2023 Draft: Best power, speed, arm, fastball, curveball, more

July 5th, 2023

On the latest MLB Pipeline Podcast, Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo took turns breaking down which prospects from our Draft Top 250 List possess the best tools.

It should come as no surprise that the two schools which just played for the national championship -- LSU and Florida -- are well represented at the top of the Draft board and here.

Best hitter: Dylan Crews, OF, LSU (70 grade)
Callis: Unbelievable year -- he hit .426, he was the Golden Spikes winner, he was the SEC Player of the Year two years in a row, he won a National Championship. He has plate discipline -- he tied for the NCAA Division I lead with 71 walks. He reached base in every single game. He makes a lot of contact, he’s got a great approach, he draws a lot of walks, he uses the opposite field a lot. He hits the ball consistently, he’s controlled the strike zone and made hard contact better than ever this spring.

Also in the discussion: Max Clark, OF, Franklin (Ind.) HS; Nolan Schanuel, 1B/OF, Florida Atlantic; Jacob Wilson, SS, Grand Canyon

Best power: Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida (65 grade)
Mayo: Not that other guys don’t have usable power, but it's his combination of raw power and bat speed -- and approach at the plate. I mean, he’s a 60-grade hitter so there’s a lot of confidence that he’s going to get to that power, and he certainly has done it the last couple of years. He hit 26 homers last year, to put him on the map, and slugged .719. This year, he hit another 21 homers, slugged .784 and had more walks than strikeouts. So, I think he got the edge, that 65, because of the confidence that he’s going to continue to get to that power at the next level.

Also in the discussion: Dylan Crews, OF, LSU; Walker Jenkins, OF, South Brunswick (N.C.) HS; Brock Wilken, 3B, Wake Forest

Fastest runner: Enrique Bradfield Jr., OF, Vanderbilt (80 grade)
Callis: The Vanderbilt outfielder would be the most obvious. I actually think Bradfield might have run slightly better as a freshman and sophomore than he did this year. He actually went 46-for-46 stealing bases last year, and I think he got caught seven or eight times this year. His speed -- and it’s not just speed but also his ability to use it -- he’s a wonderful base stealer. He’s a tremendous defender in center field. He gets a lot of Kenny Lofton comps. That’s the upside on him. Not only does he have this top-of-the-scale speed, he knows how to make the most of it.

Also in the discussion: Kendall George, OF, Atascocita (Texas) HS; Dillon Head, OF, Homewood-Flossmoor (Ill.) HS; Adrian Santana, SS, Doral Academy (Fla.) HS

Strongest arm: Cole Carrigg, SS/OF/C, San Diego State (70 grade)
Mayo: I think the thing that’s interesting about him is that he has played all over the place. Not only during this time in college, but also over the summer and things of that nature. At San Diego State, he didn’t catch much. But he has caught a lot. I think a lot of teams will be interested because of that 70 arm. He had some triple-digit throws from the infield at the Combine, and he’s athletic enough where he can play middle infield, he can play the outfield. I think there will be teams that want to give him a shot behind the plate.

Also in the discussion: Connor Burns, C, Long Beach State; Blake Mitchell, C, Sinton (Texas) HS; Nolan McLean, RHP/OF, OSU

Best defender: Enrique Bradfield Jr., OF, Vanderbilt (70 grade)
Callis: We’re just going to stick with Enrique Bradfield because he covers a lot of ground in center field -- and it’s not just tremendous speed, it’s that he also makes efficient reads and routes. So I think it’s him.

Also in the discussion: Maui Ahuna, SS, Tennessee; Connor Burns, C, Long Beach State; Tre' Morgan, 1B/OF, LSU

Best fastball: Paul Skenes, RHP, LSU (80 grade)
Callis: Our choice that we would pick at No. 1. He transfers from Air Force to LSU, he’s SEC Pitcher of the Year, he leads NCAA Division I in strikeouts and he breaks Ben McDonald's school and SEC records. He leads the nation in strikeouts per nine innings and WHIP, and he’s second in wins and ERA and opponents' average. The fastball was pretty good as a sophomore, it was 94-95 mph and he touched 99. And this year he averaged 98 and hit 102. First College World Series start, he threw 100 like 48 times or something. Crazy. Plus, just besides the velocity, he’s got a flat approach angle with a ton of carry, he commands it really well. This was an easy one.

