Image credit: Max Clark (Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)
The 2023 MLB draft starts tonight at 7 pm ET, starting with the Pirates picking No. 1 overall.
The top college players available are outfielders Dylan Crews (LSU) and Wyatt Langford (Florida), along with LSU righthander Paul Skenes, the 2023 College Player of the Year. Indiana prep outfielder Max Clark, the 2023 High School Player of the Year, and outfielder Walker Jenkins from North Carolina, are the top-ranked high school players.
Here’s the MLB draft order, followed by analysis of every pick in the first round as it happens, plus a full scouting report on each player.
1. Pittsburgh Pirates
2. Washington Nationals
3. Detroit Tigers
4. Texas Rangers
5. Minnesota Twins
6. Oakland Athletics
7. Cincinnati Reds
8. Kansas City Royals
9. Colorado Rockies
10. Miami Marlins
11. Los Angeles Angels
12. Arizona Diamondbacks
13. Chicago Cubs
14. Boston Red Sox
15. Chicago White Sox
16. San Francisco Giants
17. Baltimore Orioles
18. Milwaukee Brewers
19. Tampa Bay Rays
20. Toronto Blue Jays
21. St. Louis Cardinals
22. Seattle Mariners
23. Cleveland Guardians
24. Atlanta Braves
25. San Diego Padres
26. New York Yankees
27. Philadelphia Phillies
28. Houston Astros
Prospect Promotion Incentive Picks
29. Seattle Mariners
Supplemental First Round
30. Seattle Mariners
31. Tampa Bay Rays
32. New York Mets
33. Milwaukee Brewers
34. Minnesota Twins
35. Miami Marlins
36. Los Angeles Dodgers
37. Detroit Tigers
38. Cincinnati Reds
39. Oakland Athletics
Pick: Paul Skenes
Instant Analysis: There’s a debate about the No. 1 player in the class. There’s little disagreement about who the best pitcher is in the draft. Skenes helped lead LSU to a national championship as one of the best college pitching prospects we have seen in years, with extraordinary results and the high-octane stuff to match. With a fastball that regularly reaches triple digits, a wipeout slider, a changeup that flashes plus and as an excellent athlete who fills the strike zone, Skenes has a chance to be a No. 1 starter and pitch in the big leagues next season. To draft Skenes, the Pirates passed on the No. 1 player available, LSU outfielder Dylan Crews, as well as Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford and two elite high school outfielders in Max Clark and Walker Jenkins. There’s always added injury and attrition risk with pitching, but if everything clicks for Skenes, he could be an ace.
Scouting Report: Skenes put together one of the best seasons that Air Force had ever seen in 2021 as a freshman, when he hit .410/.486/.697 with 11 home runs and also posted a 2.70 ERA in 26.2 innings out of the bullpen. He followed that up with another excellent 2022 season on both sides of the ball, and announced a transfer to Louisiana State for the 2023 season, where he went from a no-doubt first round talent as a two-way player to the best college starter since Stephen Strasburg in 2009. Skenes dropped hitting and focused on pitching in Baton Rouge, while working with former Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson. In one of the most offensive college baseball environments in history, Skenes routinely shut the door on opposing offenses and was a Golden Spikes Award semi-finalist. He posted a 1.69 ERA over 19 starts and 122.2 innings, with a 45.1% strikeout rate and 4.3% walk rate. He broke LSU and the SEC’s single season strikeout record and led the nation with 209 strikeouts—51 more than the No. 2 pitcher in the country. Along with center fielder Dylan Crews, Skenes helped push LSU to a College World Series championship. After sitting 93-94 mph with his fastball in 2022, Skenes averaged more than 98 mph in 2023 and has touched 103 mph at peak velocity. He also changed the shape of his mid-80s slider, going from a short-breaking pitch to one with sweeper action with 11 inches of horizontal movement. Both pitches are 70-grade offerings, with a 31% miss rate on the fastball and a 65% miss rate on the slider. Skenes hasn’t thrown it much, but his upper-80s changeup also has plus potential. He’s an efficient mover on the mound and has a clean, easy delivery with plus control and a workhorse, 6-foot-6, 247-pound frame that allows him to hold upper-90s velocity deep into starts. Skenes has legitimate front-of-the-rotation, ace upside and is also one of the most big league-ready prospects in the class. He has a chance to go first overall.
Pick: Dylan Crews
Instant Analysis: Crews withdrew his name from the 2020 draft coming out of high school to attend LSU. It paid off tonight with Crews going second overall to the Nationals, who got Baseball America’s No. 1 player in the draft. He checks just about every box you could ask for in a college hitter, with the mix of hitting ability and power that should allow him to fly through the system, ultimately hit in the middle of a lineup and develop into a franchise player.
Scouting Report: Crews was a highly-regarded prospect coming out of Lake Mary (Fla.) High, though he ultimately withdrew from the 2020 draft and made his way to Louisiana State, where he immediately became one of the best players in college baseball. He set an LSU record with 18 home runs as a freshman, then moved from right field to center field during his sophomore season and clubbed 22 more home runs and was named a Golden Spikes semifinalist. He won the award a year later and was one of the best hitters in the country in 2023, when he hit .426/.567/.713 with 18 home runs, 16 doubles, a 13.4% strikeout rate and a 20.6% walk rate, while being the focal point of an offense that won a College World Series championship against Florida. He either got a hit or drew a walk in every game of the season. Crews has a powerfully-built 6-foot, 205-pound frame and above-average or better tools across the board. He has electric, double-plus bat speed that allows him to drive the ball to all fields with authority, catch up to velocity and make late swing decisions, with great balance and strength in his lower half. After chasing a bit too much in high school, Crews has developed an advanced approach in college, with a solid eye and just a 17% chase rate in 2023. He also hits the ball harder than most players in the class, with a 96 mph average exit velocity and a 110 mph 90th percentile mark. A plus runner now, Crews should be at least above-average in the future if he slows down, and he’s a good center field defender with advanced route-running ability and instincts. He profiles as a plus defender in an outfield corner if he needs to move, with easy plus arm strength. He entered the year as the No. 1 player in the class and is the favorite to be selected first overall, with perennial all-star upside potential.
Pick: Max Clark
School: Franklin (Ind.) Community HS
Instant Analysis: I love this pick for the Tigers. There were other good options here as well, so the Tigers were in a good position here at No. 3, but Clark checks so many boxes we look for in an elite position prospect. It’s a sweet lefthanded swing, great bat control, good strike-zone discipline and an excellent track record of offensive performance. He’s also an elite athlete with plus-plus speed, an arm to match with strong defensive instincts at a premium position in center field. The question some have with Clark—his power—is a tool that could be at least average as well and should show up more in games as he gets into his prime. The production we’re seeing this year from D-backs outfielder Corbin Carroll is what we could eventually see from Clark, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he followed in Carroll’s footsteps as a top-five prospect in baseball one day.
