10 Notable Risers On Our 2023 Top 100 Draft List
Today we updated our top 100 draft list for the 2023 draft class in an attempt to capture the movement of the summer.
There have been plenty of needle-moving events over the past few months, including the Cape Cod League, USA Baseball’s Collegiate and 18U National Teams and high-profile high school showcases like East Coast Pro and Area Code Games.
Below are 10 players who took advantage of these high-pressure and highly-scouted events, and now see their draft stock higher than it was in mid-July.
Player movement is simply the difference between their previous ranking and their current ranking. Players who were previously unranked are given rank 101 in order to create a comparison point for relative movement.
Jacob Wilson, SS, Grand Canyon
Current Rank: 7
Previous Rank: 12
Scouts raved about Wilson following his performance with USA’s Collegiate National Team (CNT) and we’ve heard from multiple sources at this point that Wilson is a locked-in top 10 prospect for the class. It’s no wonder why. His resume of performance throughout his college career is exceptional. Check out his various stat lines in his first two seasons with Grand Canyon, as well as smaller sample sizes in the Northwoods League, the Cape and with Team USA:
2021 Grand Canyon: .313/.376/.440, 4 HR, 11 2B, 17 BB, 19 K (47 games)
2021 Northwoods League: .302/.365/.417, 2 HR, 5 2B, 9 BB, 3 K (27 games)
2022 Grand Canyon: .358/.418/.585, 12 HR, 18 2B, 25 BB, 7 K (59 games)
2022 Cape Cod League: .278/.381/.389, 1 HR, 1 2B, 6 BB, 5 K (10 games)
2022 CNT: .364/.462/.455, 0 HR, 1 2B, 2 BB, 1 K (6 games)
Wilson has hit everywhere he’s been, while showing excellent strike-zone discipline and proving to be a very difficult batter to strike out. Across all these levels of competition, Wilson has struck out at just over a 5% rate. His overall whiff rate is unsurprisingly low as well—just 9% according to Synergy in a 2,042-pitch sample—and that rate is even lower against fastballs, with Wilson also hammering the 93-plus mph velocity he’s seen: .438/.500/.781 with just a 3% whiff rate in a 123-pitch sample, per Synergy.
Wilson is now the second-ranked college shortstop in the class, trailing only Mississippi SS Jacob Gonzalez, who has to this point shown much more impact and has a lefthanded bat. The power will be an intriguing thing to watch for Wilson next spring—he flashed impressive pull-side power with Team USA, saw an eight-homer jump from his freshman year to his sophomore year and still has room to fill out a 6-foot-3, 175 pound frame.
Noble Meyer, RHP, Jesuit HS, Portland, Ore.
Current Rank: 12
Previous Rank: 29
For a few years now, LHP Thomas White has been entrenched as the top high school pitching prospect in the 2023 class. That’s now changed, as Meyer has jumped the Massachusetts southpaw and stands as the No. 1 high school pitcher on the board thanks to an impressive summer showing.
These days it’s not rare to see a high school pitcher throwing a fastball that routinely gets into the upper 90s. What is more rare is seeing a pitcher who shows that velocity while also throwing with extreme ease, who shows the potential for plus control in the future and who also shows wipeout breaking stuff. Add in an elite, 6-foot-5, 195-pound frame with athleticism and you have a pretty solid recipe for the top prep arm in a given draft class.
That’s Noble Meyer, the latest impressive West Coast pitching prospect, whose control of his long limbs is somewhat reminiscent of recent tall righties Andrew Painter and Mick Abel—we’re assuming the Phillies have been paying attention.
Between Meyer’s Perfect Game National showing, his appearance in the PG All-American Classic and a three-inning outing at the Area Code Games, he faced 21 batters, struck out seven, walked two and allowed a .053/.143/.105 opposing slash line. When batters did put the ball in play against him, Meyer forced plenty of ground balls (a 58% groundball rate) and weak contact.
In that stint, he sat with a 95-96 mph fastball that touched 98 several times, and primarily worked off of a mid-80s slider with 10-4 shape and plenty of powerful horizontal movement. The pitch earned double-plus grades at best and generated whiffs at a 60% rate in the sample mentioned above. An upper-80s changeup lacked separation from his fastball at times, but the pitch showed solid fading life and he showed enough feel for the offering to project it as a third solid-average pitch.
It’s difficult to find a flaw in Meyer’s game. Perhaps the only one is that some teams might not love the shape of his fastball. It’s a running and sinking pitch at times from his lower arm slot and not the high-carry, riding life that is highly coveted. At that point you’re nitpicking a prep arm who checks an awful lot of boxes.
Matt Shaw, SS, Maryland
Current Rank: 14
Previous Rank: 70
It’s good to rank as the top prospect in the Cape Cod League. Just ask Guardians 2022 first-round pick Chase DeLauter.
