2023 MLB Draft: Mock Draft 4.0 — Paul Skenes, Dylan Crews toss-up

July 2, 2023

With just six days remaining until the Pittsburgh Pirates officially go on the clock, there are very few absolutes in the 2023 MLB Draft. We don’t know who will go first overall. We also don’t know what chaos will surely follow.

With such a deep and talented crop on the high school side this year, teams are undoubtedly working to move money around in the first round in the hopes of pulling a talented teenager or two down to their second or third pick. It’s not often teams have the opportunity to land a prep with first-round upside in the second round, so flexing one’s bonus pool this year is arguably more important than ever. It’s possible as high as pick no. 3 we see a money-moving deal. Every team thereafter has something to gain by cutting a deal with an under-slot talent to spread the wealth in later rounds.

There’s likely to be a run on college performers in the middle of the first round. But how those picks line up could dictate what unexpected talent remains on the board entering round two.

With that said, here’s Mock Draft 4.0 — 39 picks detailing some possibilities for round one of the 2023 MLB Draft. Much of this is built off industry conversations, though very little of it is likely to ring true on draft day. We are set to publish one more mock draft on July 7. That’ll be the real barometer.


UPDATED DRAFT BOARD


  1. Paul Skenes, RHP — LSU

    The word on the street among some general managers and scouting directors is the Pirates seem to fancy Skenes at this spot. Some still find it hard to believe Ben Cherington & Co. would pass on Dylan Crews regardless of the strings Scott Boras may try to pull.

    Either way, one piece of the LSU tandem seems likely at this spot, with Wyatt Langford on a haircut be a distinct possibility too. The Max Clark-to-Pittsburgh helium hasn’t gained much momentum since initial murmurs surfaced a handful of weeks back. Still, is shouldn’t be ruled out. This draft is chockfull of high school talent and it should surprise no one if the Pirates elect to go quantity over singular quality with this pick.

2. Dylan Crews, OF — LSU

There’s almost no circumstance where Crews falls past the second pick. Behind closed doors, there have been rumors Crews fancies the idea of playing in Washington. So much so that the Boras camp has purportedly thrown gaudy signing bonus demands at the Pirates to land Crews. That said, the Pirates hold the cards and almost all the leverage.

The Nationals have scouted South Brunswick outfielder Walker Jenkins extensively, and have had brass out to see LSU righty Paul Skenes and Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford on almost every occasion down the stretch. That said, those efforts are likely for naught if Crews is on the board at No. 2.

The Nationals are squarely in wait-and-see mode, but if Crews is gone here, Skenes, Langford or Jenkins all make a lot of sense.


3. Wyatt Langford, OF — Florida

The Tigers were out to see Virginia catcher Kyle Teel in droves on a number of occasions, even as recently as the Super Regionals. That said, it seems as though those efforts are more of a backup plan as Tigers’ front office members are purportedly “nervous” that Langford won’t get to them at 3.

General Manager Scott Harris is embarking on his first MLB Draft for the organization and it would only make sense for him to follow his analytic roots and take a hitter here. In the unlikely scenario Crews is still on the board here, his “tumble” stops in Detroit. Still, the betting line in Vegas should lean Langford and/or Teel.


4. Walker Jenkins, OF — South Brunswick

Outside of an unforeseen player being available at this pick, all of the smoke for the better part of two months has been how enamored the Rangers are with Jenkins. He’s an 80-grade human being, and could be one of the rare high school bats that moves quickly through a system.

Rangers’ brass really like Teel, and he’s certainly an option with this pick and could represent a slight under-slot deal with the idea of spending heavy with their next pick in the fourth round (exactly what they did in 2022 with Kumar Rocker and Brock Porter.) But he’s unlikely to provide the type of savings necessary to really make a splash in a later round.

The team also likes Clark, but it seems as though the majority of decision-makers in Texas prefer “Walker, Texas Ranger.”


5. Rhett Lowder, RHP — Wake Forest

The Twins are in such a unique position with the fifth overall pick. They have the fourth-most money to spend in this draft, and they’re sitting behind a team in the Rangers who do not have a second- or third-round pick. Texas has the 16th-biggest bonus pool. The Twins can essentially buy down whatever player they want to this spot. But with how Lowder performed down the stretch, it seems Minnesota is happy with landing a fast-moving arm.

The Twins sat in on the final few weeks of Wake Forest games with multiple scouts on-hand each week. Specifically on Lowder’s starts. It’s possible they were there to see Brock Wilken on a number of occasions and could target him at 34 in Compensatory Round A, but it was an awful lot of heat for a pick later down the board.

