Which 2023 Draft prospects are on the fast track to the bigs?

July 11th, 2023

Is Paul Skenes talented enough to proceed from the No. 1 pick in the Draft straight to the big leagues with the Pirates? Yes.

Is that going to happen? No. Could we see him in Pittsburgh later in the summer? Probably not.

With the Pirates 8 1/2 games out of first place in the National League Central and eight back in the NL Wild Card race, they have no reason to rush Skenes to the Majors. But the Louisiana State right-hander with a fastball that parks at 98 and peaks at 102 mph, a wipeout upper-80s slider and flashes of a devastating changeup should get to Pittsburgh plenty quick enough.

Stephen Strasburg and Skenes are the two best pitching prospects in the history of the Draft, and Skenes could follow a timetable similar to Strasburg's after the Nationals selected him at 1-1 in 2009. Strasburg made his official pro debut in April 2010 and his big league debut two months later.

Here are eight other players who could reach the Majors in a hurry:

Max Clark, OF, Tigers (first round, No. 3 overall)
The first high school player selected, Clark has a well-rounded toolset that will expedite his trip through the Minors. Gatorade's national baseball player of the year, he's an advanced hitter and defender with at least four plus tools and at least average power.

Dylan Crews, OF, Nationals (first round, No. 2 overall)
Skenes and Crews made history as the first teammates to go 1-2 in the Draft and also should be the first two players from the 2023 crop to get to the big leagues. The best bat in this class, Crews hit .426/.567/.713 and tied for the NCAA Division I lead with 71 walks while winning a College World Series championship.

Walker Jenkins, OF, Twins (first round, No. 5 overall)
Though they may need more time to develop than the collegians on this list, both Clark and Jenkins are extraordinary prep talents who could have been No. 1 overall picks in a less loaded Draft. Jenkins is more physical if a little less athletic than Clark, and his power ceiling is as high as anyone in the 2023 class.

Seth Keener, RHP, White Sox (third round)
The lone non first-rounder on this list, Keener ranked second in D-I in WHIP (0.87) and third in opponent average (.167) as part of a loaded Wake Forest pitching staff. More of a reliever in college, Keener will be developed as a starter but still should move fast in an organization that lacks polished mound prospects. His mid-80s slider with two-plane depth is his best pitch, and his riding 91-97 mph fastball isn’t far behind.

Wyatt Langford, OF, Rangers (first round, No. 4 overall)
Langford outperformed Crews on the U.S. collegiate national team last summer and went toe to toe with him in the Southeastern Conference and in the CWS finals this year, batting .373/.498/.784 for Florida. He can't match Crews' pure hitting ability but offers more pop.

Rhett Lowder, RHP, Reds (first round, No. 7 overall)
Lowder and Skenes matched zeros for 7 1/2 innings in a classic CWS semifinal matchup that Louisiana State eventually won in 11 innings -- the only time Wake Forest lost a Lowder start all year. College baseball's most consistent and most polished pitcher, he has a quality changeup and commands his solid fastball and slider extremely well. He joins an organization that isn't afraid of advancing pitchers at a brisk pace.

Nolan Schanuel, 1B/OF, Angels (first round, No. 11 overall)
The Angels had the first 2021 draftee (11th-rounder Chase Silseth) and the only three from 2022 (first-rounder Zach Neto, third-round Ben Joyce, sixth-rounder Victor Mederos) to reach the Majors, so Schanuel is an obvious candidate to race to Anaheim. The Florida Atlantic star posted the best batting line in D-I this spring (.444/.612/.864, 71 walks to tie Crews for the national lead) and could be a plus hitter with power to match.

Jacob Wilson, SS, Athletics (first round, No. 6 overall)
As the son of former All-Star Jack Wilson, Jacob grew up around the game and developed into a fundamentally sound player who won't be fazed by anything he encounters in pro ball. He also has uncanny bat-to-ball skills, striking out just 12 times in 108 games during his last two seasons at Grand Canyon.