The 2023 MLB Draft is set to have some of the best college talent we've seen in a while.
A pair of LSU studs highlighting the draft class with some high school bats climbing up boards in recent weeks, too. The selection show set to begin on Sunday, July 9th, and here is my latest 2023 MLB mock draft for the first 10 picks:
1. Pittsburgh Pirates - OF Dylan Crews (LSU)
Dylan Crews is about as safe of a prospect as they come. The 21-year-old hit .423 this college season with 35 extra-base hits in 67 games.
He led LSU on a deep College World Series run and now enters the 2023 MLB Draft as the favorite for first pick. The hit tool is elite and the power and run tools are well above average. Per Prospects Live, Crews has "an elite approach at the plate and a track record of assaulting mistakes."
|Player||Odds To Go 1|
|OF Dylan Crews||-350|
|OF Max Clark||+300|
|SP Paul Skenes||+400|
|OF Wyatt Langford||+950|
Oddsmakers have Crews as a -350 favorite to go first overall. However, the Pirates have made a habit of going off the board with the top pick to save slot money for later. They did it successfully in 2021, passing on the consensus top picks, snagging Henry Davis first overall, and then swinging back around to grab four straight high school studs in the second, third, and fourth rounds.
If there's any team that would skip Crews at one this year, it's the Pittsburgh Pirates.
2. Washington Nationals - SP Paul Skenes (LSU)
The Washington Nationals get their next Stephen Strasburg (hopefully without the severe injury risk).
Skenes is an absolute monster on the mound. This future big league workhorse logged 114.2 regular season innings this year, rocking a pristine 1.81 ERA and even better peripherals.
With a 100 MPH fastball and 70-grade slider, Skenes could step into MLB tomorrow and bring shades of Spencer Strider. But, he's also got a solid changeup that will elevate his ceiling potentially higher.
It's always risky to take a pitcher this high, but Skenes is the type of sure-thing prospect the Nats can't pass on. Oddsmakers have Skenes as the clear -500 favorite to go second.
Paul Skenes, Unfair 3 Pitch K.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 18, 2023
Changeup, Changeup...and 100mph ⛽️ pic.twitter.com/HdfKc378WT
3. Detroit Tigers - OF Walker Jenkins (HS)
This draft starts at three. Outfield bats Clark and Jenkins, alongside Florida's Wyatt Langford, will probably all go in these next few selections, but it's about parsing out the order.
Most mocks have Langford, the safest pick of the bunch, off the board first. But, looking at the state of the Detroit Tigers, they need some upside plays. After whiffing on Spencer Torkleson and injuries to all their pitching prospects, the Tigers don't have much top talent to build around right now. Jenkins, who has risen to the top of the high school prospect rankings this season, gives them that core piece.
4. Texas Rangers - OF Max Clark (HS)
The Rangers could go with the safer Langford here, but I think they take a shot on the upside. It's exactly what they've done in recent drafts by taking SPs Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker.
Clark is a true five tool player, with 60 or higher grades on his contact, power, run, arm, and fielding attributes. The Vanderbilt commit should be the first or second high schooler off the board, but oddsmakers think there will be plenty more HS picks to follow. They've set the OVER/UNDER line for first round high schoolers at 11.5, with -115 odds either way.
5. Minnesota Twins - OF Wyatt Langford (FL)
Minnesota would be thrilled to see Langford fall down to five.
The Twins are in win-now mode, currently -200 favorites to win the AL Central in 2023. A college bat like Langford could climb the minors rapidly and join the core of Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa, and a strong rotation soon.
He's been Florida's most reliable bat all season, smacking a .363 average with 19 homers in 61 games. Compared to Toronto's George Springer, Langford could be that final core piece for Minnesota, taking the Twins from competitive in the Central to World Series contender.
6. Oakland Athletics - SP Chase Dollander (TENN)
Dollander's valuations are all over the place. Last year, he looked like a clear top-five pick who was actually ahead of Skenes as the draft's top college arm.
In 2022, the Volunteer posted a 10-0 record, 2.39 ERA, and 8.31 K:BB ratio. But this year, all the tangible metrics have trended the wrong direction (4.75 ERA, 4.00 K:BB).
While the command and sharpness have drifted this year, the stuff is still elite. And that's what teams draft on. Dollander has a 99 MPH heater, plus slider that touches the low 90s, and two other pitches. A team with quality pitching development could turn Dollander into the steal of the draft.
7. Cincinnati Reds - C Kyle Teel (UVA)
I'm usually not a proponent of drafting for need in MLB. But, this pick makes too much sense.
The Reds have plenty of young starting pitchers and about 15 stud infielders. But, they could use a future cornerstone behind the plate, and Teel won't be that far away from the big leagues.
Teel has the athleticism and pop times to stick behind the plate long-term. With an electric arm and great contact skills, I see a lot of Gabriel Moreno (the former No. 1 prospect in MLB) in this UVA prospect.
8. Kansas City Royals - SS Jacob Gonzalez (OLE)
Gonzalez is a contact machine, hitting .319 in three seasons in the SEC, with the glove and arm to stick at shortstop long-term. That's the type of mix that makes him an obvious top-10 pick, but it also makes him a weird fit in Kansas City. The Royals already have their young shortstop of the future in Bobby Witt Jr., who ranks out as one of baseball's best defenders right now.
Maybe the Royals draft slightly for need, letting the Gonzalez slide continue, but I think they could take the talent now and figure out the position later. If the Royals do draft for need, I'd expect them to take snag one of the starting pitchers.
9. Colorado Rockies - SP Rhett Lowder (WAKE)
In many respects, Lowder is up there with Skenes and Dollander atop the college arm rankings. The Wake Forest prospect also rocks a fastball, change, slider mix. He also led his team on a deep College World Series run and also projects to crack an MLB rotation soon.
However, the ceiling is just way lower. Lowder doesn't have the projectable frame of the top two college pitchers and his fastball shape and velocity are far less convincing. Lowder's best weapons are his changeup and his command, slotting him as more of a mid-rotation piece down the line. But, with less reliance on spin, Lowder could be a great fit for the Coors Field effect.
54 seconds of Rhett Lowder's Filthy Stuff. 😷 pic.twitter.com/frQfrnJ7vq— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 25, 2023
10. Miami Marlins - SS Arjun Nimmala (HS)
There are still some top college names on the board, like SS Jacob Wilson and OF Enrique Bradflield Jr., but the Marlins have been heavily connected to Nimmala at this spot.
The 17-year-old is committed to Florida State, but will certainly forgo that offer if he's the top high school infielder picked. He doesn't have one skill that stands out, but is solid across the board and could stick at shortstop.