MLB draft

Drew Gilbert (left), Spencer Jones

With the 2022 MLB Draft approaching quickly, MLB Pipeline released its updated Top 250 draft prospect rankings, which is littered with several Tennessee and Vanderbilt players.

The Vols have seven players ranked in the top 250, more than any other school, including three possible first rounders — outfielders Jordan Beck and Drew Gilbert, and pitcher Blade Tidwell.

Vanderbilt had four players ranked, although shortstop Carter Young has since transferred to LSU. Outfielder Spencer Jones made a sizeable jump from the previous rankings, moving from No. 74 to No. 51.

Eight members of the Commodores’ 2022 recruiting class also made the cut with star outfielder Druw Jones locking down the No. 1 overall ranking. Joining him are fellow VU commits Dylan Lesko (No. 14), Brandon Barriera (No. 15), Noah Schultz (No. 49), Sal Stewart (No. 73), Karson Milbrandt (No. 90), Ryan Clifford (No. 92), R.J. Austin (No. 196).

Vandy did convince prep pitcher Andrew Dutkanych, the No. 42-ranked draft prospect, to withdraw from the draft and attend Vanderbilt.

Listed below are the rankings for each player as well as a full scouting report, according to MLB Pipeline:

No. 23: Jordan Beck, OF, Tennessee

“Beck uses his bat speed, strength and the leverage in his 6-foot-3 frame to create well above-average raw power to all fields. He gets too aggressive at the plate, however, and he struggled to make contact and drive the ball with wood bats in the Cape Cod League last summer…Beck runs very well for his size, displaying solid speed and the ability to steal an occasional base. His plus arm strength adds to his profile in right field, where he's a better-than-average defender.” 

No. 27: Blade Tidwell, P, Tennessee

“Tidwell can light up radar guns with a fastball that parks at 93-96 mph and tops out at 99 with some arm-side run, though it also straightens out and gets hit when he doesn't work up in the strike zone. He has a full array of secondary pitches, led by a low-80s slider that hits 88 mph and features sweep and some depth. His sinking low-80s changeup generated the best swing-and-miss rate (39 percent) of any of his offerings in 2021, and he'll also drop in a mid-70s curveball to give left-handers a different look. After adding 20 pounds to his 6-foot-4 frame since arriving in college, Tidwell does a good job of maintaining his stuff deep into games, and he still has room to add some more strength. He throws strikes but needs to improve the consistency and command of his pitches.”

No. 32: Drew Gilbert, OF, Tennessee

“His left-handed swing can get big when he gets too concerned with home runs, and he'd be a better hitter if he focused more on making quality contact. His bat speed and strength give him enough raw pop to hit 15-20 homers per season without selling out. Gilbert has solid to plus speed and will steal and take extra bases. While he's not a true burner, his quickness and instincts allow him to run down balls from gap to gap in center field. His plus arm strength would allow him to play anywhere in the outfield.”

No. 38: Kumar Rocker, P, Frontier League

“Rocker has a sinking mid-80s changeup that shows signs of becoming an average offering, though it gets too firm at times, and he doesn't use it much…He's a physical right-hander who throws strikes but possesses just average command. It won't be clear where he'll fit into the 2022 Draft until teams get more details about his health. Rather than return to Vanderbilt, he opted to go to the independent Frontier League, where he showed his high-end stuff during controlled outings leading up to the draft.”

No. 51: Spencer Jones, OF, Vanderbilt

“Jones has the potential to hit for average while producing solid power, but he also swings and misses frequently against non-fastballs. Though he generates plenty of bat speed and has impressive strength and leverage in his 6-foot-7 frame, his size also creates a naturally long left-handed swing. He uses the opposite field almost to a fault, rarely turning on pitches, and there are concerns about whether he'll be able to handle quality fastballs on the inner half. Very athletic for his size, Jones shows average speed out of the batter's box, is quicker once he gets going and has some base-stealing ability.”

No. 97: Dominic Keegan, INF, Vanderbilt

“Keegan is exceedingly strong and the ball jumps off his bat to all fields despite what looks like an effortless right-handed swing…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.”

No. 112: Ben Joyce, P, Tennessee

“Joyce's velocity quickly went viral in February after he hit 103 mph in his second appearance for Tennessee…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 arm-side 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…He has a strong 6-foot-5 frame but still has to prove that he's durable and can keep his delivery in sync.”

No. 136: Trey Lipscomb, OF, Tennessee

“He has made himself into one of the more attractive four-year college players in the draft and could go as early as the third round. Lipscomb has a disciplined approach, waits for pitches to attack and makes consistent hard contact. Though his right-handed swing is relatively flat, his bat speed and strength generate power to all fields and his line drives have a tendency to carry out of the park…Lipscomb has the tools to become at least an average defender at third base with more experience. He has quick reactions and a solid arm, but his instincts and footwork need improvement.”

No. 222: Joel Ortega, 2B, Tennessee

“Ortega's hand-eye coordination and quick right-handed stroke allow him to make consistent hard contact. His bat speed and strength give him 15-20 homer potential and his power plays from the left-field foul pole to right-center…He's an average defender at second base with the solid arm strength to see some action on the left side of the infield at the next level. A possible starter at second or third base, he could wind up as an offensive-minded utility man.”

No. 231: Chris McElvain, P, Vanderbilt

“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…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.”

No. 237: Carter Young, SS, Vanderbilt (transferred to LSU)

“To realize his 20-homer potential in pro ball, he'll need to tone down his stroke and stop chasing pitches out of the strike zone. Young plays quicker than his average speed thanks to his advanced instincts on the bases and in the field. He covers ground at shortstop, where his hands, strong arm and internal clock make him a solid and reliable defender. If he doesn't hit enough to be a regular, he has the versatility and skills to fill a utility role.”

No. 250: Will Mabrey, P, Tennessee

“Mabrey works primarily with two pitches, the best of which is an 83-85 mph slider with sweep and depth that he uses against both left-handers and right-handers. He sets it up with a 90-93 mph fastball that reaches 95, playing better than its velocity thanks to its arm-side run and downhill plane created by his high three-quarters arm slot. He dabbles with a mid-80s changeup, but it doesn't feature enough velocity separation from his heater and has only modest life…His lack of physicality and a reliable third offering limit him to a relief role, but his effectiveness against hitters from both sides could make him a valuable bullpen piece.”

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