2023 MLB MOCK DRAFT 1.0; Pirates taking who?

Here we are again. The first ever MLB Draft Lottery brought in a new way the league determines the draft order. It was very exciting and seems to give the draft even more growth in popularity, which we’ve seen a steady climb in for nearly 10 years now.

This year’s class is lush with bats and slim with arms, as it stands presently. But like any early mock draft, things always change. Each mock molds itself with players rising and falling as the college and high school seasons go on. I’ll say this about the 2023 draft, though, it’s very, very deep.

1. Pittsburgh Pirates: Dylan Crews, OF, LSU
He’s definitely top-five material. Crews was one of the leaders of the Tigers roster this past season, batting .349 with an OPS of 1.153, 22 homers and 72 RBIs in 62 games. He was also a top-tier high school prospect in 2020. Crews’ comps sit somewhere between Brady ClarkGrady Sizemore and Joc Pederson. I’ve even heard Mike Trout, but let’s slow down on that comp.

2. Washington Nationals: Chase Dollander, RHP, Tennessee
Tennessee has always had a fine program. In the last few years, they’ve been a top-10 program. While hitters are always popping out of there, this season, all eyes are on ace righty Chase Dollander. Some say Dollander represents the best college arm available in any draft since Stephen Strasburg. His slider sits at the top of his class and his overall big league arsenal challenges modern day development and asks the question: could he pitch in the majors right now?

3. Detroit Tigers: Jacob Gonzalez, SS, Ole Miss
Gonzalez was a bat out of hell during his 2021 freshman campaign at Ole Miss. He started hot in 2022, but slumped down the stretch. When the Rebels entered the postseason, he lit back up. He has a mature approach to the plate, taking more walks than K’s, which is good to see for someone his age. He’s got soft hands and quick feet at shortstop, too, so I expect him to hang there.

4. Texas Rangers: Enrique Bradfield Jr., OF, Vanderbilt
Maybe one of the fastest players in the past ten drafts, Bradfield is a burner on the field and on the bases. He maintains an 80-grade speed since his high school days. He’s not a power guy, instead, more of your classic lead off guy. But you can put him at the top or bottom of the lineup and expect results. If he improves his strength in the offseason and show more power, we could be talking about a top-three guy here.

5. Minnesota Twins: Max Clark, OF, Franklin Community HS (IN)
Clark wowed this season in Indiana. He’s currently committed to Vanderbilt, and it’s no wonder why. He has the best all-around toolset in the 2023 class. Raw power, plus arm, the bat speed is there and his exit velos get scouts excited for what he could become.

6. Oakland A’s: Walter Jenkins, OF, South Brunswick HS (NC)
Jenkins power isn’t sneaky, it’s been there right in front of our faces. He’s a classic thumper who barrels up with a lot of bat speed to all fields. And he isn’t just power, his hit tool has a chance to go above 60 as well.

7. Cincinnati Reds: Hurston Waldrep, RHP, Florida
If you’ve followed my mock drafts, you know I’m always high on Florida pitchers. The Gators could be considered ‘Pitcher University’ with the names they’ve produced the past 20 years. Enter latest ace, Hurston Waldrep. He’s a right-handed gem with a plus-plus fastball and a mid-80s slider with a devastating break hitters hate to go up against. His changeup could use some work but this kid has one of the highest ceilings of any player in this draft.

8. Kansas City Royals: Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida
While all eyes were on Jud Fabian, Sterlin Thompson and Hunter Barco, Langford was quietly becoming a star for the Florida Gators last season. He was a hitting machine. He hit .356 with 63 RBIs, and 26 dingers in 66 games. His 1.166 OPS is ridiculous. His production in the summer also showed this isn’t a fluke. It’s scary that he’s only getting better.

9. Colorado Rockies: Rhett Lowder, RHP, Wake Forest
Lowder brings it. There’s a lot of Alek Manoah in his game. His two-seamer sits at 97, and his changeup is a plus pitch. Righty or lefty bats don’t matter; he eats them all up. There’s more in the tank coming as well. He’s a college arm who could compete for the top-pitcher grabbed when July’s draft rolls around.