Minnesota does like Ole Miss shortstop Jacob Gonzalez, but he’d likely be an under-slot options here. Jenkins is also a buy-down option here.


6. Enrique Bradfield Jr., OF — Vanderbilt

I think the Athletics would prefer Lowder get here, and if he’s on the board there’s a good chance he’s the pick. But in this scenario Oakland grabs one of the most exciting players on the board likely on an under-slot deal.

There aren’t too many loud connections between the Athletics and any one player in this class. But that’s always been the case with Oakland. They’re rather quiet around draft time. Jacob Wilson has been mentioned as an under-slot option here too, but those rumors are a bit dated to this point. Opposing front office executives have pointed toward Teel as an option here for a while now. He’s a big make-up guy and will stay up the middle of the field. But Oakland is flush with options behind the plate for the future and are likely better set grabbing a shortstop or outfielder.


7. Chase Dollander, RHP — Tennessee

Another team who purportedly would like to see Lowder fall in their lap, the Reds could go with Tennessee RHP Chase Dollander here as he represents another potential quick-moving college arm.

The Twins, Athletics and Reds all represent potential pivot points in this draft where under-slot deal could create chaos in picks after this. Dollander may afford the Reds a bit of a deal as he won’t fall much further than this. Noble Meyer has been mentioned here, as has Teel if the Reds choose to go that direction.


8. Kyle Teel, C — Virginia

The Royals absolutely love Teel and have spent an inordinate amount of time taking in his games toward the end of the year. There’s always a chance he’s not available here with potential landing spots in Detroit, Minnesota, Oakland, and Cincinnati.

Back in April, Kansas City did spend a great deal of time sitting in on Jesuit right Noble Meyer, but not much has come out of that in talking with some different scouts in the area that track who has been in to see him more and more. Colin Houck is the name heard most surrounding the Royals should they work to cut a deal at 8.


9. Max Clark, OF — Franklin Community

It seems as though the Rockies are waiting and hoping that one of Lowder or Dollander fall into their lap at 9, but word out of that camp is they’re also preparing for the scenario that Clark is available here if the arms go on a run off the board.

It’s hard to imagine Meyer isn’t an option here considering Colorado’s recent affinity for big sliders in the draft. The inherent risk surrounding a high school arm isn’t something Bill Schmidt and the Rockies have toyed with in quite some time, however.

The Rockies have also been heavily connected to Aidan Miller and Arjun Nimmala, both of which would fit their desire to add power into the organization on any given year. Those two, however, likely only make sense if Clark is gone.


10. Matt Shaw, 2B — Maryland

Miami is another spot in this draft pundits believe a potential under-slot deal could make sense. The team likes Shaw an awful lot, and he fits the type of high-floor college bat that the team in 2022.

There’s been any number of guys mentioned here. Wilson, Bradfield Jr., Gonzalez, and TCU third baseman Brayden Taylor have all been popular options. The sleeper here is probably prep shortstop Sammy Stafura who purportedly had a fantastic private workout for the Fish and could be a popular money-saver here.


11. Jacob Gonzalez, SS — Ole Miss

With Dollander and Lowder off the board here, it’s a crapshoot in terms of who lands with the Halos. The team has been in to see Gonzalez extensively, and because there’s expected to be a run on college performers here, this is the best guess.

A few other names to track here include Florida righty Hurston Waldrep, Meyer, as well as Houck.

The initial rumors surrounding the Angels and Meyer have dissipated.


12. Colin Houck, SS — Parkview

The Diamondbacks have purportedly circled pitching, specifically college pitching, as their greatest priority in this draft, and the case can be made that Waldrep being on the board here makes sense. That said, the helium surrounding Houck and the Diamondbacks is too great to pass up.

If the very loose rumors of a Dollander “slide” have any legs, this is probably the floor as folks in the know have suggested Arizona really likes the Tennessee righty and would snatch him up at 12 if he were available at this late stage.


13. Hurston Waldrep, RHP — Florida

Pitching continues to be the rumor here, and Meyer is really the only other sensible arm here not named Waldrep. Carter Hawkins has had a ton of success in the past drafting for stuff, and Waldrep could move quickly if his sequencing and pitch-ability is tinkered at the next level.

The Arjun Nimmala link here continues to be strong, and he’s a real candidate to go 13. That said, of late, pitching has dominated the back-alley conversations.


