2023 MLB Draft Stock Watch: Righthanded Pitcher Preview
Last week we looked into the lefthanded crop of talent in the 2023 draft class. Today we are looking at righthanders—which is far and away the most heavily drafted position group we have examined so far.
With almost half of all players drafted being pitchers, and a significantly higher percentage of righthanders than lefthanders in the world, it makes sense that the righthanded pitching demographic is a large one.
As we mentioned with lefthanders, it’s true that you can never have enough pitching, and given the general attrition rates of pitching prospects and the difficulty of projecting them that comes with that, a simple strategy for success is to simply take as many arms as you can get your hands on.
Teams covet high-caliber arms at the top of the draft, and a combination of injuries and down classes (though the 2019 group has performed significantly better than expected at the time) for pitchers has left the industry hungry for arms in the draft in recent years. The 2023 righthander group looks like a solid one, with both impact at the top of the class and depth throughout.
Below is an overview of the 2023 righthanded pitching class as it stands today, with information on current top-100 prospects, other righthanded pitchers to know and a 20-80 grade on the talent of the position relative to an average draft year. We’ll revisit these position previews at the end of the draft cycle and see if our preseason grade holds up or needs adjustment.
Top drafted righthanded pitchers of all time (by bWAR):
- Roger Clemens, Red Sox (1983, 1st round) — 139.2
- Greg Maddux, Cubs (1984, 2nd round) — 106.6
- Bert Blyleven, Twins (1969, 3rd round) — 94.5
- Mike Mussina, Orioles (1990, 1st round) — 82.8
- Nolan Ryan, Mets (1965, 12th round) — 81.3
- Justin Verlander, Tigers (2004, 1st round) — 77.6
- Zack Greinke, Royals (2002, 1st round) — 76.5
- Max Scherzer, D-backs (2003, 1st round) — 71.7
- Rick Reuschel, Cubs (1970, 3rd round) — 69.5
- John Smoltz, Tigers (1985, 22nd round) — 69
- Kevin Brown, Rangers (1986, 1st round) — 67.8
- Roy Halladay, Blue Jays (1995, 1st round) — 64.2
- Dave Winfield, Padres (1973, 1st round) — 64.2
- David Cone, Royals (1981, 3rd round) — 62.3
- Dennis Eckersley, Indians (1972, 3rd round) — 62.1
Top drafted righthanded pitchers of the bonus pool era (2012-now):
- Aaron Nola, Phillies (2014, 1st round) — 29.6
- Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays (2012, 1st round) — 20
- Kevin Gausman, Orioles (2012, 1st round) — 19.5
- Shane Bieber, Indians (2016, 4th round) — 15.2
- Brandon Woodruff, Brewers (2014, 11th round) — 15
- Walker Buehler, Dodgers (2015, 1st round) — 13.2
- Zac Gallen, Cardinals (2016, 3rd round) — 12.6
- Jon Gray, Rockies (2013, 1st round) — 11.5
- Lance McCullers, Astros (2012, supp. 1st round) — 11.1
- Jose Berrios, Twins (2012, 1st round) — 10.8
Number of top 100-ranked righthanded pitchers in each draft class (bonus pool era)
- 2012: 42
- 2013: 38
- 2014: 41
- 2015: 44
- 2016: 38
- 2017: 35
- 2018: 44
- 2019: 34
- 2020: 42
- 2021: 29
- 2022: 30
- 2023: 34
2023 Top 100 Righthanded Pitchers:
2. Chase Dollander, Tennessee
Dollander is one of the best college pitching prospects in years, and he boasts an excellent four-pitch mix headlined by one of the most fearsome fastball/slider combinations in the class, as well as advanced command.
8. Paul Skenes, Louisiana State
Skenes is a real prospect on both sides of the ball, but his upside on the mound is as big as his 6-foot-6, 235-pound frame. He has power and can get his heater into the upper 90s, with a hard slider and a solid changeup as well—now he gets to test his stuff in the SEC.
13. Hurston Waldrep, Florida
Like Skenes, Waldrep is moving into the SEC this season after pitching for Southern Mississippi a year ago. Waldrep has electric arm speed and electric stuff, with a mid-90s fastball and some of the best feel to spin a breaking ball in the class. How sharp will the command be, though?
