Baseball America's draft content is powered by

2023 MLB Draft Combine Day 1 Notebook: Data Leaders & 11 Standouts


Image credit: George Baker (Bill Mitchell)

PHOENIX—The third annual MLB Draft combine kicked off on Tuesday in Phoenix, with more than 300 players heading to Chase Field to take part in on-field workouts, medical assessments, team meetings and more. 

Below are in-person notes from the event, including 11 players who stood out as well as leaderboards for a variety of on-field measurables in workouts and game environments.

College players in attendance participated in batting practice, infield and outfield workouts and bullpen sessions, while high school players participated in all of those in addition to a 13-inning game to end the day. 

Metrics Leaderboards

Bullpen Velocity

  1. Sam Knowlton, RHP, South Alabama — 98.0
  2. George Klassen, RHP, Minnesota — 97.5
  3. Skylar Hales, RHP, Santa Clara — 96.9
  4. Cameron Flukey, RHP, Egg Harbor Township (N.J.) HS — 94.6
  5. Cole Miller, RHP, Newbury Park (Calif.) HS — 94.1

Bullpen Induced Vertical Break

  1. Zach Thornton, LHP, Grand Canyon — 21.6
  2. Cameron Flukey, RHP, Egg Harbor Township (N.J.) HS — 21.6
  3. Michael Forret, RHP, State JC of Florida — 20.3
  4. Brayden Sharp, LHP, The Woodlands (Texas) HS — 19.4
  5. Jaden Woods, LHP, Georgia — 18.9

Batting Practice Exit Velocity

  1. Kemp Alderman, 1B/OF, Mississippi — 111.4
  2. Jake DeLeo, OF, Georgia Tech — 110.0
  3. Daniel Cuvet, 3B, Florida Virtual School — 109.5
  4. Will Simpson, 1B, Washington — 109.5
  5. Kevin Sim, 3B/1B, San Diego — 109.4
  6. Jonathon Long, 1B, Long Beach State — 107.7 
  7. Brock Vradenburg, 1B, Michigan State — 106.8
  8. Devin Saltiban, OF, Hilo (Hawaii) HS — 106.1
  9. Homer Bush, OF, Grand Canyon — 106.0
  10. Drew Burress, OF/INF, Houston County HS, Warner Robins, Ga. — 105.9

Batting Practice Distance

  1. Kemp Alderman, 1B/OF, Mississippi — 443
  2. Will Simpson, 1B, Washington — 437
  3. Daniel Cuvet, 3B, Florida Virtual School — 429
  4. Luke Keaschall, SS, Arizona State — 424
  5. Brock Vradenburg, 1B, Michigan State — 418
  6. Colin Barczi, C, Naperville (Ill.) Central HS — 418
  7. Drew Burress, OF/INF, Houston County HS, Warner Robins, Ga. — 416
  8. Mac Horvath, 3B/OF, North Carolina — 415
  9. Homer Bush, OF, Grand Canyon — 415
  10. Kevin Sim, 3B/1B, San Diego  — 415

High School Game Velocity

  1. Garrett Baumann, RHP, Hagerty HS, Oviedo, Fla. — 96.7
  2. Barrett Kent, RHP, Pottsboro (Texas) HS — 96.2
  3. Aidan Knaak, RHP, Bishop Verot HS, Fort Myers, Fla. — 96.0
  4. Mac Heuer, RHP, Home School — 96.0
  5. Liam Peterson, RHP, Calvary Christian HS, Clearwater, Fla. — 95.9

High School Game Induced Vertical Break

  1. Colton Hartman, LHP, Lebanon (Ohio) HS — 21.9
  2. Luke Dotson, LHP, Mount Paran Christian HS, Kennesaw, Ga. — 21.8
  3. Aidan Knaak, RHP, Bishop Verot HS, Fort Myers, Fla. — 21.7
  4. Brady Smith, RHP, Grainger HS, Rutledge, Tenn. — 21.4
  5. Mac Heuer, RHP, Home School — 21.0

