tools is currently speed. He ran a 6.28 60 yard dash at the ‘21 East Coast Pro Tryout, and has a 40 inch vertical leap on the basketball court! He continues to show more of his raw power in the game, and we have a feeling he’ll blow up at Jacksonville State. Potential to be a plus defender in CF! He’s had interest from MLB teams this spring, and there’s a possibility as a late Day 3 selection.

Josh Tate, IF, Stars Mill
UGA Commit. Stands at 6’0 170 pounds. A toolsy athlete who is a + runner (6.4 type speed) who unfortunately had his season cut short due to a torn ACL. Sneaky power potential+bat speed that could see his value tick up. 

Nico Senese, UTL, East Coweta
Georgia Tech commit. Stands at 6’3 175 pounds. Senese has an advanced feel for the barrel and power that has yet to come and will come as he fills out his frame. Fluid actions defensively around the diamond with a current arm that is below average. If Senese is drafted, teams are betting that the frame/projection will make his tools “boom” after he puts on strength.

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