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2023 MLB Draft: Baseball America Staff Draft V 1.0

Image credit: Max Clark (Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

For the sixth year running at Baseball America, we’re putting staffers in big league war rooms. 

Below you can see how the 2023 first round would unfold if five Baseball America writers—Ben Badler, Carlos Collazo, Peter Flaherty, Tom Lipari and Geoff Pontes—were making the decisions for teams and the draft were to happen today.

Keep in mind this is not a mock draft. We aren’t picking what we think teams will do, but making selections as if we were the decision makers for each MLB club. 

Since we’re only entering the third week of the college season, we expect much will change between now and the time of the actual draft in July. We’ll continue to do this exercise on occasion as the 2023 draft gets closer.


Pick Team Writer Player Position School BA Rank
1 Pirates Peter Dylan Crews OF Louisiana State 1
2 Nationals Geoff Paul Skenes RHP/DH Louisiana State 8
3 Tigers Ben Max Clark OF Franklin (Ind.) Community HS 5
4 Rangers Carlos Chase Dollander RHP Tennessee 2
5 Twins Tom Brayden Taylor 3B Texas Christian 9
6 A’s Peter Wyatt Langford OF Florida 4
7 Reds Geoff Walker Jenkins OF South Brunswick HS, Southport, N.C. 6
8 Royals Ben Jacob Wilson SS Grand Canyon 7
9 Rockies Carlos Jacob Gonzalez SS Mississippi 3
10 Marlins Tom Enrique Bradfield OF Vanderbilt 11
11 Angels Peter Hurston Waldrep RHP Florida 13
12 D-Backs Geoff Kyle Teel C Virginia 32
13 Cubs Ben Rhett Lowder RHP Wake Forest 14
14 Red Sox Carlos Aidan Miller 3B Mitchell HS, New Port Richey, Fla. 10
15 White Sox Tom Will Sanders RHP South Carolina 17
16 Giants Peter Tommy Troy SS/2B Stanford 31
17 Orioles Geoff Walker Martin SS Eaton (Colo.) HS 39
18 Brewers Ben Kevin McGonigle SS Monsignor Bonner HS, Drexel Hill, Pa. 21
19 Rays Carlos Noble Meyer RHP Jesuit HS, Portland, Ore. 15
20 Blue Jays Tom Matt Shaw SS Maryland 12
21 Cardinals Peter Yohandy Morales 3B Miami 16
22 Mariners Geoff Colton Ledbetter OF Mississippi State 130
23 Guardians Ben Thomas White LHP Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass. 18
24 Braves Carlos Bryce Eldridge 1B Madison HS, Vienna, Va. 22
25 Padres Tom Travis Sykora RHP Round Rock (Texas) HS 24
26 Yankees Peter Arjun Nimmala SS Strawberry Crest HS, Dover, Fla. 28
27 Phillies Geoff Dillon Head OF Homewood-Flossmoor HS, Flossmoor, Ill. 38
28 Astros Ben Eric Bitonti SS/3B Aquinas HS, San Bernardino, Calif. 42
29 Mariners Carlos Charlee Soto RHP Reborn Christian Academy, Kissimmee, Fla. 33

1. Pirates 
Dylan Crews, OF, Louisiana State (No. 1) 
Writer: Peter 

Rationale: Crews has arguably the highest floor of anyone in the draft class and has all-star upside in the majors. All he’s done since arriving in Baton Rouge is produce, with a career slash line of .365/.470/.683 across more than two college seasons.

2. Nationals 
Paul Skenes, RHP/DH, Louisiana State (No. 8) 
Writer: Geoff 

Rationale: No player has improved his draft stock over the opening weeks of the season quite like Skenes. After spending his first two seasons at Air Force, Skenes transferred to LSU and has immediately taken over as the Friday night starter. With a plus fastball and a potentially double-plus slider, Skenes is arguably the best college pitcher in the draft. 

