LSU and Florida had a College World Series for the ages. Not only was it a worthy battle, it also showcased many top draft prospects that’ll be selected near the end of July. Movement from the previous mock draft, we’ve got some high-risers, some drops and some that have stayed put. Let’s get into it.
1. Pittsburgh Pirates: Dylan Crews, OF, LSU
At this point there isn’t any contenders who can wear the crown. 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. He was every bit of a legend in the CWS that will put him atop of this years draft.
2. Washington Nationals: Paul Skenes, RHP/1B, LSU
If there was any doubt about where Skenes should fall or where he should play, those questions were answered during the CWS. I haven’t seen a pitcher this hyped since Kumar Rocker. 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 only imagine will become his finisher. And even though he’s dynamic at the plate as well, the CWS proved his ceiling is a future starting ace on a major league staff.
3. Detroit Tigers: 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, smacking .356 with 63 RBIs, and 26 dingers in 66 games. His 1.166 OPS is ridiculous. This year he doubled-down and became exactly what the Gators need him to be– their leader. He helped carry them to CWS to come up just short to LSU.
4. Texas Rangers: 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.
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. This isn’t Blaze Jordan 2.0. This is Max Clark 1.0.
6. Oakland A’s: 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 have been 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?
7. Cincinnati Reds: Kyle Teel, C, Virginia
Is Teel one of the best catchers in the last few years? No. I compare his game to a past prospect, now with the Detroit Tigers, Dillon Dingler. He can definitely hit and his power is spotty, but the power is still there, regardless of what others say. Thing is, will his hit tools still be there at higher levels? I’m thinking they’ll plateau. Dingler has had a hard time figuring it out in double-A. Teel could run into the same thing. Still, his ceiling is high and his floor is low, so I can see a team taking him in the middle of the first based on his ceiling alone.
8. Kansas City Royals: Rhett Lowder, RHP, Wake Forest;
Lowder brings it. 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.
9. Colorado Rockies: Noble Meyer, RHP, Jesuit HS
If there is a hidden gem in the first round it’s Meyer. His game is smooth. He looks bigger than 6’5″, and I’m sure he’s still growing. At 18-years old, his fastball can touch 98 consistently, and I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility to say he could hit 99 or 100 one day. I don’t want to get too excited about him, though, because it’s always hard to evaluate high schoolers accurately without talented bats to go against. If Meyer falls out of the top-20, I could see him staying true to his Oregon commitment and ride it out a couple years in college in hopes to get that top-10 money in a future draft.
10. Miami Marlins: 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 has maintained an 80-grade speed since his high school days and 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 any lineup and expect results. If he improves his strength to show more power, we could be talking about a top-three guy here. I could see him going top-five, but top-10 makes a little more sense.
11. Los Angeles Angels: 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.
12. Arizona Diamondbacks: 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.
13. Chicago Cubs: Jacob Wilson, IF, Grand Canyon University
A more mature bat than most his age, Wilson is about has productive as they come. His 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.
14. Boston Red Sox: Matt Shaw, SS, Maryland
Kind of a late-bloomer in mocks, Shaw has asserted himself as one of the better all-around hitting prospects in this draft. Like his University of Maryland predecessors Brandon Lowe and Kevin Smith, Shaw has more tools. He can hit for average, he’s a thumper at the plate and he has good foot-speed in the field and on the base paths. His arm is less than desired but his bat will carry him.
15. Chicago White Sox: 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 showcase that he’s risen on every board. He’s got long arms, fluid wrist action, and great bat-to-ball mechanics. His defense is no joke either.
16. San Francisco Giants: 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 that has a devastating break hitters despise. His changeup could use some work but this kid has one of the highest ceilings of any player in this draft. He had a topsy-turvy 2023, which will hurt his stock, but I still expect him to hang around the top-20.
17. Baltimore Orioles: Colin Houck, SS, Parkview HS (GA)
A three-star quarterback recruit, Houck knows his future lies on the diamond. He’s got speed and power at the plate and in the field, which is a deadly combo. At 6’2″ his frame will fill out more and when it does he could be a solid shortstop in the bigs. Plate discipline will be his biggest hurdle at the next level.
18. Milwaukee Brewers: 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. His makeup. He’s mature at the plate. He comes up with the big hit when his team needs it. 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 might be a boring pick, I look at him as 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.
19. Tampa Bay Rays: 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.
20. Toronto Blue Jays: Bryce Eldridge, 1B/RHP, Madison HS (VA)
There’s always exciting two-way players in the draft. A couple of my favorites in recent years were Brendan McKay and Spencer Jones. Eldridge profiles similar to them. He’s a towering 6’7″, 219 pounds with great bat-to-ball skills from the left side of the plate. He’s hard to pitch to because he can hit successfully all over the dish. On the mound, his fastball can reach mid-to-upper 90s and his low-80s slider is as solid as his changeup.
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 gaining notoriety early-on. 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-handed 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: Brock Wilken, 3B, Wake Forest
Wilken reminds me of Alec Bohm; mixed with Nolan Gorman with 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. A little plate discipline will go a long way with this prospect. He ended his college career with a .345 BA this season and hit 82 RBIs, striking out 58 times.
23. Cleveland Guardians: 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.
24. Atlanta Braves: Chase Davis, OF, Arizona
Davis is a riser and might continue to rise leading up to the draft. But he could go completely the other way too, pending on what the draft trends are. His plate discipline has stood out among the many things he fixed at the plate this season.
25. San Diego Padres: 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.
26. New York Yankees: Nolan Schanuel, 1B/OF, Florida Atlantic
Schanuel reminds me a lot of Rockies prospect Michael Toglia. His 6’4″ 220 frame is pro-ready, and his left-handed hitting is hungry for hits. He draws more walks than strikeouts, which is good to see from a college bat. If he stays the course and shows he can handle pro pitchers, he’ll go through the minors faster than most.
27. Philadelphia Phillies: Dillon Head, OF, Homewood-Flossmoor HS
Head’s speed is off the charts. Even better, he’s got the high IQ to know how to use it. Either on the base paths or in center, he reads the ball very well like a top route-running NFL receiver. He can definitely hit the ball, but his power is on the lower end of the spectrum. If he can get on base consistently, he’ll be an asset for any team.
28. Houston Astros: Jack Hurley, OF, Virginia Tech
Hurley isn’t talked about much at the moment, but he mashed the ball down in Blacksburg. He saw some rises early on in the college season, but realistically he could be a late-first-to-second round selection come draft day. He profiles very well in the outfield and some say at the next-level he could blossom into that five-tool guy teams seek.
29. (Compensation 1) 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.