Mock Drafts are a fun exercise in futility. After all, you’ll hardly ever find any outlet that gets seven or more picks correct in any given draft. If you’re lucky enough to get five right, you’ve accomplished something extraordinary.
That rings ever-true in this, the 17th day of May 2023. We’re almost two months out from the MLB Draft, but scouting directors and general managers are being spotted with greater frequency with every day that goes by. Of course, that doesn’t mean they’re attending games for the player they’re going to pick in any given draft, but it does generally mean the player they’re out to see might be on their shortlist come July 9.
With that said, here’s Mock Draft 2.0. 39 picks detailing some possibilities for round one of the 2023 MLB Draft.
- Dylan Crews, OF — LSU
It’s not a total foregone conclusion that the Pittsburgh Pirates will select Dylan Crews with the first overall pick, but the Vegas odds would certainly support it.
General Manager Ben Cherington is generally very tight-lipped about where the Pirates will go in any given draft, and he’s not spotted out at games too often. We’ll play the odds here.
Others that might make some sense here? LSU righty Paul Skenes of course. Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford too. I would think Grand Canyon shortstop Jacob Wilson and South Brunswick outfielder Walker Jenkins will have their supporters too.
We still believe Franklin Community outfielder Max Clark is sleeper to watch here.
2. Walker Jenkins, OF — South Brunswick
This is where things immediately get a little interesting and off the public rails. The Nationals have reportedly been scouting Jenkins extremely hard. While that could just mean due diligence, maybe it means more?
Because General Manager Mike Rizzo has a track record of landing big-conference pitching, Skenes makes a ton of sense here. And Langford is usually the public selection. But the Nationals do love Jenkins and it’s hard not to. The reviews on his game and his personality couldn’t be brighter.
It feels like this pick could go in four or five different directions come draft day. For the time being, we’re going to spice things up and bit and follow the bread crumbs. Jenkins it is.
3. Wyatt Langford, OF — Florida
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. Skenes, of course, remains on the board, but leftover Tigers brass may be gun-shy with that approach after some of the struggles developing recent arms to go through that system.
Langford would legitimately be the No. 1 overall draft prospect in any given draft in recent years. The bat is real, and he’s a plus runner with at least an outside shot to play centerfield at the next level, though that seems unlikely.
Haven’t heard too many other players connected here, though a sleeper like Virginia catcher Kyle Teel, or Clark can’t be discounted here.
4. Kyle Teel, C — Virginia
We told you there’d be surprises, did we not? Sure, yes, Skenes remains on the board, but Texas has had a difficult time developing college pitching of late. Clark is on the board, as are enticing college shortstops like Wilson and Ole Miss slugger Jacob Gonzalez. We’re going Teel.
Rangers General Manager Chris Young has been spotted everywhere in recent weeks. He’s hard to miss considering his 6-foot-7-inch frame and familiar face from his playing days. It’s a blessing and a curse. Most people don’t realize Teel may have the best chance of any player in this draft at becoming a top-five player at his position at the next level. Teel is a market inefficiency.
Yes, if Skenes is on the board here, he is obviously an option. And from everything we keep hearing, Jenkins won’t get past this spot. But it’s Teel who will hear his name called fourth overall.
5. Paul Skenes, RHP — LSU
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 don’t whatever player they want to this spot. But with Skenes on the board, shenanigans won’t be necessary.
A real case can be made that Skenes is the best player available in the 2023 MLB Draft. He’s arguably the most dominant college pitcher the draft has seen in two decades. Landing his talent at pick No. 5 is a pretty exceptional outcome.
Should it not be Skenes, any of the players above this are guys in the “Big 6” in this class. They all make sense. Clark makes sense here too. As do guys like Gonzalez. Minnesota has tended to grab power-hitting lefty bats.
6. Jacob Wilson, SS — Grand Canyon
The Athletics sit in a perfect wait-and-see position. They can patiently see how the board develops and act accordingly. Jacob Wilson represents a perfect up-the-middle profile and a guy who plays with a chip on his shoulder and fantastic lineage and makeup to build around.
