Diamondbacks 2022 Draft Review, Day One
The Arizona Diamondbacks had three picks on Day One of the 2022 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft — a first-rounder, a competitive balance pick, and a second rounder. That evening, scouting director Ian Rebhan spoke with a handful of reporters via Zoom. He was proud of the three picks: outfielder Druw Jones (First Round, Pick Two), right-handed pitcher Landon Sims (Competitive Balance A, Pick 34 overall), and first baseman Ivan Melendez (Second Round, Pick 43).
“It’s exciting, anytime you get talent like this into your system,” Rebhan beamed. “With Druw Jones, (he’s) a five-tool player who can hit, hit for power, play really good defense, and run. Landon Sims is a power right-handed pitcher with a plus fastball that can miss bats and a plus slider. Ivan Melendez is a big, right-handed power hitting first baseman. We’re really excited about all three of those guys.”
Diamondbacks 2022 Draft, First Pick: Druw Jones
With the second pick of the first round, the Diamondbacks selected Druw Jones, an 18-year-old outfielder from Wesleyan School in Peachtree Corners, Georgia. The 6’4”, 180-lb. center fielder is well-known as the son of five-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glover Andruw Jones, who played 17 seasons with the Atlanta Braves (1996–2007), Los Angeles Dodgers (2008), Texas Rangers (2009), Chicago White Sox (2010), and New York Yankees (2011–12).
Jones entered the draft ranked as the best overall prospect by both MLB Pipeline and Baseball America. According to Baseball America, he is the best defensive outfielder available. Furthermore, he ranks in the top five of all draft-eligible high schoolers in the categories of Best Hitter (2), Best Athlete (2), Best Speed (3), and Best Strike Zone Judgment (3). The 2022 Gatorade Georgia Player of the Year, according to Baseball America, slashed .570/.675/1.026 during his senior year with seven doubles, three triples, 13 home runs, 39 RBI, 33 walks/nine strikeouts, and 32 stolen bases.
“We’re really excited to get a player like Druw into our system,” Rebhan said. “He’s a dynamic player with a ton of upside.” What stood out to the scouts was “his athleticism, his defense, and the way he can impact the game in so many ways. He can hit, hit for power, play really good defense in center field, and run the bases.”
Watched for a Long Time
The Diamondbacks have watched Jones for a long time, according to Rebhan. “We watched him all last summer at all of those summer showcase events. He played for Team USA last year, and (we saw him) all throughout the spring this year. So we’ve watched him for, probably, a year and a half, two years now. And he’s always been a really good player. He’s always been a pretty famous player. I would say he was always in that group of players all year long.”
Druw comes from a high pedigree. His father, Andruw, has received many Hall of Fame votes and was the best defensive center fielder ever, according to Total Zone Fielding Runs above Average (Rtot on Baseball Reference). But Rebhan said, “Druw’s his own player. He does a lot of things really, really well. Druw being his own player and all the ways that he can impact the game was what drew us most to him…the person, in addition to the player — getting to know him and kind of that total package — not comparing him to anybody else.”
The Diamondbacks did not know Jones would be available to them until the Baltimore Orioles announced their pick, which was first overall. That gave the Diamondbacks someone special, someone Rebhan summed up succinctly. “He can do it all. He’s a really dynamic type of player.”
Diamondbacks 2022 Draft, Second Pick: Landon Sims
With the second pick in Competitive Balance Round A and 34th pick overall, the Diamondbacks chose Landon Sims, a 21-year-old junior from Mississippi State University, the 2021 NCAA champions. Baseball America rated him 35th overall among prospects, while MLB Pipeline ranked him 44th. He spent his first two years with the Bulldogs as a reliever, going 6–0 with a 1.82 ERA (14 ER in 69 1/3 innings). In addition, he had 13 saves, a .142 opponent average, 22 walks, and 123 strikeouts during those two seasons.
He entered the starting rotation for 2022, going 0–2 with a 1.15 ERA, including two walks versus 27 strikeouts. On March 4 against Tulane, he whiffed 10 of the first 11 batters he faced. That start ended abruptly with an arm injury, one that required Tommy John surgery. “With the history he had and the performance he had before getting hurt,” Rebhan predicted, “(we) bet that he can get back to the player he was.”
His timetable for return lines up with early spring. But in the meantime, the team liked Sims’ transition to the starting rotation. “He’s already a really good strike thrower,” Rebhan said, “and is a really good athlete. And he already has two plus pitches,” referring to the fastball and slider. Rebhan added that he had been working on a third pitch at Mississippi State before his injury. Most major league starters come to the big leagues with at least four pitches, so minor league development will take care of the rest before Sims is major-league ready.
Diamondbacks 2022 Draft, Third Pick: Ivan Melendez
With the fourth pick of the Second Round and 43rd pick overall, the Diamondbacks snagged Ivan Melendez, a 22-year-old senior from the University of Texas at Austin. The 2022 Golden Spikes Award, awarded annually to the top amateur player, went to Melendez. In addition, he won every available collegiate player of the year award: the Dick Howser Trophy as well as National Player of the Year from Baseball America, D1 Baseball, Collegiate Baseball, ABCA, and Perfect Game.
Melendez originally hails from El Paso, Texas, where he played at Coronado High School. During the 2019 and 2020 seasons, he played his first two years of college baseball at Odessa College. He joined the Longhorns in 2021, and in his two seasons there, he slashed .356/.477/.746 with 31 doubles, five triples, 45 home runs, and 145 RBI across 126 games. In 2022, he played in 67 games, slashing .387/.508/.863 (96-for-248) with 32 home runs and 94 RBI. His homers, RBI, and slugging led NCAA Division I, as did his 214 total bases. Furthermore, his 32 home runs set a school record and were the most in NCAA since 2003.
Melendez plays first, but Rebhan confirmed that he can play third. “He’s done it in the past.” Rebhan added, “He’s got really good feet at first base. He moves around there well, and he has a plus arm, so he can play third base as well.” The team has yet to decide whether he will start in the system as a first baseman or third baseman.
The scouting department liked several traits about Melendez. “Ivan was the Golden Spikes winner this year in college baseball and hit 32 homers. Any time you have a chance to add that type of -handed power to your organization, it’s super valuable. So a college performer like him? Super excited.”
Special Human Beings
Rebhan spoke proudly when summing up the three draftees from Day One. “Every single one of them is a really special human being. We do a lot of work to meet these players and make sure that we’re not only bringing really good baseball players into our system but really good people. They all have different traits, but they all showed us (their) core values. They’re really good people; they’re going to work really hard and have the ability to handle that grind. There are a lot of different things, but when you meet with these guys, you realize, first and foremost, that they’re unbelievable human beings. That’s a goal of ours as well, along with being really good baseball players.”
Looking Forward to Day Two
Day Two of the draft started at 11 am Arizona Time Monday, July 18. It will consist of Rounds Three through Ten. The Diamondbacks hold the second pick in all eight rounds. Overall, those picks will be 82nd, 108th, 138th, 168th, 198th, 228th, 258th, and 288th.
The players’ biographical information and statistical highlights came from Sunday night’s team press release.