High School Game Exit Velocity

  1. Caden Sorrell, OF, Marcus HS, Flower Mound, Texas — 105.3
  2. Adison Worthman, OF, Bloomington (Ill.) HS — 104.8
  3. Luke Scherrer, C, Yucaipa (Calif.) HS — 101.4
  4. Trenton Lyons, C, Christian Brothers HS, Memphis — 100.4
  5. Jack Bell, SS, Ray HS, Corpus Christi, Texas — 100.1
  6. TJ Pompey, SS, Coppell (Texas) HS — 99.7
  7. Isaiah Drake, OF, North Atlanta HS — 99.4
  8. Riley Jackson, C, Eau Gallie HS, Melbourne, Fla. — 98.1
  9. Antonio Jimenez, SS, Archbishop McCarthy HS, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — 98.0
  10. Duce Robinson, OF, Pinnacle HS, Phoenix — 96.7

Player Notes

Connor Burns, C, Long Beach State

Burns has a reputation as the best defensive catcher in the class and he lived up to the hype during catcher workouts. He showed off some of the easiest actions of the day, and logged four pop times—all of which checked in under the 1.94-second mark on Baseball America’s stopwatch.

Perhaps more impressive than the pure time was the accuracy of Burns’ throws. He put the baseball right on the bag on each throw, including one where he intentionally lowered his arm slot and threw to the bag from a different release point. 

His first three pop times checked in with 65-plus grades in the 1.80-1.87-second range and he did everything with extreme ease.

A defensive-first prospect, Burns did show off some pull-side raw power in batting practice. He has a solid amount of strength, but there are questions about his pure hit tool and some moving parts in the swing, including a sizable leg kick and a bit of a hand drop in his load.

Daniel Cuvet, 3B, Florida Virtual School

Having high school players and college players take batting practice together is a great way to contextualize strength, physicality and raw power. As you can see from the batting practice leaderboards above, the top of the exit velocity and distance metrics are mostly claimed by corner profile collegians—with Cuvet being the notable exception.

Cuvet has some of the best raw power in the high school class and on Tuesday he showed he might just have some of the best raw power period—high school, college or otherwise. He showed easy home run juice to both gaps, and has a swing that doesn’t feature much movement with quiet hands, and in this session he showed consistent hard-hit contact. 

His average exit velocity during this batting practice session was just over 96 mph and his average distance was 331 feet.

Jandaniel Gonzalez, C, Hernandez HS, Humacao, P.R.

One of the top Puerto Rican prospects in the class, Gonzalez showed some of the loudest pure arm strength among the backstops on day one during catcher workouts.

He didn’t have the sort of accuracy that Burns showed, but he did show easy plus arm strength with plenty of arm speed from behind the plate. A number of his throws were pulled a bit to the shortstop side of the second base bag, but he was consistently under the 2.0-second pop time range that signifies average, and was mostly in the 1.86-1.95-second range on the BA stopwatch.

His arm is a real asset behind the plate, particularly if he’s able to sharpen up the accuracy. 

In batting practice, Gonzalez showed a whippy, lefthanded swing with solid bat speed and a pull-heavy approach. It looked more like below-average power in this session, but he did pull a home run down the right field line.  

Cole Miller, RHP, Newbury Park (Calif.) HS

A number of pitchers threw bullpen sessions during the first day of the combine, though none were as impressive all-around as Miller. 

He mixed in three pitches and showed solid feel for all three, including a tight-spinning curveball that was one of the better breaking balls of the day. Miller threw his fastball in the 91-94 mph range with good sinking life and did a nice job throwing the pitch for strikes.

His best pitch in this look was a power curveball at 82-83 mph with three-quarter shape and impressive late finish and bite. He spun the pitch in the 2,500 rpm range and consistently landed it for strikes.

Miller also mixed in an 83-84 mph changeup that looked solid and was thrown with good arm speed. He yanked the second change he threw, but for the most part showed a solid cambio with a bit of fading action.

Cameron Flukey, RHP, Egg Harbor Township (N.J.) HS

Flukey showed a loud two-pitch mix in his bullpen session on Tuesday. The 6-foot-6, 185-pound righthander has an extremely long arm action and throws from a higher slot, but he did a nice job filling up the zone with a fastball that jumps out of his hand. 

He pitched in the 92-94 mph range, but the fastball seems to have impressive riding life with a bit of extra giddy-up as it approaches the plate. That movement profile was backed up with TrackMan data, as Flukey averaged around 19.5 inches of induced vertical break with his fastball and had some of the best riding life on the pitch of anyone who threw a bullpen session.

