7 Georgia high school, college players selected in MLB Draft’s first round

Three players with Georgia ties taken in first four picks
Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker throws during the first inning in Game 3 of the NCAA College...
FILE - Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker (80) throws during the first inning in Game 3 of the NCAA College World Series baseball finals on June 30, 2021, in Omaha, Neb. Former Vanderbilt star right-hander Rocker is ready for a second go-round in the MLB draft. A brief professional tune-up has him on track to be selected as early as the first round when the draft begins on Sunday, July 17, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz, File)(Rebecca S. Gratz | AP)
Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 10:36 AM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - MLB teams took seven baseball players with ties to Georgia in the first round of the 2022 MLB draft. These include three in the first four picks; Wesleyan High’s Druw Jones, son of Braves legend Andruw Jones; former North Oconee High standout Kumar Rocker; and Mays High’s Termarr Johnson.

The Arizona Diamondbacks selected Jones, who is projected to have many of the same tools as his father. The centerfielder with premium speed and defense was long projected as the number one pick. The Gatorade Georgia Player of the Year hit .445 with 14 home runs in 38 games this season. Jones could become the second Wesleyan Wolf to reach the majors, after Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jahmai Jones. The Diamondbacks also selected former South Forsyth pitcher Landon Sims in the Competitive Balance round.

Pitcher Kumar Rocker will be reunited with fellow Commodore alum Jack Leiter in the Texas Rangers’ minor league system. The pair led Vanderbilt to a College World Series title in 2019; Leiter was selected with the second pick in the 2021 draft. The New York Mets selected Rocker out of Vanderbilt with the 10th pick in last year’s draft, but he did not sign due to physical concerns. Rocker instead underwent shoulder surgery last fall and spent the 2022 season with the Tri-City Valleycats of the Frontier League.

MLB Pipeline called Johnson “the best prep hitter in decades,” comparing him to Hall of Famers Wade Boggs and Vladimir Guerrero Sr. Scouting graded him as a 70 hitter on a 20-to-80 scale. The Pittsburgh Pirates plan to play Johnson as a shortstop, but his defensive ability leads many scouts to see him moving to second base in the future.

The New York Mets took Georgia Tech catcher Kevin Parada, who became the fourth Yellow Jackets catcher taken in the first round, following major leaguers Jason Varitek, Matt Wieters and Joey Bart. He displayed great power with the Yellow Jackets. The Pasadena, California native slashed .360/.453/.715 for the Yellow Jackets. Scouts believe his bat outweighs his defensive ability, which is considered serviceable.

The San Diego Padres selected Buford High right-hander Dylan Lesko with the 15th pick, the first of several pitchers headed to San Diego. The 18-year-old had Tommy John surgery in April, but that didn’t stop the Padres from banking on his changeup. The 2021 Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year went 11-0 with a 0.35 ERA last season; his repertoire includes a 97-mph fastball backed up by a mid-80s changeup that some compared to Padres great Trevor Hoffman.

Former Mt. Paran third baseman Cam Collier is headed to the Cincinnati Reds. Collier, the son of former Major Leaguer Lou Collier, is one of the youngest players in the draft; he reclassified from the Class of 2023 and was drafted out of Florida’s Chipola College.