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2023 MLB Draft Stock Watch: 10 Players Trending Up & Wake Forest First-Rounders

Image credit: Wake Forest third baseman Brock Wilken (Photo courtesy of Wake Forest)

Welcome to the week four stock watch!

Last week I took a look at how the top 100-ranked college pitchers were performing. This week is a bit of a mixed bag, with 10 prospects who are trending up draft boards as well as a few in-person notes from a Wake Forest-Duke matchup I laid eyes on this past weekend in Durham, which featured first-round talents RHP Rhett Lowder and 3B Brock Wilken.

I know you aren’t here for the intro, so let’s dive straight into the players:

10 Players Trending Up

Chase Davis, OF, Arizona (No. 43)

Davis has looked great early this season, and through his first 14 games has slashed .328/.427/.690 with six home runs, three doubles and nearly as many walks (9) as strikeouts (10). He leads Arizona in homers and is second on the team with a 1.116 OPS. 

While Arizona is just one week into conference play, it did play a challenging schedule to start the year, and Davis has so far improved on the 68% contact rate he had entering the 2023 season—bumping that number up to 77% through his first 13 games. 

If he can maintain that sort of contact throughout the year, it will certainly move him up draft boards, as Davis has a solid foundation of athleticism with a pair of plus tools in his power and arm strength. He’d look right at home on a big league field and is playing like it so far this season.

Nolan Schanuel, 1B, Florida Atlantic (No. 44)

With Louisiana State’s Tre’ Morgan splitting his time between left field and first base so far this season, it feels like Schanuel has solidly taken hold as the top college first baseman in the class at this point. He entered the year with one of the better contact and exit velocity combinations in the class and through his first 17 games is raking, to the tune of a .464/.630/1.036 slash line with eight home runs and a 20-to-8 walk-to-strikeout ratio.

Schanuel had a bit of a platform game last Tuesday in a midweek matchup against Florida, in which he went 3-for-4 with three home runs. First he turned around a 95 mph fastball from Yoel Tejeda Jr. to the pull side, then he muscled out an 82 mph slider that hung over the middle of the plate to straight center field and finally he got inside an up-and-in 82 mph slider from Ryan Slater and hit a no-doubt moonshot to right-center.

There’s plenty of buzz on Schanuel in Florida thanks to his raw power and the fact that he seems to be getting to every bit of it that he has—in addition to some sneaky athleticism and an advanced hitting approach. His profile puts plenty of pressure on the bat, but so far he’s mashing. 

Cameron Johnson, LHP, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. (No. 94)

This could be a case of having a player ranked too low entering the season, but even if Johnson ranked a bit higher than No. 94 to start, he has still come out in 2023 with an electric fastball and plenty of buzz in the scouting community down in Florida.

Big and physical at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, Johnson has struck out 23 of the 46 batters he’s faced so far this spring with IMG Academy, while walking just three, and he’s been up to 97 mph from the left side, consistently pitching around 94-95 with fantastic running life from a lower arm slot.

While Johnson’s fastball is the calling card, he’s also shown more than enough with his sweeping breaking ball around 80 mph for scouts to think there’s more in the tank with his secondaries. Even while acknowledging Johnson has plenty of refinement still needed in future years, scouts are excited about his arm talent and physicality and expect him to go among the top two rounds as of today.

Adrian Santana, SS, Doral (Fla.) Academy (No. 106)

Santana has been getting a lot of buzz among the top two rounds, with a chance that some teams like his overall profile and toolset in the first round. I was probably a bit light entering the year on Santana, but he is moving up boards nonetheless, with scouts citing a bit more physicality this spring and added impact in batting practice.

That was a key question about Santana’s profile over the offseason, and perhaps the only weakness on his scouting card. He entered the year viewed as one of the best defensive shortstops in the class; as a 70- or 80-grade runner; and as a switch-hitter with an easy, repeatable swing from both sides of the plate with a solid combination of approach and bat-to-ball skills.

While he doesn’t ever project to be a huge home run hitter, packing on a bit more muscle to a 5-foot-11, 160-pound frame only helps round out his profile. There are some similarities here to other defense-first prep shortstops like Edwin Arroyo in 2021 and Matthew Lugo in 2019—both of whom went in the second round.

Terry Busse, RHP, Georgia Tech (No. 110)

Busse impressed scouts during the fall and he was a frequent pick to click in the ACC this spring. So far, he’s been the best pitcher on Georgia Tech’s staff, though unfortunately for the scouting industry, he’s continued to pitch exclusively out of the bullpen—which he also did with Logan (Ill.) JC and in the MLB Draft League in 2022. 