There’s a lot of uncertainly surrounding the Athletics organization right now, including where they’ll be playing baseball in 2025 and beyond. Wilson is the type of player who can reset a culture.
Of course a lot of players make sense here, but with Wilson still on the board, the Athletics can continue to fill out the middle of their future lineup with a potential impact player, and arguably the highest floor in the class.
7. Max Clark, OF — Franklin Community
The odds of Max Clark getting to the Reds at No. 7 are probably 50/50 at best. He’s a coveted middle-of-the-field player with a huge chip on his shoulder and a potential five-tool talent. Should he get here, it feels like a slam dunk.
Cincinnati is chockfull of infield prospects and are presently lacking true outfielders in their long-term projections. Granted, infielders can make that transition, but Clark is a true centerfielder.
Tennessee RHP Chase Dollander probably makes some sense here, but he’s been slipping on boards lately and could fall a bit further than this. Guys like Gonzalez make sense here too. This is probably the ceiling for Strawberry Crest shortstop Arjun Nimmala. This is also a potential landing spot for James Madison HS RHP/OF Bryce Eldridge.
8. Jacob Gonzalez, SS — Ole Miss
Gonzalez could be off the board well before this pick, but he’s clearly in that bucket of “next up” right after the five or six “top” players in this class. The Royals have Maikel Garcia and Cayden Wallace on the way, but they do have a void in terms of potential left-side of the infield guys who are reasonably close to the big leagues.
This is where the draft begins to become a crapshoot. The top players are off the board and it becomes of “what’s your flavor” type of experience.
Obviously plenty of players make sense here, but the obvious names like Dollander, Nimmala, Eldridge and Jesuit RHP Noble Meyer are all potential candidates.
9. Rhett Lowder, RHP — Wake Forest
It seems like pick no. 9 and the Colorado Rockies is the floor for Wake Forest RHP Rhett Lowder. Colorado has been in to see him in droves and his style of pitching certainly fits what’s necessary in Coors Field.
Now obviously, there’s a scenario here where somebody unexpected falls into the Rockies’ lap, but for the sake of this exercise, we’ll say the “Big 6” are off the board and they jump on Lowder.
Nimmala makes a lot of sense here, and with Dollander on the board still he’d obviously garner plenty of consideration. Others that may strike the fancy of the Rockies’ brass include Wake Forest 3B Brock Wilken, Arizona OF Chase Davis, and TCU 3B Brayden Taylor.
10. Noble Meyer, RHP — Jesuit
The Marlins are a complete crapshoot in this draft. They opted for safety and a hit tool in LSU third baseman Jacob Berry last year. In this scenario, we’ve got them reaching for a bit more upside and leaning on what has been impressive pitching development, grabbing Meyer.
Miami’s scouting department and front office in general has gone through a bit of a makeover in recent years and it’s still hard to say what their new model might be. Meyer is the best high school arm in this class and they’ve done well bringing in big arm talent in the last half-decade.
This is probably where the Enrique Bradfield conversation begins. Miami could use some true options in centerfield, and Bradfield also possesses some of the safety that Berry did.
11. Bryce Eldridge, RHP — James Madison HS
It’s hard to ignore that the Angels organization continues to need more pitching. Especially if Shohei Ohtani does in fact end up leaving after the 2023 campaign. They’re also one of the only teams seemingly equipped to develop a two-way player like Eldridge and openly allow him to take both directions in his pro career.
I think if Lowder is available at this spot for any reason, he’s the pick. But given the Angels track record, their willingness to absorb risk, and their affinity for landing a spectacular talent, Eldridge is a pretty good fit here. Also, everyone we’ve talked to is insistent he doesn’t make it out of the Top 15 picks, so long as there’s a buyer will to make the two-way route a reality. Eldridge has been insistent on that.
Bradfield makes sense here. As do guys like Dollander, Stanford 2B Tommy Troy, Maryland 2B Matt Shaw, and the aforementioned Davis. They could all move quickly.
12. Chase Dollander, RHP — Tennessee
This is where the Dollander slide ends. The Diamondbacks are in win-now mode. They should be in a position to compete in the NL West for a number of years moving forward with their core. Adding Dollander to a burgeoning rotation could really be the cherry on top.
