3:19 AM UTC
Teams are starting to line up their boards with the July 17-19 Draft getting closer, and we’re doing the same at MLB Pipeline. We’ve expanded to a Draft Top 250, while also revising our previous rankings and reports.
The first seven players are the same from our last update a month ago and there’s only one change in the order. Georgia high school outfielder Druw Jones remains at No. 1, with Oklahoma prep shortstop Jackson Holliday leaping over Florida high school outfielder Elijah Green to No. 2. Georgia prep middle infielder Termarr Johnson, Cal Poly shortstop Brooks Lee, Georgia Tech catcher Kevin Parada and Louisiana State third baseman/outfielder Jacob Berry remain in spots 4 through 7.
The Orioles own the No. 1 overall choice for the first time since selecting Adley Rutschman in 2019. They’re considering five players, a group believed to be comprised of the first five prospects on the Draft Top 250: Jones, Holliday, Green, Johnson and Lee. We projected them to take Johnson in our last mock draft, and we’ll have a new one out Thursday evening.
Family ties abound in this Draft, starting with the first three players on the Top 250. Jones, the industry’s consensus top talent, is reminiscent of his father Andruw, a five-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glover. Holliday, who broke J.T. Realmuto’s national high school record for single-season hits with 89, is the son of seven-time All-Star Matt. Green’s dad Eric was a two-time Pro Bowl tight end in the NFL.
No player made a bigger move on the new list than Oklahoma right-hander Cade Horton, who debuts at No. 24 after not making the Draft Top 200. When we released that previous edition, he sported a 7.94 ERA and looked rusty while coming back from Tommy John surgery in February 2021. He has been an entirely different pitcher since and is now our highest-rated college arm.
Horton worked on adding a cutter before the Big 12 Conference tournament, and while that didn’t really take, the process helped him upgrade his slider into a wipeout pitch that sits in the mid-90s and touches 90. After already regaining the velocity on his 94-98 mph, he displayed better armside run, carry and command during the college postseason. In five playoff starts, he went 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA, yielding just 20 hits and six walks while striking out 49 in 31 innings.
The biggest wild card remains right-hander Kumar Rocker, who’s pitching for the Tri-City ValleyCats of the independent Frontier League after starring at Vanderbilt for three seasons. The Mets selected him 10th overall last July and agreed to a $6 million bonus, only to walk away from the deal after a post-Draft physical created unspecified concerns about his shoulder and elbow.
Ranked 38th on the Draft Top 250, Rocker has ripped off some upper-90s fastballs and nasty sliders while fashioning a 1.50 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 15 innings with the ValleyCats. But until clubs get some medical records to know what he’s dealing with from a health standpoint, it’s impossible to pinpoint where he’ll land.
Tennessee leads all college with seven players on the Top 250, including three potential first-rounders in outfielders Jordan Beck (No. 23) and Drew Gilbert (No. 32) and right-hander Blade Tidwell (No. 27). Florida, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas are next with five each. The Longhorns contingent is led by first baseman Ivan Melendez (No. 99), the Golden Spikes Award winner who led NCAA Division I in homers (32, a record for the Longhorns as well as the BBCOR-bat era), RBI (94), total bases (214) and slugging (.863).
IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) tops all high schools with four Top 250 prospects, including Green and left-hander Jackson Ferris (No. 19). St. Mary’s Prep (Orchard Lake, Mich.) places second with three after going 44-0 to win the Michigan state Division 1 title, highlighted by right-hander Brock Porter (No. 11), the Draft’s top pitching prospect and the Gatorade national player of the year.