Scouting Report: A high school hitter from Indiana has never been selected among the top 10 picks in the draft, but Clark is well-positioned to become the first thanks to his combination of pure hitting ability, athleticism and big-time supplemental tools. Clark has long been considered one of the best pure hitters in the 2023 class, thanks to a smooth, balanced swing that’s quick, compact and through the hitting zone with a good bat path. On top of a clean mechanical swing, Clark has advanced strike-zone discipline and hand-eye coordination, with an ability to manipulate his swing based on the situation and location of the pitch. He rarely swings and misses and over a 765-pitch sample with Synergy from 2020-2022, Clark missed at just a 13% rate. In general, Clark has a line drive, hit-first approach at the plate, but he lowered his handset this spring in an attempt to drive the ball for more power, and could grow into solid or better power in the future thanks to a well-proportioned and muscular, 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame. While his future impact potential is perhaps the biggest question of his profile, there’s no doubting Clark’s supplemental tools. He has routinely turned in 70-grade run times, both in workout environments and in games, with excellent quickness out of the box and the ability to turn infield ground balls into singles and liners to the gap into doubles. His speed plays well on the bases and in center field, where he should be a plus defender with standout athleticism and solid defensive instincts. He has one of the best throwing arms in the prep class, a 70-grade tool that has been into the mid 90s on the mound. Clark is committed to Vanderbilt, but is expected to be a top-five pick thanks to all-star upside via a well-rounded tool set and no-doubt center field profile.
Pick: Wyatt Langford
Instant Analysis: If Dylan Crews weren’t in this draft, perhaps Langford would be more of a household name as the clear top college hitter available. Langford hit .373/.498/.784 with more walks (56) and more extra-base hits (52) than strikeouts (44) this spring at Florida. Prep outfielder Walker Jenkins is a tough player to pass on here, but the Rangers get one of the premier hitters in college baseball in Langford, and someone who should be in the big leagues within a year or two.
Scouting Report: Langford wasn’t a high-profile prospect out of Trenton (Fla.) High. A few scouts were intrigued with his hitting ability at the time, but ultimately he made his way to campus at Florida. He only pinch-hit in four games in 2021, but stormed onto the college baseball scene in 2022, when he tied a Gators program record with 26 home runs and led the team in most offensive categories. During his 2023 draft year, Langford hit .373/.498/.784 with 21 home runs, 28 doubles, a 14.5% strikeout rate and an 18.5% walk rate and helped push Florida to the College World Series finals. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound outfielder’s game is centered on his power and hitting ability. Scouts have given him 70-grade raw power evaluations, and his all-fields home run production and gaudy exit velocities back that up. Langford has a simple and direct swing from the right side, with few moving parts and a low handset and slight leg kick to get started. He has more than enough bat speed to handle velocity—he produced a 1.725 OPS vs. 92-plus mph pitches in a 238-pitch sample—and generally stays within the strike zone, though he occasionally shows a tendency to leak with his lower half out on outer third breaking balls. Langford started showing improved run times during the 2022 fall, and has flashed 70-grade speed, though he more consistently performs as an above-average or plus runner. He’s played left field at Florida, with Jud Fabian handling center field in 2022 and Michael Robertson playing the position in 2023, but it would be unsurprising for the team who drafts him to start him in center field in pro ball. Langford was a catcher in high school and also served as Team USA’s emergency catcher in 2022. One of the most accomplished offensive players in the class, Langford should go off the board among the first five picks.
Pick: Walker Jenkins
School: South Brunswick HS, Southport, N.C.
Instant Analysis: In a lot of years, Jenkins would be a legitimate No. 1 overall pick. So the Twins have to be ecstatic to be able to get a player of his caliber picking fifth overall. Jenkins is a physical athlete with a beautiful lefthanded swing, big bat speed and outstanding raw power. His offensive game looks like it could translate into a plus hitter with 30-plus home run power. A center fielder now, he has the defensive tools and instincts to become a plus defender if he moves to right field, which seems his most likely defensive home.
Scouting Report: Jenkins entered the 2023 draft cycle as one of the most exciting players in the nation after proving his hitting chops as an underclassman and earning a spot on USA Baseball’s 18U National Team in 2021. He didn’t get to showcase his talents throughout the entire 2022 summer after a hamate injury, but scouts still viewed him as one of the top high school prospects in the nation given his lefthanded swing and power potential. Jenkins has an ideal slugger’s frame at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds with plenty of strength and a picturesque lefthanded swing. Jenkins stands in the box with great posture, balance and rhythm and gets on plane easily and consistently with plus bat speed and excellent timing. It’s an uphill path that’s leveraged for power, and his pure bat-to-ball skills and zone recognition should allow him to be both a plus hitter and potential 30-home run masher who hits in the middle of a lineup and can use the entire field with authority. Jenkins has a ready-made right field profile with plus arm strength, but he has impressed scouts with both his improved running ability and defensive play in center field this spring. He’s turned in plus run times and covers plenty of ground in the outfield with graceful, loping strides and also has solid instincts and route-running ability. He now has a chance to at least begin his pro career in center field, though he’s still more likely an above-average right fielder in the long run. Jenkins has earned comparisons to former Pirates first-rounder Austin Meadows, but there are North Carolina area scouts who say they’ve not seen a player like Jenkins since 1999 No.1 overall pick Josh Hamilton. Jenkins is committed to North Carolina, but he’s the top high school player in the class and should go off the board within the first five picks.
Pick: Jacob Wilson
School: Grand Canyon
Instant Analysis: It’s a tough year to be drafting sixth overall given the top five players on the board. With those players gone, the A’s grab a shortstop with elite contact skills in Wilson, who has exceptional plate coverage and rarely strikes out. Wilson flashed power last summer with wood bats, but his modest exit velocity numbers this year have given some teams pause about how much damage he will do in pro ball. If Wilson can turn into a 15-20 home run hitter, his bat-to-ball skills and ability to play a premium position would make him a valuable player who could hit toward the top of a lineup.
Scouting Report: Wilson is the son of 12-year MLB shortstop and all-star Jack Wilson, who joined Grand Canyon’s coaching staff as an assistant prior to the 2023 season. Wilson, like his father, is a talented shortstop who was named to the All-WAC first team in each of his three seasons with GCU and also played with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team in 2022. Elite contact ability is the headlining trait for Wilson, who has hit .361/.419/.558 with a 4.4% strikeout rate in 155 collegiate games. During the 2023 season, Wilson made contact at a 94% overall rate. Against fastballs and on pitches inside the strike zone, that contact rate was up to 97%. Wilson’s elite bat-to-ball skills means he is able to get away with chasing pitches out of the zone at times, and at the next level he might need to become more selective, as he doesn’t have the sort of power to get away with expanding his strike zone. A 6-foot-3, 190-pound hitter, Wilson has below-average raw power, and after hitting 12 home runs during the 2022 season, was down to just six homers in 2023. He has flashed surprising pull-side pop at times, including with a wood bat with USA Baseball, but his lean frame and underlying exit velocities don’t suggest anything more than a 40-grade power hitter in pro ball, even with future strength gains. Wilson is just an average runner and has never been much of a basestealer, but is praised for his sure-handedness and defensive actions at shortstop. He’s an above-average defender at the position with above-average arm strength, which should help alleviate any concerns about his power potential. Wilson will get critiqued for his lack of power, but his outlier contact ability with a safe shortstop profile should get him selected among the top 15 picks.
