Omaha, Nebraska. The Promised Land. The pride of college baseball. Just think of the smell of fresh ballpark cuisine, the sound of countless bodies rummaging excitingly through the turnstiles, and thousands of sweaty Nebraskans barraging to their seats, mixed in with fans from all across the globe. Ahh, yes. That’s what it’s all about. The Good Life. That and the approximately 300 college baseball players who have made it to the ultimate destination that the sport has to offer. Here at Razzball, we’ve already ranked 30 college prospects for the 2022 MLB Draft, but there’s a handful of future big-league talent going at it in Omaha as we speak. Some of these individuals may be eliminated from the competition before this piece drops on Thursday, but as it stands today, here are five prospects in Omaha that you should be locked in on as you compose your first-year player draft boards.

Peyton Graham, SS, Oklahoma

Graham’s six-foot-four frame has yet to reach its full potential, as he’s incredibly lean at roughly 175 lbs. But even that hasn’t held back the power one bit with the metal. Graham has launched 20 home runs, four triples, and 16 doubles across 64 games this season, all the while slashing .345/.427/.659. This comes on the heels of a .288/.400/.502 second-year campaign and .358/.457/.612 line as a true freshman, so he comes with a lengthy track record of handling premier college pitching. Graham has struck out at a 20.5% clip in college while drawing walks at a 10.6% rate. He’s a pretty average defender at shortstop with the ability to make the sensational play, although he may be ticketed for third base or possibly even second in pro ball. Graham has produced in clutch moments for the Sooners all postseason and has the makeup of an everyday impact big leaguer. He’s the best 2022 draft prospect still competing at the College World Series.

Cayden Wallace, 3B, Arkansas

Long overshadowed by teammate Robert Moore in scouting circles, Wallace has made a case this year that he may be the more well-rounded prospect. Wallace has been a symbol of consistency for the Razorbacks, batting .297/.389/.556 with 16 homers, one triple, 19 doubles, 60 RBI, 61 runs, and 12 stolen bases in 2022. The 12 steals are a noticeable improvement from a zero-steal freshman campaign in 2021, although he did hit .279/.369/.500 in his first taste of college pitching. Wallace has a 19.6 K% and 11.3 BB% in college while producing elite exit velocities and consistently showing maturity at the plate — although like many accomplished college bats, he would benefit by using the opposite field more (notice the clip). What’s most enticing about Wallace is the projectability of in-game power, as he slashed .290/.352/.468 on the Cape last summer while boasting as much right-handed pop as anybody. Wallace will likely be a corner outfielder in pro ball, but his 65-grade arm gives him the potential to be a plus defender wherever he winds up.

Jake Bennett, RHP, Oklahoma

Bennett has definitely made himself some dollars over the past month and a half. Across his last seven appearances while pitching against some of the top offenses in the country, Bennett has posted a 6-0 record and 3.12 ERA 9.6 K/9, and 1.6 BB/9, even picking up the save in his lone relief appearance in that span.

Date Opponent IP H R ER BB SO HR WP BK HBP NP W L SV S-ERA
5/19 at Texas Tech 6.0 7 4 4 1 4 1 0 0 2 103 1 0 0 3.83
5/26 vs Texas Tech 7.2 2 1 1 2 12 0 0 0 1 108 1 0 0 3.60
6/3 vs Liberty 5.2 9 3 3 2 7 0 0 0 0 112 1 0 0 3.67
6/6 at Florida Gators 2.0 1 1 1 0 2 1 0 0 0 29 0 0 1 3.69
6/10 at Virginia Tech 7.0 8 4 1 2 8 2 0 0 0 103 1 0 0 3.53
6/17 vs Texas A&M 6.0 5 4 4 0 3 2 0 0 0 92 1 0 0 3.66

Good thing, too. Bennett finished with a 6.34 ERA last season while giving up 11.1 hits per nine innings. The control has always been there, but the recent run of success against top-tier competition has been a revelation. As a result, Bennett owns a 3.66 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 123 strikeouts across 110 2/3 innings in 2022. The entirety of his collegiate body of work is questionable due to his lackluster 2021 effort, but his 50-grade heater (91-94 MPH, T98), 60-grade change, and 50-grade slide piece are enough to make him a second-to-fourth round pick.

Robert Moore, 2B, Arkansas

What has happened to Moore? He entered 2022 as a potential top-10 pick, but his .233/.375/.432 batting line this season has since removed that from the realm of possibility. As a switch-hitter with power (albeit slightly more from the left side) and borderline Gold Glove potential at second base, he’s still a very exciting prospect with an enormous ceiling. Moore’s 2022 campaign is a bit of a conundrum, as his walk rate is identical to his 2021 mark at 14.4% and his strikeout rate has dropped by 2.5% to 15.5%. Perhaps we’ll never see him slug to the same degree as he did in 2021 with a .283/.384/.558 batting line and 16 homers, but you have to imagine there is a reasonable level of bad luck baked into his 2022 stat line. Moore has failed to homer in 14 of Arkansas’ last 15 games, however, and he’s likely going to have to prove himself offensively in pro ball as a second or third-round pick if he’s to have an everyday future in the majors.

Jacob Gonzalez, SS, Ole Miss (2023)

Although Gonzalez won’t be draft-eligible until next year, he will outperform every other name on this list by measurement of draft position. Gonzalez is graded out as a top-10 overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft, with certain pundits believing him to be in the conversation for No. 1 overall alongside LSU star Dylan Crews, Tennessee hurler Chase Dollandar and prepsters Walker Jenkins and Max Clark. After slashing .355/.443/.561 with 12 homers as a freshman, Gonzalez is hitting .279/.413/.571 in 2022 with 17 home runs, three triples, nine doubles, 65 runs, 50 RBI, and four stolen bases. Most impressively, Gonzalez has drawn 19 more walks (48) than strikeouts (29), translating to a 17.4 BB% and minuscule 10.1 K%. There are some mechanics in Gonzalez’s loading mechanism with the position of his hands that will need to be smoothed out in pro ball, but Gonzalez checks just about every box thanks to a 55-grade glove and above-average arm. As long as he doesn’t outgrow the position, the top-10 potential is obvious.

That’s all for this week, Razzball fam! As always, I’m happy to take this conversation into the comments section or on Twitter, where you can find me @WorldOfHobbs.

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ozarktri
ozarktri
5 months ago

Woo Pig Sooie!