MLB Draft: Mock Draft 5.0 — Paul Skenes, Dylan Crews & Under-Slots

July 7, 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 5.0 — 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.


  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 a distinct possibility too. In these circles, 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 chock full of high school talent and it should surprise no one if the Pirates elect to go quantity over singular quality with this pick. Still, LSU is the betting favorite here.

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. Jacob Gonzalez, SS — Ole Miss

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. In this scenario, we have them following a draft model and taking Gonzalez with an under-slot deal, positioning them well to over-spend on later picks.

The Twins sat in on the final few weeks of Wake Forest games with multiple scouts on-hand each week. Specifically on Rhett 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 and it was almost exclusively for when Lowder took the ball.

It feels like Gonzalez or Lowder are the pick here, but it would hardly be a surprise if the Twins bought Jenkins down to 5 with the total bonus pool discrepancy between Minnesota and Texas.

6. Brayden Taylor, 3B — TCU

It seems all college bats here. Taylor gets plenty of run, but others have been brought up through different channels too. It seems Oakland really likes Lowder here, but in this scenario he’s gone. Either way, the narrative seems to be Oakland is aiming for a deal with the 6th pick to get creative later in the draft.

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. Max Clark, OF — Franklin Community

If Walker Jenkins goes 4, it becomes tricky finding a landing spot for Clark. The Reds have jumped at the opportunity to land up-the-middle high school talent of late, and while I don’t think it’s a slam dunk they’d select him, Clark would fit that mold. Cincinnati does seem to hope Lowder falls in their lap however, so that shouldn’t be discounted either.

The Twins, Athletics and Reds all represent potential pivot points in this draft where under-slot deal could create chaos in picks thereafter. 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 and could ultimately end up being the pick if he gives Cincinnati a deal.

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. That said, there’s been a good bit of smoke surrounding a potential Enrique Bradfield Jr. under-slot deal here and his profile would fit the confines of Kauffman beautifully.

Back in April, Kansas City did spend a great deal of time sitting in on Jesuit right Noble Meyer, and while not much has come out of that in talking with some different scouts in the area that track, the under-slot appeal of the top high school arm in this class is obviously a route the Royals have gone before. Should Teel make it to 8, there’s obviously a fit. Colin Houck has been brought up here a lot too as an under-slot option.

9. Rhett Lowder, RHP — Wake Forest

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 OF Max Clark is available here if the arms and under-slots go on a run off the board.

Beings that’s the case here, it’s the best of both worlds for Colorado as they’ll have their pick of the litter.

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. Meyer has been working through a number of different under-slot options in the 6-12 range and we think he could land here (or in Kansas City). Miami seems to be targeting high-character guys of late and Shaw might be the highest baseball character guy of all the college bats. His combine interviews were “immaculate”.

There’s been any number of guys mentioned here. Wilson, Bradfield Jr., Gonzalez, and TCU third baseman 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. Chase Dollander, RHP — Tennessee

With Dollander and Bradfield here, and a purported reluctance toward Waldrep and his reliever risk, it’s a crapshoot in terms of who lands with the Halos. There seems to still be an insistence on selecting a player who will move quickly to through the system. The team has been in to see Gonzalez extensively, but he’s gone in this scenario and with Bradfield Jr. and Dollander still on the board, it seems as though it comes down to those two players.

Waldrep is obviously in play and could provide savings with the pick.

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. They’ve also been tied to up-the-middle preps, and Houck might not only afford the most upside at this pick, but some savings as well.

If the very loose rumors of a Dollander “slide” have any legs, this could be a floor as folks in the know have suggested Arizona really likes the Tennessee righty. Dollander’s landing spot is a tough one.

13. Hurston Waldrep, RHP — Florida

Pitching continues to be the rumor here, and Waldrep is really the only other sensible arm left. Maybe Meyer. Carter Hawkins has had a ton of success in the past drafting for stuff, and Waldrep or Dollander (if available) could move quickly 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 on this end. Dollander is a very good arm and he’s got to go at some point…

14. Blake Mitchell, C — Sinton

The overarching opinion is the Red Sox will grab one of the impressive college bats at this spot, but we think there’s a zag in order. It’s tough to find a landing spot for Mitchell in the first round, and some believe he could be had for an under-slot deal here at 14. Under-slot deals for Boston have been commonplace the last few drafts.

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. The Red Sox have fairly consistently been connected to Troy and Shaw as well.

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 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. Watch out for Davis in this spot too. There’s a whole host of teams in the 14-20 range that like him as a money-saver.

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 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.

Troy and Shaw make a lot of sense here too, though.

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. From this chair, provided either of them are available, it feels like a two-horse race between Eldridge and Nimmala.

