With the upcoming MLB Draft on June 17th, there are going to be a lot of names popping up on the board that most of you have ever heard of. While we can’t really go through every single prep player in the United States because we have lives and you don’t want to read 30 thousand words, we at Battery Power did compile a list of some targets the Braves could look at in the 2022 MLB Draft.
As part of our draft preview series we will be going position-by-position to look at what players intrigue us in this draft. The Braves are most often connected to pitching, specifically college pitching, and this is one of our two articles on guys that you have a very solid shot of seeing drafted by the Braves this season.
Why the Braves could pick a left-handed pitcher early
There has been a lot of buzz about a connection between Oregon State’s ace Cooper Hjerpe and this pick from Atlanta, and if the Braves end up with a left handed pitcher he is their obvious fit. Hjerpe’s performance at Oregon State vaulted him into first round conversations quickly and his deceptive delivery allows his somewhat mediocre raw stuff to play at a much higher level. The Braves are likely to go with a college arm in the draft and arguably there was no better college pitcher than Hjerpe this season.
Another intriguing option is Carson Whisenhunt, whose suspension for performing-enhancing drugs is the primary reason he isn’t considered an easy first round pick like he was prior to this season. If the Braves don’t have any questions about his character stemming from this his dynamite changeup and deep arsenal of pitches could still make him an early option. Should the Braves be willing to take a chance on an injured arm like they did with Spencer Schwellenbach last season, Hunter Barco could be an option that fits in round two as a southpaw.
Why the Braves won’t pick a left-handed pitcher early
There are certainly going to be left handed options at 20, especially in Hjerpe and Whisenhunt, but if the Braves are looking for an arm that has more impact potential they may need to steer away from those two. A player like Connor Prielipp would fit that mold, but is seeming more and more unlikely to fall to the Braves at 20 and they may not be willing to take a chance on a Tommy John guy in the first round. Robby Snelling is another of the players that could provide a higher ceiling, but the Braves have been risk-averse in recent years and don’t seem keen to use a first round pick on a prep arm.
Day Two/Three Targets
At some point Atlanta is going to come away with at least one left-handed arm, so here are a few interesting options that could come into play for later rounds.
Carson Palmquist, Miami (FL) - Palmquist may not stick in the rotation long term, but if the Braves believe in his ability to do so he could be an extremely valuable pickup for them. A similar low-90’s, funky ¾ slot lefty to Hjerpe, he isn’t as developed at this stage but could be a similar type player for a lot less money in a later round. In relief he topped out at 96 mph with a devastating slider to lefties that would make him a very enticing relief arm.
Levi Huesman, Hanover HS - Huesman is a bit undersized, but the prep lefty displays solid fastball velocity and a mix of offspeed stuff that could make him a relatively high draft pick. With his size, the effort in his delivery, and his changeup still landing quite a bit behind his slider there are some open questions about whether he sticks in a rotation long term. A team looking to pick him up on day two would need to believe in that ability.
Nate Savino, Virginia - Savino had a chance to be picked in the first half of the first round in 2020, but instead chose to graduate early and enroll at the University of Virginia. Since then his star has lost a bit of shine as his stuff never developed to match his frame and physical tools until last fall. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to maintain his increased velocity and spin, and he backed up as the season went on for Virginia. A team who believes in that fall and early spring performance from Savino could get a value pick, but would be taking a risk that he is simply that previous upper 80’s to low-90’s arm with just solid offspeed offerings.
Pete Hansen, Texas - Hansen is an intriguing arm with real weapons in his offspeed stuff, but a velocity that wavers between serviceable and poor. When he is working in the 88-90 range his fastball can play off of an above average curveball, slider, and changeup as well as above average command. If the Braves believe in the velocity – and there could be some mechanical tweaks to help tap into some strength given his 6’2 frame – then he could be an interesting junkballing left handed arm.