The 2022 MLB Draft is a little more than four weeks away. Last year MLB pushed the draft back to the All-Star break in an effort to better market the event, and that will be the norm moving forward even though many executives don’t like it. The draft used to be held during the first week of June. This year the three-day event begins Sunday, July 17.
MLB and the MLBPA made a few changes to the draft in the new collective bargaining agreement, including the introduction of a lottery to determine the top six picks. Those changes don’t kick in until next year though. It will be business as usual for this draft, meaning the order is determined by the reverse order of last season’s standings.
The Diamondbacks and Orioles finished with identical 52-110 records last season. The tiebreaker is record the previous year, but they had identical records in 2020 as well (25-35 during the shortened pandemic season). Go back to 2019 and Baltimore (54-108) had a worse record than Arizona (85-77), and therefore the O’s get the No. 1 pick. Yep, 2019 records determined 2022’s No. 1 pick.
This is the third time in franchise history and the second time in three years the Orioles have held the No. 1 pick. They used their previous No. 1 picks on righty Ben McDonald (1989) and catcher Adley Rutschman (2019). Our R.J. Anderson ranked Rutschman the No. 1 prospect in baseball before the season. The O’s called the switch-hitting backstop up to the big leagues last month.
“We’re excited that we get the chance to obviously add another impact player to the system, and picking (No. 1 overall) is great because you will ultimately get to decide who you think is the best player in the country,” Orioles director of draft operations Brad Ciolek told the Baltimore Sun in January. “Bottom line is we want to be able to make an impact not only with the first pick, but as of today, we’re slated to pick three players in the top (42) overall selections. We’re going to make sure that we do whatever we can to find as many impact players not only for those top three selections, but throughout our entire class.”
These days all first-round picks are protected from free agent compensation. Teams instead give up later draft picks (and international bonus money) to sign qualified free agents. The Dodgers exceeded the third luxury tax threshold last year, so their first-round pick moved back 10 spots from No. 30 to No. 40. That technically falls in the second round even though it’s their first pick.
Also, the Mets received the No. 11 pick as compensation for failing to sign former Vanderbilt righty Kumar Rocker last year. They selected Rocker with the No. 10 pick and the two sides reported agreed to a $6 million bonus, then the Mets backed out after seeing something they didn’t like in his physical. Rocker is currently pitching in independent ball and is draft-eligible this year.
Each team is given a set bonus pool for draft spending each summer. The penalties for excessive spending are harsh enough (tax on overage, forfeiting a future first rounder, etc.) that the bonus pool effectively acts as a hard cap. The bonus pools are tied to picks in the top 10 rounds, and if you sign one player to a below slot bonus, you can give the savings to another player(s).
- Orioles: $16,924,000
- Diamondbacks: $15,112,100
- Mets: $13,955,700
- Pirates: $13,733,900
- Rockies: $13,660,700
The Mets hold the No. 11 pick (compensation for Rocker) and No. 14 pick (their original first rounder), plus they received a compensation pick for losing Noah Syndergaard to free agency (No. 75), so they have a lot of picks and a lot of money to spend. Should be a banner draft class for the Amazin’s.
Here are R.J. Anderson’s top 30 draft prospects. Below is our first 2022 MLB amateur mock draft. We’ll have mock draft updates every other Thursday between now and draft day with the latest chatter, speculation, and rumors.
2022 MLB Mock Draft: June 16