The last time the Brewers picked this late in the first round, they selected Mississippi State LHP Ethan Small in 2019. Could they go with another college southpaw at the end of the first round in 2022? Oregon State’s Cooper Hjerpe could be that guy.
Hjerpe improved over each of his three seasons in a Beavers uniform, culminating in a 2022 season with a stellar 2.53 ERA in 18 games over 103.1 IP. He struck out 161 hitters and walked just 23. Opponents hit just .180 against him.
Could Oregon State’s Cooper Hjerpe be the Brewers first round pick at 27 overall in the 2022 MLB Draft?
This year’s draft class is pretty weak when it comes to top end college pitching talent. Most of the top pitchers either missed the entire season due to injury or suffered injuries as the season went on. Hjerpe is one of the few first round worthy college arms that made it through completely healthy. That makes him a very intriguing prospect for the Brewers.
If they don’t want to wait and rehab their first round pick back to full health, the Brewers could target a guy like Hjerpe and have him get going immediately to start working his way up the organizational ladder.
Hjerpe has a prototypical starter’s build at 6’3″ and 200 pounds. MLB Pipeline has him ranked 34th in the class and routinely has him mocked as a first round pick. His best pitch is his curveball and he does have good control of the strike zone.
Hjerpe’s profile is pretty similar to Ethan Small’s as a matter of fact. He doesn’t throw very hard, sitting in the low 90s, but his delivery is very deceptive and he has a bulldog mentality on the mound. His arm slot is different than Small’s as it’s more of a low-three-quarter slot, but it still makes things very difficult for hitters, especially right handers.
If he’s on the board at 27 overall, the Brewers would be smart to take Hjerpe. You can never have enough pitching and Hjerpe was one of the best in the NCAA this year. He may not have “ace” level upside, but as a lefty that’s almost assuredly going to remain a starter, there’s plenty of value with that kind of selection, especially at the end of the first round.
The main question is likely if Hjerpe will even make it to Milwaukee’s selection. Because of the dearth of college pitching this year, the few healthy ones that remain are likely to be pushed up boards and that could take Hjerpe off the board in the late teens or early 20s despite Pipeline ranking him 34th.
Drafting Hjerpe in the first round may not be the flashiest pick, but it would be a safe pick and would add some much needed top end pitching depth to fill the bottom of the organizational ladder. Of course ‘safe’ is a relative term when it comes to the MLB Draft and pitching prospects.