Atlanta area high school right-hander Dylan Lesko, arguably the best pitching prospect in the 2022 MLB draft class, underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this week, ESPN reports. Lesko was having a dominant spring before being shut down with arm soreness earlier this month.
Our R.J. Anderson ranked Lesko as the No. 10 prospect in the draft class. Here’s his write-up:
Lesko, a Vanderbilt commit, might end up being the first prep arm off the board. He has a starter’s frame and delivery, as well as a fastball that sits in the mid-90s with riding life. Lesko’s changeup tends to receive high marks from evaluators, though one scout voiced concerns that it, along with his curveball, featured too much velocity separation from his heater. (A similar complaint was filed against Jharel Cotton, whose career had stalled before 2021.) One source who works in player development expressed confidence that pitchers like Lesko could be taught how to throw their pitches harder. An organization that agrees could take Lesko earlier than this.
Injured pitchers are selected in the first round all the time. Last year Ole Miss righty Gunnar Hoglund, a consensus top 10 pick before Tommy John surgery, went to the Blue Jays with the No. 19 pick and received a $3.25 million signing bonus. He was then sent to the Athletics in the Matt Chapman trade. Hoglund is still rehabbing and has yet to make his pro debut.
Teams with extra draft picks, either through free agent compensation or the competitive balance lottery, are best positioned to roll the dice on Lesko. The extra picks give them a large bonus pool, so they can still pay him a top 10 bonus, and also allow the team to balance out the risk with other players. The Orioles, Reds, and Rockies are among the clubs with extra picks this draft.
Lesko is the fourth pitcher in our top 30 draft prospects to have Tommy John surgery, joining Alabama lefty Connor Prielipp (No. 15), Mississippi State righty Landon Sims (No. 18), Arkansas righty Peyton Pallette (No. 28). Furthermore, Tennessee righty Blake Tidwell (No. 26) missed time with a shoulder issue, and East Carolina righty Carson Whisenhunt (No. 17) has been suspended for the season.
The 2022 MLB draft will take place from July 17-19. The first day will again be televised live on MLB Network.