14. Tommy Troy, 2B — Stanford

The overarching opinion is the Red Sox will grab one of the impressive college bats at this spot, and Troy seems to be the top target left here.

Others in the industry have suggested this is without question the floor for Wilson, the talented hitter out of Grand Canyon University. Wilson has seen his stock slip a bit of late due to overall concerns of impact in his offensive profile. He and Arizona outfielder Chase Davis are strong under-slot targets for the Red Sox. Sinton catcher Blake Mitchell is also mentioned here quite a bit.


15. Yohandy Morales, 3B — Miami

The White Sox and General Manager Rick Hahn seem to be targeting college third basemen at this pick with Morales and TCU 3B Brayden Taylor mentioned most. There’s potential here for a small haircut too as the Sox target over-slot pitching in the 2nd round as has been suggested inside the industry. Chicago is said to like Mehemot-Seymour righty Blake Wolters a great deal.

In recent years, the Sox have gone for high-profile preps with their first round picks. And that tact has worked with the emergence of a player like Colson Montgomery. Eaton SS Walker Martin, a similar player in size and stature, is a considerable option here too.

If the team takes the prerogative of going upside-over-everything, Nimmala is obviously a fit if he remains on the board.


16. Arjun Nimmala, SS — Strawberry Crest

With this being General Manager Pete Putila‘s first stab at the MLB Draft with the Giants, my gut tells me he’s going to go hard for athleticism and up-the-middle traits. Nimmala checks both of those boxes and can find success at the big league level going a number of different routes with power being the carrying tool.

Knowing what we know about the Giants, their competitive philosophy, and their budget, Putila and his team can afford to take risks and shoot for organization stars.

If Troy is here for some reason, his fall stops in San Francisco. Martin is also a pretty strong link.


17. Bryce Eldridge, OF/RHP — James Madison HS

The Orioles seem to be in that perfect spot in the draft where a number of super-talented bats could fall into their lap. But this is the first time Baltimore has drafted this deep in quite some time, and in this scenario, they’re grabbing pure upside.

A couple other names to watch here. Nimmala’s slide in this mock is worth monitoring. The Orioles are said to really value his skillset and having the chance to land him at 17 would be quite the development. The Birds also purportedly like what they’ve seen in Taylor and Davis, the latter being a potential under-slot money-mover.

Here’s the ultimate sleeper projection: Baltimore likes Michigan State infielder Mitch Jebb a whole lot. Watch for him to potentially come off the board to afford the team an over-slot luxury in the second round.


18. Jacob Wilson, SS — Grand Canyon

The Brewers seem to be looking at the college bats in this class and are more than happy waiting to see what ends up available at 18. Shaw or Troy are purportedly priorities, but both are gone here.

It’s unlikely Miller falls much farther than this and Milwaukee may have to consider his big bat with him unexpectedly still available.


19. Aidan Miller, 3B — JW Mitchell

The Rays have had a ton of high school talent in for private workouts over the past month and that seems to be the direction they’re going. Miller purportedly impressed the team, though Houck, as well as John Glenn SS Colt Emerson and Homewood Flossmoor OF Dillon Head both looked excellent too.

It’s almost unfathomable that Meyer is still on the board at this stage, and he would certainly fit the Rays draft model too.


20. Chase Davis, OF — Arizona

The Blue Jays have been out in droves to see Davis play, and they’re model-friendly approach to drafting certainly supports the notion they’d be intrigued by the slugging corner outfielder.

Toronto has spent a ton of time getting to know Maryland second baseman Matt Shaw too, and he’s certainly in play if he’s on the board. Should the Jays go the route of a high school hitter, Homewood Flossmoor outfielder Dillon Head seems to get the most run here.


21. Noble Meyer, RHP — Jesuit

The Red Birds always seem to lay in wait, snatching up whatever high upside player lands in their laps around this range year in and year out. They’ve never gone the HS arm route, but maybe this is the year that changes? Meyer is rarely mentioned this low, and because as such he’s hardly mentioned in Cardinals’ circles.

Florida Atlantic 1B/OF Nolan Schanuel is mentioned here with frequency, and I’m sure St. Louis would be happy landing the talented slugger. But Meyer has to come off the board at some point.


22. Brayden Taylor, 3B — TCU

Seattle is focusing on bats, bats and more bats in the early stages of the 2023 draft and appear poised to get creative with some their draft ammo starting with the 22nd pick. The team is purportedly quite high on Emerson who checks a lot of their organization foundational boxes, but with one of the premium college bats still available, it’s too appealing to pass up.

