The dust has barely settled on the 2022 Draft, which means it’s time to start dissecting the class of 2023.
That’s basically what the scouting industry will do, signing this year’s players while really starting to hone in on next year’s crop of potential draftees. The summer is often spent building follow lists for the spring. Some summer showcase events have already happened, like the PDP League for high school players and USA Baseball’s College National Team. Some are ongoing, like the Cape Cod League, and some are yet to come like Perfect Game National, the East Coast Professional Showcase and the Area Code Games.
That means the list below is extremely fluid and will change plenty by the end of the summer. Then, of course, comes fall ball and evaluations all of next spring, so our 2023 rankings might look completely different. That said, last year’s version of this story had 11 players who actually ended up going in the first round, while two more went after the top 30 picks but likely will get first-round level bonuses.
1. A’s: Dylan Crews, OF, Louisiana State
Crews was a solid high school prospect heading into the 2020 Draft but removed his name from consideration and headed to LSU. All he’s done is hit, with an OPS of 1.135 in two years with the Tigers. He’s going to mash, for average and plenty of power (22 homers in 2022), fitting the right-field offensive profile well.
2. Reds: Jacob Gonzalez, SS, Mississippi
A left-handed-hitting shortstop, Gonzalez had an OPS over 1.000 as a freshman at Ole Miss, and while he slumped down the stretch in 2022, he finished well in postseason play and still hit 18 homers. He also continued to show a very advanced approach at the plate, with many more walks than strikeouts, all coming while playing a premium position.
3. Tigers: Chase Dollander, RHP, Tennessee
Dollander moved from Georgia Southern to Tennessee in 2022 and had an absolutely ridiculous season, going 10-0 for the Volunteers with a 2.39 ERA and a 108/13 K/BB ratio over 79 innings. He touches the upper-90s with his explosive fastball, and Dollander also features a solid slider, a slower curve and a decent changeup.
4. Nationals: Max Clark, OF, Franklin Community HS (Franklin, Ind.)
The Vanderbilt recruit has the best all-around toolset in the class and can do everything well on the diamond. He didn’t put up huge numbers in PDP League play, but he showed tremendous bat speed, solid exit velos, good raw power, a plus arm and speed.
5. Pirates: Walker Jenkins, OF, South Brunswick High School (Oak Island, N.C.)
Like Clark, Jenkins didn’t set the PDP League on fire, but he showed an ability to barrel up the baseball and registered some high exit velos as well. He has the chance to hit, and with a ton of power. Look for him and Clark to get locked in as the summer continues.
6. Red Sox: Will Sanders, RHP, South Carolina
The 6-foot-6 right-hander already has really good stuff with the chance for more in the tank as he continues to fill out that frame. He’s already up to 96 mph with his fastball, misses a ton of bats with an 82-84 mph slider and has solid feel for his mid-80s changeup.
7. Cubs: Enrique Bradfield, OF, Vanderbilt
Bradfield’s 80-grade speed has been well-known by scouts since his high school days, though there were questions about his lack of strength and ability to impact the ball. He’s never going to be known for power, though he did homer eight times in 2022. That might not matter given that he went 46-for-46 in stolen base attempts in 2022 and has 93 steals in two seasons at Vandy.
8. Royals: Travis Sykora, RHP, Round Rock HS (Round Rock, Texas)
The top high school arm in the class as of right now, Sykora is big (6-foot-5) and strong with plenty of arm strength to go along with some feel for pitching. He was throwing 94-98 mph in the PDP League, missed bats with an upper-80s slider and mixed in some good splitters as well.
9. Angels: Hurston Waldrep, RHP, Southern Miss
Waldrep made a very strong transition to the Southern Miss rotation in 2022, striking out 14 batters per nine innings while walking 3.3. He’s bringing his mid-90s fastball (up to 98), a hard slider up to 90 mph, an occasional slower curve and a mid-80s changeup. He misses a ton of bats with all of his secondary stuff.
10. D-backs: Kevin McGonigle, SS, Monsignor Bonner HS (Aldan, Pa.)
McGonigle is already building a reputation as one of the best pure hitters among the high school crop, going 7-for-15 in PDP League action. He’s a left-handed-hitting middle infielder who just has an innate feel for the barrel.
11. Rangers: Aidan Miller, 3B, JW Mitchell HS (Trinity, Fla.)
The younger brother of Reds prospect, Jackson, Aidan Miller certainly made a name for himself during All-Star week in Los Angeles. He went 4-for-5 to earn MVP honors in the High School All-American Game, then came out on top in the high school home run derby. He’s an excellent right-handed hitter with plenty of power now and to come, with third base his most likely defensive destination.
12. Rockies: Brock Wilken, 3B, Wake Forest
Teams looking for college power bats will certainly be watching Wilken closely. The third baseman hit 17 homers as a freshman, then six more in the Cape Cod League that summer. He followed that up with 23 more this past spring.
13. Marlins: Dylan Cupp, Cedartown HS (Cedartown Ga.)
Cupp has all the tools necessary to stick at shortstop for a long time, with excellent range, good hands and plenty of arm. The right-handed hitter runs well and has shown excellent bat-to-ball skills.
14. Orioles: Gavin Grahovac, Villa Park HS (Orange, Calif.)
Grahovac hits the ball, and hard, on a consistent basis, recording high exit velos in PDP League play and picking up two hits, including a 98-mph double, at the All-American Game.
15. White Sox: Yohandy Morales, 3B, Miami
After hitting 18 homers for Miami this past spring, Morales led Team USA by hitting .400 and slugging .600 in competition. The power from the right side for this 6-foot-4 infielder is very real.
16. Guardians: Thomas White, LHP, Phillips Academy (Rowley, Mass.)
White hadn’t pitched much in showcases, only giving small glimpses of his stuff before heading to the PDP League, where he promptly struck out seven in his three-inning start. The command wavered a bit, but the stuff was legit: a fastball up to 96 with good carry, an upper-70s slider with good spin rates and an effective changeup.
17. Giants: Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida
The corner outfielder certainly looks like he has the bat to profile at his position. He’s coming off a huge year for the Gators, hitting .356/.447/.719 with 26 homers, and Langford then went 7-for-21 for Team USA. The right-handed hitter has plenty of power but doesn’t sell out for it (14.5 percent K rate in 2022).
18. Twins: Jacob Wilson, SS, Grand Canyon
Wilson’s father, Jack, played 12 years in the big leagues and will now be an assistant coach at Grand Canyon. Not that the younger Wilson needs help after hitting .358/.418/.585 as a sophomore, then performing on the Cape and going 4-for-11 with USA Baseball.
19. Cardinals: Rhett Lowder, RHP, Wake Forest
Lowder gave up just one run in 6 1/3 IP for Team USA after a sophomore season at Wake Forest that saw him finish 11-3 with a 3.08 ERA and 105/26 K/BB ratio. He struck out 9.5 batters per nine innings using a fastball up to 97, sitting just over 93 mph, a low-80s slider and mid-80s changeup.
20. Phillies: Patrick Reilly, RHP, Vanderbilt
A bit of an upside play here, as Reilly worked mostly as a reliever at Vandy in 2022, albeit one who threw more than 50 innings. The stuff can be pretty electric but the comand is spotty, with a fastball that touches 98 mph and sits around 94-95, a low-80s slider that misses a lot of bats, plus a changeup and cutter.