14. Rhett Lowder, Wake Forest
Lowder’s the next in a long line of strong Wake Forest pitching prospects, and he has a well-rounded, three-pitch mix of above-average or better offerings with above-average control to go with it. His groundball-inducing fastball seems like a great match for a homer-friendly ballpark in Winston-Salem.
15. Noble Meyer, Jesuit HS, Portland, Ore.
The top high school arm in the class, Meyer pairs size, athleticism, command, velocity and perhaps the best slider of any prep pitcher in the 2023 group. At his best he’s shown a pair of 70-grade offerings with a mid-90s fastball with great movement and his biting, sweeping slider.
17. Will Sanders, South Carolina
Sanders has a still-projectable frame and a powerful fastball that has been up to 98 mph, with a high-usage, swing-and-miss changeup. He could improve his breaking stuff and do a better job preventing homers in 2023.
22. Bryce Eldridge, Madison (Va.) HS
Eldrige entered the summer as a righthanded pitching prospect first, but after his standout performance with Team USA, there are certainly many scouts eyeing him as a slugging first baseman first and foremost. He's still a strong pitching prospect, with a low-90s fastball and three solid secondaries, with impressive touch and feel for his size.
23. Blake Mitchell, Sinton (Texas) HS
Like Eldridge, Mitchell is a two-way player who many in the industry likely view as a better prospect as a hitter—and perhaps a greater percentage think this of Mitchell than Eldridge—but it’s worth mentioning his talent on the mound here. He has a power-armed fastball and has gotten into the mid 90s with impressive feel to spin a curveball despite scattered control and limited focused reps.
24. Travis Sykora, Round Rock (Texas) HS
The hardest-throwing prep pitcher in the class, Sykora was voted as having the best fastball in the class by scouting directors. It’s a flamethrower of a fastball that has already eclipsed the 100 mph mark and he routinely throws in the upper 90s. Sykora also has a decent slider/changeup combo that could help more advanced hitters stay off the fastball.
26. Tanner Witt, Texas
Witt was a big-time two-way player out of high school, but is now viewed as a first-round pitching talent, even after throwing just 11 innings in the 2022 season—which was cut short by Tommy John surgery. Witt has an excellent arsenal headed by a 92-93 mph fastball, a hammer curve and a solid changeup.
27. Cade Kuehler, Campbell
Kuehler should step into Campbell’s Friday night role in 2023, and he has one of the more interesting pitch mixes in the class. His 93-95 mph fastball has elite vertical break and he will also throw a slider, a curveball, a changeup and a cutter.
33. Charlee Soto, Reborn Christian Academy, Kissimmee, Fla.
Relatively new to pitching full-time, Soto is a converted shortstop who blew scouts away over the summer—particularly with an emphatic East Coast Pro showing—and earns top-of-the-class consideration for his fastball, fastball movement, slider, changeup and athleticism.
35. Juaron Watts-Brown, Oklahoma State
Watts-Brown was a multi-sport athlete in high school but he was one of the more notable rising prospects in the class during the 2022 summer. He has good life on a low-90s fastball and throws one of the better breaking balls in the class: a low-80s slider with plus potential.
41. Teddy McGraw, Wake Forest
McGraw is solidly built with a groundball-heavy profile that includes a fastball in the 93-95 mph range, a low-to-mid-80s slider and a mid-80s changeup. It’s difficult for hitters to elevate against any of those pitches, and in a former era for pitching, McGraw might have been heavily coveted as a potential workhorse innings eater.
46. Grant Taylor, Louisiana State
Taylor ranked as the top pitching prospect in the Cape Cod League in 2022, and pairs a riding fastball that touches 98 with a downer curveball in the upper 70s that features a ton of spin in the 2,700-2,800 rpm range.
47. Patrick Reilly, Vanderbilt
Reilly has a fantastic pitcher’s frame at 6-foot-3, 208 pounds with a fast arm, and he throws a fastball in the 94-95 mph range with good carry, as well as a potential swing-and-and-miss slider.
