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2023 MLB Mock Draft Version 3.0


We’re now a month out from the 2023 draft. It’s time for Mock Draft V 3.0.

Many scouting departments this week have started their end-of-season meetings and the industry is collectively buzzing about who could go where on July 9. 

Like our previous mock draft a month ago, there is still a reasonable consensus on the top five players in the class, with one prominent scouting official putting it like this: 

“The first five players I think everyone agrees on. I think 30 teams agree they are the top five. Who is sixth? You get some different answers there.”

That top five group of players consists of the top-five ranked players on the BA draft board:

  1. Dylan Crews, OF, Louisiana State
  2. Paul Skenes, RHP, Louisiana State
  3. Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida
  4. Walker Jenkins, OF, South Brunswick HS, Southport, N.C.
  5. Max Clark, OF, Franklin (Ind.) Community HS

That doesn’t necessarily mean those five players will all be taken among the top five picks. You only need to look back at last year’s draft when the Rangers took righthander Kumar Rocker with the third overall pick to remind yourself how long the “consensus” view of the talent can hold serve. 

The money is the complicating factor in baseball’s draft, and even if a team views one player as comparable or better than another, how much each player is willing to sign for at a specific pick will change the calculus on decisions.

The Rangers got creative with Rocker and spent big on righthander Brock Porter later in the fourth round and two years ago the Pirates signed catcher Henry Davis to an underslot deal with the first overall pick and handed out a few overslot bonuses to high school players in subsequent rounds. Pittsburgh is back in the No. 1 spot this year and Texas isn’t far behind at No. 3. 

Additionally, the first overall pick comes with an assigned slot value of just over $9.7 million. The 2022 No. 1 pick value was $8.85 million. 

Spencer Torkelson is the current draft bonus record holder. He signed as the No. 1 overall pick in 2020 to an $8,416,300 signing bonus, which was essentially full slot (it was technically $1,000 over slot value) at the time. Last year’s Nos. 1 and 2 overall picks, Jackson Holliday and Druw Jones, signed for $8.19 million, which placed them among the top three draft bonuses all time—just ahead of Adley Rutschman and pre-bonus pool era Gerrit Cole—but Jones signed for slot value at No. 2 and Holliday’s deal represented an underslot signing at No. 1. 

If the player selected with the first overall pick in 2023 agrees to a slot deal, it will far and away exceed Torkelson’s current bonus record. Given how the industry perceives the top talent in this year’s class, they would be right to demand it—like Torkelson did three years ago.

But the financials matter, and if there’s a player in a similar phylum willing to take a haircut on a deal that would simultaneously place them at or near the top of the all-time bonus leaderboard and provide a team with greater flexibility for later picks … well you can see how it starts to make sense.

Those machinations and calculations are the reason why the draft should continue to be difficult to project, even though Dylan Crews still sits atop the class as the favorite to go 1-1.

OK, enough preamble. Most of you probably skipped this a long time ago. Let’s get into the picks:

1. Pirates — Dylan Crews, OF, Louisiana State

I’m sure the Pirates are still kicking the tires on a number of different options for the top spot. Given how they’ve operated in the past that shouldn’t be a surprise. There are scouts in the industry who think Wyatt Langford is quite close in talent to Crews, and he has the SEC production to back it up as well. Cases can also be made for both the prep outfielders, Walker Jenkins and Max Clark. Still, I don’t feel confident enough in any of those options to pull the trigger on a player not named Crews. He has the tools, he has the performance, he has some of the best exit velocities in the class, he has a center field profile and he’s got an extremely advanced offensive approach. There’s not much to critique with him. 

