by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of MLB.com.
With the Major League draft two days away, Draft 412 wanted to offer our opinions and analysis on how we think this will play out. This is a unique draft to say the least. Dylan Crews is considered a “generational talent” as an outfielder, and Paul Skenes is considered the same as a starting pitcher, both future stars emerging from LSU. The prep hitters in this draft are as good as we have seen in over a decade, and as many as 5 players could go #1 in any other draft year.
Without further adieu, here is Draft 412’s 2023 mock draft for the first round of this year's MLB Draft:
(1)- Pittsburgh Pirates- (OF) Dylan Crews- LSU
As stated above—this draft is based on how Draft 412 would draft, not necessarily how the Pirates will draft.
From the depths of Draft 412’s war room, the pick here is an obvious one for the Pirates— Dylan Crews, outfielder, LSU.
In theory, it should be the easiest pick of the draft. News from the Crews camp is swirling that he wants “above slot money” to sign with the Pirates. So? Give it to him…
Five years ago, the Pirates, while trying to build their system, might have taken the more austere route and signed a lesser player to free up bonus money. Ben Cherington is different, however. It’s a pivotal moment for him and Pirates' brass. And opportunity is knocking.
With a floor of Andrew McCutchen and a ceiling of Bryce Harper, Crews will help this team every day in the field and fills a position of weakness system-wide. While Paul Skenes has been compared to the next Strasburg, he will only pitch every fifth day.
Crews is exactly what the franchise needs to be competitive for years to come and will help determine the outcome of many more games than Skenes can (or any other pitcher for that matter). Skenes is a can’t miss prospect, but the Pirates make the right move here and welcome Dylan Crews to the city of Pittsburgh.
(2)- Washington Nationals- (SP) Paul Skenes- LSU
If Ben Cherington and the Pirates select Crews with the first overall pick, the Nationals' pick in the second slot is just as simple. Right-handed pitcher, Paul Skenes, is being called the next Stephen Strasburg, who coincidentally is finishing his career in Washington.
Skenes comes off the board here, handing the Nats their 2nd generational pitcher in the past 15 years. Skenes, the SEC Pitcher of the Year, led all college D1 pitchers in strikeouts (209), strikeouts per nine innings (15.3) and finished the year second in wins (12) with a 1.69 ERA. With a fastball that averaged 98 mph last year and topped out at 102 mph, Skenes will make the Nats fans excited about their new pitching ace, who may only be a year or two away from the majors.
(3)- Detroit Tigers- (OF) Wyatt Langford- Florida
Wyatt Langford is one of those players who could easily be a top overall choice in any given draft year, but with Crews and Skenes ahead of him, he falls to three overall and heads to the Motor City to play for the Tigers.
Langford, for what it’s worth, outslugged Crews this season and if it wasn’t for being a weaker defender, he may have gone off the board at one. He has the makings of a rare five-tool player, with elite hitting skills (including hitting for power). Motown will be happy with their fortunes at the three spot, and waste no time taking the Florida Gator off the board.
(4)- Texas Rangers- (OF)- Max Clark- Franklin Community H.S. (IN)
Ten years from now when we look back on this selection process, Draft 412 would not be shocked if Max Clark is the best player to come out of this draft. A superior athlete, Clark has the best left-handed swing in the draft. Texas will have to wait 3-4 years for him to arrive, but it will be well worth it.
And if the Pirates pass on Crews, don’t be surprised if it is for Clark.
(5)- Minnesota Twins- (OF)- Walker Jenkins- South Brunswick HS (NC)
Walker Jenkins is the last of the “top five” that Draft 412 has been talking about all season. Jenkins is a powerful, left-handed hitter that will hit for homers and high averages. He brings speed to the bases and the field, with plus arm strength as a defender. A steal for the Twins at five.
(6)- Oakland A’s- (SP)- Chase Dollander- Tennessee
Oakland is a franchise in need of a total overhaul. With the probable move to Las Vegas, Oakland needs to start adding to the viable arms in the organization. Dollander is a wicked right-handed pitcher who throws regularly in the 95-97 mph range and already has a complimentary slider and curveball.