It seems if any one of Taylor, Shaw, Troy or Bradfield Jr. are available here, the Mariners will jump at that opportunity. Possibly Wilson too, though his camp is more split in the organization.

Should the glut of college bats be unavailable here, guys like Emerson, Head, Martin and George Lombard Jr. are all well-liked.


23. Colt Emerson, SS — John Glenn

The Guardians feel like as good a bet as any team in this draft to go under-slot at pick no. 23, though Emerson would not represent any savings with potential suitors all over the 20-30 range. Emerson had a fantastic workout in front of Guardians brass and purportedly left quite an impression on the organization.

The Guardians have had a ton of success over the years with pitching in the draft and Kent State LHP Joe Whitman is quite clearly the top lefty in this class with burgeoning stuff. He could be a money-saver here. College bats like Schanuel and Wilken are mentioned here as well.


24. Sammy Stafura, SS — Walter Panas

There’s been a decent bit of heat in on Head this spring and reports are the Braves have been front and center. That said, Stafura had a strong workout in front of Braves scouting execs and the overwhelming consensus seems to be that this is the range he’ll come off the board.

The Braves are smack-dab in the middle of what appears to be a rather lengthy competitive window. They can reach for the highest ceiling possible here.

Of course, if the team wants to continue to seek the 6-foot righty that throws a fastball with enormous carry and possesses a potential devastating slider, Campbell RHP Cade Kuehler is sitting right there for the taking. Whitman also clearly fits here.


25. Dillon Head, OF — Homewood Flossmoor

Ah yes, a tradition as old as time. Spring is here and Padres General Manager AJ Preller is being seen at every small town ballpark across the country. The man puts in more miles than any other general manager in the game. He relishes this time of year going back to his roots. It’s almost exclusively prep-heavy chatter here with Head getting most of the headlines and Martin gaining some steam behind the scenes.

San Diego really likes Wolters, and they’ve shown extended interest in Stafura and Santa Margarita shortstop Trent Caraway of late as well.


26. Nolan Schanuel, 1B/OF — Florida Atlantic

The Yankees, as has been the case a lot in recent drafts, are all over left-handed power and high school bluechips with up-the-middle traits. Schanuel is polished and could conceivably be New York’s full-time first baseman as early as late 2025, and could even handle right-field responsibilities when called upon.

Stafura has had private workouts for no less than a third of the league and seems to be a name that is destined to force his way into the first round. The Yankees like him a lot too. He fits in a number of different places, though New York likes him as a local boy with the potential for four “plus” tools.

The Yankees like Dillon Head a lot here too, but he too is not available.


27. Charlee Soto, RHP — Reborn Christian

The Phillies are pretty much a guess to everyone at this point. Going off history, they’ve drafted high school pitching hard, and those results have been strong.

Stafura is well liked here too, and the Phillies have shown interest in Virginia Tech outfielder Jack Hurley at this spot as well. This is also a spot that might make sense for Phillips Academy LHP Thomas White if the dollars make sense.


28. Walker Martin, SS — Eaton

The Astros seem to be circling the wagons on the infield market as it appears to be an area of need. With Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman getting older, and not a whole lot of reinforcements on the horizon, this is a good year to address it.

Now that’s not to say Martin is going to stick on the dirt. He may ultimately end up in centerfield. But the upside and positional versatility is here for the Astros to take an aggressive swing. Lombard Jr. makes a lot of sense here too.


29. George Lombard Jr., SS — Gulliver Prep

The second of Seattle’s three first-round picks, Lombard Jr. is a high-upside athlete who could end up at shortstop, though there’s a split camp who believe his barrel-chested, broad-shouldered frame could end up at third base. Lombard was one of the most imposing high school bats in the country this spring, and checks the box Seattle is looking for in this draft in targeting limitless-ceiling high school bats.

Plenty of guys in play here on the high school side with a college bat already in-hand. Should Head or Martin fall here, there’s a good chance their name is called. Doral Academy Charter SS Adrian Santana is brought up here too. Seattle is also purportedly taking a hard look at high school pitching with guys like Soto, White, and hard-throwing Bishop Hendricken lefty Alex Clemmey being considered too.


30. Alex Clemmey, LHP — Bishop Hendricken

It’s hard to envision a scenario where the Mariners don’t walk away from the first round with an arm of some sort, and cold-weather prospects have been an emphasis in recent drafts for the team. Clemmey is also just 17 years old, a selling point to Seattle when they selected RHP Walter Ford in the 2nd round in 2022.