Pick: Rhett Lowder
School: Wake Forest
Instant Analysis: The Reds get a pitcher with a great mix of stuff and polish in Lowder, who dominated this season for Wake Forest. It’s a true starter look, with a three-pitch mix that includes swing-and-miss secondaries and a fastball up to 97 mph and good command of his entire arsenal. Lowder should spend little time in the lower levels of the minors and could be pitching big league innings by next year if the Reds want to be aggressive with him.
Scouting Report: While Wake Forest has become a pitching factory in recent years, Lowder became the first player in program history to be named ACC pitcher of the year after a 2022 season where he posted a 3.08 ERA in 99.1 innings, with a 25.1% strikeout rate. He followed that up with a dominant showing for Team USA’s Collegiate National Team during the summer, and then in 2023 was among the most consistent pitchers in the country as the Friday night starter for one of the best Wake Forest teams in program history—again winning ACC pitcher of the year honors. Lowder posted a 1.87 ERA through 19 starts and 120.1 innings, with a career-high 30.4% strikeout rate, career-low 5.1% walk rate. He threw at least six innings in 15 of his 19 starts.. He’s large and physical with a 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame, an up-tempo windup and a lower, three-quarter slot. There are pitchers with “louder” pure stuff, but it would be hard to find a pitcher with better feel for a legitimate three-pitch mix. He throws a fastball that sits 93-94 mph and has been up to 97 with tons of running life and has pounded the zone at a 70% or better rate in each of the last two seasons. He also has great feel to land a mid-80s, sweepy slider and a mid-80s changeup. Both are consistent swing-and-miss offerings and seem to play off of each other nicely—whether that’s due to Lowder tunneling the trio well or because he simply commands them at will and throws each around a third of the time. Lowder might be nitpicked by some teams because of his running fastball, his relative lack of projection and an extreme-open toe, crossfire landing. Still, he’s posted, has above-average stuff across the board and is one of the safest starting profiles you’ll find in the class.
Pick: Blake Mitchell
School: Sinton (Texas) HS
Instant Analysis: Mitchell is the No. 1 high school catcher in our rankings, ranked No. 15 overall, with the tools to be an excellent defender behind the plate. At the same time, the track record of high school catching shows it’s extremely risky, so the Royals are making an aggressive bet here on Mitchell with what’s likely an under-slot deal, meaning the Royals should be able to spend more later in the draft.
Scouting Report: The top high school catcher in the class, Mitchell is also a talented pitcher who has been into the mid 90s on the mound and was used in a two-way role for Team USA’s 18U gold medal-winning national team in 2022. Despite his talent on the mound, his upside is higher as a catching prospect, with big-time lefthanded power and double-plus arm strength. Mitchell is physically mature at 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, with well-developed lower and upper halves that provide an excellent foundation of strength and power. He has solid rhythm in the batter’s box, and a generally strong understanding of the strike zone, though his pure bat-to-ball skills need work. It’s not surprising for Mitchell to swing-and-miss against all pitch types and he’ll need to do a better job making contact in order to tap into his plus raw power. While his pure hit tool remains a bit raw, he’s a polished and instinctual defender behind the plate. He received well and did a nice job handling the best arms in the class in 2022—including a few high-octane, poor control pitchers with Team USA—with solid agility and flexibility that should allow him to be a consistently strong blocker. His carrying defensive tool is his 70-grade arm strength, which allows him to produce in-game pop times in the 1.8-1.9-second range and should allow him to keep the running game in check, especially with improved accuracy and footwork. Mitchell is a well below-average runner committed to Louisiana State but has a chance to be a top-15 selection.
Pick: Chase Dollander
Instant Analysis: We often talk about up-arrow prospects, but that isn’t the case with Dollander. So It speaks to Dollander’s stuff, upside and pre-2023 performance that a pitcher with a 4.75 ERA who didn’t look as sharp this season as he did a year ago just went in the top 10 overall picks. The 2022 version of Dollander looked like a potential frontline starter, so the Rockies have to be banking on a belief that they can get him back to that form.
Scouting Report: An under-the-radar prospect out of high school, Dollander began his college career at Georgia Southern, but transferred to Tennessee in 2022 where he took a huge step forward with his control, became the Friday night starter and performed as one of the best arms in the country. Dollander posted a 2.39 ERA over 79 innings with a sparkling 108-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio, won the SEC pitcher of the year award and entered the 2023 season as the consensus top pitcher in the 2023 class. Dollander hasn’t been quite as electric in his draft year, however, as his walk rate jumped from 4.2% to 7.8% and he posted a 4.75 ERA over 17 starts and 89 innings. The shape on both his fastball and slider backed up a bit compared to the 2022 version, but in terms of pure stuff and velocity, Dollander hasn’t changed much. He still averaged 95-96 mph with his fastball and has been up to 98 and throws his slider in the mid 80s—both in line with his 2022 velocities—with great spin rates. He has less carry on his fastball and the slider has also lacked the consistent hard and late bite that fooled so many hitters a year ago, though at the end of the season the whiff rate on the slider had only gone from 36% in 2022 to 34% in 2023. Both pitches still flash plus, but Dollander has been noticeably less pinpoint with his command after putting his fastball in Dixie Cups each outing in 2022. Some scouts think his struggles are simply due to very slight mechanical changes, like not staying stacked on his back leg as efficiently as a year ago. On top of the fastball and slider, Dollander throws a mid-to-upper-80s changeup and a mid-70s curveball with top-down shape and 2,700 rpm spin rates. Dollander has a great pitcher’s frame at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds with a clean, fluid delivery and fast arm from a three-quarter slot. Even with his comparative struggles, Dollander is one of the most talented arms in the class and should be a top-15 selection.
Pick: Noble Meyer
School: Jesuit HS, Portland, Ore.
Instant Analysis: High school pitching certainly carries its risks. But if you’re going to draft a high school pitcher in the first round, it’s hard to find a pitcher who checks more boxes than Meyer, the top prep pitcher in the class. It’s an easy delivery, a lot of strikes, a fastball that reaches the upper 90s and a 70 slider on the 20-80 scale that should continue to pile up whiffs in pro ball. Given Miami’s track record with developing pitching, it seems like a great fit for Meyer as well.
Scouting Report: Meyer established himself as the top prep pitching prospect during the 2022 summer showcase circuit, as he continued improving his fastball velocity and also showed one of the better breaking balls in the class. After pitching in the upper 80s and touching low 90s in 2021, Meyer now sits with a fastball in the low 90s and has touched as high as 98 mph. A tall and lean, 6-foot-5, 200-pound righthander, Meyer has a similar frame to fellow Northwest prep righthander Mick Abel at the same time. He works with a clean and athletic delivery, and while his arm action is a bit long in his takeback, he showed solid ability to repeat a lower, three-quarter arm slot and lacks much violence in his finish. His delivery and excellent athleticism have allowed him to consistently showcase advanced touch and feel for a prep arm, particularly one with Meyer’s size and stuff. He primarily works with a fastball/slider combination and used that combo to dominate hitters over the summer. At his best, like his brief outing at Perfect Game’s National showcase where he struck out six in two innings, he flashes a pair of 70-grade pitches with good control. The fastball sat in the mid 90s with powerful running life that on multiple occasions ripped his catcher’s glove off and his mid-80s slider features tons of horizontal, sweeping life and has wipeout potential with spin rates that get into the 3,000 rpm range. Meyer has infrequently used a firm, upper-80s changeup that has diving life but needs to add more feel for the pitch. Meyer combines the pure stuff of Abel with the advanced control that Phillies first-rounder Andrew Painter showed at the same age. Meyer is committed to Oregon but is a top-15-caliber talent with mid-rotation upside.
