2023 MLB Draft: Mock Draft 3.0 — Max Clark surges

June 15, 2023

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 16th day of June, 2023. We’re less than a month out from the MLB Draft, but stronger organization connections are getting louder with every day that goes by. Of course, that doesn’t mean the draft will play out like anyone expects. Why would it? Either way, teams are in draft meetings preparing for July 9, dwindling down a list of names to their short lists.

With that said, here’s Mock Draft 3.0. 39 picks detailing some possibilities for round one of the 2023 MLB Draft.

  1. Max Clark, OF — Franklin Community

    LSU outfielder Dylan Crews hasn’t been quite the wrecking ball he was early on this season. Since May 1, he’s running a .333/.448/.513 slash. Obviously still gaudy, but not quite the generational slash we saw through April. Has that opened the door just a tick?

    As has been suggested elsewhere, Clark is in play with the first pick. The kid has an ego, but in a good way. He plays with a chip on his shoulder to prove every doubter wrong. It’s not too dissimilar from how Henry Davis positioned himself in 2021. If Clark is willing to shave something in the neighborhood of $2 million off the first pick in the draft, and afford Pittsburgh essentially at least two more high-profile preps in later rounds, is it worth walking away from Crews?

    That’s for Pittsburgh to decide, but there’s industry momentum here.

2. Dylan Crews, OF — LSU

There’s almost no circumstance where Dylan Crews falls past the second pick. 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 several occasions. 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, Langford seems to be the guy brought up most in draft riff-raff.

3. Wyatt Langford, OF — Florida

The Tigers have been out to see Virginia catcher Kyle Teel 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. Maybe the team could entertain an under-slot move with a Tommy Troy or Matt Shaw in the event Langford is gone and Teel isn’t their cup of tea.

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.

Paul Skenes is still on the board in this scenario, and from a 10,000-foot view it seems awfully unlikely he falls to the No. 5 pick, but that’s how mocks work. Maybe he’s too talented for the Rangers to pass up, regardless of Jenkins’ availability here.

The Rangers do like Teel a great deal, but it would likely take a perfect storm of sorts to see him being the pick at 4.

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. This is the second mock in a row where Skenes just so happens to still be available at 5.

Should it not be Skenes, the Twins have been loosely connected to a number of players here. Ole Miss shortstop Jacob Gonzalez gets some heat here, as does Teel once more.

6. Kyle Teel, C — Virginia

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. 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. Plus, he presents exorbitant value as an athlete behind the plate.

Matt Shaw, Tommy Troy and Rhett Lowder all make a ton of sense here, though none of those players have been directly tied to the Athletics of late.

7. Rhett Lowder, RHP — Wake Forest

The Reds have purportedly circled pitching as a point of emphasis in this draft and most scouts believe Lowder is not only the most complete starting pitcher outside of Skenes available in this class, but could also move the quickest of any one player too.

The Reds aren’t too far off. They have a young core that is performing this season and they could be on the precipice of a competitive window. It’s not out of the question to forecast a scenario where Lowder is pitching in Cincinnati next June.

8. Tommy Troy, 2B — Stanford

The Royals are among the most difficult teams to project on a year-to-year basis. They take obscure routes to their selections and have been tight-lipped throughout the year. Troy is a name who has seen a surge in the public and private discourse in recent weeks and could be in play anywhere in the Top 15 picks.

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. Still, obviously a name for the peripherals here.

9. Chase Dollander, RHP — Tennessee

I think in a perfect world the Rockies would see Lowder fall to their pick here, but at the same time had you asked their brass if they thought they’d have a chance at Dollander with the 9th pick in February they’d say you’re crazy.

In talking to different folks in the industry, Colorado does seem to value this college pitching crop with their first round pick. They went with a talented slider-thrower in Gabriel Hughes in 2022, and could take that approach again in 2023.

Should it not be a college pitcher, General Manager Bill Schimdt has done some traveling this spring. He spent a couple days seeing James Madison HS 1B/RHP Bryce Eldridge last month. There’s interest there.

10. Enrique Bradfield Jr., OF — Vanderbilt

It’s no secret the Marlins have been searching for their centerfielder of the future for a couple years now. Selecting Bradfield Jr. would solve that problem in spades.

Of note with Miami, they’ve purportedly kicked around some under-slot ideas here with their eyes set on some high profile talents with their second, third, and fourth picks. Don’t be surprised if they don’t something a little creative at 10. One name that continues to garner attention here is JW Mitchell 3B Aidan Miller.

11. Aidan Miller, 3B — JW Mitchell

I think in a perfect world the Angels would have their choice of Dollander or Lowder here. That’s the buzz surrounding the team. In this circumstance, both are gone. Miller gets a lot of chatter around this range.

A few other names to track here include Florida righty Hurston Waldrep, Parkview shortstop Colin Houck, and Ole Miss shortstop Jacob Gonzalez.

The initial rumors surrounding the Angels and Meyer have dissipated.