There’s no doubt that Dollander brings risk. He’s regressed a bit this year, but the ace upside is still in there. We’ve seen it. Could Arizona use a thumping infielder like Troy or Shaw? Maybe.
Again, anything goes around this range. But given the state of the Diamondbacks rebuild and the competitive window they’ve kicked open, it’s easy to think they’re going to lean college over high school this year.
13. Arjun Nimmala, SS — Strawberry Crest
The Cubs have been no strangers to risk, and Nimmala might carry more of it than any prep in this class. But when you envision a potential big league shortstop with 30-HR upside, you might as well shoot for the moon and aim to land that organization cornerstone.
In 2022, the Cubs selected Cade Horton. He came with a ton of risk, but the ace-upside was there. There’s plenty of good talent left on the board here, but for our money, Nimmala shouldn’t get past Chicago.
The Cubs are at an interesting crossroads. It’s hard to totally know if they’re in a competitive window or if they’re looking to stay relevant each year with a bevy of moves to buoy the big league club. The farm is getting close to breaking through and Nimmala would slot in nicely with Pete Crow-Armstrong as a future pillar in the Windy City.
14. Chase Davis, OF — Arizona
Chase Davis is the fastest rising player in the 2023 class. He’s brought every offensive tool to the field this season and suddenly looking like a polished, impact slugger destined for big things in a corner. Alex Verdugo could potentially become a free agent after the 2024 season. With only Miguel Bleis on the way, Davis could have a role in Beantown as early as 2025.
The Red Sox farm is in a peculiar position. They need impact pitching, but they need help in the outfield as well. If the team fails to compete in 2023 or in 2024, maybe we see the club move Verdugo and a couple other pieces for prospects to fill those voids. Either way, there’s a number of guys that make sense here.
We’ve heard the Sox really like Sinton catcher Blake Mitchell. Keep an eye out for him here. Florida righty Hurston Waldrep could make some sense, as could a guy like Bradfield.
15. Enrique Bradfield Jr., OF — Vanderbilt
The White Sox are in an inauspicious place in 2023. The team lacks the athleticism on defense to play consistent baseball, and injuries continue to derail what should be a competitive baseball team. Bradfield Jr. can take some pressure off an outfield that is too-often over-tested with liabilities in the corners.
Luis Robert is a star, but too often he’s asked to make up for shortcomings to his left and to his right. Eloy Jimenez should be a full-time designated hitter. In this scenario, Bradfield Jr. takes over for Robert in CF in 2025 and pushes his skillset to right field where he’s not only plus, but should stay far more healthy. The White Sox also need a table-setter and something dynamic in the organization. Bradfield Jr. checks a lot of boxes.
Chicago has long liked Miami 3B Yohandy Morales, so don’t be surprised if he’s considered in this spot. Troy and Shaw make a lot of sense too, as does a guy like Taylor. If the team is really struggling in July and it looks like a teardown is on the horizon, high school bats like Mitchell, Monsignor Bonner 2B Kevin McGonigle, Gulliver Prep 3B George Lombard, and Eaton SS Walker Martin all begin to make more sense. It’s a linchpin season for the White Sox.
16. Walker Martin, SS — Eaton
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. Martin checks both of those boxes and can find success at the big league level going a number of different routes.
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. Martin gets extremely high marks for his aptitude on the baseball field and his makeup off it.
I think Lombard makes a ton of sense in this spot, as well as Doral Academy SS Adrian Santana. The Giants could elect to go the pitching route too. Maybe someone like Phillips Academy LHP Thomas White is the move.
17. Brayden Taylor, 3B — TCU
The Orioles are in win-now mode and they’re also a model-driven team. Not only does Taylor make an impact at the highest level by 2025, but he’s also one of the youngest college-eligible juniors in this class. He’ll barely be 21 years old on draft day.
Several teams have Taylor a Top-10 value pick, so there’s a chance he doesn’t get here. It’s been a topsy turvy season for the bluechip Horned Frog, and that up-and-down showing might allow him to fall into the Birds’ lap.