Pick: Nolan Schanuel
School: Florida Atlantic
Instant Analysis: Zach Neto was an elite college performer at Campbell with some unorthodox components to his swing when the Angels drafted him in the first round last year. Schanuel doesn’t bring Neto’s defensive ability, but he’s another hitter who doesn’t have the most picture perfect swing but dominated for Florida Atlantic. He makes good swing decisions and has an extremely accurate barrel, rarely missing a fastball when he swings. It’s likely an under-slot deal here that will allow the Angels to go over-slot later in the draft.
Scouting Report: Schanuel developed a reputation as a standout pure hitter in high school in Florida, but went undrafted and made it to campus at Florida Atlantic. He has only solidified his hitting chops after three tremendous seasons, where he has posted an OPS north of 1.000 each year. He was one of the best overall hitters in college baseball in 2023, with a .444/.612/.864 slash line and a 219 wRC+ mark that led Division I. Schanuel is a tall, 6-foot-3, 195-pound first baseman who hits with a unique setup in the lefthanded batter’s box. He has an extremely high handset, reminiscent of Craig Counsell, but has done a nice job getting his hands into the hitting zone with good timing, with long levers and an uphill path. While the swing itself is odd, Schanuel has shown some of the best pure contact skills in the class, with a career 7% strikeout rate and a 2023 overall contact rate of 89%. He rarely misses in-zone (94%), rarely misses a fastball (97%) and also makes life difficult on pitchers by mostly staying within the strike zone on his swing decisions. Schanuel has solid power, but he’s a pure hitter first, who will hit for average, get on base, minimize his strikeouts and let his home runs come naturally. Schanuel is limited to a corner profile, but he’s a deft defender at first base and a below-average runner. He’s the top first base prospect in the class and should go in the back of the first round or shortly thereafter.
Pick: Tommy Troy
Instant Analysis: Troy pushed his way up draft boards with his performance, batting .392/.476/.696 in 293 plate appearances this season. He’s been a strong performer the last two years, including a strong summer with wood bats on the Cape last summer. There’s no one big carrying tool with Troy that grades out as a 70 or even a 60 on the 20-80 scale, but the D-backs are betting on his offensive ability to play somewhere in the dirt.
Scouting Report: Troy projected to be a fourth- or fifth-round pick out of Los Gatos (Calif.) High, but the shortened 2020 draft and his strong commitment to Stanford led him to reach campus. He started all three years in Stanford’s infield, starred in the Cape Cod League and led the Cardinal to three consecutive College World Series in his decorated career, which he capped by batting .392/.476/.696 with a career-high 17 home runs this spring. Troy isn’t particularly big at 5-foot-10, 197 pounds, but he’s a polished, steady performer who keeps improving. He has a compact, tight righthanded swing geared for line drives and makes consistent hard contact up the middle. He has quick hands, solid bat speed and rarely misses a fastball. Troy does have some swing-and-miss tendencies against secondary pitches, but he’s a disciplined hitter who knows the strike zone and stays within himself. He has surprising power for his size and will flash plus power to his pull side, but his approach and swing are more geared for contact. Troy is an above-average runner and a good athlete who has capably played second base, shortstop and third base for Stanford. He projects to be an average second baseman with average arm strength who can fill in at shortstop as needed. Troy is an exceptionally hard worker with advanced instincts and makes a lot of heads-up plays. He projects to be an everyday infielder who hits near the top of a lineup and should be selected in the first round.
Pick: Matt Shaw
Instant Analysis: With the 13th pick in the draft, the Cubs take the No. 13 player on our board. Three strong seasons of performance at Maryland coupled with a .360/.432/.574 line in 155 plate appearances last summer in the Cape Cod League have helped Shaw rise up draft boards. He doesn’t have one loud standout tool and he’s probably moving off shortstop—second base could be a fit—but it’s the bat the Cubs are banking on here.
Scouting Report: A highly-competitive middle infielder, Shaw started his career as the everyday second baseman for Maryland as a freshman in 2021, before assuming the starting shortstop role in his sophomore year. Shaw has been a powerful hitter throughout his collegiate career and broke Maryland’s program home run record in 2023, while also blitzing through the Cape Cod League in 2022, where he ranked as the No. 1 prospect. He is listed at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, but has significantly more strength than you’d expect from that frame thanks to snap-quick hands and immense wrist and forearm strength. He hit .344/.447/.695 in 61 games in 2023, with 23 home runs and 20 doubles, a 13.8% walk rate and 13.5% strikeout rate. Shaw has a closed stance and large leg kick but his bat speed and strength allow him to drive the ball to all fields with authority and he wore out the right-center gap with home run power as a junior, with a 90th percentile exit velocity around 107 mph. After struggling with contact against secondaries as a freshman and sophomore, Shaw improved significantly in that area in 2023, though he does still expand the strike zone a bit too much. He’s an above-average runner with standout baserunning instincts and went 18-for-19 (94.7%) on the bases in 2023. Shaw should have the defensive ability to stick on the infield, but there’s skepticism that shortstop is his long-term home. He should be fine as a serviceable second baseman with fringe-average arm strength.
14. Red Sox
Pick: Kyle Teel
Instant Analysis: The Red Sox land the top catching prospect in the draft with Teel, who ranks No. 10 overall on our board, hit .407/.475/.655 this season and projects to stick behind the plate. There are some big movements to his swing that some scouts think could get him into trouble against better pitching, but his offensive performance, athleticism and ability to play a premium position are all appealing.
Scouting Report: Teel was a standout high school prospect who would have ranked among the top 100 players in the class had he not withdrawn from the draft at the time. Teel split time as a catcher and outfielder with Virginia in 2021, but moved into an everyday catching role in 2022 and 2023 and also served as Team USA’s catcher during the 2022 summer. Teel was named ACC player of the year in 2023 and he hit .407/.475/.655, with 13 home runs and 25 doubles. A 6-foot-1, 190-pound lefthanded hitter, Teel has plenty of bat speed and takes extremely aggressive, violent hacks with plenty of moving parts in his setup. He has a large leg kick with a significant hand hitch in his load, but has also developed a solid track record of both contact and on-base skills. Teel has homered to all fields in college, but he has more fringe-average power projections in pro ball. Teel’s standout athleticism should give him every opportunity to stick behind the plate, and he has easy plus arm strength that should be an asset at the position as well. He’s thrown out 33.3% of basestealers for his career and turns in pop times around 1.90 seconds at his best, though his footwork and accuracy could be improved. He folds up well behind the plate and is a quick lateral mover on dirt balls, and he’s improved significantly as a receiver since his freshman year. He’s a good runner for a catcher and is the consensus top college catcher in the class.
15. White Sox
Pick: Jacob Gonzalez
Instant Analysis: Gonzalez has been one of the better pure hitters in college baseball since his freshman year at Ole Miss, albeit without the purest swing. He’s a .319/.427/.561 career hitter with more walks (123) than strikeouts (94) for his career and in each of his three college seasons. There are still questions that scouts have with Gonzalez on the swing itself and where he fits best defensively—but the White Sox land one of the top college performers still on the board.