2. Nationals — Paul Skenes, RHP, Louisiana State

Skenes is coming off a dominant complete game, 12-strikeout effort against Tulane in the regionals, and he was also named a Golden Spikes Award finalist, alongside Crews and Florida two-way player and 2024 prospect Jac Caglianone. In the scenario where the Pirates don’t take Crews or Skenes and the Nationals are picking between the LSU duo, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see them take Skenes. He’s now up to 179 strikeouts on the season, with a 1.90 ERA, 47.2% strikeout rate and an opposing OPS of just .472. He needs 24 more strikeouts to break Ben McDonald’s single-season strikeout record with LSU. McDonald struck out 202 batters in 152.1 innings back in 1989. He’s on pace to do it with just over 13 more innings, which could be in as few as two starts. He’s got a real chance if LSU advances through super regionals against Kentucky this weekend. 

3. Tigers — Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida

Langford has been excellent all season when he’s been on the field for Florida. He had a strong regional showing last weekend and is hitting .387/.511/.799 with 18 home runs, 24 doubles and a strong 18.9% walk rate. Perhaps the biggest true separator between Langford and Crews is the additional prep history teams have of Crews and one full season of SEC performance data. Outside of that it’s similar. If you want a bit more pure speed and a tick more raw power, you could lean Langford, and if you want the center field profile and longer track record go Crews. Either way Detroit is getting an impact player.

4. Rangers — Walker Jenkins, OF, South Brunswick HS, Southport, N.C.

Picks No. 3 and 4 are flipped from our previous mock draft, and I think the Rangers would be quite happy in this scenario with their pick of the elite high school players in the class. Jenkins has physicality, a beautiful lefthanded swing and a chance for plus tools in the two most important categories: hit and power. He could go off the board at any spot in front of this and it wouldn’t surprise me, but if he fell further than this … that would be a bit more surprising. At the same time, the Rangers are clearly not afraid to go off the board with an unconventional and surprising pick at the top of the draft.

5. Twins — Max Clark, OF, Franklin (Ind.) Community HS

It’s easiest to place Clark here with the Twins in this scenario. I think they might prefer to get Jenkins in this spot, but that’s more of a guess on my part given some of the feedback on how heavily they have scouted Jenkins this spring. And just because there’s a perceived consensus top five doesn’t mean someone like Rhett Lowder, Kyle Teel, Chase Dollander, Noble Meyer or someone else couldn’t sneak into this range given the right deal. 

6. A’s — Rhett Lowder, RHP, Wake Forest

Lowder keeps posting every single week and he keeps sneaking up draft boards. There are teams who now view him ahead of Chase Dollander simply because he’s given them more confidence in his outings each week than Dollander has. Perhaps this is nonsensical to say about a pitching prospect, but Lowder doesn’t have that much risk in his profile and given the state of the A’s, perhaps they could do with a bit of safety. Lowder isn’t some vanilla strike-thrower and college performer, either. He has legitimate stuff, was up to 97 last weekend, sat 94 and has utterly dominated hitters all spring: He has a 1.77 ERA, 31.6% strikeout rate, 5.1% walk rate and .207 opposing average. 

7. Reds — Kyle Teel, C, Virginia

Like Lowder, Teel is another college performer who is pushing up boards at a valuable demographic. It’s quite a fall off at the position in the college ranks after Teel, and he’s mashed all season with excellent athleticism and plus arm strength. He is hitting .423/.487/.690 with 13 home runs, 25 doubles, a 12% strikeout rate and 10.9% walk rate. He’s getting a lot of buzz around this part of the draft and it sounds like both the Reds and A’s might be interested.

8. Royals — Noble Meyer, RHP, Jesuit HS, Portland, Ore.

Meyer seems like the clear-cut top prep pitching prospect in the class, and he has been getting plenty of attention from teams inside the top 10 down the stretch. You could make a fairly simple case that he has the highest pure upside of any pitcher in this class outside of Paul Skenes. It’s an elite fastball/slider combination packed onto an ideal pitcher’s frame to go with standout athleticism and advanced feel to pitch. He more than fits on talent in this spot even though the industry is skeptical of the high school righthander profile inside the top 10—this would make Meyer just the third such player in the last five years, joining Carter Stewart (Braves, 2018) and Jackson Jobe (Tigers, 2021)

9. Rockies — Jacob Wilson, SS, Grand Canyon

The ascension of both Lowder and Teel has pushed Wilson down the board in this mock. There will certainly be some skepticism about Wilson’s impact potential, but there are teams who view him as a no-doubt shortstop who has an outlier skill in his pure hitting ability. In 697 career plate appearances with Grand Canyon, Wilson struck out just 31 times—a 4.4% rate. Another surging college hitter like Brayden Taylor could potentially be interesting here as well.

