The 2022 MLB season is on permanent hiatus, and much like KBO action in early 2020 during the pandemic’s infancy, college baseball has stepped up to fill the void this season (as long as you have ESPN+ access).
For Yankees fans, this means a way-too-early pivot into draft season, which brings us to an impossible-to-predict ’22 slate.
Slotted 25th overall in the first round, New York will be caught in the eternal “draft for need, or draft the best player available?” debate, and they’ve used several top picks (and coveted international bonus money) these past several years on shortstops. Would they quadruple down and go back to that well, just to deepen the pool again? Or will they put their chips in on the best player who’s fallen into their range, high school or college?
Prior to the past few years, the Yankees have often gone with a highly-ranked high school arm when slotted towards the back of the first round — and, in fact, that’s who Baseball America recommends they target, singling out Brebeuf Jesuit Prep RHP Andrew Dutkanych as the selection.
We’d also advise fans to be wary of another “classic Yankees maneuver”: the injured arm who’s in the “setback” phase ahead of a “major comeback,” someone who never would’ve slipped otherwise. The team pulled this one off with Clarke Schmidt back in 2017, who was midway through his Tommy John rehab when selected. Many also thought the Yankees would end up with Ole Miss’ Gunnar Hoaglund last season for similar reasons, though Toronto ultimately selected the slipping, former-top-10-projected arm.
This time around, the “injured” option is Arkansas right-hander Peyton Pallette, who will miss the 2022 season with Tommy John rehab and is often projected to be selected towards the back of the first round regardless.
The Yankees will surely consider Pallette at 25, but he doesn’t qualify for this list, considering he cannot be watched!
Instead, fans should keep an eye on these three names that keep ending up in the Yankees’ range.
3 college baseball players Yankees fans should watch ahead of 2022 MLB Draft
3. Dylan Beavers, University of California, Berkeley
Dylan Beavers resides at a level just below the top college outfield bats, like James Madison’s Chase DeLauter, and just ahead of bats with one questionable tool, like swing-and-miss power source Jud Fabian, drafted by the Red Sox in the second round in 2021, but now back and mashing at Florida.
Just Baseball’s first Mock Draft pitched Beavers to the Yankees at 25, and the outfielder also ranks in the No. 24 spot on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Draft Prospects list. There’s certainly enough smoke placing Beavers in the desired range before the 2022 season really gets in gear, and there’s ample runway left for Baseball America’s preseason second-team All-American to make his mark.
Seven games into his junior season, Beavers is hitting .321 with a .412 OBP and three bombs, coming on the heels of a summer dip into the wood-bat showcase league on Cape Cod (during which he scuffled, hitting .233 in just eight games).
Beavers will need to continue to strike the ball with authority and show off his in-game power to get the Christian Yelich comparisons that once dogged him back to centerstage, but he’s a 20-year-old prototypical five-tool outfielder who bats left. As long as he continues to produce at something approximating his current pace, the Yankees will be interested — unless Helium Alert takes him out of their range.