Again, the Orioles love athletes, data, and they follow models religiously. General Manager Mike Elias has been lauded for his draft results. Keep an eye on Lombard and Santana here, as well as guys like Troy and Shaw. The two latter names fit well at second base and could provide impact at the plate that Baltimore would obviously love to have.
18. Matt Shaw, 2B — Maryland
Shaw has plenty of fans way up into the Top 10 picks, but it’s a numbers game and players slide every year. After all, is there a player above this pick that’s been taken so far that feels like a stretch? We don’t think so.
With Shaw you’re getting a potential impact bat who can play second base or left field and hit second or third in any lineup. He’s polished and presents the upside of an above average hit tool and above average power. That could be a .275 hitter with 25 HR power.
Of course, as we continue to mention, Troy is a similar player and could be the move here. Guys like White, Morales, McGonigle, Waldrep and many, many more all work in this spot.
19. Hurston Waldrep, RHP — Florida
It feels wrong seeing Waldrep slip to 19, but again, this is just such a strong draft class and there are so many talented players to be had. With the stuff he possesses, could you handpick a better landing spot than Tampa?
Waldrep’s usage has been highly misguided this season. He’s become predictable and with some tinkering, could quickly get back to his dominant ways. There’s the potential for three above average pitches here. The Rays could deploy that arsenal with devastating consequence.
I think the conversation begins right here for Homewood Flossmoor CF Dillon Head. Rays’ brass really like him. Guys like Santana and Parkview SS Colin Houck are options here too as they’ve received a good bit of heat at their games as well. Should Davis fall this far, the Rays are also on him pretty hard.
20. Tommy Troy, 2B — Stanford
There’s a universe where Tommy Troy goes in the Top 10 picks of this class and doesn’t even make it halfway here. That scenario does not play out in this case. The Blue Jays have had a tendency to follow models and Troy is a real impact bat with far more athleticism than he’s given credit for.
The Jays have been a tough nut to crack. They always pick right around this area of the draft and seem to go in a different direction each year. Troy makes sense, but so do tons of players.
If it’s not Troy, our gut says they go upside and high school. Maybe that’s McGonigle. Maybe that’s Miller. Maybe this is whee the conversation begins for Reborn Christian RHP Charlee Soto. Or maybe it’s White. We’ll see.
21. Blake Mitchell, C — Sinton
The St. Louis Cardinals always wait in the weeds and jump at the opportunity to land a high-upside prospect who inexplicably falls into their laps. Mitchell, for our money, is a Top 15 talent in this class and deserves to go that high. But the high school catcher demographic is always a tricky one. The Cardinals luck out here.
Mitchell is the best high school catching prospect we’ve seen since at least Tyler Soderstrom, but probably even before him. He’s up to 97 on the mound, he’s got a plus throwing arm behind the plate, a sweet left-handed swing, and gaudy game power.
Of course, as is the case all over the map, anything could happen in this spot. It seems like a reasonable landing spot for Wilken or Lombard too. Houck makes sense here, as does Magnolia Heights SS Cooper Pratt. Maybe this is where the conversation begins for Florida Atlantic OF Nolan Schanuel.
22. Charlee Soto, RHP — Reborn Christian
The Mariners possess three picks in the top 30 of this draft and all signs seem to point toward the team leaning toward huge-upside spending those picks. While the word is bats are the emphasis, a high school pitcher they deem a top-of-class talent shouldn’t be out of the question either.
Soto will not only be beloved by area scouts for his frame, arsenal and physical trajectory, but analysts will love his age (just 17 on draft day) and untapped potential. Seattle has had plenty of brass spread out all over Florida this spring. The Mariners drafted another 17-year-old arm in Walter Ford in 2022. This is not unprecedented territory.
Seattle has the luxury of waiting and seeing what falls their way here. Should a talent like Mitchell or Nimmala get close enough to their pick where they to buy one down, that’s certainly possible. But it feels like pure ceiling is in the cards, especially as General Manager Jerry Dipoto has alluded to being “creative” this year.