Scouting Report: Gonzalez was a top-300 prospect out of Glendora (Calif.) High in 2020 who stood out for his multi-sport athleticism and powerful lefthanded swing. He went unselected and made his way to campus at Mississippi, where he’s been the starting shortstop since he stepped on campus, helped lead the team to a 2022 College World Series championship and was also selected to Team USA’s Collegiate National Team in back-to-back years. A strong and physical, 6-foot-2, 200-pound lefthanded hitter, Gonzalez has hit .319/.427/.561 through 186 games in his Ole Miss career, with 40 home runs and standout zone control skills. He is a patient and selective hitter who pairs a keen eye with solid pure bat-to-ball skills, evidenced by his 14.3% career walk rate, 10.9% career strikeout rate and an 84% contact rate in 2023. Gonzalez has above-average power potential, though his swing is a bit unorthodox and he’s been a pull-heavy hitter throughout his career. Gonzalez has a coiled upper half with his shoulders pointed toward first base, but he has an open stance with his lower half and doesn’t always get fully back to an even position at contact. In college he’s had no trouble extending his hands on the outer third and yanking balls to the pull side, though scouts wonder how he’ll handle both quality velocity and offspeed pitches on the outer rail in pro ball. Gonzalez is a 30-grade runner who takes a long time to get up to speed and because of that—and his size—scouts wonder if he’ll slide over to third base. He does have a lengthy track record as a reliable defender at shortstop, with good hands and above-average arm strength. If a team thinks he can stick at shortstop, Gonzalez offers an intriguing blend of impact, contact ability and on-base skill at a premium position with a low-pulse demeanor that should excel in a pro environment.
Pick: Bryce Eldridge
School: Madison HS, Vienna, Va.
Instant Analysis: Going into last summer, I thought Eldridge was one of the best high school pitchers in the class. By the end of the year, scouts were coming back saying he’s one of the best position prospects in the country. He’s a legit two-way talent who I hope gets the chance to continue to develop both as a hitter (where he has huge lefthanded power) and as a pitcher, where he’s been up to 96 mph with likely more in the tank.
Scouting Report: Entering the 2022 summer, Eldridge was viewed as a high-upside pitching prospect who also happened to have intriguing raw power as a hitter. After going ballistic with Team USA’s gold-medal winning 18U national team and winning MVP of the World Cup, Eldridge is one of the top two-way prospects in the class with a similar profile to a righthanded-throwing Spencer Jones. Eldridge is an imposing figure on the mound with a 6-foot-7, 233-pound frame and works with a solid delivery and three-quarter slot. He’s added velocity as he’s added strength to his frame, and sits in the low 90s while touching as high as 96. He throws with a downhill plane thanks to his height, inducing plenty of ground balls with his fastball, slider and changeup. The slider and curveball will occasionally blend together in the low 80s, and his mid-80s changeup was infrequently thrown and needs more feel. Eldridge repeats his delivery well and throws quality strikes thanks to excellent athleticism and body control. As a hitter, Eldridge has massive raw power that is near the best in the prep class. He’s shown the ability to access that power in games to all fields, and while there’s a bit of swing-and-miss he is viewed as a legitimate first round bat given his power upside despite profiling as a first baseman with well below-average speed. He can play fine defense at first with a large target. Eldridge dealt with an ankle injury this spring, and is committed to Alabama.
Pick: Enrique Bradfield
Instant Analysis: Once he signs, Bradfield immediately becomes one of the best defensive center fielders in professional baseball. He’s an 80 runner, gets great reads off the bat and takes crisp routes to the ball with terrific range. How much offensive impact Bradfield will ever have is the question. He hit .279/.410/.429 in 299 plate appearances this season, showing good strike-zone discipline and bat control with more walks than strikeouts in each of his three seasons at Vanderbilt, albeit without much power.
Scouting Report: Bradfield has tormented batteries with his blazing speed since his prep days with American Heritage High in Plantation, Fla., where he ranked as the No. 66 player in the 2020 class. Since getting to campus at Vanderbilt, he’s lived up to his reputation as a dynamic, disruptive speedster and lockdown center fielder who has hit .313/.427/.450 in 190 games with 130 stolen bases at a 90.9% success rate. Bradfield is a lean and skinny, 6-foot-1, 170-pound lefthanded hitter who has a level bat path that’s conducive to line drives and ground balls. He has a strong understanding of the strike zone and has walked at a 14.7% rate, struck out at a 13.5% rate and in 2023 made contact at an 87% rate. Brafield projects as a 30-grade power hitter in pro ball, but has sneaky exit velocities—an 87 mph average exit velocity in 2023—considering his size and overall home run production. Bradfield is an 80-grade runner who should pepper ground balls, line drives and drop bunts for infield singles, with consistently high BABIP numbers and elite baserunning. His speed translates to center field, where he’s also a top-of-the-scale defender who covers massive swaths of ground, with great instincts albeit a below-average arm. Bradfield has a polarizing profile and has much less power than the average first round college outfielder, but he’s also a potential Gold Glove winner and stolen base champion who earns Juan Pierre comps.
Pick: Brock Wilken
School: Wake Forest
Instant Analysis: No surprise to see the Brewers continue to go the college route with their top pick. Wilken has some of the biggest raw power in the draft. Wake Forest is a favorable park for hitters, but Wilken’s power is big enough to hit the ball out to any part of any ballpark. It is a power-over-hit profile, though he cut down on his swing-and-miss against offspeed stuff in 2023, alleviating some concerns about his pure hitting ability. There’s risk he ends up at first base too, so what Wilken does in the batter’s box is what will ultimately drive his value.
Scouting Report: Wilken ranked as the No. 354 prospect in the 2020 class out of high school, when scouts saw him as a power-hitting righthander who had a chance to develop 70-grade power in the future. Those evaluations were prescient, and Wilken made it to Wake Forest where he has become a massive 6-foot-4, 225-pound slugger and one of the preeminent home run hitters in college baseball. Wilken has amassed 71 home runs over three seasons, with a .299/.419/.679 career slash line over 173 games. During his 2023 draft season, he hit over .300 for the first time in his career, set Wake Forest’s single-season home run record with 31, became the career home run leader for the program and finished No. 2 in the country for total home runs. Wilken has 70-grade raw power. He can launch a baseball out of any park, from foul pole to foul pole, and in 2023 he posted a 94.6 mph average exit velocity and 108.1 mph 90th percentile exit velocity. That power does come with questions about his pure hitting ability, though Wilken in 2023 attempted to answer those questions by hitting for the highest average of his career, nearly doubling his walk rate from 2022 and significantly improving his contact vs. sliders—which he previously whiffed on at an alarming rate. Wilken has some tools that could play nicely at third base, including fine hands and a 60-grade throwing arm, but his lateral mobility is a question, he struggles to stay low to the ground at times and he’s also a well-below average runner. There’s plenty of first base-only risk here, though he has more than enough power for that slide down the defensive spectrum.