54. Brandon Sproat, Florida
Sproat was drafted in 2022 in the third round, but failed to agree to a deal with the Mets and returned to Florida where he should front a strong pitching staff. Sproat’s stuff has never been in doubt, but the performance was questionable prior to a breakout 2022 season. He’s a year older now, but has a chance to build on his strong 2022 season in 2023.
58. Carson Montgomery, Florida State
Montgomery was one of the highest-ranked players to make it to campus after the 2020 draft, and he has solid pure stuff and size, but hasn’t yet found the results to match with Florida State. He has a fastball with middling life, though his mid-80s slider is a standout offering.
61. Jaxon Wiggins, Arkansas
Wiggins has a big frame at 6-foot-6, 225 pounds, with stuff to go with it, including a 94-96 mph fastball, a mid-80s slider and a firm changeup. He was looking to take a step forward with his control in 2023, but a Tommy John surgery prior to the season means he won’t pitch for Arkansas any time soon.
63. Joseph Gonzalez, Auburn
Gonzalez only pitches in the 90-92 mph range and touches 93-94, but he has excellent feel to spot up a three-pitch mix and was impressive with Team USA during the 2022 summer after a solid 2022 season with Auburn.
69. Liam Peterson, Calvary Christian HS, Clearwater, Fla.
Peterson is young for the class and has a lean and powerful frame at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds. He upped his fastball velocity in 2022 and was sitting 93-94 in short stints and touching 96, with a 77-81 mph breaking ball that could be plus as well.
72. Zander Mueth, Belleville Township East HS, Illinois
Mueth has a ton of physical projection with an ultra-lean, 6-foot-6, 190-pound frame and he’s already pitching in the low 90s and touching 95. He gets a ton of horizontal movement on his slider, but his mid-80s changeup is viewed as one of the best in the class—with bottoming out action at the plate.
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74. Jackson Baumeister, Florida State
Baumeister was a catcher and pitcher in high school, but he has one of the best fastballs in the 2023 draft class in a vacuum. The pitch is an analytical darling, with 93 mph velocity that touches 96, but outstanding induced vertical break, a flat approach angle and excellent extension that all help the pitch play up.
77. Nathan Dettmer, Texas A&M
Dettmer pitched in the low 90s in 2022, but scouts were effusive in their praise for his work during the fall, when he was touching upper-90s velocity consistently, and they expect him to take on a huge role with Texas A&M in 2023.
79. Tanner Hall, Southern Mississippi
Hall has arguably the best command in the 2023 draft class and struck out 146 batters compared to just 14 walks in 2022. He led the country in strikeout-to-walk ratio among starters. He throws a fastball in the upper 80s, with a low-80s changeup that tunnels off the fastball nicely.
80. Aidan Keenan, Live Oak HS, Morgan Hill, Calif.
Keenan is a long-levered, projection righthander who attacks hitters from a low, three-quarter slot that makes it difficult for hitters to pick up the ball. He sits in the 92-94 mph range with huge spin rates on his fastball and a mid-70s curveball.
81. Cole Schoenwetter, San Marcos HS, Santa Barbara, Calif.
Schoenwetter attacks hitters with a north-south approach with a 90-94 mph fastball that gets tons of whiffs at the top of the zone and a mid-70s, downer curveball with 12-to-6 shape that can generate whiffs at the bottom of the zone.
82. Dylan Questad, Waterford (Wisc.) HS
Questad is a physically mature righthander with a quick arm, a high three-quarter slot and a solid four-pitch mix. He has strong control across the board and has a solid, ready-made starting profile if not the same high-octane pure stuff of other arms in the class.
83. Barrett Kent, Pottsboro (Texas) HS
Kent is a tremendous athlete who plays football, basketball, golf and track as well as baseball, and was a first-team preseason All-American according to big league scouting directors. He throws a fastball in the low 90s that touches 96 and has potential with a slider and changeup as well.
87. Levi Wells, Texas State
Wells has a trio of high-spin offerings, with a 92-93 mph fastball that has been up to 97, as well as a hammer curve in the upper 70s with tons of depth and a mid-80s slider that challenges hitters in a different plane.
92. TJ Nichols, Arizona
Nichols has long had impressive natural arm strength—he pitched in the mid 90s in high school—and now runs his fastball up to 99, but he needs to develop a bit more control or fastball life to make the most of his velocity.