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 should both of the two prep standouts be gone.

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 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. Enrique Bradfield Jr., OF — Vanderbilt

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. College pitching is something they’ve done a lot in the past, and with Waldrep still on the board here it could make sense. But with Nimmala stumbling down to this spot, and with the Cardinals’ track record and affinity for prep power, that could be a sensational fit as well. All that said, the Cardinals have valued athleticism in their organization as a whole and they’d jump at this.

With Meyer still on the board here, he could be awfully intriguing too.

22. Tommy Troy, 2B — Stanford

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 of their draft ammo starting with the 22nd pick. Troy being here would be a dream for the organization.

It seems if any one of Taylor, Shaw, Troy or Bradfield Jr. are available here, the Mariners would likely jump at that opportunity. Troy, in this scenario, just so happens to be the one still on the board. Possibly Wilson too, though his camp is more split it seems.

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

23. Arjun Nimmala, SS — Strawberry Crest

Nimmala fits all over this draft, but he’s been difficult to peg with a specific team. The Guardians feel like as good a bet as any team in this draft to go under-slot at pick no. 23, though Nimmala would not represent any savings with potential suitors salivating 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, so watch out for that fit too.

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, LSU righty Ty Floyd is right down their alley. However, Dana Brown and Brian Bridges, two of the scouting leaders who helped welcome some of Atlanta’s best arms in the past, are no longer with the organization.

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. Noble Meyer, RHP — Jesuit

This feels way, way too low for Meyer, but in a draft full of college and high school hitters, the high school righty could fall. And Philadelphia would love it. Is this unlikely? Sure. But it’s the way the draft bores out in this scenario.

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. If for some reason Morales gets here, he makes sense too.

28. Mitch Jebb, SS — Michigan State

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. Jebb would represent an under-slot option here and a model darling along the lines of their first round pick in 2022, Drew Gilbert.

If Walker Martin somehow falls into this range, this is where his slide ends. The same can be said for Troy and Shaw.

29. Jonny Farmelo, OF — Westfield

The second of Seattle’s three first-round picks, Farmelo is a high-upside athlete who could end up sticking in centerfield to go along with his 70-grade raw power. It’s a rare toolset. Seattle has done a ton of homework on Farmelo from all angles, and appears to have circled him as a real fit.

Farmelo, of all the high school upside plays here, is expected to be the most expensive and could require an over-slot number at 29. Lombard Jr. is purportedly high on their wish list too, and could be an option at 30, though this scenario really only plays out with a college bat going their way at 22. Seattle is also purportedly taking a hard look at high school pitching with guys like Soto, and hard-throwing Bishop Hendricken lefty Alex Clemmey being considered too.

30. Colt Emerson, SS — John Glenn

A haul of Troy, Farmelo and Emerson would be quite the story for Seattle. That’s a whole lot of upside. It remains to be seen if they could afford both Farmelo and Emerson here. This would also require luck in terms of Troy falling AND Emerson lasting to 30.

Lombard Jr. is in play here as well. Clemmey is in play here, as is Patchogue-Medford RHP Josh Knoth. He also fits the aforementioned model traits Seattle has targeted in recent years. He also throws a 3000+ rpm breaking ball already. Seattle may look to add an arm in the first round and both fit their model.

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. Alex Clemmey, LHP — Bishop Hendricken

The Twins saved some money at 5 in this scenario and they could use those savings to land a high-octane southpaw here.

The selection of Gonzalez really sets up the Twins next two picks and they could get awfully creative. A guy like Kevin McGonigle could make a ton of sense too.

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 about the range Christian Brothers College (HS) SS Nazzan Zanetello fits too.

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. Cooper Pratt, SS/3B — Magnolia Heights

Pratt has a ton of upside as a 6-foot-4-inch high school thumper. He’s a two-sport star with a ton of untapped potential. Many scouts saw him a potential top ten pick entering this spring, and many expected a bit louder baseball card when the season was over. Still, he was a steady performer and should be sign-able away from Ole Miss. He’d be one hell of a get for the Dodgers, and has suitors in the 25-35 range as well.

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. Juaron Watts-Brown, RHP — Oklahoma State

Watts-Brown has suitors from the back of the first round through the end of the second round. The Reds are said to be all over this one, though Miami, Cleveland and Seattle are seen as likely landing spots too should he get into round two.

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

39. Nazzan Zanetello, SS — Christian Brothers College

The Oakland Athletics own the final pick of the first round and with the money they saved in landing selecting Taylor at 6, they’re able to pull Zanetello down to 39 and pay him in the neighborhood of $3 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. Zanetello joins a young core of position players including Tyler Soderstrom, Henry Bolte and Taylor as the future of the Oakland Athletics.

Joe Doyle
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