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2022 MLB Draft 2nd through 20th Round Primer: Current Players

Which of our current players are likely to be drafted? Who will sign? Who may return?

Syndication: The Tennessean George Walker IV / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK

*The 2022 MLB Draft takes place on Sunday July 17th through Tuesday July 19th. In the coming days, I’ll give you Vanderbilt centric primers of the current players and prospects, and my best guesses at where they are likely to be drafted. With the commits, I will also hazard my best guess at the probability they will eschew the MLB Bonus money and suit up in gangster pajamas in 2023. Click here for the possible first rounders.

Current Players Who Might Hear Their Name Called on Day Two (Rounds 2-10):

#12 Sr. 1B Dominic “The Dominator” Keegan

2022 Stats: .371/.458/.646 with 17 2B, 2 3B, 14 HR, 67 RBI, and 2-2 Stolen Bases.

Here’s his scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45

A backup catcher on Vanderbilt’s 2019 College World Series championship team, Keegan was set to take over behind the plate for the Commodores in 2020 before offseason surgery to remove a rib and a complicated recovery left him at less than full strength during the pandemic-shortened season. He didn’t become a full-time player for Vanderbilt until 2021 but has been the team’s most productive hitter each of the past two years. He spent last season at first base, turned down the Yankees as a 19th-round pick after sliding in the Draft because of signability and finally saw significant action at catcher this spring.

Keegan is exceedingly strong and the ball jumps off his bat to all fields despite what looks like an effortless right-handed swing. His ease of operation allows him to provide consistent hard contact and he has made adjustments to do much more damage against breaking balls this year than he has in the past. Though he’s a fourth-year college player, he won’t turn 22 until August and his track record in the Southeastern Conference is hard to ignore.

Keegan has helped his cause by improving his defense and showing he can be an adequate catcher. He has the work ethic to continue to get better and has quickened his transfer and release to get more out of his throws, though his solid arm strength plays more as average. He’s an average defender at first base and moves well enough to perhaps play left field.

Range: Rounds 2-10. Top 250 Ranking: #97.

Prediction: Though I’m not sure how much his early season catching tape helped his case, MLB has jumped him from #177 to #97 this year. Keegan is still likely a 1B/LF/DH type, though perhaps a few teams might consider drafting him as a catcher. Either way, he has been a bastion of consistency over the past two years, and his bat is clearly good enough to get drafted. Even though he could return in 2023 due to the extra Covid year of eligibility, it was pretty shocking that he returned after being drafted last year. Thank him for his service and root for him as he plies his trade professionally. He’s gone.

Chance He Signs With The Team Who Drafts Him: 100%.

#35 Jr. RHP Chris “McBain” McElvain

2022 Stats: 6-5, 4.27 ERA, 86 & 13 IP, 10.42 K/9, 4.59 BB/9

Here’s his scouting report:

Scouting grades: Fastball: 50 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 40

McElvain committed to Vanderbilt before throwing his first pitch as a Tennessee high schooler and served as a reliever in his first two college seasons. He became the Commodores’ Friday-night starter this spring and worked the first seven innings of a no-hitter against Kentucky on April 22. He mostly struggled afterward before striking out 11 in seven frames against New Mexico State in his final start in the NCAA regionals.

McElvain’s most effective pitch is his solid 81-85 mph slider with depth, and he also can turn it into a harder 85-88 mph cutter. His fastball sits at 91-93 mph and touches 95 with enough riding action to keep it off barrels. He’ll flash an average changeup with some tumble, though it’s too firm in the mid-80s and he doesn’t trust it very much.

While scouts praise McElvain’s competitiveness and ability to pitch above his pure stuff, he’ll need to throw more strikes to remain in the rotation. His delivery should be conducive to better control, and he gets into trouble when he falls behind in the count because he lacks the arsenal to overpower hitters. He’ll get the chance to start in pro ball but could wind up as a slider-heavy reliever.

Range: Rounds 5-10. Top 250 Ranking: #231.

Prediction: I’m not entirely sure how to predict where McBain will be drafted. For one, he was more effective as a reliever in ‘21 than as a starter in ‘22. On the other hand, he did show the ability to command three pitches, and if a team sees him as even a potential #5 starter, he could go much higher than his #231 ranking. If he’s drafted in Day Two (rounds 2-10), that means a team has met his number and he’ll sign. If I had to guess, that number’s probably in the $250K range. If not? Well, he might just bet on himself and take a stab at being a senior starter in what should be a much stronger Diamond Dore rotation.