Still, Busse has dominated in his 10 innings of work, with 20 strikeouts and just one walk allowed, while surrendering only three hits and not yet allowing a run. His 57% strikeout rate has come thanks to an impressive sinker/slider combination with the fastball averaging around 94 mph and touching 96 and his slider sitting around 83 mph with nearly 14 inches of horizontal break.

That slider has generated a 74% whiff rate and has thus far been virtually unhittable, and batters have put the ball on the ground 54% of the time when they have managed to put the ball in play against him. While Busse has been excellent, there is major risk in the college reliever demographic, perhaps thanks to the more lax usage relievers face compared to what is asked of them in the majors, and Busse so far has pitched with at least three days of rest between each outing.

Landen Maroudis, RHP, Calvary Christian HS, Clearwater, Fla. (No. 129)

Maroudis entered the year as the third-ranked pitcher on his high school team. That won’t be the case on our next draft board update. The velocity has ticked up and he’s been more consistently in the mid 90s early this spring, with reports of 96-97 mph at peak and he’s also maintained the solid strike throwing that he had entering the year as well with a tighter breaking ball on top of the velocity gains.

It’s all been up-arrow feedback so far and while pro teams are certainly more interested in him on the mound, he’s also leading Calvary Christian in hitting with a .526 average and has hit three home runs after eight games. On Tuesday night, Maroudis threw a seven-inning complete game shutout with 14 strikeouts. On the season he has struck out 32 batters and walked just one.

He’s getting top two rounds buzz.

Sam Knowlton, RHP, South Alabama (NR)

Knowlton has an extremely limited track record on the mound in college, with just five innings with South Alabama in 2021 before missing the 2022 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. However, he impressed scouts last fall with big-time velocity, and early this spring he’s been one of the hardest throwers in the country, with a fastball that has sat at 98-99 mph and touched 101.

Pair that velocity with a massive, 6-foot-8, 255-pound frame and the makings of a solid slider, and it’s easy to see why there are plenty of evaluators who are running into Mobile to get a look.

Knowlton pitched well in his first four relief appearances, combining for eight strikeouts and no walks in 4.2 innings before struggling against Jacksonville State last Saturday, when he failed to record an out, walked three batters and hit another. 

He attacks from a high arm slot that, when paired with his natural height and long levers, creates a significant downhill plane which should allow him to generate a ton of ground balls when he’s not blowing his fastball right by hitters. He has also mixed in an 85-88 mph slider with late downward bite that has potential but needs significantly more control and feel. His control and command overall need to improve, as he’s mostly been scattered and will not always sync up his release point with his lower half.

There’s plenty of stuff to work with here for a team confident in its pitching development. Even in an era where you quite literally can teach velocity, teaching 101 is just a bit tougher.

Mac Horvath, 3B, North Carolina (NR)

Horvath has taken steps forward each year in Chapel Hill and is off to one of the better starts in the country with a well-rounded offensive profile as well as solid defensive ability at third base. Through 17 games, Horvath has hit .313/.447/.791 with eight home runs, a triple and six doubles while also going 9-for-10 in stolen base attempts. He’s 10th overall among Division I hitters in BaGS+, an offensive production metric that adjusts for position, conference and park at the college level.

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound third baseman has done his damage on a variety of pitch types, though most of his extra-base power has gone to the pull side. Horvath has shown a solid approach at the plate without expanding the zone much. I’ve been particularly impressed with how he’s been able to keep his lower half balanced and avoid leaking out to the third base side, and simply lets his hands work in the swing.

While he has been aggressively turning on the baseball, there’s nothing that jumps out to me in how the swing works that would prevent him from using the opposite field when necessary—and he’s actually hit better against outer third pitches than inner third throughout his career.

Joey Volchko, RHP, Redwood HS, Visalia, Calif. (NR)

Volchko showed solid pure stuff last summer at the Area Code Games, with a fastball in the 91-94 mph range and a pair of breaking balls with solid shape. He struggled with control and results, though, missed down below the zone consistently and was eventually rolled in his outing.

This spring he has had extremely loud scout feedback with Redwood High. He’s pitched in the 91-96 mph range and both his slider and curveball have gotten average or better grades, with scouts seeming to prefer his slider to his curveball currently—and he’s also shown the makings of a solid changeup to give him a deep four-pitch mix.

Volchko has a large, 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame and attacks hitters from a high arm slot. There’s some roughness to the delivery and length to the arm action, but Volchko has more room to fill out and nothing comes out of his hand straight. He’s gotten some day one buzz, but he’s also a Stanford commit. You’ve heard this plenty before: Stanford commits tend to be tough signs.