He snapped off a hard curveball in the 81-83 mph range as well. The pitch was hard and tight with 12-to-6 shape and outside of one breaking ball getting away from him a bit and backing up to his arm side, he did a nice job spinning the ball consistently.

George Baker, C, Pro5 Baseball Academy, Holly Springs, N.C.

There are a few catchers on today’s list of standouts, including Baker, who showed raw arm strength that might have surpassed both Burns and Gonzalez in this look. The best pop time from him on the BA watch was 1.78 seconds and his entire round hovered around the 1.80-1.85-second range for the most part, thanks to a quick and clean exchange, good direction to second base and eye-opening pure velocity and carry to the second base bag. Baker’s throws looked like they were thrown on a straight line with little noticeable drop, run or cutting action. He yanked one throw to the shortstop side of second base, but for the most part was on target with his throws and also showed the ability to throw with strength and accuracy from his knees. It was an impressive glimpse of his arm, and he turned in a fine batting practice as well.

Ashton Larson, OF, St. Thomas Aquinas HS, Overland Park, KS

Larson had one of the best BP rounds of the first day of the event. He consistently barreled the baseball and showed above-average power to the pull side, with baseballs deposited into the right field seats seemingly each round and two balls hit more than 400 feet.

Even when he wasn’t homering to right, Larson sent screaming line drives—mostly to the pull side—during each round. 

Larson is well-built with a filled-out 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame, with plenty of lean muscle in both his lower and upper halves. There are few moving parts in his swing, which he starts with a moderate stride before firing his hands through the zone with a slightly uphill finish.

Gavin Adams, RHP, Indian River State (Fla.) JC

Adams was one of the hardest-throwers on the day, and some funky mislabeling of TrackMan data is the only reason he doesn’t show up on the bullpen velocity leaderboard above. He consistently threw a fastball at 97 mph according to the stadium TrackMan data that was broadcast on the scoreboard, and while he was a bit erratic in his session, he showed impact reliever upside with his velocity and a firm 86-88 mph slider/cutter and an 88 mph changeup. Adams works from the first base side of the rubber and has a bit of recoil and effort in his delivery, with a deep plunging action in the back of his arm stroke. 

John Peck, SS, Pepperdine

Peck was one of the more impressive defensive shortstops on day one in the workouts. He showed sound middle infield actions, good glove work and a quick exchange with his throws to first base. His feeds to second were quick and accurate, and he looked like the sort of player who would have no trouble sticking at the position—though his defensive versatility is one of the selling points of his game.

Aidan Knaak, RHP, Bishop Verot HS, Fort Myers, Fla.

Knaak was arguably the most dominant pitcher in the high school game Tuesday evening. He showed an explosive fastball that sat in the 92-95 mph range and touched 96, with tons of bat-missing life at the top of the zone. 

He struck out back-to-back batters, walked his third batter and then with a reset 1-1 count finished his third strikeout of the inning—all on fastballs. He generated seven whiffs with the pitch, which averaged around 2,300 rpm in spin and nearly 20 inches of induced vertical break. 

While the fastball looked like an easy plus offering in this short one-inning stint, he also showed two solid secondaries: the first a 79-81 mph changeup with a huge velocity gap to his fastball and the second an 82 mph curveball with 12-to-6 shape and solid spin that he landed below the zone. 

Isaiah Drake, OF, North Atlanta HS

Drake was one of the most impressive in-game performers on Tuesday. He went 2-for-5 with a triple, a single, a pair of walks and two strikeouts. Both his strikeouts came in reset counts after he initially drew a walk and then started a new “at-bat” with a 1-1 count. His lone out in a normal at-bat was a hard-hit fly ball that came off the barrel at 99 mph in a left-on-left matchup. 

Drake’s most impressive hit of the game came in the ninth inning, when he put the barrel on a 90 mph fastball from Kyle Johnson, and hit a screaming line drive to the right-center gap that also came off the barrel at 99 mph.

He showed his elite running ability on the play with a 4.26-second rounded home-to-first time and absolutely looked the part of an 80-grade runner that scouts have labeled him as on his trip to third.

He was responsible for two of the eight hardest-hit balls in the game and consistently showed solid swing decisions and competitive at-bats.

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone