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Early 2022 Mock Draft: Rounds 3-4

Matt Olson

Matt Olson

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

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The postseason might be in full swing, but it’s never too early to start thinking about the 2022 MLB season. With the fantasy baseball season still fresh in our minds, we thought this was a good time to take stock of what we learned and begin to forecast what drafts might look like next spring. Of course, with a deep and talented free agent class, opinions will evolve over time. But we wanted to give it a whirl anyway.

What you’ll see here are the results of a slow mock draft with staff members from NBC Sports EDGE. Full results will be posted over the course of the next several days. Check out D.J. Short’s recap of Rounds 1-2 at this link. All participants are listed below.

1) Jorge Montanez (@Roto_Nino)
2) Seth Trachtman (@sethroto)
3) Colin Henderson (@ColDontLie)
4) Ryan Boyer (@RyanPBoyer)
5) Matt Williams (@MattWi77iams)
6) Drew Silva (@drewsilv)
7) Dave Shovein (@DaveShovein)
8) George Bissell (@GeorgeBissell)
9) Chris Crawford (@Crawford_MILB)
10) D.J. Short (@djshort)
11) Micah Henry (@FantasyCentral1)
12) Matthew Pouliot (@matthewpouliot)

We’re drafting based on 5x5 roto scoring. The mock draft consists of 23 rounds, with 14 position players and nine pitcher spots. The position player breakdown is: 2 C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, MI, CI, 5 OF, UTIL. There’s 20-game eligibility for a player to qualify at a particular position.


3.25 - Matt Olson, 1B
3.26 - Brandon Woodruff, SP
3.27 - Shane Bieber, SP
3.28 - Zack Wheeler, SP
3.29 - Sandy Alcantara, SP
3.30 - Trevor Story, SP
3.31 - Liam Hendriks, RP
3.32 - Max Fried, SP
3.33 - Byron Buxton, OF
3.34 - Xander Bogaerts, SS
3.35 - Corey Seager, SS
3.36 - Eloy Jimenez, OF

Olson was the leadoff selection here in the third round, and rightly so. He tallied 39 home runs and 111 RBI over 156 games this past season with the A’s alongside a .911 OPS, earning his first All-Star nod and perhaps some down-ballot consideration for American League MVP honors. The 27-year-old left-handed slugger has typically struggled against left-handed pitching, but he flipped the script on that theme in 2021, actually faring better versus lefties than he did versus righties. He’s rounding into a fully-formed threat at the dish.

There was a big run on starting pitchers in this round. Bieber is an especially interesting case after claiming the AL Cy Young Award in 2020 and then being limited to only 16 starts (96 2/3 innings) in 2021 because of a right shoulder strain. The 26-year-old did return to action for Cleveland in late September, which is encouraging for his 2022 outlook. He was a top-10 pick in most drafts last spring and should be able to stage a fairly normal offseason training program with the shoulder issue now presumably in the rearview.

Story, my pick at 30th overall, brings up the tricky free agent landscape that awaits us this winter. The looming CBA talks are sure to get messy, which could delay clarity as to where some big-ticket players might land. Story is highly doubtful to return to the thin air of Colorado, where his career home batting line is .303/.369/.603. His career line on the road is just .241/.310/.442. Granted, there’s more to those splits than meets the eye, and he’s a good bet to (eventually) sign with a contending club.

Hendriks went as the first reliever off the board in this draft at 31st overall. That’s quite early, but he’s one of only a handful of pitchers with a locked-in closer job in this era of flexible bullpen roles. The 32-year-old right-hander dominated to the tune of a 2.54 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, and 113/7 K/BB ratio over 71 innings this summer for the American League Central-champion White Sox while recording an AL-best 38 saves.



4.37 - Julio Urias, SP
4.38 - Teoscar Hernandez, OF
4.39 - Aaron Judge, OF
4.40 - Marcus Semien, 2B/OF
4.41 - Whit Merrifield, 2B
4.42 - Josh Hader, RP
4.43 - Yordan Alvarez, OF
4.44 - Tim Anderson, SS
4.45 - Francisco Lindor, SS
4.46 - Pete Alonso, 1B
4.47 - Chris Sale, SP
4.48 - Aaron Nola, SP

Semien is another impending free agent who could have an extended stay on the open market as a result of the coming negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement between the MLBPA and MLB’s ownership groups. But he is definitely worthy of top-40 status in any sort of speculative mock draft for 2022 after delivering an .873 OPS with 45 home runs, 102 RBI, 15 stolen bases, and 115 runs scored across a full 162 games this past season with the Blue Jays. Toronto is known to be interested in retaining him.

Merrifield was somewhat of a letdown in real life this year, posting a career-low .277 batting average and a career-worst .317 on-base percentage while totaling only 10 home runs across his 720 plate appearances for the Royals, who finished with a record of 74-88. He did still manage to record 40 steals, the most of any American League player, but might that element of his game finally begin declining in 2022? He will turn 33 years old a month before the scheduled start of spring training in February.

Lindor went 45th overall in this mock draft after carrying an ADP of 15.2 on Yahoo last spring. And he was a consensus first-round pick in most drafts for 2020. The dynamic 27-year-old shortstop struggled mightily in the first half of the 2021 campaign, perhaps brought on by the added pressure of signing a massive 10-year, $341 million contract extension with the Mets just before Opening Day. Lindor looked a lot more comfortable in the second half and still boasts enticing five-category upside.

Sale could prove to be a tremendous value at 47th overall if that’s about where his average draft position settles next spring. The 32-year-old left-hander returned from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery in mid-August and registered a 3.16 ERA with 52 strikeouts over his final 42 2/3 regular-season innings (nine starts) for a Red Sox team that is currently battling the Astros in the American League Championship Series.