Kiefer Lord, RHP, Washington (NR)

Lord struck out 81 batters in just 49 innings in 2022 for Division III Carleton (Minn.) and transferred to Washington for his draft-eligible 2023 season. Division I competition has proved little challenge thus far for the 6-foot-3 righthander, as he’s posted a 1.19 ERA over four starts with 31 strikeouts and just six walks in 22.2 innings.

He has pitched mostly off of a high-spin, high-carry fastball in the 94-95 mph range that has touched 99 and comes out of a high, three-quarter slot that’s almost fully over the top. After that, Lord has used an upper-70s, 12-to-6 curveball with early spin out of the hand but solid depth that has generated a 56% whiff rate.

Lord has also occasionally used a slurve-like slider in the low 80s that has a bit more two-plane shape than the curveball and flashed a mid-80s changeup that appears to be in the nascent stages of development and feel.

In Person Notes From Durham

Rhett Lowder, RHP, Wake Forest (No. 14)
Class: 2023


Lowder entered this series with a sterling resume after dominating Illinois, Binghamton and Purdue Fort Wayne over his first three starts. Duke’s hitters gave him much more of a test on Friday night and he scuffled for the first time this season. He threw five innings and allowed four earned runs on eight hits, two walks and one hit batter and he struck out six on 98 pitches.

Only last week I wrote about how impressive his command had been, but that wasn’t the case in this outing. He was more scattered than he has been, and while there were a few occasions where he got squeezed by the umpire on good pitches on the edges, in general he left his fastball, slider and changeup up too frequently and all three pitches got squared up at times.

He pitched in the 91-94 mph range throughout his five innings of work, and frequently pitched backwards by using an 84-86 mph changeup as a first pitch or going to his 81-84 mph slider early in counts as well.

It was mostly a forgettable start for Lowder as he allowed runners in each inning except the fourth, which was the one frame where he did a nice job keeping his fastball down in the zone which led to a couple weak groundouts.

He got a few whiffs with his slider, but the pitch was only average in this look with solid horizontal movement, and even more to the glove side, but it got a bit too flat at times when he left it up, resulting in some hard contact.



The video above shows a good example of Lowder’s open-toe landing, which could be a point of concern for some teams depending on his biomechanics. Typically scouts raise questions about hip mobility, long term health risks or mechanical issues that can come from such a landing, though that isn’t necessarily always the case, as Eric Cressey of Cressey Sports Performance explains much more elegantly than I ever could here.

Brock Wilken, 3B, Wake Forest (No. 19)
Class: 2023

Friday’s opener was a great microcosm of Wilken’s overall offensive profile. He went 2-for-4 with a home run, a hard hit single, a walk and a pair of strikeouts. In his first trip to the plate Wilken showed a hefty amount of swing-and-miss: he chased a 94 mph fastball up and out for strike one, then got out in front on an 89 mph changeup in a 1-1 count and finally swung through a well-placed 95 mph fastball in the zone up and out for strike three.

In his second trip to the plate he did a much better job keeping his hands back on an 87 mph changeup and drove a line drive into right-center. After walking in the fifth inning, Wilken put together his best at-bat of the evening. After working a full count against freshman righthander Aidan Weaver, Wilken took advantage of a hanging breaking ball and pulled it out to left field in a hurry—a 108.6 mph homer that went 357 feet on a 22-degree angle. 



Overall this season Wilken has been excellent: he’s second among Division I hitters in home runs with 12 in 17 games and has slashed .364/.463/.939. Scouting directors voted him as the No. 2 power hitter in the country for a reason after all, and please wag your finger at anyone who references a hitter-friendly home park as a reason for Wilken’s gaudy career home run totals. It doesn’t take a TrackMan exit velocity reading to see how Wilken’s massive 70-grade raw power will allow him to homer to all fields with frequency at any park in the country. He’s clearly shown enough hitting ability to tap into that power with some consistency, though there’s also just enough whiff risk that he might be more of a power-over-hit bat at the next level. 

Another pressure point on Wilken’s profile is his defensive ability at the hot corner. He has more than enough arm strength for the position and made one nice play while ranging to his left and making a sound throw on the run to first base, but he lacks foot speed and might not have the quick-twitch mobility or range to consistently make the necessary plays at the hot corner at the next level—which could mean he’s a risk to slide over to first base.

Alex Mooney, SS, Duke (No. 53)
Class: 2023

Mooney started his season on a 10-game hitting streak and against Wake Forest last weekend went 4-for-12 (.333) with three walks and no strikeouts. He’s been largely as advertised so far in 2023: an athletic player with solid tools but no clear carrying plus tool on the card who makes the routine plays at shortstop and pairs solid contact ability with advanced baserunning instincts.

