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Atlanta Braves 2022 MLB Draft Primer

The 2022 MLB Draft is sneaking up on us, so here is a quick primer on what to expect from the Braves in this year’s draft.

2020 Major League Baseball Draft Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

With the 2022 MLB Draft mere weeks away, it is time to start cranking up our Braves draft coverage here at Battery Power. We have already been covering the mock drafts from the national outlets and we expect that to crank up in the coming weeks along with our own takes on what the draft class looks like. However, its probably a good idea to first give folks the basics given that, unlike the NBA or NFL, a lot of fans don’t invest a lot of time in learning about the draft in baseball.

Below is a basic primer about the 2022 MLB Draft with plenty of Braves-specific tidbits for your consumption.

When is the 2022 MLB Draft?

This is one is easy although we don’t have complete information. The 2022 MLB Draft will take place on July 17-19, 2022 in Los Angeles. If that is familiar to you, it is because that is exactly when and where the All-Star break is scheduled to take place. It looks like MLB is committed to keeping the two events together so that players can actually attend the draft festivities and to highlight the draft better overall as a spectacle.

We don’t have times or a fixed schedule yet (we’ll do our best to come edit that info in here as it becomes available), but its probably safe to expect coverage of rounds one and two on day one, rounds three through 10 on day two, and then rounds 11-20 on day three given that that is what it has been.

Where are the Braves picking and how much can they spend?

This is the part that most casual fans are looking for and there are some things to note here. First and foremost, the Braves’ first round pick in the 2022 is the 20th pick which has a slot value of $3,407,400 this year. They don’t have a pick in the first wave of compensation/competitive balance picks and next pick at No. 57 in round two (slot value $1,306,700) before picking again in the free agent compensation round after round two at No. 76 (this is the pick they got for losing Freddie Freeman in free agency). After that, there are no more compensation/competitive balance picks and the draft order is relatively static the rest of the way with the notable exception of the third round because of qualifying offer compensation.

As for how much money the Braves have to spend this year in the draft, their 2022 MLB draft bonus pool (which is simply adding up all of their bonus slots for rounds 1-10) is $8,022,200 which is the 19th highest bonus pool in the league (and that is largely a function of the fact of their draft position). The Braves can spend up to 5% over their bonus pool without incurring a penalty beyond an overage tax. No team has ever paid more than 5% and it is incredibly unlikely that it will ever happen while that rules system is in place.

Are there new draft rules under the new CBA?

Short answer yes, but it requires some explanation. First and foremost, the qualifying offer draft pick compensation system remains in place...for now. What pick teams gain for losing free agents that have a qualifying offers attached is dictated by how much that free agent signs for, whether or not they are over the luxury tax, and whether or not they receive revenue sharing. However, there is a chance that that system will go away completely if the MLBPA and MLB can come to an agreement on an international draft before July 25, 2022. The new CBA specifies that if the two sides can agree on how an international draft would look, the qualifying offer system goes away. If they cannot by that deadline, the QO system sticks around.

The new CBA also codified the temporary changes to the MLB draft format making all drafts from here on out 20 rounds. There will be an MLB draft combine (which you can find details about here) and there is a new rule that if a player submits a pre-draft physical at the combine and is drafted, that player is guaranteed at least 75% of his bonus slot or becomes a free agent if he fails to sign.

One of the more fun changes is bringing back the old “draft-and-follow” rule that was changed a few CBAs ago. Essentially, if a player gets picked after the 10th round and elects not to sign by the official deadline AND goes to a junior college, that player is still eligible to sign with the team that picked him all the way up until the next draft. Any bonus amount over $225,000 still counts against a team’s bonus pool.

Finally, one big rules change won’t go into effect until 2023 and that is the imposition of a new draft lottery for the top six picks of the draft. All 18 teams that don’t make the playoffs will enter a lottery for each of the first six picks in the draft. The remaining 12 teams that don’t get a lottery pick will be placed in the draft based on their record as per usual.

Who are the Braves targeting?

First and foremost, given that the Braves are picking 20th in the first round, it is safe to say that they are going to go with the best player available on their board and will likely have a bunch of guys and scenarios that they will consider. This draft is going to be particularly interesting given that a ton of the top college arms got hurt this year and there is a lot of debate right now as to whether teams are going to try and cut underslot deals with those guys in the first round to give them more money later in the draft or go overslot to grab those guys and target other underslot guys in round one to give them the savings to sign the big name, but hurt, college arms. Our best guess is that some of both will end up happening, but it makes the board very volatile where the Braves are picking.

Most indications right now are that the Braves are looking most heavily at college pitchers with their first round pick although that is far from a certainty. We have already seen guys like Gonzaga’s RHP Gabriel Hughes, Oregon State’s LHP Cooper Hjerpe, and Las Vegas prep outfielder Justin Crawford mocked to the Braves and it is certain that more names will get added to the mix as we get closer and after the College World Series and MLB Draft Combine happen.