The 2022 MLB Draft is right around the corner, so we are running a series where we run down each position and what the Braves may or may not do at each position when the draft kicks off on July 17. If you want to get a sense of what we have covered so far, here is a link to our second base draft preview that ran last week.
The way this works is that we are going position by position for each draft preview, running down the early round options and why they may or may not work for the Braves, and then giving a few names to keep an eye on for days two and three at each position. No, this is not meant to be exhaustive as that would take forever and be tedious to both read AND write. Below, you will find our thoughts on the Braves’ options at right handed pitcher in the 2022 MLB Draft.
Why the Braves could pick a RHP early
Pick a reason. Not only have the Braves liked to take pitchers high in the draft, but the names who are connected to the team happen to prominently be right handed pitchers. Moreover, the way the draft is looking, it appears the best player available at pick #20 very likely going to be an arm. The move to acquire pick #35 yesterday and the associated bonus pool also feels like more of a move to get an arm as the bats who could be around (for the most part) don’t scream over-slot bonus enough to warrant trading an arm who could have been used as a trade chip at the deadline.
Prior to Monday’s trade, the Braves have been linked to Gabriel Hughes, Justin Campbell, and Thomas Harrington and it was already known they (along with many other teams) were at least looking at the injured arms such as Landon Sims and Peyton Pallette. They have also been tied to high schooler Jacob Miller a bit lately and those are just the names for the first pick. You could also see someone like Adam Mazur, Jacob Misiorowski, or the previously mentioned Cutter Coffey (two-way talent) at 35 or in the second round.
However, the trade for #35 changes things a bit. Now, you could see the Braves get into the bidding to push a prep arm like maybe the injured Dylan Lesko or, in an ideal world, Brock Porter down to 20. Maybe the extra bonus pool means the Braves would be more comfortable taking a shot on the best stuff in the draft in Oklahoma’s Cade Horton despite the short track record of college performance. We could even get real weird and Kumar Rocker could be in the mix now (note that I don’t believe this one is happening, but mentioned as they now have the ability to have more high profile options without sacrificing Day 2/3).
Why the Braves won’t pick a RHP early
This is not the best draft for pitching as a slew of injuries have really changed the entire look of this draft from a pitching perspective. At this point, the bulk of the best names in the draft on the right handed pitching side are high school arms. While it isn’t out of the question that the Braves take a talented high school arm - especially after Monday’s trade for pick #35, we have yet to see Dana Brown take a high school arm early in his three drafts at the helm. We could see the Braves try to push a guy down the draft board with their newfound draft budget, but there are still teams who have more money to block those attempts. Overall, it’s worth noting that I do fully expect at least one of the Braves first two picks (#20 and 35) to be a pitcher, whether right or left handed.
Day Two/Three Targets
Naz Mule, Passaic Tech HS (NJ) - Nazier Mule is an interesting two way talent that could easily play shortstop as well at Miami - though he doesn’t project to have enough hit tool to be drafted early as a bat. The thing that catches your eye with Mule is a fastball that has touched 100 MPH, though he has taken a little off to have better command. He’s also got a potentially plus slider and some feel for a lightly used changeup. The command has to be improved, but he’s already improved it a bit this spring by taking something off his fastball. One thing to note about him is he did leave a start in April with some arm soreness and didn’t pitch again this year, so his medicals will need to be looked over.
Austin Henry, Dell Rapids HS (SD) - Austin Henry is a very interesting prospect for multiple reasons. Obviously being a cold weather arm from a state without great competition is the first thing you’ll notice here, but he is also a guy who missed this season because of Tommy John surgery. On the plus side he is very projectable at 6’5”, 200-pounds, and has some of the best spin in the class with a very promising curve. Even without the TJ, this is a kid who will need some extra time to fill in his body and catch up being from South Dakota - but there is serious upside as he has shown enough promise with his three pitches to grow into something. Henry is a Wichita State signee.
Jaden Noot, Sierra Canyon HS (CA) - Jaden Noot really rose up draft boards last summer/fall, but an inconsistent spring has dropped him into Day 2 territory. The LSU commit isn’t the most projectable guy as he is close to maxed out on his 6’3”, 235-pound frame, but he’s already in the mid to upper-90s with easy velocity and has pretty solid strike throwing ability. In addition to lacking projection, his results haven’t always matched the stuff, his delivery leads to some reliever questions, and he is a guy with two above average pitches, but not a third average or better pitch.
Karson Milbrandt, Liberty HS (MO) - Karson Milbrandt is an interesting player who checks some boxes the Braves like. He’s a guy who has split his time between multiple sports (basketball), has very good athleticism, and has a limited track record in showcases due to the time split with hoops - meaning less bad habits to break. He presents a plus fastball up to 96 MPH with great life on it, a promising curve, and some strike throwing ability. He’s got real upside but it going to take some time to develop, but he would be a significant addition for the Braves system. It is worth noting that he is considered to be a strong commitment to Vanderbilt.
Jonathan Cannon, Georgia - One of the players who would be very popular for the Braves would be University of Georgia star Jonathan Cannon. He was actually a potential first rounder last year heading into the year, but a run of inconsistency due to health issues has seen his stock go up and down. Cannon probably isn’t the same guy he was once thought to be, but he has a solid four pitch mix of average or better pitches, led by his cutter, and solid command with a starter’s frame. There is still a chance with prolonged good health and a pro system he gets back closer to what people initially hoped, but he’s got #4/5 pitcher potential even if not and is also fairly safe for an arm.
Bryce Osmond, Oklahoma State - Bryce Osmond passed up the draft as a highly rated two-way prospect out of high school to attend Oklahoma State. He’s plateaued a bit as the fastball hasn’t progressed as hoped, but it still has the potential to be an average pitch if he can add a little more life to it. His best pitch now is a swing and miss slider and his curve has shown real promise in limited use. He is also a guy who will need to improve his command in order to remain a starter in pro ball. With his two-way background and lack of time spent as a full time pitcher, mixed with the slider and the potential of the curve there are some tools to attract a team to take Osmond on Day 2 and hope their system can add some life to the fastball and improve the command. Even if not he would still have value as a reliever.