Pick: Brayden Taylor
Instant Analysis: Taylor has posted big OBPs for TCU since his freshman year. It’s a loose, easy lefthanded swing with good strike-zone discipline, and while his power was in question coming into the year, he hit 23 home runs this year, nearly as many as he hit the previous two seasons combined. Other than potentially his hitting ability, there isn’t another plus tool with Taylor, but if he can be a high OBP hitter with a bag of 50 tools across the board, this could be good value for the Rays landing him in the back half of the first round.
Scouting Report: Taylor possesses one of the most keen batting eyes in the 2023 draft class, and is a savvy hitter with plenty of contact ability and on-base skill. He’s been one of the most productive hitters in the Big 12 throughout his three-year career with Texas Christian and after a slow start in 2023, finished hot offensively and slashed .308/.430/.631 with a career-best 23 home runs in his junior draft season. The carrying tool with Taylor is his approach and swing decisions. He has a career 18.6% walk rate and 16.4% strikeout rate, and in 2023 chased out of the zone just 20% of the time, but he’s also not just a passive hitter who’s looking to draw walks. Taylor knows which pitches he can do damage on, knows the strike zone better than most umpires and he’s comfortable hitting behind in the count—which allows him to be selective and also optimize the power he has. Taylor is a skinny third baseman with a 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame and he has just solid-average raw power and modest exit velocities, but he creates excellent angles off the bat, consistently backspins the ball and has plenty of pull-side pop. Taylor has just average secondary tools, and should be a fine defender at either third base or second base at the next level, with reliable hands and average arm strength. He’s a solid runner but has plus baserunning instincts with a 97.4% (38-for-39) stolen base success rate.
20. Blue Jays
Pick: Arjun Nimmala
School: Strawberry Crest HS, Dover, Fla.
Instant Analysis: Nimmala has big, big upside. He has a long, rangy frame with a high waist and is already able to drive the ball with startling impact from right-center over to his pull side. He’s also extremely young; he could easily fit as a 2024 prospect. There might be 30-plus home run upside here, but that power also comes with swing-and-miss risk. If he can keep that in check, Nimmala has a chance to develop into an impact, power-hitting shortstop, but the approach and contact will be the keys to watch in pro ball.
Scouting Report: Nimmala is one of the youngest players in the 2023 class and will still be 17 on draft day. He stood out as an underclassman for his impressive defensive aptitude in the middle infield, but as he’s added strength to his wiry frame, his tools have taken a jump and so has his draft stock. A 6-foot-1, 170-pound shortstop, Nimmala has plus bat speed and takes aggressive swings. He showed shockingly good raw power throughout the summer in batting practice for a player of his current size and physicality, with quick-twitch hands and a whippy bat that allow him to make impressive impact now, with plus raw power a possibility as he fills out. He generates impressive power with a quick turn, but his approach and contact ability need continued refinement. He expands the zone too frequently, and while he’s capable of driving both fastballs and breaking balls, he’ll also get too steep with his bat path and swing under pitches, as well as wave over them below the zone. He should stick at shortstop in pro ball, where he has the requisite actions and arm strength for the position. He’s a bouncy athlete who moves well to both sides and has solid hands, though he’s more of an average runner and often is slow to get out of the box and down the first base line. Some scouts who like him have placed Alfonso Soriano comps on Nimmala, as a power-hitting infielder. He’s committed to Florida State.
Pick: Chase Davis
Instant Analysis: If the progress Davis made this spring carries over into pro ball, the Cardinals getting him at No. 21 overall could end up being an excellent pick. Davis has long stood out for his raw power, but swing-and-miss issues hampered him through last year. That wasn’t the case this year with Davis, who had a huge year for Arizona with one of the better mixes of contact, selectivity and power. He’s a corner outfielder, so there’s less positional value than with some of the college hitters who went ahead of him, but Davis might have a greater chance to develop into a middle-of-the-lineup hitter.
Scouting Report: Davis was a toolshed prospect coming out of high school who boasted standout physicality and athleticism as well as plus arm strength and raw power potential. He was one of the highest-ranked players to make it to campus, but didn’t play everyday with Arizona until 2022, when he slashed .289/.414/.583 with 18 home runs. That led to a Team USA trials roster invitation following the season. Davis is a chiseled, 6-foot-1, 216-pound outfielder who has big-time raw power thanks to impressive bat speed and strength. Prior to the 2023 season, that power came with real swing-and-miss questions. He had just a 68% contact rate in the first two seasons of his career, but course-corrected in a sensational 2023 season where he hit .362/.489/.742 with 21 home runs, a career-low 14.4% strikeout rate and an overall contact rate that surged to 80%. Davis didn’t sacrifice any power to get there either, with all-fields power and the same loud exit velocities he normally produces. Davis’ increased contact ability has amplified his offensive profile, which already started with a strong feel for the zone and plus raw power. Davis has mostly played left field for Arizona, and he’s an above-average runner who should be a solid defender in a corner. He has one of the better throwing arms in the class, a 70-grade cannon capable of halting runners in their tracks, and profiles nicely in right field in pro ball. Davis remains a divisive prospect, perhaps given his history of contact questions, but at the high end he’s viewed as a mid-first round talent.
Pick: Colt Emerson
School: Glenn HS, New Concord, Ohio
Instant Analysis: Emerson has long stood out as one of the better lefthanded hitters in the 2023 class. It’s a sound, compact swing, an accurate barrel and a mature approach, especially for one of the younger players in the class. There’s a good chance he ultimately ends up moving off shortstop to somewhere else in the infield, but there are some similarities here to the Mariners’ first-round pick last year, Cole Young.
Scouting Report: Emerson pushed up draft boards during the fall after a strong summer showcase season. He excelled in Perfect Game’s Jupiter tournament and also was the third-best hitter on USA Baseball’s gold medal-winning 18U team, where he played third base, slashed .360/.515/.520 and walked more than he struck out. The 6-foot-1, 197-pound infielder is a pure hitter, with a smooth and compact lefthanded swing that stays in the zone a long time. Scouts rave about the repeatability and balance of his swing, as Emerson maintains a consistent posture throughout his operation, with a steady head and few unnecessary movements. His barrel manipulation is apparent, and he has a savvy ability to square up the baseball in different quadrants of the strike zone, with good timing vs. all pitch types. On top of his hand-eye coordination, Emerson’s understanding of the strike zone is also advanced. In a 214-pitch sample with Synergy, he missed at just a 16% rate and chased out of the zone at a 15% rate. While he’s much more of a hit-over-power profile currently, he did put on plenty of good weight in the offseason, and started hitting the ball harder and further in the spring. Emerson has turned in above-average run times, but is more of an average runner who has a chance to stick at shortstop with solid arm strength or slide over to either second or third base. He’s on the younger side of the class, will be 17 on draft day and is committed to Auburn.
Pick: Ralphy Velazquez
School: Huntington Beach (Calif.) HS
Instant Analysis: The Guardians get one of the top offensive threats in the high school class with Velazquez, who offers an enticing mix of hitting ability and power. He has a tight, powerful lefthanded stroke, doesn’t chase much and keeps his barrel through the hitting zone a long time, which, along with his approach and power, helps him drive the ball with impact both to the pull side and the opposite way. Will he stay behind the plate? Maybe, though even in what seems like the more likely scenario that he doesn’t, he could have the type of offensive game that would fit at first base, too.