The aforementioned players listed in pick 29 all make sense here too, but also keep an eye on Patchogue-Medford RHP Josh Knoth at this spot. He also fits the aforementioned model traits Seattle has targeted in recent years. He also throws a 3000+ rpm breaking ball already.


31. Tai Peete, SS — Trinity Christian

The Rays have had an enormous number of high school shortstops in for private workouts in the last month and seem keen on taking the tact of adding athletes in this class. Having landed Miller at 19, Peete fills the void for that sandwich athlete that turns into a top prospect over time.

Doral Academy Charter shortstop Adrian Santana is purportedly an organizational favorite too, and would fit the same archetype.


32. Cameron Johnson, LHP — IMG Academy

The Mets are said to be hoping that Morales falls to their pick here at 32, but with his name long off the board, they pivot to a talented high school lefty with a tough slot and a fastball up to 99.

The Mets and their deep pockets can afford to take some risks in the draft. In this scenario, New York is just the type of team to pay Mitchell away from a previous deal and pry him away.


33. Trent Caraway, SS — Santa Margarita Catholic

The Brewers like what they’ve seen thus far from Caraway, including in a private workout held for the team. He was arguably the most impactful bat in what was largely a down year on the California prep scene, but Caraway has had 70-grade raw power grades slapped on his profile by some.

Milwaukee could elect to go for another college bat like Mike Boeve or Max Anderson here. And Virginia Tech outfielder Jack Hurley as showed well for the team in a workout.


34. Roch Cholowsky, SS — Hamilton

Cholowsky is expected to be a difficult sign away from his UCLA commitment, but his surefire shortstop glove and budding physical frame has front offices trying to make the money work.

In this scenario, having selected Lowder at 5, the team may have saved a bit of money and could have the capability to pay Cholowsky the $3 million it could purportedly cost to afford him. Santana makes sense as a more straightforward pay here, as does a guy like OF Jonny Farmelo.


35. Adrian Santana, SS — Doral Academy Charter

Having selected Shaw in the first round, the Marlins reach for a bit more pure upside at pick no. 35 with shortstop Santana. After a bombshell workout, Miami absolutely loves the local prepster and they’ll be praying he gets to 35.

This is generally where the Marlins like to flex their pitching development chops a bit and grab a high school arm they can really transform. Should that be the case, local boy Soto has to be at the top of mind. It stands to reason the team saved a bit of money on Shaw (not much) and could swing for the fences on a guy like White here as well.


36. Jonny Farmelo, OF — Westfield

There is perhaps no single high school prospect in this class with the pure tools that Farmelo boasts. It’s 70-grade raw power and a 70-grade run tool. He’s had an up-and-down spring, and swing decisions will need to get cleaned up, but if there was a team and player development organization who can optimize what Farmelo is capable of, it’s probably the Dodgers. He has superstar upside if they can polish up some rough edges.


37. Mac Horvath, 3B/RF — North Carolina

Horvath might be one of the most complete college hitters in the entire country that nobody is talking about. Eligible for the second time, he’s a good bet to go reasonably early in this draft and save the team who selects him some money for their next pick or two. His contact rates against spin and velocity are both among the elite. He can handle absolutely anything. His positional value only ups his draft stock He projects a solid regular who could boast an above-average hit tool with above average game power when all is said and done.

It remains to be seen how Scott Harris is going to attack this draft, but our bet would be he leans on analytics harder than his predecessors. And saving a few hundred-thousand dollars here would afford Detroit to get splashy at pick 45.


38. Brock Wilken, 3B — Wake Forest

Wilken has a ton of landing spots in this draft and could go as early as the back-half of round one, or as late as the early part of round two. The industry is split on his ability to play third base, but that won’t matter much to the Reds who will welcome his impact bat on either corner of the dirt.

Other plays the Reds have spent considerable time on include Atascocita outfielder Kendall George, Patchogue-Medford RHP Josh Knoth and Round Rock RHP Travis Sykora.


39. Blake Mitchell, C — Sinton

The Oakland Athletics own the final pick of the first round and with the money they saved in landing selecting Bradfield Jr. at 6, they’re able to pull Mitchell down to 39 and pay him in the neighborhood of $4 million.

Other players on closer to at-slot deals make sense at this spot including Caraway and Santana, but for this exercise, we’re moving money around. Tyler Soderstrom is unlikely to be an option behind the plate, and while Shea Langeliers has shown promise and Daniel Susac can really hit, Mitchell is the most suited of the group to handle the reigns behind the plate long-term.


 

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