How MLB Scouting Departments Grade The 2023 Draft Class
For the third consecutive year, we asked MLB scouting departments to grade the quality of the 2023 draft class on a 20-80 scale.
Each year we attempt to talk about how a draft class compares to recent years or all-time great years, and there’s no better way to do that than 1) ask the experts and 2) quantify their responses.
That’s the goal with this exercise. Much can and will change from now to the actual draft in July—after all, we are just in our third full week of college baseball—but this is how 15 scouting departments graded the 2023 draft class as they saw it entering the season.
Average Grade: 55
This is our most generic and vague category that attempts to capture all of the various demographics of the draft. The industry was split fairly evenly, with eight teams grading the class as a 60 and seven teams grading the class as a 50.
Average Grade: 51
A pair of teams graded the impact talent as a 40, three teams graded the impact talent as a 60 and each of the other 10 teams split it down the middle with an average 50 grade.
Louisiana State outfielder Dylan Crews and Tennessee righthander Chase Dollander seem to be the 1A tier of prospects in the class currently, with a group of up-the-middle college and high school bats rounding out the 1B tier: Mississippi shortstop Jacob Gonzalez, Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford, Grand Canyon shortstop Jacob Wilson and high school outfielders Max Clark (Ind.) and Walker Jenkins (N.C.).
Average Grade: 59
This is the third straight year that the industry has given the overall depth of the draft a near-plus grade, following average grades of 57 in 2022 and 59 in 2021. This is likely thanks to the lingering impact of the Covid-shortened draft of 2020 that featured just five rounds and led to a number of talented high school players reaching campus—who are now in their junior seasons.
This was the highest-graded category and the only category that received a 70 evaluation (from just one team).
Average Grade: 52
It seems to be a solid year for college pitching, after the 2022 class was wrecked by a large number of injuries to pitchers ranked at the top of draft boards.
Dollander is one of the best college pitching prospects in years at the top of the group, but there are a number of first-round talents behind him, including LSU two-way player Paul Skenes, Florida righthander Hurston Waldrep, Wake Forest righthander Rhett Lowder, South Carolina righthander Will Sanders, Texas righthander Tanner Witt and Campbell righthander Cade Kuehler.
Average Grade: 55
A majority of teams view the 2023 college hitting group as a plus group, though six teams graded it as only average and one team graded the group as below-average.
What’s unique about this group relative to a normal college hitting crop is the number of up-the-middle defensive profiles who are also viewed as the best hitters in the class, as well as an unusually large number of college shortstops, including the previously mentioned Gonzalez and Wilson as well as first-round talents like Maryland shortstop Matt Shaw, San Diego State super utilityman Cole Carrigg and Tennessee shortstop Maui Ahuna.
High School Pitching
Average Grade: 49
This was the only area of the draft to earn a below-average grade from the industry, and it just barely missed a 50 grade. A vast majority of teams graded the high school pitching as average overall, though three teams viewed the prep arms as a below-average group compared to just one team that viewed it as plus.
There’s a relatively clear top four in the prep class, which includes righthanders Noble Meyer (Ore.), Travis Sykora (Texas) and Charlee Soto (Fla.) as well as lefthander Thomas White (Mass.). After that, there is plenty of size and stuff to be found but many more questions about command and starter profiles.
High School Hitting
Average Grade: 55
Like the college hitting group, most teams (9) view the high school hitters as a plus group overall, though five teams viewed it as average and one team viewed it as below-average.
Even with an above-average grade, this would put the 2023 prep hitting class below both of the last two high school hitting classes, which each earned an average of 58. Max Clark and Walker Jenkins provide a strong 1-2 punch for the class, and there’s good hitting to be found with the pure bats of Aidan Miller (Fla.) and Kevin McGonigle (Pa.), but the group doesn’t have the sort of shortstop impact that the 2021 class provided or the unique blend of tools and athleticism that 2022 offered.
There is a quality group of shortstops in the late-first/early-second round range currently that could be a solid lever for this group during the spring. That group includes Arjun Nimmala (Fla.), Roch Cholowsky (Ariz.), Colin Houck (Ga.), Colt Emerson (Ohio), Walker Martin (Colo.) and Eric Bitonti (Calif.).
With each category done, let’s round the average grades to the nearest half-grade and put all of the pieces together to see how exactly the industry views this 2023 draft class:
Overall: 55 (above-average)
Impact: 50 (average)
Depth: 60 (plus)
College Pitching: 50 (average)
College Hitting: 55 (above-average)
High School Pitching: 50 (average)
High School Hitting: 55 (above-average)
This is the most well-rounded class of the last three years. There’s no area that is viewed as even fringe-average, though the depth is the only category that was viewed as plus. So, while the industry doesn’t see a clear weakness anywhere it also doesn’t see an obvious area of overwhelming strength for the class beyond simply having quality depth.
This is also the most consensus we have received from the industry in this exercise. There was only one grade outside of the 40-60 band, a single 70 given to the depth of the class, and there were just two answers given for overall grades.
In the first two years of this exercise, we saw a much wider range of responses and more usage of the extreme ends of the 20-80 scale.
You can view both of those below: