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On Wednesday, MLB actually did something and revealed their list of the Top 100 Draft Prospects on an MLB Network special. Which of these young athletes is the future of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ franchise? While a new labor deal could impact the D-backs’ draft position, Arizona currently has the second pick in the 2022 Draft. Per scouts and MLB, five players are currently leading the way:
5. Brooks Lee
Lee, one of the nation’s top shortstops from Cal Poly where his father Larry Lee is the head baseball coach, comes from a strong baseball lineage. Both his father and two of his uncles played for the San Francisco Giants organization while his grandfather Tom, just like Brooks’ father, was also the head baseball coach at Cal Poly.
Lee hit .437 in his three varsity seasons of high school, striking out just nine times in 92 plate appearances in his final season. He entered the 2019 MLB Amateur Draft but told teams he had verbally committed to playing for his father at Cal Poly prior to the draft. Nevertheless, the Giants pursued the next generation of Lee, selecting him in the 35th round.
He attended Cal Poly as planned in 2020, where he suffered a hamstring injury after slipping while coming out of the box that limited his playing time. But he seemed to come back stronger than ever. He led the team in batting average in 2021, hitting .342 in 250 plate appearances with 27 doubles, 10 home runs, and 57 RBI. He then went on to hit .405 in the Cape Cod League this past summer.
While Lee lacks average speed when running down the baseline and has experienced his fair share of injuries, he has consistently raked at the dish and ranked as one of the top-five players in the country over the past two years by multiple baseball websites.
4. Jacob Berry
Jacob Berry from Queen Creek has emerged as one of the greatest hitters in the history of the University of Arizona. The D1Baseball Preseason Pac-12 Freshman of the Year played in all 63 games in 2021, hitting .352 with five triples, 19 doubles, 17 home runs, and 70 RBI. He led the PAC-12 in total bases, RBI, triples and extra base hits.
His list of accolades and accomplishments in 2021 is almost as long as the distance the ball goes when he hits it. However, Berry spent the majority of his time as a designated hitter, which limits his value to major league teams. Especially for the D-backs, who still have too many positional needs to draft a player like him until a universal DH rule is implemented…which could come as soon as 2022.
3. Elijah Green
What more can we say about Green that we didn’t already say? A true five-tool prospect, Green has been compared to elite players in the game such as Mike Trout. Green was once considered the top overall prospect last year but saw his stock drop over the summer after laboring against high-velocity pitching.
He hit .321 last season with a 1.106 OPS, but he struck out 34 times in just under 100 at bats. While he appears to be an extremely talented athlete, the high strikeout rate against major league-quality pitching is alarming.
However, he’s fast, strong and makes very loud contact. Despite his current shortcomings, he has everything it takes to be a star at a major league level. With the D-backs’ current development system and coaches in place, it absolutely could be the perfect environment for Green to flourish.
2. Termarr Johnson
Diminutive in size but not in power, the 5-foot-9 second baseman from Mays High School in Georgia could easily be No. 1 on this list. His quick hands and bat speed has made him an elite hitting prospect. He slashed .400/.558./.981 with a 1.540 OPS last season in 77 plate appearances with eight home runs, 17 RBI and 28 runs scored.
Defensively, Johnson has a small sample size to determine his effectiveness. He made one error in 10 chances for a .900 fielding percentage. Scouts have said his arm strength and hands are solid, and he has a flashy glove that immediately makes him stand out amongst his peers.
The biggest drawback for the D-backs when it comes to Johnson is the strong interest by the Baltimore Orioles, who have the No. 1 pick as of now. But he still could be the future replacement for Ketel Marte come draft day.
1. Druw Jones
Son of five-time All-Star Andruw Jones, the 6’3″ outfielder from Suwanee, Georgia shares more than just the ‘U’ in his name with his father. Jones is one of the best outfielders in the nation. He patrols centerfield effortlessly, making outstanding plays seem routine. He also has the defensive range to play infield and is a pretty decent pitcher.
At the plate, his 81 mph barrel speed is in the 99th percentile when compared to his peers. He hit .445 last season with 16 home runs and 39 RBI with a 1.494 OPS and 14 stolen bases. In short, he can do it all.
If the current projections stand, the D-backs will be faced with an outfielder dilemma between Jones and Elijah Green. While it is not a terrible problem to have, both the players and the franchises who draft them will always be connected to this decision. Let’s just hope for the entire state of Arizona’s sake that they are on the right side of this draft-day choice.
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