12. Colin Houck, SS — Parkview

The Diamondbacks have purportedly circled pitching as one of their greatest needs in this draft, and the case can be made that Hurston 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. Noble Meyer, RHP — Jesuit

The Cubs have some bats circled on their in the event they fall to them at 13, but Meyer is the top high school arm in this class and would certainly garner Top-5 pick consideration in most years.

Think the dark horse here is Ole Miss shortstop Jacob Gonzalez. Most teams expected him to go in the top 10 picks of this draft, and that could obviously still happen, but some helium has seemingly come out of his balloon of late. I doubt Gonzalez falls much further than this, but it’s the MLB Draft and there’s always a surprise or two.

14. Blake Mitchell, C — Sinton

The Red Sox certainly like Mitchell and that’s pretty much industry consensus. Whether they like him more than the cast of names that will be made available to them at the No. 14 overall pick remains to be seen. For this exercise, he lands in Boston.

Others in the industry have suggested this is without question the floor for shortstop Jacob 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. Still, he’s one of the higher floor players in the draft and there’s something to be said about landing safety in the middle of the first round.

15. Jacob Wilson, SS — Grand Canyon

The White Sox and General Manager Rick Hahn are in a bit of a pickle. The team is underperforming and the potential Tim Anderson window on the South Side is closing. He’s set to become a free agent after the 2024 season if a new contract can’t be reached. For that reason, we think the Wilson slide stops here. 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. But there’s a sense of urgency in Chicago this year, and the team needs reinforcements sooner rather than later.

If the team takes the prerogative of going upside-over-everything, Aidan Miller and Arjun Nimmala are obvious fits if they remain on the board, and the front office folks have connected those two names to the Sox in recent months.

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. Martin gets extremely high marks for his aptitude on the baseball field and his makeup off it.

If Troy is here for some reason, his fall stops in San Francisco. Walker Martin could be a fit here as well.

17. Jacob Gonzalez, SS — Ole Miss

The Orioles seem to be in that perfect spot in the draft where a number of super-talented bats could fall into their lap. In this case, it’s Gonzalez.

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 TCU 3B Brayden Taylor, as well as Arizona OF Chase Davis.

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. Nolan Schanuel, OF — Florida Atlantic

All signs point toward the Brewers taking a bat in this spot and Schanuel has seen a steady climb in the front office perception on a week over week basis. He’s been the top performer in college baseball this season that nobody seems to be talking about.

Elsewhere, Milwaukee purportedly like Shaw, as well as Houck and Walter Panas shortstop Sammy Stafura in this spot.

19. Hurston Waldrep, RHP — Florida

The Rays have had a ton of high school talent in for private workouts over the past couple weeks and that seems to be the direction they’re going. But with Waldrep having fallen to pick no. 19, that upside and the Rays pitching development system may be an ego-match made in heaven.

The possibility always exists that a prep bat falls to their pick here at 19 that they can’t pass up, someone like a Colin Houck, though there’s any number of high school bats that have flown in to the Trop and given Tampa a better look.

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. Should the Jays go the route of a high school hitter, Homewood Flossmoor outfielder Dillon Head seems to get the most run here.

21. Bryce Eldridge, 1B/RHP — James Madison HS

In this scenario, Eldridge lands with the red birds in a script written eerily similar how Jordan Walker ended up a Cardinal in 2020.

The Cardinals are quite publicly opportunistic when it comes to any given draft. They sit back, relax, and wait to see which super-talent falls into their lap. If it isn’t Eldridge, this is without question the floor on Aidan Miller, and guys like Waldrep and Schanuel should find a floor here too.

22. Colt Emerson, SS — John Glenn

Seattle is focusing on bats, bats and more bats in the early stages of the 2022 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.

With Maryland second baseman Matt Shaw still on the board, he’d require some serious deliberation too. Should Emerson not be available with this pick, TCU third baseman Brayden Taylor also appears to be a heavy target for Seattle as well.

With three picks in the first 30, the Mariners can attack day one of this draft in a number of ways, and could have financial flexibility heading into day two if they so choose.

23. Joe Whitman, LHP — Kent State

Perhaps no player in college baseball has improved his stock more than has Whitman over the last two months. After a terrific season at Kent State, he went out to the Cape and shoved for close to 80 scouts during his initial outing, climbing comfortably into the mid-90s from the left side.

The Guardians have had a ton of success over the years with pitching in the draft and Whitman is quite clearly the top lefty in this class with burgeoning stuff. He’s now projected to go anywhere in the 20-40 range.

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 devastating slider, Campbell RHP Cade Kuehler is sitting right there for the taking. Whitman also clearly fits here. Mehomet-Seymour righty Blake Wolters is also a good fit with the Braves.

25. Matt Shaw, 2B — Maryland

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. Those scouting trips will be less necessary this year should a talent like Shaw slip to 25. This outcome is unlikely, but this is how mocks work. Talented players fall.

If folks are looking for a more “likely” outcome, 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. San Diego really likes Wolters, and they’ve shown extended interest in Walter Panas shortstop Sammy Stafura and Santa Margarita shortstop Trent Caraway of late as well.