10. Marlins — Jacob Gonzalez, SS, Mississippi

Yes, the swing is a bit unorthodox, but Gonzalez has tools, profiles on the left side of the infield and is a lefthanded hitter with a three-year performance track record in the SEC. He’s a career .319/.427/.561 hitter with 40 home runs in 186 games with the Rebels, and he’s always had a keen eye for the strike zone as well. He has never posted a walk rate lower than 12% and he’s never posted a strikeout rate higher than 11.1%. Matt Shaw is another name who might fit.

11. Angels — Chase Dollander, RHP, Tennessee

There’s no way the Angels expected Dollander to be an option for the 11th pick of the draft at the start of the season, but his inconsistencies and struggles—particularly in the first inning of games—have kept him sliding down boards. There’s a limit to how far a talent like his will fall as long as he keeps flashing the stuff that made him the top pitcher in the class to start the year in the first place, and the Angels are the beneficiaries in this scenario with better 2023 performers going in front of them.

12. D-backs — Colin Houck, SS, Parkview HS, Lilburn, Ga.  

Like all the high school shortstops in this mock, Houck has a fairly wide range of outcomes and Arizona feels like one of the higher-end outcomes. It does sound like the D-backs have been in pretty heavy on Houck this spring and would consider him with this pick. He’s a well-rounded athlete with no glaring holes in his game, solid hitting ability, power, speed and defensive chops on the left side of the infield.

13. Cubs — Thomas White, LHP, Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass.

Like Meyer, White had plenty of attention with teams picking inside the top 10, but an erratic final start of the season could have him wind up somewhere in the middle of the first round instead of the top third. There are a number of teams who seem to be excited about White and the Cubs are one of them, though this range of the draft also has a number of interesting bats on the board. Aidan Miller is another name that’s interesting here.

14. Red Sox — Matt Shaw, SS, Maryland 

Shaw has gained some steam and feels like a fit in the 10-15 range on the board. He’s likely not a shortstop at the next level but he hits and hits for power. He’s now had back-to-back seasons with 20-plus home runs and he is now the Maryland program leader in career home runs. The Red Sox have been one of the teams linked with him.

15. White Sox — Yohandy Morales, 3B, Miami

This was the pick in the last mock for the White Sox and I am sticking with it again considering how well he played down the stretch, highlighted by a 4-for-5 game with two home runs against Louisiana-Lafayette in the Coral Gables Regional. He finished the year with a .408/.475/.713 slash line with 20 home runs and 13 doubles. Morales has some swing-and-miss questions, but with huge power, and his overall production with Miami in three years is impressive.

16. Giants — Walker Martin, SS, Eaton (Colo.) HS 

The Giants have been tied to a few players at this spot, and it has mostly been hitters that I’ve heard about. One is Stanford third baseman Tommy Troy, but another is Walker Martin, who just turned in one of the loudest high school seasons in the country. He was among the nation’s leaders in home runs, and yes he plays in Colorado where the ball flies just a bit better, but he is also a tremendous athlete with a clean lefthanded swing, good speed and a natural ability to use all fields. Bryce Eldridge could be another fit here.

17. Orioles — Brayden Taylor, 3B, Texas Christian

This feels like the lower end of outcomes for Taylor, who slumped in the middle parts of the season, but has been on a tear lately. He has one of the better offensive approaches you’ll find in the class, with a solid ability to hit for power to the pull side. His biggest critique entering the season was that he didn’t have enough impact for a third baseman, but he’s quietly been an excellent home run producer throughout his career, with 48 career home runs, including 23 this season. I would not be surprised to see Taylor off the board inside the top 10 picks. Bryce Eldridge could make some sense with the Orioles as well.