Also in the discussion: Chase Dollander, RHP, Tennessee; George Klassen, RHP, Minnesota; Travis Sykora, RHP, Round Rock (Texas) HS

Best curveball: Josh Knoth, RHP, Patchogue-Medford (N.Y.) HS (60 grade)
Mayo: Knoth is from New York, a high schooler, and his is the only 60 curveball that we have in the Draft class -- and for good reason. It is nasty, it’s plus, regularly high elite-level spinrates, routinely north of 3,000/3,100 RPMs. It is a really, really good pitch.

Also in the discussion: Alex Clemmey, LHP, Bishop Hendricken (R.I.) HS; Isaiah Coupet, LHP, Ohio State; Cole Schoenwetter, RHP, San Marcos (Calif.) HS

Best slider: Paul Skenes, RHP, LSU (70 grade)
Callis: I’m just going to answer Paul Skenes to just about anything you ask in the pitching segment -- and, you know, it is Paul Skenes, whose slider is pretty ridiculous. It got better under the tutelage of renowned LSU pitching coach Wes Johnson. He has an 85-89 mph slider with a ton of break. Huge swing-and-miss and chase rates, I don’t know how anybody hits the ball. It’s not one of these, "just chase it out of the strike zone," and you wonder how it’s going to fare against better hitters. He can throw that wicked slider for strikes, too.

Also in the discussion: Lebarron Johnson, RHP, Texas; Seth Keener, RHP, Wake Forest; Juaron Watts-Brown, RHP, OSU

Best changeup: Ryan Bruno, LHP, Stanford (65 grade)
Mayo: It’s his go-to pitch out of the bullpen. The upside of that pitch is absolutely ridiculous. He got a miss rate of 65 percent on that pitch this year, and hitters hit .058 against that pitch. It’s just ridiculous.

Also in the discussion: Tanner Hall, RHP, Southern Miss; Rhett Lowder, RHP, Wake Forest; Carson Reed, RHP, West Virginia

Best other: Hurston Waldrep, RHP, Florida (65 grade splitter)
Mayo: People saw, again, during the postseason, 63 percent miss rate and .062 batting average against -- that is just an incredibly nasty pitch. Even if he ends up in a bullpen one day -- you know, there is some concern about that because of command. Still, that splitter is going to get big league hitters out.

Also in the discussion: Ryan Brown, RHP, Ball State (splitter); Grayson Hitt, LHP, Alabama (cutter); Grant Taylor, RHP, LSU (cutter)

Best control: Rhett Lowder, RHP, Wake Forest (60 grade)
Callis: Two-time ACC Pitcher of the Year at Wake Forest. Matched up with Skenes in a tremendous pitching duel in the semifinals -- Skenes went eight scoreless, Lowder went seven scoreless. But, Lowder has one of the best changeups. He’s got three pitches: fastball, much improved slider this year, wicked changeup. And not only does he throw strikes, but he throws quality strikes -- and he just was consistent every time out this year for Wake. Lowder has good stuff, but it’s not overwhelming stuff -- not 70s and 80s -- and he went out, it seems like every week, and just pounded the strike zone and put the ball where he wanted, and won. He went 15-0 and they were 17-0 until that 11-inning loss in the MCWS in his 18th start. As good as his stuff is, and I think it’s pretty solid, it’s his ability to control and command it that makes him what he is.

Also in the discussion: Tanner Hall, RHP, Southern Miss; Paul Skenes, RHP, LSU; Logan Van Treeck, LHP, Lipscomb