3. Tigers 
Max Clark, OF, Franklin (Ind.) Community HS (No. 5) 
Writer: Ben 

Rationale: If Tennessee righthander Chase Dollander is healthy and dominating at the end of the season, he might end up being the pick here. Or if Texas Christian third baseman Brayden Taylor continues to show more power, he could be a fit here if the Tigers want to go for the polished college hitter, as would Grand Canyon shortstop Jacob Wilson. But with Clark, you’re getting not just an excellent athlete with premium tools, but also one of the most advanced hitters in the country. He’s a dynamic, well-rounded player who can stick at a premium position, makes a ton of contact and should see a power spike as he continues to evolve at the plate.

4. Rangers 
Chase Dollander, RHP, Tennessee (No. 2) 
Writer: Carlos 

Rationale: The consensus top pitcher in the draft entering the season, Dollander’s year hasn’t started with the bang that Skenes’ has, but he’s still quietly struck out 19 batters and walked two over his first two outings. I’d like to see the slider sharpen up a bit more moving forward, but I like getting a potential top-of-the-rotation arm here at No. 4.

5. Twins
Brayden Taylor, 3B, Texas Christian (No. 9) 
Writer: Tom 

Rationale: Perhaps the best pure college bat in the country who will continue to add size and strength with time.

6. A’s
Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida (No. 4) 
Writer: Peter 

Rationale: After seeing limited playing time as a true freshman, Langford exploded last season to the tune of a .356 batting average and 26 home runs. Langford has thunderous raw power and an advanced approach, while his above-average speed and defensive instincts could allow him to stick in center field as a pro. 

7. Reds 
Walker Jenkins, OF, South Brunswick HS, Southport, N.C. (No. 6) 
Writer: Geoff 

Rationale: A year after selecting Cam Collier the Reds go back to another talented lefthanded-hitting prep bat. Jenkins has plus raw power, strong athleticism and has been a high-level performer on the showcase circuit for years.

8. Royals 
Jacob Wilson, SS, Grand Canyon (No. 7) 
Writer: Ben 

Rationale: The Royals are sitting in a good position right now because there’s going to be someone available at No. 8 overall who some teams will have ranked in the top three players on their board. Getting Wilson here feels like more value than there should be with the eighth overall pick. He’s an extremely difficult hitter to strike out, with the swing and hand-eye coordination that will translate against better pitching, and he’s a smooth defender at shortstop with big league bloodlines (his father, former Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson, had 23.5 bWAR in 12 seasons).

9. Rockies 
Jacob Gonzalez, SS, Mississippi (No. 3) 
Writer: Carlos 

Rationale: I’m not the biggest fan of the way Gonzalez swings it, but letting him fall further than No. 9 would be irresponsible. This is a proven college shortstop who hits from the left side with power, bat-to-ball skills and a sound batting eye as well. He has a better chance to provide impact than a few of the other hitters off the board already. If Gonzalez was not available here Hurston Waldrep would be tough to pass on, given his insane pure stuff.

10. Marlins 
Enrique Bradfield, OF, Vanderbilt (No. 11) 
Writer: Tom 

Rationale: Probably the best runner in the class who’s definitely going to provide great defense in center field and brings strong bat-to-ball skills to the plate.

11. Angels 
Hurston Waldrep, RHP, Florida (No. 13) 
Writer: Peter 

Rationale: Waldrep has some of the most electrifying stuff in the entire draft class, armed with a fastball that has touched triple-digits with great shape, a hellacious slider and a split-change. All three are 65-grade or higher pitches and the Florida righthander has front-of-the-rotation upside.

12. D-Backs 
Kyle Teel, C, Virginia (No. 32) 
Writer: Geoff 

Rationale: The versatile Teel can handle catching and the outfield corners due to above-average athleticism. He’s performed well against high-level competition dating back to his prep days and pairs good plate skills with projectable power.