Chance He Signs With The Team Who Drafts Him: 80%.

#29 Jr. RHP Nick “Maldo” Maldonado

2022 Stats: 3-1, 3.96 ERA, 38 & 2⁄3 IP, 7.91 K/9, 3.72 BB/9

Here’s his scouting report from 2021 (as he is not ranked this year):

Maldonado is part of a Seton Hall Prep (West Orange, N.J.) to Vanderbilt pipeline that also includes big leaguer Nick Christiani and 2014 College World Series hero John Norwood. Along with Jack Leiter and C.J. Rodriguez, he’s one of three second-year freshmen on the Commodores who could factor in the first five rounds of the 2021 Draft. He emerged as Vanderbilt’s closer midway through this season and saved clinchers in the regionals and super regionals.

Maldonado’s main strikeout weapon is a plus mid-80s slider with depth that he can land in the zone or use as a chase pitch. He sets it up with a 90-94 mph four-seam fastball that tops out at 96 and features some armside run. He’ll also mix in an upper-70s curveball to give left-handers a different look.

Recruited as a two-way player who was also a shortstop, Maldonado is a quality athlete and repeats his simple delivery well. Easily the most consistent strike thrower on the Commodores, he could get a chance to work out of the rotation if he returns for a third college season. He’s undersized for a starter at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, however, and his warrior mentality fits well in a bullpen role.

Range: Rounds 10-Undrafted. Top 250 Ranking: NR (#216 in 2021).

Prediction: Whereas McBain’s move from the pen to the starting rotation may well have helped his draft stock, Maldo’s transition did not go as well. I can’t help but think that if he had stayed as a closer, he wouldn’t have gotten hurt, and his draft stock would have risen from what it was in ‘21. That didn’t happen, of course, and he may have fallen off of some team’s boards. If I was a GM, I’d still take him on Day 3 (which is when I would be stockpiling potential MLB relievers rather than taking extreme boom/bust lottery tickets on starters and uber-athletic, toolsy, raw players), as he showed me enough in 2021 to believe he could find a place in a MLB bullpen within the next handful of years.

Chance He Signs With The Team Who Drafts Him: 50%. If he’s drafted, I bet he signs. He might not be drafted, though, as he may only offered a token amount during the draft process, so he may pass before that team goes on the clock. Remember, his brother just committed to play for the Dores next year, so he may have added incentive to pitch in gangster pajamas his for senior year.

#66 Jr. RHP Thomas “The Mayor” Schultz

2022 Stats: 4-2, 2.88 ERA, 34 & 13 IP, 8 SV, 8.65 K/9, 2.62 BB/9

Range: Rounds 10-Undrafted.

The Mayor struggled as a starter early in his Vanderbilt career, but really popped as a closer in 2022, and may well have caused MLB scouts to take note. While he won’t blow anyone away, he was much more steady as a closer than he had been as a starter earlier in his career, especially with regard to control and the mental side of things. Top 250 Ranking: NR.

Chance He Signs With The Team Who Drafts Him: 99%. If he’s drafted, he will likely sign, but he does still have eligibility left. We would certainly welcome both Maldo and The Mayor back to the pen in ‘23. If either returns, that’s a bonus for us.

Other Draft Eligible Players

#16 So. C Jack “The Bulge” Bulger

#26 So. RHP Grayson “Gitmo” Moore

#25 Jr. IF Parker “Can’t Lose” Noland

#2 Sr. OF Javier “Vaz Offerens” Vaz

#6 Sr. IF Tate “Tater” Kolwyck

#99 Grad RHP “Prancetown Grad Transfer” Jack Anderson

#10 Jr. OF TJ McKenzie

#19 Jr. OF Troy LaNeve

Former Vanderbilt Players Who Might Hear Their Names Called on Day Two

#9 Jr. SS Carter Young (ranked #237)

#8 Jr. OF Isaiah Thomas (NR this year, but was #97 last year)

I’m not going to write a lot about players currently in the transfer portal, but these guys may be drafted and sign rather than play for another school.