Hughes and Campbell continue the connection to college pitching
With just a few days to go until the 2022 MLB Draft and with that the last group of mock drafts are starting to roll out. Jonathan Mayo of MLB Pipeline released this mock, our first since the Braves traded for the 35th overall pick, and projected both of those picks. With the 20th overall pick Mayo has the Braves taking Gonzaga right handed pitcher Gabriel Hughes and with the 35th overall pick Oklahoma State right handed pitcher Justin Campbell.
Hughes has long been connected to the Braves with the 20th pick, and fits the roll of college pitchers that Atlanta has gone with recently. He throws in the low-to-mid 90’s with some scouts believing he has room to add velocity as a professional. Hughes had a fantastic showing at the draft combine and had seemingly pushed himself up some teams’s boards. He features a solid slider and changeup that has shown promise. Campbell is an even larger bodied pitcher than Hughes standing at 6’7”, but he doesn’t have the velocity of man players that size and has more of an average-ish fastball with a steep downhill plane. He controls his body well and throws a lot of strikes while mixing in a changeup, curveball, and slider. He isn’t particularly adept at getting strikeouts, but the plane of his fastball and horizontal movement on his pitches generates a lot of week contact and high ground ball rates.
Both if these options fit with the supposed draft strategy of the Braves, but I caution reading too much into any of these connections. All of these ideas for their strategy come from before the Braves made that trade and many of those previous thoughts are now irrelevant. Atlanta could still go college pitching up high, but it’s not a foregone conclusion. In some sense it seems foolish to trade the capital they did and spend the bonus they will just to grab more back-end starter types who have high floors. The system can only realistically support so many of those players, and while stacking arms is important to building depth taking it too far could lead to log jams of uninspiring talent. It’s worth mentioning that in this particular mock prep shortstops Jett Williams and Cole Young were both picked after 20, and Arkansas third baseman Cayden Wallace was available at 35. All three present feasible options that I would not be surprised to see the Braves pursue. When reading these mock drafts, especially older ones, take heed that those connections were all formulated when the Braves had significantly less draft capital and flexibility.