MLB and the players’ union are back at the negotiating table this week, forcing fans to wait until they can agree to watch Major League Baseball. Luckily for baseball fans, the college baseball season got up and going this past weekend to fill that void left by MLB.
Here are a few players to watch for 2022:
Robert Moore, second baseman, Arkansas
Why should we be watching Robert Moore? There aren’t too many players playing the game with his type of enthusiasm, swag, and talent. One would expect Dayton’s son to be fundamentally sound, which he is, but he also added surprising pop last season and showed off more of it this weekend with a home run and three doubles. If Arkansas achieves their goal of a run to Omaha, then Moore will be in the middle of a talented lineup and possibly challenging for player of the year honors. Could they draft him? Yeah, he has that talent, though I doubt Dayton and the front office would want to put that pressure on him. For the skill and joy of the game, Robert is right there at the top to watch.
Teammate Cayden Wallace is another Arkansas Razorback worth paying attention to as a possible Top 10-15 pick with thump in his bat.
Brooks Lee, shortstop, Cal Poly
A challenger to a strong high school class as a possible top pick, Lee is coming off a strong 2021. Playing for his father at Cal Poly, he plays like one would think a high-level coach’s son would. One of the more advanced players at making contact and combining it with hard contact in the college game and draft this year. Will he be there for the Royals pick? Not likely, but it won’t make it any less enjoyable to watch an elite hitter do his job while also combining his intelligence in the field to play a good college shortstop. Cal Poly is headed to Missouri State February 25-27 if you’re in that area and want to watch one of the best players in the game.
Jacob Berry and Dylan Crews, outfielders, LSU
LSU features two of the best bats available in the 2022 and 2023 draft classes that may remind folks of the LSU Gorilla Ball teams of the late 90s. Berry is a bat-first thumper who connected on a pair of home runs in a 51 run weekend for LSU. A switch-hitter with thump, patience, and hitting skill doesn’t have a positional fit, but his bat will likely carry him to the upper part of the 1st round. His teammate Dylan Crews is a likely 2023 draft prospect after a monster first year of college ball that saw him hit 18 home runs and win Freshman of the year honors. His bat is electric, showing power to all fields while he brings more to the game defensively than Berry.
Teammates Tre Morgan and Cade Doughty add to the thumping LSU lineup.
Jace Jung, infielder/outfielder, Texas Tech
Texas Tech, like LSU, regularly has a thumping lineup and Jung as the brother of current Ranger’s Top 100 prospect Josh Jung is also an exceptional talent with hitting skill and power. Tech takes road trips to Iowa and Kansas this season, allowing those in the area to check out a potential top-five pick.
The Royals are pretty thin in the outfield organizationally and could use some depth there and perhaps a top talent at the ninth pick.
Gavin Cross, outfielder, Virginia Tech
The Hokies usually aren’t on the top of the list of programs to watch, but Cross will draw plenty of eyes with a good hit tool, above-average power, and defense that could fit in center or be a plus in a corner.
Brock Jones, outfielder, Stanford
This is a very Royals-type player as a former multisport athlete with a ton of tools in his chest. Jones lit things up last year with 18 home runs a 1.099 OPS, thanks to that power and an 18% walk rate. He can swing and miss some, but he can also run and bring that football mentality to centerfield.
Chase DeLauter, outfielder, James Madison
The top hitter in the Cape won’t get a lot of weekend opportunities against top squads, so he’ll need to be good mid-week against the big boys and dominate his lower-level conference opponents. A strong summer and excelling in a pair of shortened seasons has put him in the position to get into the top half of the 1st round.
Dylan Beavers, outfielder, Cal-Berkeley
The Cal outfielder hit 18 home runs last year and got on base at a 40% clip. His hard contact rate is exceptionally high while carrying a solid approach to the dish. If you’re betting on someone to come from the outside and break into the Top 10, Beavers would be a good bet.
We have Monday afternoon baseball and the California Golden Bears have come out swinging. OF Dylan Beavers starts off his day with this moonshot @CalBaseball— Prospects Worldwide (@ProspectsWorldW) February 21, 2022
1-0 Cal after 1 inning pic.twitter.com/QWqZ6HAudE
Judd Fabian, outfielder, Florida
He had a bad 2021, but he plays exceptional defense and has considerable power. He’ll carry a fun bat to the dish if he makes contact.
The college pitching class took a hit before the season started with Arkansas’ Peyton Pallette, Alabama’s Connor Prielipp, and Connecticut’s Reggie Crawford all going under the knife last year and this winter. That’s where the decline in this class has been hit the most, but there are always pitchers to watch.
Landon Sims, right-handed pitcher, Mississippi State
I don’t know if Sims is a starter long-term, but even if he’s not, he could make for a pretty quick to the majors with a plus fastball and slider. Out of the pen, his fastball is upper 90s but settled into the low to mid 90s in his first start this past week. The pitch makeup makes it an above average fastball, getting plenty of whiffs thanks to the ride and release points which would help him more in the pros. The slider pairs nicely with it as a late-breaker. The lack of a third pitch will push him to a bullpen if it doesn’t come along, but his bulldog mentality makes him a fun college pitcher to view.
Hunter Barco, left-handed pitcher, Florida
A low slot lefty with three decent average pitches from the University of Florida pops on all radars. Barco has long levers and works in the low to mid-90s with a typical sweeping slider that pitchers from that low 3/4 arm slot usually bring to the table. He somewhat reminds me of Sean Manaea, and the stuff isn’t that far off from what Manaea uses in Oakland. There aren’t a lot of Friday starters that have popped on the radar yet, but Barco is one to watch early in the season as he’s got pedigree as a highly thought-of high school kid with college success at a power program. If he pitches like he’s capable of, he’s a safe pick in the 1st round.
This is just a startup list for your eye holes as many more will pop up like Tommy White of NC State did this past week, a freshman who hit five home runs in his first three games.