18. Brewers — Enrique Bradfield Jr., OF, Vanderbilt

Similar to Taylor in the pick in front of this spot, this feels like one of the lower potential outcomes for Bradfield Jr. He sounds like he has a good chance to go inside the top 15 picks, with a few teams interested in the back of the top 10 as well, but in this scenario, with a few high school pitchers and high school shortstops going ahead, he falls to the Brewers—who have had a few talented players fall to their picks in the middle of the first round in recent years. The Brewers have plenty of talented center fielders, but Bradfield Jr. would probably be the best defender in the entire organization right now, as an 80-grade runner and 80-grade defender.

19. Rays — Tommy Troy, 3B, Stanford

Troy fits the theme of the middle of this first round mock: talented college hitters with a strong combination of overall offensive track record and late-season highlights in front of big crowds of decision makers. Troy offers some defensive versatility and is praised for his natural hitting ability. He has hit .409/.487/.735 with a career-high 17 home runs—including a handful of shockingly well-hit homers to the pull side last weekend. Colt Emerson is an interesting name for Tampa Bay as well. The Rays are always a tricky team for me to ID in these mocks (though we’re solidly in the range where it’s tricky for everyone). 

20. Blue Jays — Nolan Schanuel, 1B, Florida Atlantic 

Schanuel finished the season with a ridiculous .444/.612/.864 slash line, with 19 home runs, 18 doubles, a 24.6% walk rate and a 4.4% strikeout rate. He has a special combination of pure bat-to-ball skills, pitch recognition and solid power. He was one of the best hitters in the country all season and should be an appealing option for a number of teams.

21. Cardinals — Hurston Waldrep, RHP, Florida

Waldrep could wind up pushing higher than this, especially if he has a few more loud starts like he did in last weekend’s regional. He went seven innings and struck out 12 against Connecticut on Sunday and is tied for third among Division I pitchers with 129 total strikeouts on the season—behind only Paul Skenes and Stanford’s Quinn Mathews.

22. Mariners — Alexander Clemmey, LHP, Bishop Hendricken HS, Warwick, R.I.

One of the buzziest names in this edition of the mock draft is Clemmey, who has an extremely wide range of potential landing spots, but a large number of teams who think he is much closer to the talent of Thomas White than current draft boards might suggest. He has a projectable 6-foot-6 frame, will be 17 on draft day and touches 98 from the left side with a breaking ball that flashes plus. The Mariners are a team that may be interested and they have the pick volume that could allow them to feel more comfortable with a high-risk profile like Clemmey—who also comes with significant upside.

23. Guardians — Arjun Nimmala, SS, Strawberry Crest HS, Dover, Fla.

Nimmala could be off the board long before this selection, but he checks a lot of boxes for the sort of player that Cleveland targets and it has reportedly been heavy on him this spring. He’s one of the youngest players in the class and also has more power upside than many of the prep hitters Cleveland has targeted in recent years.

24. Braves — George Lombard Jr., SS, Gulliver Prep HS, Miami

I’ve been hearing the Braves linked with a number of high school hitting profiles recently, and Lombard Jr. is one of them that seems to come up a good bit. They could also be in on Walker Martin if he’s still available. Both these profiles make some sense for an Atlanta system that continues to pump out big league pitchers, but could use an infusion of high-upside hitting talent.

25. Padres — Chase Davis, OF, Arizona

Davis is coming off a career year where he’s hit .362/.489/.742 with 21 home runs and more walks than strikeouts. He significantly improved his contact rate, which was the biggest question in his profile entering the year, and pairs production with excellent underlying batted ball data and impressive traditional tools. The Padres had a ton of heat in to see him at the Pac-12 tournament, where he went 6-for-17 (.353) with a pair of home runs and was named tournament MVP.

