Where will the Cleveland Guardians be selecting in the 2022 MLB Draft?
The 2021 season is now behind us in Cleveland and the newly named Cleveland Guardians are now looking ahead to the 2022 season. While the upcoming months will include putting the pieces together for the start of the 2022 campaign, other pieces of the club’s future will be coming together in the background.
The offseason will be full of free agent signings, trades and other moves that will shake the landscape of Major League Baseball. However, the 2022 MLB Draft is starting to take shape as well. It will be a bit longer before this has the same impact as what is to come in the next few months, but the draft is just as important when it comes to building an organization.
With the 2021 regular season coming to a close, the 2022 MLB Draft is starting to take shape. Thanks to a tiebreaker that went back to the 2019 season, the Baltimore Orioles will hold the first selection with the Arizona Diamondbacks picking second. As for the Cleveland Guardians, their first under the new name will come with the 16th selection in the first round.
Finishing 80-82, the first losing season since 2012 for the club, Cleveland will be the last team to pick in the first round that finished below .500. Cleveland should have had the 15th pick, but the New York Mets were granted a compensatory pick, No. 11, for not signing Kumar Rocker this past year, who they selected 10th overall.
Picking this high in the draft will be something a bit unfamiliar to Cleveland. Due to the team’s success, the last time Cleveland picked this high was the 2016 MLB Draft when they took Will Benson with the 14th pick.
In terms of the 16th pick, this is truly uncharted territory for the Cleveland Guardians organization. Thanks to information on Fueled By Sports that tracks first round picks back to 1965, we can see that Cleveland has never held the 16th pick of the MLB Draft. Luckily, they’ve been in the vicinity a few times.
Cleveland has picked 15th three times since 1965 with the most recent being 2012 when the team took Tyler Naquin. As for 17th, Cleveland has picked there three times as well. Brady Aiken was the last one, taken in 2015 and released by the club earlier this week. However, the 1988 MLB Draft gave Cleveland a strong player with the 17th selection, being Charles Nagy.
The approach to the 2022 MLB Draft for the Cleveland Guardians is one that will be interesting to follow. The club took a pitchers-only approach to the 2021 MLB Draft, using 19 of the club’s 21 selections to bolster the organization’s pitching staff. Add in a few trade deadline deals that added more arms and Cleveland revamped their minor league pitching staff during just the month of July in 2021.
With the pitching staff looking youthful once again throughout the organization, perhaps Cleveland looks back to the plate in 2022. A team can never have too many good pitchers, but eventually there has to be pieces added to the other side of the game as well.
The other thing that will be interesting to follow for the Guardians is whether the team looks to add college or high schools players. Of the 2021 MLB Draft class, Cleveland opted to use their first three selections on collegiate-level players. In total, Cleveland took just two players from the high school ranks, including one of their two position players.
Looking at Cleveland’s top 30 prospects, the area of need seems to be corner infield, specifically first base. Aaron Bracho (No. 15) and Jhonkensy Noel (No. 25) are the only players listed as potential first baseman on the top 30 list, so that’s an option the Guardians could explore if the right player is available at No. 16.
The biggest difference with the MLB Draft compared to other sports is the time that it takes for these players to make an impact in the big leagues. Taking a first baseman now doesn’t solve the problem with Bobby Bradley at the position. These players will need time to develop, so targets will be based on assumed team needs down the road, not what the roster says right now. Regardless, having the pick in place allows the team ample time to put together a plan for how to approach the draft.