Scouting Report: Velazquez has stood out from a young age with a fluid lefthanded swing that is quick, compact and powerful. He led Huntington Beach (Calif.) High to a National High School Invitational title this spring and finished his decorated prep tenure with 23 career home runs while playing some of the best competition in the country. Velazquez has a physical 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame and generates above-average power with his natural strength and solid bat speed. He has a good feel for picking out pitches to drive and sends towering drives over the right field fence with impressive ease. Velazquez doesn’t have to sell out to get to his power and consistently takes good swings against good pitching. He’s a mature, patient hitter who rarely expands the strike zone and has the hand-eye coordination, balance and pitch recognition to be at least an average hitter. Velazquez is one of the best prep hitters in the draft class, but his defense raises questions. He’s a well below-average runner whose lateral mobility, blocking and overall athleticism behind the plate are all below-average and need improvement. He sets up well and has the hand strength to stick pitches in the strike zone, providing some optimism he can stay behind the plate and avoid a move to first base. He has plus arm strength and a strong work ethic. Velazquez is committed to Arizona State but is signable. He projects to be selected in the top two rounds on the strength of his bat.
Pick: Hurston Waldrep
Instant Analysis: Waldrep has some of the filthiest stuff in the draft. It’s a potential frontline starter repertoire with a diverse array of pitches that could be 60s or 70s on the 20-80 scouting scale. Yet Waldrep was an up-and-down performer in 2023, and he issued 5.0 BB/9 this spring. It’s not a mystery why Waldrep was still available this late into the first round, but whether it’s pitch selection, a mechanical adjustment or another change that the Braves can help Waldrep make to unlock his potential, the upside here is obvious as well.
Scouting Report: Waldrep drew some interest from Georgia area scouts out of high school in 2020, but he made it to campus at Southern Mississippi, and struck out 140 batters in just 90 innings in 2022—the eighth-most strikeouts of any Division I arm. Following the season, Waldrep pitched with Team USA and transferred to Florida, where in 2023 he posted a 4.16 ERA over 101.2 innings, with a 34.7% strikeout rate and 12.7% walk rate. Waldrep is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound righthander who attacks hitters with electric arm speed and some of the best pure stuff in the class. However, his delivery also features plenty of violence and movement, with a drop-and-drive lower half, a deep and long arm stroke that turns into an artificial, over-the-top slot thanks to a significant tilt, with plenty of head whack and recoil in his finish. That delivery and Waldrep’s track record as a below-average strike thrower add considerable reliever risk to his profile, but his pitch mix counters that with tantalizing upside potential. His fastball sits 95-96 mph and has been up to 99 mph and he has a trio of secondaries that are all now swing-and-miss offerings. His upper-80s split-changeup is a vicious pitch that completely falls off the table as it approaches the plate with 1,200 rpm spin and around 14 inches of IVB separation from his fastball. He also throws a downer, 12-to-6 curveball in the low 80s and a hard, mid-80s slider. He flashes four plus offerings, but he sprays his fastball consistently and will need to throw the ball over the plate more frequently in pro ball to stick as a starter.
Pick: Dillon Head
School: Homewood-Flossmoor HS, Flossmoor, Ill.
Instant Analysis: Athleticism, premium position, strong bat-to-ball skills from the left side . . . there are a lot of attributes to like with Head. There’s some occasional surprising power that Head will show to his pull side, but it’s more of a hit-over-power offensive game with added value that comes from his plus-plus speed that enables him to cover a lot of ground in center field.
Scouting Report: About 28 miles south of Chicago, Homewood-Flossmoor High has produced its fair share of professional athletes. Head looks to join that list in July. Blessed with a lot of natural athletic ability, the 6-foot, 180-pound outfielder brings a variety of tools to the table that can be menacing to any opponent. Head has made some adjustments in his setup from a year ago that has served him well this spring. Supporting a high leg kick as his timing device last summer, Head has cut it down substantially, and now takes a minimal stride forward. By doing this, his timing and balance have improved, and he is now in a better position at front foot strike to let his hands work. Scouts marvel at Head’s ability to spray the ball around the field and admire his “hit it where it’s pitched” approach. He projects to be a line drive/gap bat at the next level, though he does possess strength to the pull side, and can leave the yard when he gets extended. He does operate with a bit of a bat wrap in his swing, but enough bat speed is there to overcome it right now. A 70-grade runner, Head gets out of the box quickly and should be a stolen base threat and high-BABIP player. He covers plenty of ground in center field and has above-average or plus arm strength with good accuracy as well. Head is committed to Clemson but is generating top-two round draft attention.
Pick: George Lombard Jr.
School: Gulliver Prep HS, Miami
Instant Analysis: Lombard just seems to get better in every aspect going back to his junior season of high school. Up until that point, he was a solid prospect but didn’t look like a future first-round pick. Since then he has grown taller, gotten stronger, faster, added more power, improved his swing and become a more crisp defender at shortstop. He’s long had a high baseball IQ—no surprise given his father—but the continued, consistent upward trend of his game both offensively and defensively is an encouraging sign and vaulted him into the first round.
Scouting Report: Lombard Jr. is the son of George Lombard, a second-round pick in 1994 who played six seasons in the big leagues as an outfielder and now is the bench coach for the Tigers. Unsurprisingly given his background, Lombard Jr. is a savvy, fundamentally sound player with strong all-around instincts for the game. He’s also one of the younger players in the class and only turned 18 in early June. Lombard Jr. showed more strength last summer than he had in the past, which translated to more power and better run times during the showcase circuit, where he hit .365/.435/.554 with a pair of home runs and eight doubles in 29 logged games. He slows the game down on both sides of the ball and at the plate and has a controlled and balanced but powerful swing that starts with a slow leg kick. There’s a bit of swing and miss in his game, but Lombard has done a nice job handling velocity, handling spin and doesn’t have any obvious holes at the plate. Previously a fringy runner, Lombard now turns in above-average and plus run times, and is a solid 55-grade runner with a fringy first step but good speed underway. He has solid actions in the middle infield and should have a chance to stick at shortstop with average arm strength, but as he fills out a 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame perhaps he fits better at third base. Lombard Jr. is committed to Vanderbilt.
Pick: Aidan Miller
School: Mitchell HS, New Port Richey, Fla.
Instant Analysis: If Miller stayed healthy this spring, there’s a good chance he’s not available for the Phillies with this pick. Miller has long stood out as one of the most accomplished hitters in the 2023 prep class, with outstanding bat speed and big power from the right side. The injury creates more risk here—there’s just going to be less certainty in your forecast with a player where most of the evaluation is coming from last summer—but it speaks to how well Miller played back then that he’s still going in the first round.
Scouting Report: One of the most decorated high school players in the class, Miller has represented Team USA on its 12U, 15U and 18U national teams. He won gold with both the 15U and 18U teams and led the 2022 18U team in hitting (.478). He is one of the best pure hitters in the high school class and has thunderous bat speed, a sound approach, advanced understanding of the strike zone and plus raw power projections—making him a fairly complete offensive player. Miller’s swing is a bit unique, featuring a sizable leg kick and a significant hitch and barrel tip in his load, but his hand speed and natural timing are more than enough to make it work. He is consistently on time at contact, with excellent balance and a steady head throughout the swing—with some of the most impressive track record of performance you’ll find in the class. Miller wasn’t able to add much to that resume this spring, as he dealt with a hamate injury and missed a significant amount of game time. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound third baseman has average defensive ability at the hot corner, with a plus arm that could be an asset at the position. He’s played the outfield corners at times and could profile there given his offensive upside if the game speeds up on him too much at the next level. Miller is old for the class and will be 19 on draft day, as well as an eligible-sophomore in 2025 if he makes it to campus at Arkansas.