26. Yankees — Samuel Stafura, SS, Walter Panas HS, Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.

The Yankees being very in on Stafura seems like one of the worst-kept secrets in the industry at this point. He’s consistently linked to them here in the back of the first round. If I thought the Anthony Volpe comparisons for Stafura were good earlier this spring, they would be even more fun after this pick. Stafura can pick it, he has good hitting chops and he’s added more strength and speed this spring.

27. Phillies — Blake Mitchell, C, Sinton (Texas) HS

Mitchell gets a lot of buzz in the 10-20 range, but there are also more than 10 players who I could say the same about and the high school catcher demographic is one that I wouldn’t be surprised to see slip down the board a bit on draft day. Mitchell has uncommon lefthanded power for the position at the high school level, with a huge arm to go with it.

28. Astros — Ralphy Velazquez, C/1B, Huntington Beach (Calif.) HS

The Astros also sound like one of the teams who are on Stafura, but if the Yankees like him as much as we think, he’s not getting here. Velazquez is another player linked to the Astros, and he has some of the most exciting hit and power tools in the prep class, even if he’s a risk to move off of catcher.

29. Mariners — Brock Wilken, 3B, Wake Forest

Wilken has some of the best raw power in the country and also significantly improved his walk rate this spring as a middle-of-the-lineup masher for one of the most talented teams in the country. He’s hit .353/.517/.805 with 27 home runs and should have potential landing spots throughout the second half of the first round.

30. Mariners — Colt Emerson, SS, Glenn HS, New Concord, Ohio

This gives the Mariners a high-octane arm, a powerful college slugger and a middle-of-the-diamond high school profile with excellent pure hitting ability and a well-rounded tool set with their first three picks. Emerson’s hit tool is highly regarded in the industry and he should be a fine defensive shortstop as well.

31. Rays — Charlee Soto, RHP, Reborn Christian Academy HS, Kissimmee, Fla.

Soto has a ton of attention in the 20s, but I couldn’t find a spot for him in this iteration. It’s not uncommon for high school pitchers to fall a bit and still get an overslot deal, and that’s the thinking with this selection. There are a few teams with great pitching development track records and the Rays would be near the top of that list. Soto’s excellent pure stuff + Tampa Bay’s player development group is a fun combination.

32. Mets — Kevin McGonigle, SS, Monsignor Bonner HS, Drexel Hill, Penn.

It feels a bit shocking to have McGonigle this far down in the draft considering his reputation as one of the best pure hitters in the class, but it’s a competitive and deep high school shortstop class and someone of that pool is going to last a bit longer than we expect. In this scenario the Mets are the beneficiaries and he has some traits the organization might like. 

33. Brewers — Aidan Miller, 3B, Mitchell HS, New Port Richey, Fla.

It’s been tough to assess Miller’s market to this point, and in this iteration I have him falling to the supplemental round with the assumption of an overslot deal. He’s got traction as high as the 10-15 range. Miller has lightning-quick bat speed and a chance for plus power.

34. Twins — Eric Bitonti, SS/3B, Aquinas HS, San Bernardino, Calif.

Bitonti is a polarizing profile but he has tantalizing upside potential with a massive, 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame and plus power. He is also one of the youngest players in the class and doesn’t turn 18 until November.

35. Marlins — Jack Hurley, OF, Virginia Tech

This mock places the Marlins with a pair of performing, up-the-middle college hitters with well-rounded offensive profiles. Hurley hit .320/.414/.713 with 17 home runs and has impressive exit velocity data with the tools to play all three outfield positions.

36. Dodgers — Jonny Farmelo, OF, Westfield HS, Chantilly, Va. 

Farmelo is a speedy center fielder with a quick and compact lefthanded swing and more power than you might expect. He has a well-rounded profile and has a chance to be an above-average hitter and plus defender.

Five players who just missed: 

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