By Robert Wilson
Two Mississippi State players – catcher Logan Tanner and right-handed pitcher Landon Sims – and a Mississippi State signee – Desoto Central High left-handed pitcher Bradley Loftin – are expected to be picked on the first day of the 2022 Major League Baseball Draft, according to mlb.com.
The draft starts Sunday at 6 p.m. Central on ESPN. Eighty-three players – the first two rounds and a competitive balance and compensation picks – will be chosen on the first day.
Tanner is projected as the No. 41 pick, which is the second pick of the second round, which belongs to the Boston Red Sox. The slot value for that pick is $1,905,500, according to mlb.com.
Sims is projected as the No. 44 pick, the fifth pick of the second round, which belongs to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The slot value for that pick is $1,775,200. Sims would have likely been a high first round pick – and probably one of the highest in Mississippi collegian history – before he suffered an elbow injury, which required Tommy John surgery in March. He was projected in the top three college pitchers in the country entering the season.
The second day of the draft starts at 1 p.m. Central Monday on mlb.com. Rounds three through 10 will be selected that day. The third day of the draft starts at 1 p.m. Central Tuesday on mlb.com with rounds 11-20.
Other players with Mississippi connections or Mississippians expected to be drafted in the top 250, according to mlb.com, are Northeast Mississippi Community College pitcher Colby Holcombe (No. 134, fourth round), Ole Miss catcher Hayden Dunhurst (No. 155, fifth round), MSU outfielder Brad Cumbest (No. 173, sixth round), Jackson Academy alumnus and MSU signee Dakota Jordan (No. 177, sixth round), Madison Central catcher and MSU signee Ross Highfill (No. 197, seventh round) and South Panola outfielder Emaarion Boyd (No. 245, eighth round).
Only college players who have played three seasons or have turned 21 are eligible for the draft. Also, any community college or junior college player and any high school graduate player is eligible.
For historical perspective, the top three picks for Mississippi collegian are MSU’s Will Clark (second overall in 1985), MSU’s B.J. Wallace (third in 1992) and Ole Miss’ Drew Pomeranz (fifth in 2010). The top three from Mississippi high schools are Ted Nicholson (third from Oak Park High. in Laurel in 1969), Kirk Presley (eighth from Tupelo High in 1993) and D.J. Davis (17th from Stone County High in Wiggins in 2012).
Four players from Mississippi colleges were taken in the first day last year – MSU right-handed pitcher Will Bednar (14), Ole Miss right-handed pitcher Gunnar Hoglund (19), Ole Miss left-handed pitcher Doug Nikhazy (58) and Northwest Rankin alumnus and Southern Miss outfielder Reed Trimble (65).
The first Mississippi high school player taken last year was Magee High alumnus Brennon McNair (319th pick in the 11th round). He was the only Mississippi high school player taken in last year’s draft.
MSU has had a first-round pick in the last three drafts, Bednar in 2021, second baseman Justin Foscue (No. 14 in 2020) and pitcher Ethan Small (No. 28 in 2019).
Three MSU players, Foscue, shortstop Jordan Westburg (No. 30) and pitcher JT Ginn (No. 52), were the first three Mississippi collegians picked in the 2020 draft. Desoto Central High alumnus Blaze Jordan was the first Mississippi high school player picked, going in the third round at the 89th pick overall.
Ginn was the last Mississippi high school player to be taken the first round, going 30th to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2018.
While being a high draft pick is important, getting drafted low isn’t the end of the world. Take for example, Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza, who played 16 seasons in the major leagues. Piazza was the last pick of the 1988 draft – the 1,390th pick – by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a favor to Piazza’s father by Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, who knew his father. Piazza was converted from a first baseman to a catcher in the minor leagues and the rest is history.
Our Mississippi Scoreboard baseball expert Mike Christensen will have a full report of all the draftees with Mississippi ties next week after the draft is completed.