Shortstop, Jacob Gonzalez, is possible here also.
(7)- Cincinnati Reds- (SS)- Jacob Wilson- Grand Canyon
There are several top notch shortstops in this draft class, and Draft 412 has Jacob Wilson as the best of the bunch, but just by a nose. Defensively, he is ready now to play in the majors, but he will need to develop his offensive game further in the minors. Oh, and yes, he is the son of Pirates' fan favorite, Jack Wilson.
(8)- Kansas City Royals- (SS)- Jacob Gonzalez- Ole Miss
Draft 412 compared Gonzalez to Kyle Seager earlier in the year with his left-handed power swing. This versatile prospect may be moved later to third base and was considered a top five pick before the season started. He is a steal at the eight spot for the Royals. With 20+ homer potential and positional flexibility, he could even go higher.
(9)- Colorado Rockies- (SP)- Rhett Lowder- Wake Forest
Colorado, always in need of pitching, loves college pitchers. Lowder has proven to excel against the best competition and the soon-to-be former Demon Deacon will find a home in Denver. Lowder’s changeup is the best in this class (including Skenes) and coupled with a high nineties fastball, he will be a “one” in the Rockies lineup in a few years.
(10)- Miami Marlins- (C )- Kyle Teel- Virginia
The Marlins are happy to see the best collegiate catcher in the class fall to them at #10. Teel will be a plus left-handed bat to go along with great leadership skills for the Marlins.
(11)- LA Angels- Blake Mitchell- (C )- Sinton HS (TX)
After watching the best collegiate catcher just go off the board to Miami, the Angels make sure they don’t miss out on the best high school backstop. Mitchell is a power hitter who could project to a 30+ home run type hitter in the pros.
(12)- Arizona Diamondbacks- (SS/2B)- Matt Shaw- Maryland
Many of the prospects on Draft 412’s big board are very interchangeable and can go anywhere in that range. Matt Shaw will eventually become a second baseman at the next level and is one of the best “bat-to-ball” prospects in this draft. His positional flexibility and offense will make a nice fit in Arizona where they need to add depth up the middle.
(13)- Chicago Cubs- (SS)- Arjun Nimmala- Strawberry Crest HS (FL)
Nimmala has one of the highest ceilings of any high school prospect in the draft. Already an offensive threat with his raw power, once Nimmala physically matures, he could be that next great shortstop in the majors.
(14)- Boston Red Sox- (OF)- Enrique Bradfield Jr.- Vanderbilt
I feel bad for the NY Yankees and the rest of the AL East who will have to play against Bradfield. He is one of the fastest runners and plays an elite defense. Boston has had some down years, and a table setter like Bradfield could be what the Sox need.
(15)- Chicago White Sox- (3B)- Yohandy Morales- Miami, Fla
With options still on the board, the White Sox choose to pursue the big college bat out of Miami. Morales has one of the better bats in the 2023 class and plays at a position of need for the Sox. This pick almost makes too much sense at thirteen.
(16)- San Francisco Giants- (SS)- Tommy Troy- Stanford
Rumors have been swirling about the Giants and their love for Tommy Troy. A solid contact hitter with strong defensive skills, Troy will stay in California at pick #16 and play in his pro ball in the Bay Area.
(17)- Baltimore Orioles- (SP)- Hurston Waldrep- Florida
The Baltimore Orioles, who have one of the league’s best minor league systems, have finally started dipping into their embarrassment of riches. Waldrep is a great pick for an up and coming team that could use an arm in 2 seasons.
(18)- Milwaukee Brewers- (SS)- Colin Houck- Parkview HS (GA)
The Brewers are more than happy to select one of the best high school shortstops at #18. Houck has played two sports his whole life and being able to focus on just baseball could accelerate his progression.
(19)- Tampa Bay Rays- (3B)- Brayden Taylor- TCU
The Rays get themselves a third baseman who has improved each and every season. Taylor will become TCU’s first ever position player to go in round one.
