Five prospects the Braves should target on Day Two of the 2022 MLB Draft

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The Braves had a busy day one of the MLB Draft, making four selections:

There are three big names I’m keyed in on for day two. It will be interesting to see how Atlanta allocates their remaining bonus money. They could continue to aggressively go after younger high school players, or they could look for more college talent like Burkhalter to help the big league club sooner. All prospect profiles are via MLBPipeline:

RHP Jonathan Cannon — Georgia

I’m biased, but Cannon should not still be on the board. He has frontline starter potential, and if the Braves can draft him at 96, that is a huge steal no matter what timeline he fits.

Cannon enjoyed a strong Cape Cod League stint in 2021 following an uneven year with the Bulldogs. An improved cutter and slider in addition to his heavy 92-96 mph heater produced better results in 2022. The 6-foot-6 hurler has outstanding control, evidenced by his 12 walks in 13 starts.

OF Colby Thomas — Mercer

I’ve had Thomas in multiple mock drafts — his hit tool and athleticism are off the charts. If he doesn’t get drafted soon, it may be because of his transfer to Florida. He has first round potential with a big year in the SEC next season.

Before he got hurt, Thomas challenged for the NCAA Division I home run lead while chasing fewer pitches out of the zone and missing fewer over the plate. His right-handed swing can still get too uphill, but his combination of bat speed, strength and loft gives him well-above-average raw power. He’s doing a better job of working counts and drawing walks, leading to optimism he’ll hit for a decent average while posting a healthy on-base percentage.

One of the better athletes in the 2022 college class, Thomas is a solid to plus runner with arm strength to match. He has the savvy to steal bases and covers more ground than a typical right fielder. Scouts believe he has the quickness and instincts to perhaps play center field, though he hasn’t gotten that opportunity with the Bears.

 

RHP Ben Joyce — Tennessee

If you’re a baseball fan, you know who Ben Joyce is. Let’s not pretend it wouldn’t be fun for the Braves to draft a bullpen arm that can pump 105 MPH.

Joyce has averaged 101 mph and touched 105 this spring, with his fastball arriving on a flat approach angle from a low slot that makes it extremely difficult to catch up to when he works up in the zone. His heater features some armside run but can straighten out and get hit when he doesn’t command it well. He gets some ugly swings-and-misses with his mid-80s slider when batters gear up for his fastball, though he struggles to throw it over the plate, and he dabbles with a low-90s changeup that features nice fade at its best.

Scouts aren’t sure what exactly to make of Joyce, who missed most of two years in 2018-19 while dealing with shoulder, elbow and growth-plate issues and has little track record. He throws about 80 percent fastballs, usually works on three days or more rest and rarely pitches in close games or Southeastern Conference contests. He has a strong 6-foot-5 frame but still has to prove that he’s durable and can keep his delivery in sync.

 

C Brady Neal — IMG Academy (FL)

Neal would cost the Braves a big chunk of change, but with basically zero catching depth in the minors, he may be worth it:

Considered one of the best prep catchers in the Draft, Neal is strong both behind the plate and with the bat. The 17-year-old has an advanced approach offensively and figures to be a solid contributor on both sides of the ball. Neal has committed to LSU, but the right situation on Day 2 could prove tempting.

 

SS Gavin Guidry — Barbe HS (LA)

Guidry would be an expensive get for the Braves, but he’s another toolsy high school player with tons of potential on the mound or in the field.

Gatorade’s Louisiana High School player of the year figures to stay at shortstop, assuming he doesn’t intrigue teams with his arm on the mound. Scouts see 20-homer capability once he adds some muscle to his frame. He already possesses good bat speed that generates terrific raw power

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