Like DeLauter a year ago, Shaw has positioned himself as a first round prospect given his MVP performance in the Cape Cod League. He split time between shortstop and second base and slashed .360/.432/.574 with five home runs, 10 doubles and 21 stolen bases.
While he is not quite the toolshed and physical outlier that DeLauter was, he has two important things going for him: 1) he is a college infielder who should stick on the dirt at the next level and 2) he will benefit from playing his spring games in the Big Ten.
Shaw had an impressive year-over-year jump in home run production with Maryland from 2021 to 2022 (going from seven home runs to 22) and continued to show that impact ability with a wood bat. His home run spray chart was impressively balanced with a metal bat, and that remained the case for Shaw with a wood bat in the Cape—and he also showed an ability to drive the ball with impact against all pitch types.
He homered against fastballs on the outer half and had the strength to drive the ball out to the opposite field, went down and pulled sliders on the inner third out of the park to his pull side, and also homered against changeups and curveballs. While there is some swing and miss in Shaw’s game (primarily against fastballs up and sliders down and away) he’s shown impressive impact ability for a 5-foot-11, 182-pound middle infielder.
That defensive profile will be something to watch with Shaw next spring. He made the switch to full-time shortstop for Maryland in 2022 after playing second and third base, but some evaluators wonder if he has the range and actions necessary to handle shortstop at the next level. Regardless, his bat has him solidly among the top 30 prospects in the class.
Cole Carrigg, SS/OF, San Diego State
Current Rank: 30
Previous Rank: NR (101)
If you’re looking for a player who can do, quite literally, everything on the diamond—Carrigg is your guy.
While he primarily played above-average defense in center field (30 of his 41 games as a position player) in the Cape Cod League, Carrigg also spent time at third base, second base, shortstop and caught a game. He got on the mound and pitched in two games, and has done the same for San Diego State—though he is far and away a better prospect as a hitter and position player.
Where Carrigg eventually settles in as a defender will be the most obvious storyline to watch for him next spring. He has already shown above-average potential at two premium positions (shortstop and center field) for scouts and there is some chance he could show that potential at catcher with more innings behind the plate. Adeptly handling the entirety of the top of the defensive spectrum is rare to see and he might be most valuable as a super utility player at the next level because of that.
Carrigg is a 6-foot-2, 180-pound switch-hitter who slashed .329/.388/.399 in the Cape, with just one home run but 15 stolen bases. He hasn’t yet shown big home run power with either metal or wood in his hands, and will need to chase less frequently to make the most of his offensive ability, but his versatility and athleticism make him one of the more interesting players in the college class.
Colin Houck, SS, Parkview HS, Lilburn, Ga.
Current Rank: 33
Previous Rank: 86
Houck entered the summer as a top 100 prospect, but he leaves it as the best overall prospect in the state of Georgia and has a case as the best non-Kevin McGonigle high school shortstop in the class. Some teams have him solidly inside the first round range already, and some have him just outside of that range, but all are enamored with his all-around skill set and foundation of athleticism.
Houck is a talented football player who is rated as a three-star quarterback prospect per 247Sports, and he—along with fellow multi-sport athlete Roch Cholowsky—is one of the most athletic shortstops in the class.
But the 6-foot-1, 190-pound infielder isn’t some raw athlete without baseball skill. Far from it. He showed an advanced approach and sound hitting ability this summer against some of the best arms in the class. While he mostly showed doubles and triples power to the gaps, it’s easy to see more in-game power coming for Houck as he reaches physical maturity. He hit mid-90s velocity hard and consistently found the barrel of the baseball, especially at East Coast Pro where he was arguably the most impressive player at the event.
A 6.7 runner in the 60-yard dash, Houck has shown plus running ability and above-average arm strength that should serve him well on the left side of the infield, where he has also shown quick-twitch reactions and the ability to make highlight-reel diving and leaping grabs. While the state of Georgia isn’t nearly as loaded as it was in 2022 with Druw Jones, Termarr Johnson, Kevin Parada and Dylan Lesko, Houck’s all-around ability for powerhouse program Parkview continues to give the state potential first round talent.
Juaron Watts-Brown, RHP, Oklahoma State
Current Rank: 46
Previous Rank: NR (101)
Watts-Brown was one of the top pitching prospects in the Cape Cod League this summer and impressed with a four-pitch mix over eight regular season starts with Falmouth. He posted a 3.71 ERA over 34 innings, while striking out 45 batters and walking 15.
Watts-Brown has a solid starter package between a still-projectable, 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame, deep arsenal of pitches and track record of racking up strikeouts. His best offerings are a fastball that regularly sits in the 93-95 mph range and a slider that has earned plus grades, but he also shows a solid curveball and changeup to round out the repertoire.
Watts-Brown is transferring from Long Beach State to Oklahoma State and will have more opportunities to continue pushing his draft stock higher in the Big 12 next spring.
Will Gasparino, OF, Harvard-Westlake HS, Studio City, Calif.