Pick: Brice Matthews
Instant Analysis: The Astros make what’s probably going to be one of the more polarizing picks in the first round. Some scouts preferred Matthews in the third round, some even later than that, and he’s No. 57 on the Baseball America board. He also had a big year for Nebraska, batting .359/.481/.723 in 54 games, should play somewhere in the middle of the field and produced impressive exit velocities with good plate coverage.
Scouting Report: During the 2023 season Matthews became the first player in Nebraska history to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases. He had a solid season in 2022, when he hit .261/.379/.476 with seven home runs, but made impressive adjustments during his draft year while drawing heavy scouting attention. Scouts marvel at the athleticism and tool set he brings, which can impact a game in multiple ways. A righthanded hitter with a 6-foot, 190-pound frame, Matthews destroyed pitches in almost every quadrant of the strike zone, and his loose, lightning-quick set of hands generated exit velocities up to 113 mph. Most of his heavy damage is to the pull side, but he has shown the ability to drive the ball the other way on pitches out and over the plate. Defensively, Matthews has the ability to stay at shortstop long term. He has the range, quickness and requisite arm strength for the position. He did commit 21 fielding errors this season and had a .900 fielding percentage, so if he’s not able to improve his consistency at the next level, scouts have considered him as a potential center fielder, where his above-average speed, arm, instincts and range could all translate nicely. With an up-the-middle profile and power/speed combination, he’s put himself into top-three rounds consideration.
Pick: Jonny Farmelo
School: Westfield HS, Chantilly, Va.
Instant Analysis: There’s a lot to like with Farmelo. There’s lefthanded hittability, fast bat speed, more physical projection remaining and quick-twitch athleticism from a plus-plus runner who should be able to handle center field. He’s a different type of player than shortstop Colt Emerson, whom the Mariners drafted seven picks earlier, but that’s two athletic, advanced lefthanded hitters who should stay in the middle of the field from the 2023 prep ranks to start their draft.
Scouting Report: Farmelo is a well-rounded, lefthanded-hitting outfielder who continued to grow on scouts throughout the summer and fall thanks to his hitting ability and solid set of tools. Listed at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Farmelo is well-built with a lean and athletic frame and has a smooth and slightly uphill lefthanded swing that starts with a quick toe-tap. He manages his at-bats well, makes plenty of contact and tracks the ball well out of the pitcher’s hand with strong balance and minimal movement in his load. His pitch recognition, ability to handle velocity, bat speed and pure contact ability indicate potential above-average hitting ability and he should have solid power as well, even if he’s more of a gap hitter than a true slugger. His swing currently seems optimized for hard hit line drives and ground balls, but he’ll occasionally showcase solid raw power in batting practice and seems to consistently put the barrel on the ball in games. He’s a plus-plus runner who clocked a 6.36-second 60-yard dash in 2022 at the East Coast Pro, and he gets out of the box in a flash, with consistent 70-grade home-to-first times. Farmelo has all the tools to be an above-average defender in center field, with great range and above-average arm strength as well. He has taken balls at shortstop this spring with Westfield High, but his actions in the dirt make it clear his future is in the grass. He could be a tough sign out of a Virginia commitment, but is getting top-50 pick buzz.
Technically, the Mets at No. 32 and the Dodgers at No. 36 are not first-round picks. However, since neither club has a first-round pick, these are the first selections for those teams, so our analysis and scouting reports on those players are below to cover the top draft picks for all 30 organizations.
Pick: Colin Houck
School: Parkview HS, Lilburn, Ga.
Instant Analysis: Houck was No. 21 on our rankings and it would not have been a surprise if he had gone in the top half of the first round. You could make a case that Houck is a better prospect than 2022 high school shortstop Jett Williams was going into that draft when the Mets picked him at 14th overall, and the Mets were able to get Houck just outside the first round. He’s consistently performed well at the plate with a good balance of hitting ability and power while standing out as one of the better athletes in the class.
Scouting Report: Houck had one of the most impressive summers of any player in the high school class, and showed impact ability as a hitter, runner and defender on the left side of the infield. In addition to his baseball skill, Houck is a three-star quarterback for Parkview High and during his senior season threw for over 2,100 yards with 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He has a simple rigthhanded swing with a small leg kick and otherwise minimal movement in the box, with impressive bat speed and a clean path through the zone. He had a tremendous East Coast Pro showing, where he hammered mid-90s fastball velocity to both gaps and also showed an ability to sit back and drive breaking stuff and offspeed pitches. He’s a polished hitter who only proved his hitting chops over the showcase circuit and hit .487/.589/.981 this spring with eight home runs. While most of Houck’s in-game power has been gap oriented and mostly of the doubles and triples variety, he does show the ability to turn on pitches and homer to the pull side, with average or better power potential in the future as he fills out his 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame. Houck has impact potential as a defender. He moves well laterally and has turned in plus run times, with the quick-twitch athleticism and reflexes to make highlight-reel plays to go with above-average arm strength. He should be a solid defensive shortstop or potential plus defender at third base if he fills out and needs to slide to the corner. He’s committed to Mississippi State, but is a first-round talent now.
Pick: Kendall George
School: Atascocita HS, Humble, Tex.
Instant Analysis: George is the No. 114 prospect on Baseball America’s rankings. He’s not an unknown hideout player either, as he was seen fairly extensively over the last two years. George is a true 80 runner, a small but explosive player who can turn routine grounders into infield singles or stretch singles into doubles. He makes a lot of contact and doesn’t chase much, though his power is limited and it doesn’t seem like that will ever be a big part of his game. George is a good prospect, but seeing the Dodgers draft him here is surprising.
Scouting Report: George is a small and skinny, 5-foot-11, 165-pound outfielder, but what he lacks in size and power, he makes up for with quickness, explosiveness and some of the best pure speed in the 2023 draft class. He could hang in a foot race with almost anyone in the class and routinely turns in 80-grade run times in the 3.9-4.0-second range from home to first, and it’s not uncommon to see him post lower run times than that on jailbroken swings. While George won’t threaten to hit many balls over the fence, he’s a pesky and difficult hitter to get out, with a contact-oriented stroke from the left side and both a strong batting eye and bat-to-ball skills. He’s always a threat to lay down a bunt and is proficient in that area, and can slap the ball around to all fields effectively. The center fielder for Team USA’s gold medal-winning 18U National Team, George was second on the team with a .364 average, went 5-for-5 in stolen bases and also walked six times to just one strikeout. His elite speed gives him easy plus range in center field where he should be an impactful defender with below-average arm strength. While they have different body types, George could compare reasonably to 2023 classmate Enrique Bradfield Jr., an outfielder at Vanderbilt who shares a similar all-around profile, though George has a bit more strength and a bit less defensive polish compared to Bradfield at the same age.