After not being a big-name recruit coming out of high school, Peyton Graham turned in a very solid career at Oklahoma. The Sooners have never had an infield prospect drafted in the first round of the MLB Draft and Graham could be the first. The infielder was a big factor in Oklahoma making the College World Series final, where they ultimately lost to Ole Miss in two games. Let’s take a look at what the Texas native brings to the table.
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Peyton Graham, SS/3B, Oklahoma
Weight: 185 lbs.
2020 Stats: 18 G, .358/.457/.612, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 19 R, 12 BB, 12 K, 8 SB
2021 Stats: 53 G, .288/.400/.502, 11 HR, 28 RBI, 47 R, 30 BB, 58 K, 7 SB
2022 Stats: 67 G, .335/.417/.640, 20 HR, 71 RBI, 75 R, 28 BB, 69 K, 34 SB
Graham was named to First Team All-Big 12 after a great junior season following a sophomore season in which he made Second Team. He made an immediate impact for the Sooners during the shortened 2020 season upon coming out of Waxahachie High School in Texas. Graham had a chance to show what he could do with a wood bat in the Cape Cod League in 2021. While his numbers weren’t as loud, he still put up a solid .367 on-base percentage in 24 games.
Graham is an intriguing prospect with a great combination of speed, athleticism, and power. He has the ability to play multiple positions, as he played third base his first two seasons before shifting to shortstop. While he fills out, it is likely he moves back to third base but still is capable at shortstop and could likely handle a corner outfield spot as well. It will depend on how much speed he loses upon gaining muscle, as there are still 15-20 pounds of potential muscle to be added.
With the bat, Graham showed off his power ability with 20 homers in 2022 after making a change to his stride. He has quick hands and elite bat speed leading to a lot of damage from the pull side. The 21-year-old also showed some ability to hit the ball hard the other way. He also has a lot of speed, which he showed in his 34 stolen bases this season. In Oklahoma’s win over Notre Dame in the College World Series, Graham became the first player since Barry Bonds in 1984 to record four hits and two steals in a College World Series game.
Where Graham struggles is with pitch selection as he has quite a bit of swing-and-miss in his game. His strikeout rate did go down somewhat from the 2021 season (22.7 percent) to this season (21.2 percent), but he still has to work on waiting for his pitch. He has gotten more aggressive, trying to sell out for the power. Graham has the bat speed and projectable strength to be a power hitter without going all out. Breaking pitches are his weakness, as he is going to have to learn to lay off pitcher’s pitches.
Pro Comparison: Christian Yelich
With the power potential and projection, Graham could develop into a similar hitter to Yelich. They both have very similar builds, swing paths, and approaches at the dish. Not only that but Graham’s pre-swing load and leg lift is very close to Yelich’s. Like some of the former 2010 first-round draft pick’s best seasons, Graham has the potential to record 20-20 seasons.
Draft Projection: Early-to-Mid Second Round
Graham could sneak into the first round, but it is more likely he is selected in the 40-50 range. His projectability is what might push him up on the board, especially after the solid power output he had this year. Whoever does draft him, whether that be the first or second round will be getting a potential steal. This is a player that has superstar potential, it’s just a matter of how he develops at the professional level.
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images