13. Cubs 
Rhett Lowder, RHP, Wake Forest (No. 14) 
Writer: Ben 

Rationale: I thought about Pennsylvania prep shortstop Kevin McGonigle here. Other than Cristian Hernandez, there aren’t any other middle infielders who rank among the top 20 prospects in the organization, so it’s a position of need and I love McGonigle. But you’re not drafting for need in the first round, and the Cubs could use more pitching anyway. They have gone college pitcher with their first-round pick in three of the last four years, and with Lowder at No. 13, they’re getting a better prospect than they did a year ago with Cade Horton at No. 7 overall.

14. Red Sox 
Aidan Miller, 3B, Mitchell HS, New Port Richey, Fla. (No. 10) 
Writer: Carlos 

Rationale: I’m quite happy collecting proven hit/power offensive profiles that continue to slide down the board. Miller has done as much to prove his track record as a pure hitter as perhaps anyone in the prep class and he has solid power that comes with electric bat speed. In the top half of the first round I am hunting for impact and I think Miller brings that to the table.

15. White Sox 
Will Sanders, RHP, South Carolina (No. 17) 
Writer: Tom 

Rationale: Sanders is big and physical with the pure stuff to match, highlighted by a mid-90s fastball and a firm slider.

16. Giants 
Tommy Troy, SS/2B, Stanford (No. 31) 
Writer: Peter 

Rationale: Troy is one of the top collegiate bats in this year’s draft, and is coming off a sophomore season in which he hit .339 with 25 extra-base hits. He followed that up with a loud performance in the Cape Cod League, hitting .310 with six doubles and five home runs en route to winning the league’s top pro prospect award. Troy has ultra-quick hands and plus bat speed, allowing him to really impact the baseball. This summer he posted multiple exit velocities greater than 105 mph, and this spring has already posted an exit velocity of 114 mph. Troy is an above-average defender with ample range in either direction and a great game clock.

17. Orioles 
Walker Martin, SS, Eaton (Colo.) HS (No. 39) 
Writer: Geoff 

Rationale: Arguably one of the top athletes in the draft, Martin is a projectable prep shortstop with high-end skills from a cold weather climate. He’s been a heavy riser over the last year and has cemented himself as a potential first-round pick. He would mark another steal for the Orioles here. 

18. Brewers 
Kevin McGonigle, SS, Monsignor Bonner HS, Drexel Hill, Pa. (No. 21) 
Writer: Ben 

Rationale: The Brewers have used their top pick the last four drafts on college players. That generally seems to be by design, but looking at who’s on the board, there isn’t a college hitter who’s especially exciting to me. McGonigle is exciting though, and the prep shortstop checks a lot of boxes that the Brewers look for in hitters with his advanced contact skills, good swing decisions and an impressive track record. He has a knack for consistently barreling balls in games, whether it’s high velocity, adjusting to offspeed stuff or covering a pitch in any quadrant of the strike zone with his quick, compact swing from the left side.

19. Rays 
Noble Meyer, RHP, Jesuit HS, Portland, Ore. (No. 15) 
Writer: Carlos 

Rationale: I’ve always been a bit more ready to go for the high school righthander demographic than some others here at BA. I acknowledge the risk, and am hoping for the reward, a la Phillies with Andrew Painter, by taking the best high school pitcher in the class in Meyer. I think Painter’s repertoire was deeper at this stage and his command was more consistent, but Meyer’s slider is probably a full grade better than what Painter’s was at the same time. 

20. Blue Jays 
Matt Shaw, SS, Maryland (No. 12) 
Writer: Tom 

Rationale: Shaw hasn’t gotten off to the best start this spring, but his middle infield profile and hit/power combination is an exciting one.

21. Cardinals 
Yohandy Morales, 3B, Miami (No. 16) 
Writer: Peter 

Rationale: Morales has been a huge name since his high school days and he’s done nothing but perform since arriving to campus. After hitting .329 last year with 18 home runs and an OPS over 1.000, the 6-foot-4 third baseman added good weight to his lean frame and showed up this fall looking noticeably more physical. He’s off to a hot start this season with three doubles and four home runs in nine games. His long levers and solid athleticism make him an above-average, rangy defender at third base, where he will stick at the professional level. 