26. Brayden Taylor, 3B — TCU

The Yankees would be elated if a power-hitting lefty thumper was available here, and Taylor fits that bill and then some. Taylor has suitors in the Top-15 picks, as well as a few in the 16-25 range. He could be off the board a full hour before the Yankees pick. But this is a mock draft, and things happen.

Walter Panas SS Sammy 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. 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’s not available.

27. Kevin McGonigle, 2B — Monsignor Bonner

McGonigle, a local boy, is having a huge season for Monsignor Bonner and has done very little to dissuade industry personnel of his excellent hit tool projections. He’d be a good get here and has the profile of a hitter who could move quickly. Maybe something along the lines of a Brandon Lowe minus a half-tick in the power department.

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. Brice Matthews, SS — Nebraska

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.

Matthews is seen a riser in this class with a number of teams in the first round doing in-home visits with the Cornhusker bluechip. Should Matthews not be on the board, Stafura and Gulliver Prep shortstop George Lombard Jr. make a lot of sense as well.

29. Walker Martin, SS — Eaton

The second of Seattle’s three first-round picks, Martin is a high-upside athlete who could end up at shortstop, though most evaluators think it’s more likely he ends up at third base or in center field. Martin leads the country in home runs and his 6-foot-5-inch frame oozes projection.

There stands the chance Martin doesn’t fall this far as he’s got plenty of heat as high as the top 15 picks. Seattle could go the high school pitching route with a guy like Reborn Christian RHP Charlee Soto, or Bishop Hendrickson flame-throwing southpaw Alex Clemmey.

30. Brock Wilken, 3B — Wake Forest

It’s hard to envision a scenario where the Mariners don’t walk away from the first round with a college performer as three high school players is both risky, and probably a bit cost-prohibitive in practice.

Because Seattle places a higher emphasis on bat-to-ball skills and approach, we have them selecting Wilken here. This is could be the beginning of a run on college infielders begins too. If not Wilken, Seattle could go for any of Mike Boeve, Yohandy Morales, Mac Horvath, or potentially Matthews if he’s still on the board.

31. Tai Peete, SS — Trinity Christian

The Rays have had an enormous number of high school shortstops in for private workouts in the last few weeks and seem keen on taking the tact of adding athletes in this class. Having landed Waldrep 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. Yohandy Morales, 3B — Miami

The Mets are said to really like Morales and what his athleticism and power potential could eventually build to.

The Mets and their deep pockets can afford to take some risks in the draft. Keep an eye out for Thomas White here as he’s arguably the top left-handed high school pitcher available in this class. While he may be an over-slot selection for the Mets at pick no. 32, he provides the star-ceiling that they should reach for in every draft.

33. Jack Hurley, OF — Virginia Tech

The Brewers like what they’ve seen thus far from Hurley and have scouted him extensively, especially over the last calendar month. The connection here is quite strong.

Milwaukee could elect to go for another college bat like Mike Boeve or Max Anderson here. They’ve also been heavily connected to Trent Caraway at this spot.

34. Trent Caraway, SS/3B — Huntington Beach

The case can be made that Caraway is one of the best pure high school hitter in this class. He’s been out for a bevy of private workouts over the last few weeks and appears poised to go in the Top 50 picks.

In this scenario, having selected Skenes at 5, the team may need to move some money around with a later pick. If this is the spot, a sleeper like Arkansas OF Jace Bohrofen or Davidson C Michael Carico might make sense to save a bit of money.

35. Sammy Stafura, SS — Walter Panas

Having selected Bradfield Jr. in the first round, the Marlins reach for a bit more pure upside at pick no. 35 with the shift shortstop Stafura. After a bombshell workout, Miami absolutely loves the Upstate 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 Charlee Soto has to be at the top of mind. Miami is also said to be on Gulliver Prep shortstop George Lombard Jr.

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. Max Anderson, 3B — Nebraska

Anderson might be the most complete college hitter in the entire country aside from Crews. His contact rates against spin and velocity are both among the elite. He can handle absolutely anything. His positional value may only ever end up average, but he’s projects a solid regular who could boast an above-average hit tool with 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.

38. Kendall George, OF — Atascocita

Lowder in the first round provides some of the safety, George in the second round provides some of the exciting upside. He might be the fastest player in this draft class, and the Reds have spent a ton of time doing their research on him this spring. Cincinnati has always leaned hard on athletes in the draft and George is one of the best.

Keep an eye on Santa Margarita Catholic 3B Trent Caraway in this spot. He seems to be gathering helium.

39. George Lombard Jr., SS — Gulliver Prep

The Oakland Athletics own the final pick on day one and as was the case with their first round pick Kyle Teel, the team should stay up the middle and build around good players and good, gritty baseball players. Oakland doesn’t need to rush college players to the big leagues, so pairing Lombard Jr. with the likes of Henry Bolte, Max Muncy and Tyler Soderstrom down the road should entice them.

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 Lombard Jr., maybe a guy like Huntington Beach C Raffaele Velazquez or fellow Californian Cole Schoenwetter, a long, talented righty could make some sense. Also a good landing spot for Cooper Pratt.

Joe Doyle
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