23. Kevin McGonigle, SS — Monsignor Bonner
McGonigle is widely regarded one of the, if not the best pure hitter on the high school side of things this class. It’s a short, powerful, compact left-handed swing that’s drawn comparisons to Brandon Lowe. The Guardians like their high school infielders.
The Guardians are always a bit of a crapshoot in the first round. Pitching and high school bats seem to dominate the trends, and landing McGonigle this late is a real luxury.
White and Soto make sense here, and this might be the starting point for Mehomet-Seymour RHP Blake Wolters too. You can safely add Houck, Pratt, Santana, John Glenn 3B Colt Emerson and Hamilton SS Roch Cholowsky to the list of possibilities here as well.
24. Dillon Head, OF — Homewood Flossmoor
There’s been a decent bit of heat in on Head this spring and reports are the Braves have been front and center. Varying degrees of leadership have sat in on those games, so it hardly means anything definitive, but the team is clearly doing its due diligence.
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 devestating slider, Campbell RHP Cade Kuehler is sitting right there for the taking.
25. Colin Houck, SS — Parkview
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.
There’s been countless games Preller has been spotted at already, and while that is no surprise, it does seem as though he’s putting in extensive work on the high school side of things. Again, not a surprise.
Houck is one of the more tantalizing high school infielders in this class and he’s got a decent shot to stick at shortstop. Others in play here include Wolters, Head, Santana, and a number other high-profile up-the-middle types.
26. Thomas White, LHP — Phillips Academy
Yankees brass have been out scouting a ton of folks from coast to coast, but reports have suggested some internal folks from player development have been out to see White. That’s hardly a surprise as most teams deploy such folks to give their two cents, but it’s a connection nonetheless.
In recent years New York has preferred left-handed hitting sluggers who can take advantage of the short porch in right field. While those options still exist, White represents a high-ceiling opportunity to help stock the pitching cupboard.
Should the Yankees take the same tact they taken in recent years, watch out for guys like the aformentioend Schanuel here. He’s a data-darling and could handle the outfield in New York with ease. Other options include Virginia Tech outfielder Jack Hurley, Huntington Beach catcher Raffaele Velazquez, and Westfield outfielder Jonny Farmelo.
27. Yohandy Morales, 3B — Miami
It’s been a while since the Phillies drafted this low, and it’s probably a fair assumption the most of the top-end high school pitching might be off the board at this point. Morales has a very high ceiling with tons of athletic traits on the infield and huge raw power. There’s some swing and miss in his game, but scouts are tantalized by the upside if it clicks.
This pick is clearly a shift. The Phillies have gone high school heavy each of the last three years. But in a class that’s so strong with college hitters in the Top 50 picks, this is a fantastic value.
Should the Fightin’ Phils go the high school route, Santana continues to make sense in this range, as does Pratt, Farmelo, Cholowsky and Emerson. Wilken is still on the board here too, and he’s certainly an option. Some teams have him in their Top 15.
28. George Lombard Jr., SS — Gulliver Prep
The Golden Age on the Houston infield is unquestionably beginning age. Jose Altuve is 33 and Alex Bregman turns 30 next year. Behind them, the reinforcements available are thin. Maybe Will Wagner is an option, but the options are tight.
Lombard plays with a chip on his shoulder and some scouts have even gone as far as to label him “Mini-Machado” this spring. He’s made a huge physical jump this winter and is now hitting for power and projects to stay at shortstop with third base a comfortable alternative if he’s not done growing.
While teams generally don’t draft for “need”, Houston is clearly lacking in terms of options on the dirt in the not-too-distant future. Especially as injuries have taken their toll on the team. Stafura is a high-ceiling, spark-plug type of guy who would be a fantastic addition. Of course, Santana makes sense here. Watch out for Nebraska shortstop Brice Matthews or Walter Panas shortstop Sammy Stafura here too.
29. Colt Emerson, SS/3B — John Glenn
The second of Seattle’s three top-30 picks, Emerson continues to fit the model-mold of a young, talented infielder who figures to hit, hit and hit some more in professional baseball. Emerson resembles 2022 first round pick Cole Young a bit, though he’s a year and a half younger than young was on draft day and figures to slide to third base as a pro if he can’t stay at shortstop. Young on the other hand, would likely shift to second base.
