The MLB draft is coming up on June 17th, and once again the state of Georgia is a hot bed for some of the top talent in the draft. Many of these players won’t make it to the Braves at 20th overall, but are names to familiarize yourself with if you’re looking at the top of the draft.
Druw Jones, OF- The son of Atlanta Braves legend Andruw Jones has all of the tools to live up to his father’s name, as he has quickly become the near-consensus number one prospect in this draft. The Gatorade Player of the Year for Georgia, Jones had a phenomenal spring in which he showed off superstar level talent, including double plus defense and raw power that could make him a feared home run hitter. He won’t get to the Braves at 20, but he has all the tools to be the next big thing to come out of the state of Georgia.
Termarr Johnson, 2B - Hailing from Mays High School, Johnson may be the best pure hitter in the class, and despite his 5’10 frame he has the power to be one of the better hitters in the sport. Johnson will be in the running along with Jones for the top overall pick with the sort of offensive potential teams dream of having in their system. Johnson is likely a second baseman at the next level, but regardless of where he plays his offensive ability will carry him to his future.
Kevin Parada, C - Parada was an instant star for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets as a freshman, and has continued to hit his way to the top of the draft class. Parada hit an absurd 26 home runs and had a 1.162 OPS in 2022 and is expected to be the first catcher taken off of the board in this draft. Parada has the offensive profile to be one of the top hitting backstops in the major leagues, although his defense still needs a bit of refining for him to be ready to handle a big league staff.
As a true freshman Kevin Parada had an absurd .929 OPS. He is following that up with an astounding start to his sophomore campaign that is seeing him hit .514/.581/1.135 (1.716 OPS) with 6 homers and 3 SB pic.twitter.com/GkzDed1wfg— Gaurav (@gvedak) March 2, 2022
Cam Collier, 3B - Collier currently attends Chipola Junior College in Florida, but he originally went to school in Austell, GA before getting a GED and going the JuCo route to reclassify a year early. Collier is one of the youngest hitters in this class and has all of the look of a star with athleticism and hitting ability that teams clamor for. His power potential may determine his future role overall, but there is belief in the industry that there is raw power to tap into that could make his high level hit tool play into stardom.
Dylan Lesko, RHP - The Buford native was on his way to being the first pitcher taken in this draft after winning Gatorade National Player of the Year as a Junior, but Tommy John surgery in April knocked him off his pedestal and will keep him from the very top of the draft. When healthy, he is an electric right handed arm with a particularly good changeup that grades out as potentially the best overall pitch in the draft. If a team is confident in the medicals they could be getting the best pitcher in the draft and one that is more major league ready than most prep arms.
Jonathan Cannon, RHP - Cannon is the top prospect from the University of Georgia this season, and has an electric arm that makes him an easy eye opener for scouts. His mid-90’s fastball isn’t typically a strikeout pitch and does more to induce ground balls, which has kept him from being a likely candidate for a first round pick despite also having strong secondary offerings. He controls his 6’6 frame very well and has above average command, but his perceived lack of ceiling due to his low strikeout totals has pushed him into being a second round candidate.
Sam Horn, RHP - Horn has some potential as a shortstop prospect, but the industry as a whole loves him for his right arm that has shown off mid-90’s velocity. As a quarterback he led Collins Hill High School to the 7-A state championship and as a pitcher he has a chance to be a late day one draft pick. He is athletic and loose on the mound with a curveball that has shown strong potential, although his commitment to football has taken away development time and makes him particularly hard to sign away from Missouri.
Colby Thomas, OF - The Valdosta High School and now Mercer Bears representative has some of the best raw power in this draft. Thomas has huge raw power and hit 17 home runs this spring, though a torn labrum and some questions about his hit tool have prevented him from taking a step up in draft rankings. Thomas represents a particularly high-risk, high-reward college bat as a player who could tap into raw power and be a middle of the lineup force or simply never hit enough to become a regular.
Here's a couple of well struck balls from Colby Thomas (Mercer, 2022). First one was a deep flyout to center, the second was scalded 101 MPH for a single. pic.twitter.com/8ud12Zg21q— Will Hoefer (@whoeferbaseball) July 22, 2021
Chandler Pollard, IF - Coming out of Woodward Academy in College Park, Pollard has all of the tools to be an impact shortstop at the next level. Pollard is one of the best runners in the class and has a strong arm which should allow him to stick at shortstop at the professional level. There is some questions about his actions on the defensive end, but the athleticism is there to develop. Pollard has a big frame with raw power potential but the biggest question and split in the industry is whether he’ll hit enough to tap into his immense toolset.
Chandler Simpson, 2B - Georgia Tech has a trio of potential day two picks, with transfer Chandler Simpson getting a lot of attention for his blazing speed. His wheels make him dynamic on the base paths and will allow him to fit up the middle on defense, although his lack of arm strength will keep him off of shortstop. He doesn’t have the power to be an impact bat, if a major league starter at all, but he can really put the bat on the ball, draw walks, and cause chaos when he gets on the bases.
Tres Gonzalez, OF - Gonzalez is another interesting player from Georgia Tech, with offensive ability that has intrigued scouts since he was drafted out of Mount Vernon Presbyterian School in 2019. Gonzalez can play all three outfield spots although he is not an elite defender by any means, but his money will be made with his bat. Gonzalez draws rave reviews for his approach and ability to make contact with the only hole being his fringe-at-best power.
Zach Maxwell, RHP - Georgia Tech's big righty with a big arm, Maxwell’s college career has been marked by inconsistency but emphatic potential. Maxwell had a career 14.7 K/9 at Georgia Tech and struck out 25 batters in 11 1⁄2 innings in the Cape Cod League in 2021, but he has been a constant source of walks with 98 in 97 2⁄3 career innings. He touches triple digits with his fastball and has a deep slider with elite spin rates, but cannot control either very well. Scouts have questions about his conditioning, and the hope for Maxwell is that a better program may allow him to lose weight and better control his body and release.