96. Josh Knoth, Patchogue-Medford HS, Medford, N.Y.
Knoth will still be 17 on draft day and should entice plenty of teams thanks to his youth, cold-weather arm status and high-spin profile. He pitches in the low 90s with his fastball but has a breaking ball that gets north of 3,000 rpm consistently with plus potential—whether the pitch winds up being a slider, curveball or both.
97. Parker Detmers, Glenwood (Ill.) HS
The younger brother of Angels southpaw Reid Detmers, Parker is also committed to Louisville, but is viewed as one of the most polished arms and advanced strike-throwers in the class. He is listed at 6-foot-3, 219 pounds with a repeatable delivery and a sound three-pitch mix led by a 90-93 mph fastball.
99. Kade Morris, Nevada
Morris has a strong foundation as a starter thanks to a quality frame with more strength potentially on the way, as well as a four- or five-pitch mix depending on whether or not you count a four-seam/two-seam fastball variation. He mixes and matches and changes eye levels well and could move up boards with more track record in a starting role in 2023.
Other Notable Righthanded Pitchers:
- Andrew Walters, Miami — Walters was drafted in the 19th round in 2022 by the Orioles, but he’s back with Miami in 2023 and is one of the top college relievers in the country, with an invisible fastball that has tremendous velocity and riding life.
- Terry Busse, Georgia Tech — Busse was a reliever with Logan (Ill.) JC, which has produced a number of pitching prospects over the years, but is expected to move into a starting role with Georgia Tech this spring. He has added a slider and is poised for a breakout 2023 season.
- Gabe Gaeckle, Aptos (Calif.) HS — Gaeckle is an undersized righthander with a quick arm, a fastball that has touched 97 mph, a high-spin breaking ball that gets up to 2,800 rpm and a solid history of control as well—he’s also got a TJ on his resume already.
- Landen Maroudis, Calvary Christian HS, Clearwater, Fla. — Maroudis has a background as a two-way player but has more upside on the mound, where he works with a simple, repeatable delivery. During the summer of 2022 he threw an 89-93 mph fastball, an advanced changeup and a curveball that needs more sharpness.
- Alonzo Tredwell, UCLA — Tredwell stands an imposing 6-foot-8, 230 pounds and is a draft-eligible sophomore who managed a standout 66-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2022. He should move into a starting role in 2023 and pitches off a 90-91 mph fastball.
- Ty Floyd, Louisiana State — Floyd was draft-eligible in 2022, but went unselected and returns to LSU with a fastball that sits in the 92-94 mph range but it plays up thanks to tremendous riding life and gets tons of whiffs at the top of the zone.
- Jason Savacool, Maryland — A prominent prospect out of high school, Savacool took a huge step forward with Maryland in 2022, when he posted a 2.93 ERA over 107.1 innings. He throws his fastball in the low 90s, with a solid slider, curveball and changeup to round out a four-pitch mix.
- Jake Eddington, Missouri State — Eddington transferred from Alabama to Missouri State, and after missing the 2022 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, he impressed scouts with loud pure stuff during the 2022 fall. If that stuff sticks in 2023 and he adds innings, he’ll likely move further up boards.
- Drue Hackenberg, Virginia Tech — Hackenberg comes from an athletic family and made a strong first impression with Virginia Tech in 2022 when he posted a 3.30 ERA in a full-time starting role and then pitched with USA Baseball’s trials roster during the summer. He gets into the mid 90s with his fastball and has above-average control.
- Jay Driver, Harvard — Covid and the Ivy League’s canceled 2021 season delayed Driver’s college career, but he pitched well in 2022 as a lockdown reliever, and has a loud two-pitch combination with a fastball that has touched 97 and a slider that generated a 52% miss rate in 2022.
2023 Class Righthanded Pitcher Grade: 55
Just five righthanded pitchers were taken in the first round in 2022, which stems from the huge number of injuries to the class, but the 2023 group currently sits with 11 first-round talents which would match the number of righthanders who went in the first round in 2021. Dollander is the crown jewel at the top of the class, but there are plenty of intriguing college starter profiles further down the board with impressive track records and resumes—a refreshing change-of-pace from the Covid-impacted draft classes of 2020-2022.