Mooney hit only singles in this series and is still waiting on his first homer of the season—he has just three so far in his collegiate career—with all of his extra-base hits coming via double (6) or triple (1) thus far. 

In my look this weekend I wondered about Mooney’s ability to recognize and stay back on breaking pitches and offspeed offerings. His lone hit in the opener on Friday came on a 92 mph fastball that he slapped the other way for a soft opposite field single and his other two balls in play were soft grounders he got around. After walking in his second at-bat, Mooney waved over an 84 mph slider to get behind in the count and then grounded out to third base, before grounding out after trying to pull an outside changeup in his fourth trip to the plate.

As Geoff Pontes noted last summer in the Cape Cod League, Mooney is not a burner and he turned in below-average home-to-first times in my look—all between 4.36 seconds and 4.54 seconds—but he did a nice job getting impressive jumps on the bases to over perform his pure speed. So far this year he is 7-for-7 in stolen base attempts. Without showing more power this spring, Mooney has some risk of being a lower impact utility profile, but he consistently manages to do a lot of things well on the baseball field. 

Camden Minacci, RHP, Wake Forest
Class: 2023

Minacci is Wake Forest’s closer this spring and he managed to shut the door in a two-run game thanks to a powerful fastball/slider combination. Minacci has a solid, 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame and throws with a three-quarter slot that features a bit of depth on the back side and pitches out of the stretch.

He pounded the zone with his fastball, which sat in the 93-96 mph range and touched 97, and showed an above-average slider he used to finish both of the two strikeouts he recorded. The pitch was in the 83-86 mph range and showed hard, biting action with short, 10-to-4 shape, though it did back up on him to the arm side on one occasion.

Jonathan Santucci, LHP, Duke (No. 34)
Class: 2024

Santucci started for Duke against Lowder on Friday night and looked like the better pitcher in this one, even though he worked through just 4.1 innings and allowed the same four earned runs as Lowder. He struck out 11 batters and walked four, with only two of the outs he recorded coming off of balls put in play.

A 6-foot-2, 205-pound lefthander, Santucci works with good tempo and features a clean delivery and arm action, with a three-quarter slot and some slight hooking action in the back of his arm stroke, as well as a steady finish with good direction to the plate. 

He pitched in the 94-96 mph range and popped 96 on the radar gun several times in the first inning, before slowly tapering off to 91-94 mph after the second. The pitch exploded on hitters with good riding life and a tick of arm-side run at times, and generated a ton of whiffs, including five in the second inning alone. 

He paired the fastball with an 81-85 mph slider that featured consistent spin and finish that generated whiffs against both righties and lefties. It looked like a plus offering. His other secondary was also of quality: an 86-88 mph changeup that also elicited a few ugly swings and looked like an above-average pitch with solid fading life that was thrown with good arm speed.

Santucci filled up the zone with all three pitches in the first inning, but his control backed up a bit after that and he showed a tendency to miss up with the fastball at times. Later in the outing, he seemed to lose a bit of confidence in the fastball as the velocity tapered off, and he started pitching off the slider more heavily.

Michael Massey, RHP, Wake Forest
Class: 2024

Massey looks like a strong pitching target for the 2024 class and showed impressive stuff in a 2.2-inning relief effort that was mostly impressive, but spoiled by pinch hitter Devin Obee, who got ahead in a count and homered against an elevated fastball. 

Massey struck out five and walked a pair, with his only hit allowed being the homer that chased him from the game.

As seems to be the case for many Wake Forest players, Massey is big and physical with a 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame. He works from the third base side of the rubber and throws with a short arm action and high, three-quarter slot and has a bit of spinoff to the first base side in his finish.

He came right at hitters with a strong fastball/slider combination and pitched at 93-94 mph with a slider in the 80-84 mph range. In this look he showed better feel for the slider, which was a consistent offering with impressive tilt that generated a few ugly swings and looked like a plus offering, with good overall feel to land the pitch throughout. 

He flashed a firm changeup in the upper 80s, but mostly worked off the fastball/slider combo.

Aidan Weaver, RHP, Duke
Class: 2025

An extra-large true freshman, Weaver entered in relief for the Blue Devils on Friday night and showed impressive arm strength and a solid slider. Listed at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, Weaver is an intimidating presence on the mound and he works from a high, three-quarter arm slot that allows him to attack downhill with a fastball that was in the 93-96 mph range and a slider at 84. 

His control was below-average, though, and he was generally scattered in a brief, one-inning relief appearance where he allowed four runs on four hits, including a home run and a pair of walks. Weaver has obvious arm strength, but there’s some refinement needed in the control department and he also features an extreme open toe landing in his finish. 

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