Emerson will barely be 18 years old on draft day and has seen a physical transformation over the last 6 months. He’s got a beautiful left-handed swing and checks a lot of makeup boxes the team seems to lean on during the draft process.
With the Mariners owning the very next pick in the draft here, whoever goes at 29 will be part one of a tandem. The team is said to covet high-upside bats in this draft, especially early. Emerson is certainly one of them.
30. Sammy Stafura, SS — Walter Panas
Our gut tells us the team will triple-up on prep bluechips in the first round with the amount of ammunition the team has to spend. Emerson and 2022 first rounder are unlikely to stick at shortstop. There are several up-the-middle types who make sense here, but Stafura is another cold-weather bat with fantastic makeup and a big up arrow next to his name.
Again, if the right college bat like a Shaw or Troy falls to pick No. 29, that may be too rich an opportunity for the Mariners to pass up. In this scenario, that outcome doesn’t exist.
Four other names to keep an eye on here are the aforementioned Santana, Atascocita outfielder Kendall George, Head (if he’s still on the board), and Trinity Christian shortstop Tai Peete. All profiles that figure to stick at shortstop or in centerfield.
31. Blake Wolters, RHP — Mehomet-Seymour
Wolters seems to be picking up steam inside the industry and it would shock absolutely nobody to see the Rays grab the imposing righty in Comp Round A.
Tampa shifted last season with their Xavier Isaac selection. A high school first baseman with huge power, it probably shouldn’t be a foregone conclusion the team will exclusively take shortstops and centerfielders anymore. Wolters has the body to start at the big league level for a decade. His fastball is already up into the high-90s and the slider has taken monumental strides in the last 12 months. He’ll move up public draft boards as the event approaches.
This feels like a really good landing spot for Schanuel too. Kuehler, Santana, Pratt and Matthews all fit the Rays mold as well.
32. Adrian Santana, SS — Doral Academy
There are those in the industry who believe Santana is a top-20 player in this draft. He’s one of the few high school infielders who will undoubtedly stay at the shortstop position too. Because the Mets exceeded the luxury tax threshold, their no. 22 overall pick is bumped down to pick no. 32. What a luxury to land Santana here.
Santana has a ton of landing spots before this pick, so it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he’s already gone. Of course, the Mets are in a position to win-now, so drafting a player who is close to the big leagues is also a viable alternative.
Maybe this is where Wilken goes. Maybe the Mets think Kuehler could contribute to their bullpen in 2024. Or maybe they go all-in on 2023 and draft a guy like Miami RHP Andrew Walters with this pick and have him up in September. Time will tell. The Mets are a wild card.
33. Cade Kuehler, RHP — Campbell
The Brewers have had immense amounts of success developing pitchers in recent years, and their farm system is well-stocked with position players after focusing on that depth in 2020 and 2021. Adding Kuehler to the mix, a guy with unique pitch metrics and a guy whose fastball dominates at the top of the zone, would make sense.
There’s still a ton of quality position players on the board at this spot, and a prep shortstop out of the midwest could be the play. But adding Kuehler to their 2022-draft arms like Jacob Misiorowski would make for a pretty dominant pitching window with the controllability of guys like Corbin Burnes dwindling.
If pitching is the move, Florida State righty Jackson Baumeister is a really solid option here too, and he fits the more prototype mold that Milwaukee has deployed in the past. Oklahoma State righty Juaron Watts-Brown could also be in play.
34. Jack Hurley, OF — Virginia Tech
The Twins have a long, exaggerated track record of targeting left-handed hitting outfielders with massive raw power and positional versatility. In this mock, we had them taking Skenes with pick No. 5. Hurley scratches their itch at pick no. 34.
Hurley is a dynamic talent with pound-for-pound the best bat speed in the class. He’s a super-aggressive hitter who hasn’t seen a pitch he didn’t he could hit. That aggressiveness may push him down to the latter-half of day one, but he’s still widely regarded a first round talent.
Wilken certainly fits the Brewers mold here too, and there’s no way he lasts much longer than this in any scenario. This is getting close to the floor for a guy like Schanuel as well.