22. Mariners
Colton Ledbetter, OF, Mississippi State (No. 130) 
Writer: Geoff 

Rationale: This was certainly the most aggressive pick in this mock, but I believe in the combination of plate skills and plus power. Ledbetter will look to prove his mettle against SEC competition in 2023. He has the second-hardest batted ball in college baseball after the opening two weeks, with a 116 mph exit velocity. 

23. Guardians 
Thomas White, LHP, Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass. (No. 18) 
Writer: Ben 

Rationale: White is a talented ball of clay for the Guardians’ pitching development program to mold into an even more dangerous, polished pitcher. They took a prep pitcher in the first round in 2019 with righthander Daniel Espino, a high-octane arm whose arm action they helped shorten to throw more strikes. White already has a big fastball with the projection for more in the tank and a sweet changeup, with the Guardians pitching development program making for a great marriage.

24. Braves 
Bryce Eldridge, 1B, Madison HS, Vienna, Va. (No. 22) 
Writer: Carlos 

Rationale: I’m going to keep swinging for the fences with high-upside preps in this range of the draft and I am choosing Eldridge as a hitter if I have to pick one. I think he’s a legitimate pro prospect on the mound, where he has impressive body control and a solid three-pitch mix, but I think I’m even more excited about his power potential as a hulking lefthanded hitter.

25. Padres 
Travis Sykora, RHP, Round Rock (Texas) HS (No. 24) 
Writer: Tom 

Rationale: Sykora is a long, lean 6-foot-6 high school power arm with a fastball up to 100 and a plus slider. I love his mound presence and the way he attacks.

26. Yankees 
Arjun Nimmala, SS, Strawberry Crest HS, Dover, Fla. (No. 28) 
Writer: Peter

Rationale: If this were an actual mock draft, my pick would have looked a lot different here. However, for this exercise, I had to snag Nimmala. He has already posted big-time exit velocities with wood and is an above-average athlete with a great swing path and tight turns. Nimmala will continue to add impact and physicality as he matures and his overall profile is one of the more enticing ones in the entire draft class. 

27. Phillies 
Dillon Head, OF, Homewood-Flossmoor HS, Flossmoor, Ill. (No. 38) 
Writer: Geoff 

Rationale: Head is an elite athlete with projectable power driven by serious bat speed. The Phillies add another standout prep athlete here to go alongside recent first-rounders Justin Crawford and Andrew Painter

28. Astros 
Eric Bitonti, SS/3B, Aquinas HS, San Bernardino, Calif. (No. 42) 
Writer: Ben 

Rationale: The last three years the Astros have had a first-round pick—they didn’t have one in 2020 or 2021—they used it to draft a college hitter picking in the 28-32 range. If they go the same route this year, the best fit for them could be returning to Tennessee to draft shortstop Maui Ahuna, one year after drafting Volunteers outfielder Drew Gilbert. The player I like the most here, though, is Bitonti, who by age is young enough to be a 2024 high school player, but he’s a physical masher with a lefthanded swing that should allow him to tap into that power in games. He has better body control and defensive actions than he typically gets credit for from people judging him too fast based on his size, so I think he has a chance to settle in as a power-hitting third baseman.

29. Mariners 
Charlee Soto, RHP, Reborn Christian Academy, Kissimmee, Fla. (No. 33) 
Writer: Carlos 

Rationale: Even before the season started, scouting directors raved about Soto’s stuff on the mound, voting him top three for his fastball, breaking ball and changeup in the high school class. Early this spring in Florida, Soto has been in the upper 90s with his heater and the overall delivery looks a bit less effortful than it was last summer. It wouldn’t be shocking if he wound up being one of the first prep arms off the board.

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