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Revisiting the 2023 Dodgers MLB Draft class after the conclusion of the minor league season.
Best Pure Hitter: Outfielder Kendall George (1) has always been a pesky hitter with strong pure bat-to-ball skills and a small strike zone thanks to an undersized frame. He’s a contact-oriented hitter who should post high BABIP numbers thanks to his top-of-the-scale running ability and lightning quick first step out of the box. He has the exact offensive skill set to excel in the lower levels of the minors. In his pro debut in rookie ball and Low-A he slashed .370/.458/.420 nearly as many walks (17) as strikeouts (20) and a strong 88% in-zone contact rate.
Best Power Hitter: Third baseman Jake Gelof (2) became Virginia’s career home run leader in his junior season and finished his Cavalier career with 48 home runs in total despite hitting just four as a freshman in 2021. Gelof has a noisy swing and aggressive swing decisions, but he has easy plus raw power that plays nicely to the pull side. His six home runs in his pro debut led all Dodgers draftees.
Fastest Runner: George (1) was one of the speediest players in the prep class and had an Enrique Bradfield-esque profile. He wasn’t extremely efficient on the base paths in his debut, but he did steal 17 bags in just 28 games at a 74% success rate. He is too fast to not steal bags more efficiently as he gets used to the speed of the pro game.
Best Defensive Player: George (1) has a chance to be a plus defender in center field, but the Dodgers are also high on the defensive progress that shortstop Jordan Thompson (15) showed in his draft year with Louisiana State in 2023. He has been an inconsistent defender in his collegiate career, but he has the speed, actions, athleticism and arm strength to stick at the position and make highlight reel plays. Defensive consistency will be the key, though his pro debut was solid in the field and he made just one error in 54 defensive chances.
Best Fastball: The Dodgers activated just two pitchers in their 2023 draft class this season: righthander Patrick Copen (7) and righthander Noah Ruen (17). Copen earns the nod in this category and sits in the mid 90s with his fastball, and reached 97 mph in his pro debut. He’s been up to 99 mph in the past and relied on the pitch at a 76% clip with Marshall this spring.
Best Secondary Pitch: Lefthander Wyatt Crowell (4) missed a significant amount of time this spring after having Tommy John surgery, but he has always shown a great slider. He throws the pitch in the mid 80s with spin rates around 2,600 rpm and generated a 50% whiff rate with the pitch in college. It’s a plus pitch.
Best Pro Debut: George led all Los Angeles debut hitters with an .878 OPS, which is all the more impressive considering his modest raw power. His contact ability and swing decisions translating directly to pro ball are encouraging. He managed extremely high BABIP numbers despite an infield fly ball rate that seems too high to be sustainable. He’s a throwback style player who could thrive in today’s more speed-friendly offensive environment.
Best Athlete: The Dodgers are high on outfielder Jaron Elkins’ (8) athleticism. He also played football and wrestled in high school and has an exciting toolset including plus speed and plus arm strength.
Most Intriguing Background: Elkins (8) immediately became one of the more interesting players in the 2023 draft class when the Dodgers signed him for $407,500. He was an under-the-radar prospect who wasn’t on the showcase circuit, but his supplemental tools and defensive ability in center field give him several paths to big league value and could make him a player to watch early in his pro career.
Closest To The Majors: The Dodgers haven’t been particularly aggressive with draftee assignments or rapid ascents up the minor league ladder, but Ruen (12) has the stuff to move quickly in a reliever role and offers a unique look as a submarine righty.
Best Day Three Pick (Or NDFA): Lefthander Sterling Patrick (18) has a lean and lanky frame that could indicate future strength and velocity gains. He struck out 113 batters and walked 21 in just 76.2 innings this spring with South Hills (West Covina, Calif.) High and the Dodgers signing him for $347,500 to sign him out of a UC Santa Barbara commitment speaks to their enthusiasm with him.