10. Miami Marlins: Jacob Wilson, IF, Grand Canyon University
Established bat-to-ball skills, Wilson is about has productive as they come. His mature approach at the plate you just don’t see from small school guys. I want to see what he does against better arms. That will be the true test for the California native.

11. Los Angeles Angels: Aidan Miller, 3B, JW Mitchell HS (FL)
Incredible bat speed that has the potential for double-plus power, Miller performed so well in the summer that he’s risen on every board. He’s got long arms, fluid wrist action, and great bat-to-ball mechanics. His defensive is no joke either.

12. Arizona Diamondbacks: Thomas White, LHP, Phillips Academy (MA)
White has been known for sometime in the class. He’s got a premium body that’s developed nicely for a future big leaguer. There’s a ton of deception with his short-arm three-quarters delivery that frustrates hitters when trying to pick up his stuff. He’s also got large hands, which for a southpaw, is nice to see. He projects as a future starter.

13. Chicago Cubs: Paul Skenes, RHP/1B, LSU
While his fastball and slider are his most notable pitches, there’s something about his cutter that intrigues me. He can place it anywhere he wants and has a certain confidence when he throws it that I would imagine it will be come his finisher. He’s dynamic at the plate too, and has a pretty solid glove in the field, so whoever drafts him will have to have a plan in place. Most believe he’s a future mid-rotation horse, but with his 6’6″ 235 pound frame, and the way he barrels the ball, it’s hard to contain this talent to just the pen.

14. Boston Red Sox: Kevin McGonigle, IF, Monsignor Bonner HS (PA)
McGonigle should stay at second base long term. He works well with whoever is at shortstop and can also be a .300, double-digit homer run guy at the plate too. Think Matt McLain or Ian Kinsler.

15. Chicago White Sox: Brayden Taylor, IF, TCU
Taylor checks a lot of boxes. He’s not going to mash the ball over the fence a lot, but he makes constant contact and has shown flashes that he can hit to all fields. He’s also a decorated prospect, garnering honors 2021 Big 12 Freshman of the Year, 2021 1st-team D1 Baseball Freshman All-American, 2021 1st-team Perfect Game Freshman All-American, 2022 2nd-team All-Big 12, 2022 USA baseball Collegiate National team member among many more.

16. San Francisco Giants: Travis Honeyman, OF, Boston College
Honeyman can play all three outfield positions because he’s a plus defender. He had a very productive 2022 and raked on the Cape to improve his draft stock. If he can prove scouts wrong that his bat projects as just above average, he could soar farther up the board.

17. Baltimore Orioles: Cade Kuehler, RHP, Campbell
My dude has a 99 heater. Need I say more? His slider is sick, his changeup he’s used as a nice finisher at times and he’s always getting ahead of his hitters in the count. That’s important for a young arm. He’s on my list of high-risers in future mocks.

18. Milwaukee Brewers: Brock Wilken, 3B, Wake Forest
Wilken reminds me of an Alec Bohm mixed with Nolan Gorman and a dash of Jace Jung. He knows how to find his pitch and take advantage of it. This past spring he hit 23 homers, and what’s scary is we haven’t even seen all of his power yet.

19. Tampa Bay Rays: Arjun Nimmala, SS, Strawberry Crest HS (FL)
Nimmala is a young player. He will only be 17-years-old on draft day. Any team drafting him will have to wait a while to see him in the bigs. Nevertheless, his tools pop on video. His smooth, fluid swing makes the ball blast off his bat at obscene exit velos. This summer will be a big test for him.

20. Toronto Blue Jays: Tanner Witt, RHP, Texas
I’m always leery about putting pitchers who are recovering from TJ in my first round mock drafts. But I really, really like what Tanner Witt brings to the table. He’s a fun pitcher to watch. He can touch 99 with a snap dragon curveball. He should add some fire power for the Longhorns, probably in August. It’s going to be hard to keep him in my first round as the season goes, but for now I have to give Witt some love.