(20)- Toronto Blue Jays- (3B)- Aidan Miller- Mitchell HS (FL)
Miller was hurt his senior season with a hamate injury, and he is already 19-years-old, which may be one of the only reasons that Miller is still on the board at twenty. Well, not anymore, as the Blue Jays rush the ticket into the Commissioner and bring Miller north of the border.
(21)- St. Louis Cardinals- (SP)-Noble Meyer- Jesuit HS (OR)
The best high school pitcher slipping down to #21? Draft 412 would not be surprised to see him go earlier, but he will not slide past St. Louis if he survives to twenty-one.
(22)- Seattle Mariners- (3B)-Brock Wilken- Wake Forest
Wilken has been the “yo-yo” player since the beginning of the season. A pre-season top 15 pick, Wilken started off 2023 slowly at Wake, but finished the season strong and has been climbing back up the draft boards. Seattle may have a steal here.
(23)- Cleveland Guardians- (1B/SP)- Bryce Eldridge- James Madison HS (VA)
Eldridge came into the season with a possible chance of becoming the next big two-way player. Talks of his two-way career have cooled and many scouts believe he will be a hitter. At 6’7”, Eldridge can play 1B or RF, and supply a wealth of power.
(24)- Atlanta Braves- (1B)- Nolan Schanuel- Florida Atlantic
Draft 412 ranks Schanuel as our #40 prospect on our big board, but he has been rising as fast as any player in the draft. His numbers last year at FAU were video game-like, but some scouts question his stats coming out of Conference USA and not the SEC.
(25)-San Diego Padres- (SP)- Charlee Soto- Reborn Christian (HS) (FL)
The one thing the 2023 MLB Draft lacks is a quantity of high school arms. Draft 412 thinks more high school arms will go between 20-30 than in past drafts. Soto can hit triple digits with his fastball and is still growing. A good high ceiling pick at #25
(26)- New York Yankees- (SP)- Thomas White- Phillips Academy (MA)
White is said to have possibly taken himself out of getting selected in the first round due to his verbal desire to play at Vanderbilt. As the best left-handed pitcher in the draft, Draft 412 thinks a team may pay over slot for him. The Yankees have a chance to get a steal at #26.
(27)- Philadelphia Phillies- (OF)- Dillon Head- Homewood-Flossmoor HS (IL)
One of the fastest prospects in this class, Dillon Head is the high school version of Enrique Bradfield Jr., who we had going #14. He will be a table setter who understands his limitations in the power game. He’s got a good glove as well and will be a nice athlete to have in any team’s development system.
(28)-Houston Astros- (C/1B)- Ralphy Velazquez- Huntington Beach HS (CA)
More of a professional hitter type who has questionable defensive game. Velazquez can hit and is well worth taking a flier on, even with his lack of defense this late in the first round. He has raw power and will be a middle of the lineup hitter.
(29)- Seattle Mariners- (SS/3B)- Colt Emerson- Glenn HS (OH)
The Mariners, with their 2nd of 3 first round picks, take another infielder to go along with Brock Wilken, who they selected at #22. Emerson is a left-handed hitter who can drive a baseball despite many moving parts in the batter’s box. He can play all around the infield and will be a nice addition to the Mariners' organization.
(30)- Seattle Mariners- (SP)- Ty Floyd- LSU
Draft 412 did not have Ty Floyd in their top 50, and we were not alone. Floyd has rocketed up draft boards after striking out 17 Florida Gators in the College World Series. The Gators have some future pro talent in their lineup which makes this even more of a headline. Floyd hits 94-97 mph, but with his release hitters have struggled to pick up the baseball. He only has one legit pitch as of now, so a team will have to be patient with Floyd.
Others Who Just Missed Round 1
OF-Jack Hurley- Virginia Tech
SP- Tanner Witt- Texas
SS/2B- Kevin McGonigle-HS (PA) — signability problems
SP-Travis Sykora- HS (TX)
SS- Adrian Santana- HS (FL)