Current Rank: 50
Previous Rank: NR (101)
If you want to dream on physical tools and upside, how about a 6-foot-6, 201-pound outfielder who could have plus power, speed and arm strength?
Those are all very real possibilities for Will Gasparino, who also has the advantage of being the son of Dodgers scouting director Billy Gasparino and growing up around the game. Gasparino is a long-levered, highly athletic outfielder who moves surprisingly well for his size and this summer showed impressive impact potential in the righthanded batter’s box.
Yes, there are some swing-and-miss tendencies given his longer arms and a bat path that can get lengthy, but there are some similarities with Gasparino to Yankees first-round pick Spencer Jones at the same age. Jones was a two-way player and lefthanded hitter at the time, but both players stand out for their surprising athleticism, size and raw power. If Jones was able to tap into those tools and become a first-round pick after a few years at Vanderbilt, it’s hard to see why Gasparino couldn’t as well.
This profile is certainly more of a polarizing one in the industry and some clubs will be much higher than others given how teams handle pure bat-to-ball skill and whiff concerns, but for those willing to dream on a player, there’s plenty here to love.
Four Of A Kind? Examining The Candidates For The No. 1 Pick In the 2023 Draft
Just how good is this fearsome foursome? How much separation is there between them and how do the players compare and contrast with one another?
Walker Martin, SS, Eaton (Colo.) HS
Current Rank: 52
Previous Rank: NR (101)
Martin only played in a couple of the high-profile summer showcase events this year (Perfect Game National and Area Code Games), but he excelled in both and hit .412/.444/.706 with a home run and two doubles in the 18 plate appearances he received.
After entering the summer unranked on our top 100, Martin now settles in as the No. 4 prospect in the Four Corners region of the country, behind shortstops Jacob Wilson and Roch Cholowsky and two-way college player Paul Skenes. He is the only high school Colorado prospect on the list.
Martin has a lean and projectable, 6-foot-2, 188-pound frame and showed a highly repeatable and fluid lefthanded swing, both in batting practice and during games. His head stays balanced and steady throughout his swing and he showed an ability to hammer fastballs, though there were some whiffs against breaking stuff.
He’s a plus runner who might be able to play center field if he doesn’t stick at shortstop, though at this point there’s no reason to consider moving him off the infield dirt.
LuJames Groover, INF/OF, North Carolina State
Current Rank: 60
Previous Rank: 94
Unlike most of the other risers on this list, Groover’s statistical production this summer doesn’t jump off the page and wow you. However, scouts consistently praised Groover’s hitting ability and a few hard-hit balls falling his way in relatively small samples with Team USA and in the Cape Cod League could make his batting line look quite different.
Groover’s production in more extended samples with UNC Charlotte in 2021 (.351/.381/.489, 4 HR, 14 2B) and North Carolina State in 2022 (.364/.440/.568, 10 HR, 16 2B) are impressive and some scouts have considered thinking about him in a similar manner to 2020 first-rounder Justin Foscue—another right-right, hit-first infield profile with defensive questions.
Groover does not have an obvious defensive home. He’s played first, second, third and both corner outfield positions, but a majority of his collegiate playing time has come at first base. If Groover either shows improvement at a non-first base position next spring or continues to improve his in-game power production while hitting at a high clip as he’s done previously it would be unsurprising for him to continue tracking higher on this list.
He’s been a fastball masher with North Carolina State and last spring slashed .429/.500/.619 against a 103-pitch sample of 93-plus mph fastballs, but could stand to improve his contact ability on secondary offerings—he had a 31% miss rate against sliders, curveballs and changeups in 2022.
Magdiel Cotto, LHP, Kentucky
Current Rank: 66
Previous Rank: NR (101)
Cotto has shown impressive pure stuff and velocity from the left side, going back to his high school days, when he showed a huge jump with his fastball during his senior spring season.
That stuff hadn’t played particularly well for Cotto during his first two college seasons with South Carolina and Kentucky in 2021 and 2022. He posted a 6.53 ERA with both programs across 41.1 total innings, while giving up more than a hit per inning (10.2) and walking 11.7% of the batters he faced.
That changed this summer, as Cotto posted a 2.67 ERA over 27 innings with Hyannis and ranked as the No. 19 prospect in the Cape Cod League. His success seemed to be primarily driven by improved command. While his walk rate was only a tick better (10.6%) than his previous numbers at South Carolina and Kentucky, Cotto landed each of his pitches for strikes more frequently.
His fastball strike percentage went from 65% with South Carolina and Kentucky to 70% in the Cape. His slider percentage jumped 10 points from 45% to 55%. And his changeup percentage was roughly the same, but still a percentage point higher—55% previously to 56% in the Cape.
All of those marks are good indicators for Cotto moving forward, as hitters should have a harder time sitting on his low-to-mid-90s fastball if he can consistently locate two breaking balls for strikes.