We are just a few days away from the 2022 MLB Draft and we are officially in mock draft overload. Various publications have the Nationals taking Georgia Tech catcher Kevin Parada, some have us taking prep outfielder Elijah Green, while Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com has the Nats taking Cal Poly shortstop Brooks Lee. There’s a myriad of players that the Nationals could take at #5, so I’m here to introduce the potential picks.
Dru Jones is the undisputed #1 prospect in the draft and because of that, I’m not including him here as there’s almost a 0% chance he’ll still be on the board at #5. For Nats fans concerned about Mike Rizzo’s love of pitchers coming off major surgery, have no fear. There aren’t really any pitchers projected to go in the Top 10 regardless of health, so it’ll be a position player Rizzo will choose in Round 1. Below are 6 players that the Nats will most likely pick at #5 on July 17th, 2022.
SS Jackson Holliday, Stillwater HS, Oklahoma
For those of you that followed my draft coverage early in the season, you’ll have noticed that Holliday wasn’t even listed in my mock draft. That’s because at the time he seemed like a borderline first round pick and I thought he was going to go play for his dad and uncle at Oklahoma State. That has seemingly changed and he’s even in the conversation to go #1 overall.
He’s had a phenomenal senior year of high school and projects to remain at the shortstop position in the future. As he’s grown into his 6’1 frame, he’s gotten faster and stronger. Unlike Elijah Green, another top prep prospect, he doesn’t have a high strikeout percentage. At just 18 years of age, Holliday’s ceiling is through the roof, pun intended.
OF Elijah Green, IMG Academy, Florida
Another son of a pro athlete, is perhaps the best athlete of the draft. At 6’3 and 225 pounds, Green is the rare kind of power and speed that makes scouts drool. He’s got a 60 tool for power, arm, and fielding while his running is a 70. His hit tool, however, is a 50, due in large part to his strikeout rate.
As a high school junior, Green had a 34.7 K% over 98 plate appearances while hitting .321. That K% decreased significantly to a respectable 20.3% during his senior year while he hit .462. That’s still pretty alarming for high school. By comparison, Nats prospect Brady House struck out just 17 times over 321 appearances in his high school career. Still, the tantalizing combination of power, speed, and athleticism make Elijah Green an intriguing prospect to say the least. Despite those strikeout concerns, I would not be mad if the Nationals went with him at #5.
SS Brooks Lee, Cal Poly
While not the son of a former professional athlete, Brooks Lee is the son of Cal Poly’s head baseball coach Larry Lee. While some may prefer Jackson Holliday, I believe Brooks Lee to be the best shortstop in the draft and he’s being underrated by some of the flashier names.
As a redshirt sophomore and the biggest name on his team, Lee hit .357 with 25 doubles and 15 home runs in 58 games. He walked 46 times versus just 28 strikeouts, so he has a good knowledge of the strike zone and is patient enough to wait for his pitch. Honestly, outside Druw Jones, Brooks Lee is the top guy that I want the Nationals to draft.
C Kevin Parada, Georgia Tech
There have been numerous mock drafts projecting Kevin Parada to the Nats at #5. For those that don’t know, the MLB Draft is very different from the NFL or NBA drafts. You don’t select a player based on team need so much as you choose the best player available. Yes, the Nationals have Keibert Ruiz entrenched at catcher and hopefully he’s there for a while. And with a hitter like Kevin Parada, you don’t want to waste his bat in the minors waiting for him to develop as a catcher, so expect him to play a different position if the Nats select him.
The Georgia Tech backstop had a stellar campaign this past season, hitting .360 with 26 home runs in 253 AB’s.. He walked 30 times and was hit by 15 pitches while striking out just 31 times. I wouldn’t be mad if the Nats selected Parada at #5, but I would prefer Lee or one of the prep prospects.
2B Termarr Johnson, Mays HS, Georgia
Another Georgia high schooler that before the season and was arguably the #1 prospect alongside Druw Jones. He’s probably going be a future second basemen rather than shortstop, but he has the best hit tool of the draft class and was my #1 prospect back in March. He has a 70 hit tool and a 60 power tool meaning if he pans out he could be the best second baseman in baseball as his ceiling.He seems a safer pick than Elijah Green, given Green’s strikeout concerns.
In 19 games as a high school junior, he hit .400 and had just 3 strikeouts. If you have a chance, search highlights of his on Youtube because he’s got a sweet, compact swing and the ball just pops. I think he goes top 4, but if the Nationals are lucky enough that he drops to #5, they better not hesitate to grab him.
3B/OF Jacob Berry, LSU
There’s a few longshots in addition to Jacob Berry that could go here including outfielder Gavin Cross or second baseman Jace Jung. I think they’re all long shots to be drafted at #5 by the Nats, but Berry makes the most sense if they go that way. In 53 games for the LSU Tigers, Berry hit .370 with 15 home runs. He had 27 walks and 11 HBP versus just 22 strikeouts.
There are a couple of issues with Berry. Firstly, outside the big decrease in K%, he took a step back from his stellar freshman season at Arizona. That could be in large part to the strength of the SEC, but he went from 41 extra base hits in 2021 to just 24 in 2022. The second issue with Berry is that he has no defensive position. He played third and the outfield for LSU and it did not go well. He looked lost in the field. Can a guy that probably projects as a DH really go #5? We’ll see.
Who should the Nationals take?
The Nationals should take Druw Jones if he’s available, which he won’t be. They should take Brooks Lee or Termarr Johnson if either is available. Those are my Top 3 draft prospects with Holliday and Green at 4 and 5 respectively. Kevin Parada should only be taken if none of those guys are available– which can’t occur because there are 5 of them. So all the Nationals have to do is select the one of the five that is still available at #5.
Who will the Nationals take?
Honestly I think they’re still going to take Parada. That shouldn’t be disappointing at all, but with Brooks Lee or one of those prep stars available, I would be annoyed if we chose Parada.