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Talking Prospects: Who should the Braves target with their first round pick in the 2022 MLB Draft?

It is never too early to start talking about draft prospects for the Braves, right?

Championship Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Atlanta Braves - Game Six Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It doesn’t seem like these CBA negotiations between MLB and MLBPA are going to end any time soon. Don’t worry, we feel your pain. To help you get your Atlanta Braves fix while we wait for SOMETHING to happen, the Talking Chop minor league team put together a roundtable series about the upcoming minor league season cleverly titled Talking Prospects.

For this installment of our roundtable series, we look forward in time a bit to the 2022 MLB Draft. Below you will find the names of players that we are currently interested in for the Braves in the first round as a way-too-early look at the draft this year. No, this predictions will not be anywhere close to correct...and we are okay with that. Enjoy!

Eric: Go ahead and count me against the idea of drafting Kumar Rocker unless something changes pretty significantly before the draft. If he didn’t sign last year because of medicals and contract expectations, a bottom of the first round pick for him when he is a year older and not pitching for Vandy does not interest me. I like Dylan Beavers as a power college bat with some upside along with Zach Neto as a small school bat that knows how to hit and could excel with some swing refinement. I do REALLY like Cam Collier as a bat who is currently ranked in their range and would be thrilled if the Braves took him, but color me skeptical that he is going to be available at 20 when the Braves pick based on the skill set. I don’t like the arms in this class in the first round pick at all, but Reggie Crawford is really interesting if he is healthy. The problem is…if he is healthy and performing, then he probably won’t be there at the the Braves’ pick. Going for a guy like Peyton Pallette who was set to go much higher before Tommy John surgery is somewhat interesting, but I do not think the Braves would spend a first round pick on a guy that is hurt. I do like Andrew Dutkanych as a prep arm possibility…his slider is legit.

Garrett: I want the Braves to draft whoever the Orioles want and then trade all of those players after the draft for Druw Jones. I’m allowed to answer like this, right? For real, on the offensive side give me Dylan Beavers. He’s got a fun name, he’s athletic, he can hit bombs, and the Braves like drafting college players early so what’s not to like? On the pitching side no one truly excites me in this range so I’d be in favor of taking a chance on Reggie Crawford. Crawford has the elite arm talent and athleticism the Braves love, they’ve shown a willingness to take risks on pitchers they love, and he is one of the few college arms in this range that has real impact potential. If you can get him under slot it could open a lot of potential avenues later in the draft to add further depth to a system in need of it.

Matt: I will take both of Garrett’s answers. Andruw Jones was my favorite player growing up, so seeing Andruw Jr. patrolling center field in Atlanta for another decade would be like a dream. Reggie Crawford has been a favorite of mine dating back to his high school days when he was a two way guy that plenty liked more as a bat. Add in the fact he’s a very nice kid and local to me, and it’s hard not to root for him. But since Garrett took those answers I will come up with two original players for my response. The hitter I would target is Cam Collier, the kid who was a favorite to go #1 in the 2023 class but reclassified, graduated early, and enrolled at one of the top JUCO programs in the country. He’s got a mature approach and big league bloodlines to go with an advanced feel for hitting, significant power, as well as potential on the mound(though the bat is ahead of the arm to most). Based on where he ranks now he is a believable enough pick, but I don’t expect him to stay in that range long, as you can’t forget he was an early favorite for the top pick in 2023 and is now getting scouted more heavily after moving up a class. As for the arm, it’s another guy who was in the mix for the top pick, this time in the 2022 draft in Alabama lefty Connor Prielipp. The talented projectable arm originally from up north had been dominant in the SEC, but then later in the spring of 2021 went down with Tommy John surgery. Should his medicals be approved by the team doctors, he is my favorite arm in this draft that could potentially be there.

Gaurav: An especially difficult question because we have absolutely no idea how the year will play out but for right now I will stick to my GT homerism and go with Kevin Parada as the hitter, and pitcher wise I’ve got a bit of a prospect crush on a different ECU pitcher this year - Carson Whisenhunt, or of course KUMAR ROCKER.

Wayne: I like Daniel Susac, but the Braves already have a headache at catcher, so I’m not sure that makes sense. I remember talking about Reggie Crawford with Matt in the fall of his freshman year at UConn and I have really enjoyed watching him ever since. I think he is the easy pick for a pitcher in the first round. For a hitter, I’ll throw Cayden Wallace into the mix. He should be a draft-eligible sophomore and had a very good freshman year for a elite program in a tough conference.