Final update on college prospects to watch for KC at #9: 6/3/22

This is the ninth article we’ve written about the upcoming 2022 MLB Draft. The goal is to give you an idea of some guys who could be available for Kansas City with the 9th overall pick in the draft. Here are the links to the first seven that I wrote:

The next article I run about the 2022 MLB Draft will be my last before the draft guide comes out in July. We’ll update our top-10 MLB Draft rankings next week, and then we’ll be strictly discussing the draft on the RFR Podcast until July.

Jacob Berry, OF, LSU

  • ++ Hit tool
  • ++ Raw power
  • Great approach
  • Not much of a defender

Jacob Berry finished his sophomore season slashing .381/.473/.661/1.135 with 15 HR, 8 doubles, 19 K, and 24 BB in 49 games. Berry sustained a hairline fracture in his right middle finger early in May but it sounds like he’ll be good to go to hit left-handed but not right-handed (he’s a switch hitter) during the regional this weekend for the Bayou Bengals. LSU will take on Kennesaw State Friday at 6:00 on ESPN+ if you feel like tuning in to watch him hit (hopefully). From a scouting perspective, Berry might have the best left-handed hit tool in the class and has exceptional raw power. He doesn’t really have a defensive home, hell he might even be a DH long-term, but he hits the ball so well that it may not matter. If he falls to the Royals at #9 he should absolutely be on their radar for the bat alone.

Jace Jung, 2B, Texas Tech

  • + Hit tool
  • ++ Approach
  • ++ Raw Power
  • Not a great defender

Jung and Berry are…pretty similar in a lot of ways. The biggest difference between the two is that Jung trades a little bit of hit tool for a significantly better approach. He’s one of the most patient hitters in the draft class and found ways to do damage in the Big XII even when pitchers had effectively stopped pitching to him. In his junior campaign this spring, Jung slashed .340/.487/.636/1.123 with 14 HR, 18 doubles, 1 triple, 4 SB, 38 K, and 58 BB in 57 games. Remarkably similar numbers to Jacob Berry (albeit not in the SEC) with a ridiculous amount of walks. Like Berry, Jung is kind of in a weird place defensively, but his bat is entirely too good to pass up on. Let him find a defensive home somewhere easy and focus on hitting. This is one of the best left-handed college hitters I’ve seen in a while. Passing up on him because of some defensive question marks would be a massive mistake on the Royals part, I fear. Texas Tech takes on Notre Dame today at 1:00 on ESPN+ if you want to tune into see Jung.

Gavin Cross, OF, Virginia Tech

  • + Runner
  • + Hit tool
  • ++ Raw power
  • + Defender in the COF

MLB Pipeline mocked Cross to the Royals yesterday and that makes three our four different mocks that I’ve seen with Cross to the Royals at #9 so far this spring. I’m not the biggest fan of Cross if we’re being completely honest, but he has arguably the best raw power of any college hitter in this draft class and he can play CF if you need him to, though he’s probably a RF long-term as he has a cannon for an arm and lacks the raw speed to play CF in my opinion (though there are a ton of people who disagree with that assessment). As a junior this spring, Cross slashed .318/.399/.627/1.026 with 14 HR, 13 doubles, 6 triples, 35 K, 27 BB, and 11 SB in 51 games. I don’t love the K/BB ratio for an advanced college hitter you’d be taking in the top-10 overall picks, but the left-handed power is so good that it’s hard to argue with. Cross and the Hokies take on Wright State tonight at 6:00 on ESPN+.

Chase DeLauter, OF, James Madison

  • + Runner
  • ++ Arm
  • ++ Raw power
  • + Hit tool
  • Chance to stick in CF

DeLauter broke his foot and won’t play anymore this spring, but I’m still a believer in the overall tools. There aren’t 10 prospects in this draft with more upside in my opinion and if you don’t have to pay him full slot at #9, well then that’s just a bonus at that point. DeLauter ended his junior campaign with a slashline of .437/.576/.828/1.404 with 8 HR, 8 doubles, 1 triple, 10 SB, 21 K, and 28 BB in 24 games. He led the Cape Cod League in HR with 9 last summer and had more BB than K on the college circuit’s most prestigious summer league. He’s a physical specimen with a chance to be a legitimate 20-20 threat in the big leagues. The swing is a little different, but it allows DeLauter to hammer fastballs at the top of the zone with regularity. He’s probably not a CF long-term, but he’s got a chance if his legs hold up and he could be a ++ defender in RF if CF doesn’t work out. Some scouts may drop him on their boards due to the broken foot, but I’m not worried about it one bit if I have the 9th overall pick.

Cam Collier, 3B, Chipola College

  • ++ Raw power
  • + Hit tool
  • ++ Athlete
  • Chance to be good at 3B

If you really want to get interesting in July, this would be the way to go I think. Collier was also mocked to the Royals by MLB Pipeline recently and to be honest, he might be my favorite option for Kansas City if you’re just talking about the player. The biggest difference between Collier and the other college hitters is that he’s still just 18 years old, as he’s supposed to be a senior in high school right now. Instead, he graduated high school early, enrolled at Chipola, and slashed .333/.419/.537/.956 with 8 HR, 12 doubles, 5 SB, 33 K, and 25 BB in 52 games against some of the best JUCO arms in the country. Collier is a phenomenal athlete with a chance to hit for ++ power as he fills out his frame and play plenty good defense to stay at 3B long-term. Like I said, he’s young, so he doesn’t fit the Royals timeline as well as the aforementioned hitters, but he may be the best prospect of the bunch long-term. I don’t know if Collier plans to play in the Cape Cod League leading up to the draft or not, but a good showing in the Cape would solidify him as a top-10 talent in this draft in my opinion.

Final Thoughts:

If this list feels sort of light, that’s because it most certainly is. Here is a short list of players that I expect to be drafted somewhere between #1 and #8:
– Brooks Lee
– Jackson Holliday
– Termarr Johnson
– Elijah Green
– Druw Jones
– Kevin Parada

That’s six players. I’ve got five listed above that I think ought to be in play for the Royals with the 9th overall pick. Three of the 11 will be available with the 9th overall pick. I’m not really interested in giving full slot value to anyone outside of those 11 names. Decide who you like the best of these 11 (I’d probably stay away from Parada, a catcher, at the moment) and go with it. Don’t overthink this one. There’s too much at stake and these are some legitimately talented hitters that you can choose from without having to get too creative.

Last thought on the draft before we wait for an updated top-10…nay…11 next week:

STOP DRAFTING PITCHERS WITH YOUR FIRST PICK. MAYBE EVEN YOUR FIRST TWO PICKS.

3 thoughts on “Final update on college prospects to watch for KC at #9: 6/3/22

  1. Like this list, Alex. KC should be able to get a college hitter out of this crew. Gavin Cross is my favorite. Please not another HS pitcher – the Royals can’t keep trying to outsmart everyone and end up looking silly.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Updated 2022 MLB Draft Rankings: 1-15 | Royals Farm Report

  3. Pingback: 2022 MLB Draft: Ten names to watch after the first round | Royals Farm Report

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