35. Brock Wilken, 3B — Wake Forest
I’m not sure the Marlins are totally convinced their 2022 first round pick Jacob Berry is a third baseman. Wilken might not be a tremendous defensive upgrade, but the bat is legit and by selecting him they give themselves two avenues toward a future pillar on the hot corner. The other, of course, shifts to first base.
The case can be made Wilken has the most raw power of any player in the class. There’s some in-zone swing and miss concerns, and he can be passive at times early in the count, but when he has a feel for what a pitcher is trying to do against him, watch out.
Wilken is a bit of a safer play than their first round pick Meyer, and falls more in line with the floor approach that the team took with Berry in 2022. He could move quickly through the system, and for our money would immediately represent the best third base prospect the team has in the organization.
36. Brice Matthews, SS — Nebraska
Matthews is just an all-around fantastic player with a ton of athleticism in his game on the field and in his swing at the plate. There’s still some roughness around the edges in his approach and his ability to consistently find the barrel, but he’s got five tools and Los Angeles could likely extract the most out of his intrinsic traits.
Matthews is by no means a sure thing. He’ll require polish and some development, but you might not find another player in the class at this spot who can run, field, throw and has shown the potential for an impact bat like has Matthews.
Schanuel continues to make sense in this range. Cholowsky might be a good fit here too. There’s a number of players the Dodgers could target in this spot that would check their traditional draft boxes. But Matthews has an impressive ceiling and it’s easy to imagine Los Angeles believing they have a steal in this spot with this pick.
37. Nolan Schanuel, OF — Florida Atlantic
During his time with the San Francisco Giants, new Tigers General Manager Scott Harris was lauded for his analytic approach to the draft and targeting players with unique traits that traditional scouts might overlook. Schanuel is an interesting player who fits the bill. It’s unorthodox at the plate, and a bit wonky in the field, but his swing decision and batted-ball outcomes point to a highly effective player.
From this chair, Schanuel is underrated in the scouting industry. He was one of the top performers on the Cape in 2022, and has parlayed that into a highly-effective 2023 campaign. He exclusively swings at pitches in the strike zone and does damage. He’s too often miscast as a first baseman when he’s played a great deal in the outfield this season, and his stolen base numbers point to a more athletic player than we think he’s given credit for being.
Even if it’s not Schanuel here (it likely won’t be), expect Harris to grab a unique player who strikes a metric-fancy. It’ll be a guy he thinks the Tigers can squeeze the most value out of. Maybe that’s a pitcher. We’ll see.
38. Jackson Baumeister, RHP — Florida State
Despite selecting Max Clark with the seventh overall pick in this class, the Reds continue to need reinforcements on the pitching side of things. Baumeister is right in that bucket of the top five arms available in this class, and has the put-away breaking ball the Reds have coveted in previous drafts.
Indeed, the Reds have some nice position players on the horizon. Elly De La Cruz, Noelvi Marte, Edwin Arroyo and Christian Encarnacion-Strand are right around the corner. Now the team needs arms to help supplement that movement.
Baumeister and Kueher would make as much sense as anyone here, as would Watts-Brown and potentially a guy like Washington RHP Kiefer Lord. If the team wants to go the high school route, Bishop Hendrickson southpaw Alex Clemmey is an interesting high-ceiling pick that has some similarities in terms of risk and upside as Chase Petty.
39. Cooper Pratt, SS — Magnolia Heights
The Oakland Athletics own the final pick on day one and as was the case with their first round pick Jacob Wilson, the team should stay up the middle and build around the dirt. Oakland doesn’t need to rush college players to the big leagues, so pairing Pratt with the likes of Henry Bolte, Max Muncy and Tyler Soderstrom down the road should entice them.
One wrinkle here is if the team does end up in Las Vegas in the near future, that new leadership/ownership group might want to see immediate success. They’re a ways from that, but there’s some nice pieces coming.
I don’t think Oakland would go college-college in back-to-back picks here, so figure one of these selections will be a prep. If not Pratt, maybe a guy like Velazquez or fellow Californian Cole Schoenwetter, a long, talented righty could make some sense.
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