Guardians draft grade: Cleveland takes ‘best hitter in entire draft’

The Cleveland Guardians selected who MLB Network called “the best hitter in the entire draft” with the 16th overall pick.

The 2022 MLB Draft began on July 17, the night before the Home Run Derby and two nights prior to the All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif. The class was headlined by Jackson Holliday and Druw Jones, the sons of former MLB stars Matt Holliday and Andruw Jones. Then, there was the shocking selection by the Texas Rangers, who took Kumar Rocker with the third-overall pick.

This year, the Cleveland Guardians held the No. 16 overall pick, and they used it on James Madison outfielder Chase DeLauter.

Guardians select Chase DeLauter with No. 16 pick in 2022 MLB Draft

When DeLauter’s name was announced, the MLB Network broadcast dubbed him “the best hitter in the entire draft,” and compared him to Houston Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker. That will certainly catch the attention of Guardians fans, especially since the team drafted him in the middle of the first-round.

What are the experts saying about DeLauter? Here is what MLB Pipeline said of the James Madison outfielder ahead of the 2022 MLB Draft:

“DeLauter could be a middle-of-the-order type of hitter. He’s put up gaudy numbers at JMU, beating up the pitching in the mid-major Colonial Athletic Conference. He has at least plus raw power and even though there’s a little drift to his lower half that causes him to be more of a front-foot hitter at times, he’s so big and strong he can still out-leverage pitching. Some might question the length in his swing path and some scouts point to being overmatched against Florida State to start the season as proof that it won’t work against better pitching, but he had no problem getting to his power with wood on the Cape, and the fact he has more walks than strikeouts in his career points to a solid approach.”

Keith Law of The Athletic had this to say about Cleveland’s selection of DeLauter:

“DeLauter had about as bad a spring as any of the players who came into 2022 as first-round candidates — he was dominated by the two left-handers in the Florida State rotation in a series that was very heavily attended by scouts, and just a few weeks later broke his foot, ending his season after 24 games. His gaudy stat line this spring was boosted by a comical 13-for-22 performance with five homers and 10 walks in midweek games against inferior opponents. DeLauter opens his front side way too early as he tries to cheat to get to velocity, and thus becomes vulnerable to offspeed stuff moving away. Florida State’s lefties just attacked him with fastballs and he struck out six times in those two games, giving teams the book on how to approach him.”

DeLauter put up strong numbers at the plate this past season with the Dukes, slashing .437/.576/.828 while recording eight home runs, 35 RBI, and 38 hits in just 24 games. He did miss time due to a broken foot.

In his three years at James Madison, DeLauter posted a .402 batting average, a 1.235 OPS, 15 home runs, 70 RBI, and 103 hits. He was walked 62 times and struck out 45 times.

When it comes to the Guardians, they are successful when it comes to evaluating talent. If DeLauter lives up to his reputation of having the best bat in the entire 2022 class, Cleveland will be ecstatic.

Draft Grade: B

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