21. St. Louis Cardinals: Blake Mitchell, C/RHP, Stinton HS (TX)
Mitchell is what you picture when thinking of a classic high school star. He can do it all. He reminds me of a Bryce Harper when he was in high school. He has loud tools. On the mound, he hits low-90s with his fastball and shows a slider that has some life. His main gig is as a left-hand hitting backstop who has raw power and a feel for driving the ball. It’s hard to say if he’ll stick behind the plate or on the mound, and there is even talk that he could become a future infielder.

22. Seattle Mariners: Colt Emerson, SS, John Glenn (OH)
He’s a tall, lanky shortstop who reminds me a lot of last year’s draft prospect Peyton Graham out of Oklahoma. He’s got super sonic hands at the plate and in the field. A soft glove and a solid arm, both of which should keep him at shortstop long-term. He’ll need to add more muscle at the next level, much like Jackson Holliday from last year, but his strong summer performance really put him on the map.

23. Cleveland Guardians: Drew Bowser, 3B, Stanford
Bowser impressed his sophomore season, hitting .293 while going yard 18 times in 62 games. He’s got a great feel for the zone and uses it to his advantage. His strikeout rates are a bit high, but if he can limit the swing and miss part of his game and show that he’s improved in ’23, he’ll easily become a top-10 pick.

24. Atlanta Braves: Maui Ahuna, SS, Tennessee
Ahuna has a lot to prove this upcoming season. He’s a bit too anxious at the plate with high strikeout rates, but when he’s on, he’s on. There’s star potential in his game, that with the right coaching, he could become a top-10 selection. It’ll take a lot of hard work, but Ahuna has the skill set to make it happen if the mental game catches up. Transferring from Kansas to Tennessee this year, he’ll have his work cut out for him playing in that brand of baseball.

25. San Diego Padres: Ross Dunn, LHP, Arizona State
I was surprised to see him transfer from Florida State to Arizona State, but it’s a good career move for him. ASU will get more eyes on his games, plus, it will let him stand out in a staff he could be the ace of. He’s got a four-pitch mix, all with life and deception.

26. New York Yankees: Will Sanders, RHP, South Carolina
Big Will Sanders is a 6’6″, 215-pound righty with incredible stuff. Every year he’s improving and should be a top pitcher selected in 2023. His fastball sits in the upper-90s and has natural drop. His slider is developing into a nice finisher pitch, too, and his changeup has come along nicely since freshman year.

27. Philadelphia Phillies: Tommy Troy, IF/OF, Stanford
Troy can play anywhere at a high rate. No one tool stands out for him, which could affect his draft stock, but if you stand back and just watch him, it’s not the lack of tools that should be focused on, it should be how he does everything right. He’s mature at the plate. He comes up with the big hit when you need. He rarely makes mistakes in the field. He’s a mix of Tommy Edman, Darin Erstad and Mark Kotsay rolled into one. While for some front offices that’s a boring pick, but the way I look at it, it’s a safe pick with high upside. You could put this guy in any lineup in any spot and he’ll find a way to succeed.

28. Houston Astros: Teddy McGraw, RHP, Wake Forest
McGraw’s sinker is the best in the entire class and probably last year’s class as well. He’s got a high-spin rate slider that’s topped north of 3000 rpm too. If he can miss more bats in 2023, his pure stuff will carry him higher from the back half of the first round.

29. (Compensation 1) Seattle Mariners: Yohandy Morales, 3B, Miami
Miami has had some dudes the past few years. Somehow, though, Morales’ name kept showing up. He was little known because he was in the shadows of his predecessors, but not anymore. Morales had a very impressive spring. He hit 18 homers and even led Team USA with a .400 batting average. Make no mistake, the 6’4″ hot corner is for real.

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