The 2022 MLB Draft is less than three weeks away and so far, we have heard that the Braves are seemingly very interested in drafting a college starting pitcher with their first round pick. While that should hardly be surprising given the Braves track record in the draft in recent years, it is still pretty wild that the industry majority consensus for a while now has been that Atlanta will go college starter again and that lines up with a lot of what we are hearing as well.
The question, though, is who exactly will the Braves pick at #20 and that is a little trickier to answer. Gabriel Hughes from Gonzaga and Cooper Hjerpe from Oregon State have been the two names that have been mentioned the most as connected to the Braves, but even projecting who will be available with all of these hurt college arms this year is tricky. However, everyone is still trying to figure it out anyways and Kiley McDaniel from ESPN took his own crack at it with his latest mock draft where he has the Braves taking LHP Cooper Hjerpe.
Hjerpe has used decent stuff, good command, and a deceptive/funky delivery to rack up big strikeout totals this season. Normally, he would project more as a bottom of the first round or sandwich pick, but Hjerpe has done the one thing that a lot of his contemporaries on college mounds haven’t done this year and that is stay healthy. The Braves do seem genuinely interested in Hjerpe, but his selection in a lot of mocks does feel a bit like a placeholder type where folks seem to know that the Braves want a college pitcher and he seems like the best one available rather than reporting that Atlanta has zeroed in on him.
Kiley makes it clear that the Braves (and other teams) picking further down in the first round still have yet to narrow things down too much, so while the constant noise has been Hjerpe to the Braves...that does not mean it is a done deal. At the end of the day, their pick decision could easily come down to money and how much the Braves want to spread their middling bonus pool around.