Since its inaugural season in 2019, the Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) League has been a place for talent evaluators to get a look at the top prep juniors in the country.
MLB Network aired its special program, “Top 25 Prospect Development Pipeline,” on Saturday, highlighting 25 top prospects eligible for the 2023 Draft who have accepted their invitation to take part in the week-long development tournament at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.
The PDP League is a joint initiative between MLB and USA Baseball and will take place from June 29 to July 6. Ninety-six of the top prep juniors in the country, split into four teams of 24, will compete in six games over eight days and receive player development sessions, educational seminars, and other programming from former Major Leaguers.
While the 25 prep stars were listed in no specific order, outfielder Max Clark and left-handed pitcher Thomas White are considered the consensus top hitter and pitcher in the PDP League’s crop of talent.
MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis said he believes that Clark, a Vanderbilt commit out of Franklin, Indiana, has a very good chance to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 Draft and offered a comparison to Seattle’s Jarred Kelenic with more speed.
“He might be the best hitter in the class. Really athletic, 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, a mature approach at the plate, makes a ton of hard contact, there’s going to be more power in there. He’s at least a plus-plus runner,” said Callis. “Plays a great center field, covers a lot of ground, tremendous makeup. This guy is so good, he committed to Vanderbilt before his freshman season of high school.”
White is uncommitted at the moment, but his tantalizing size as a left-handed hurler coupled with a burgeoning four-pitch arsenal has scouts excited for his future.
“He pitched at this showcase in Fenway Park in the fall and was lights out. I had one scouting official put two sixes on his fastball and his slider, an above average curve, he’s showing the [changeup]. He’s 6-foot-5, he’s going to grow into his body more,” said MLB Pipeline’s Jonathan Mayo. “He’s just scratching the surface. Massachusetts has not been a great area for high school pitching over the years, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens when he goes out, hits the PDP League, he could be one of the top pitchers taken in the 2023 Draft.”
Along with the chance to boost players' Draft stock, the PDP League serves as the primary identification series for USA Baseball's 18U National Team. Approximately 40 players will earn an invitation to USA Baseball’s 18U National Team trials to vie for a spot on the final roster. The 18U team will compete in the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U18 Baseball World Cup in Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida from Sept. 9-18.
“There’s nothing like playing with USA across your chest,” said Michael Cuddyer, two-time All-Star and PDP League hitting coordinator. “Just the sense of pride and the lifelong bond with your teammates, and with USA Baseball and your country, it’s something that goes above and beyond anything I experienced.”
In 2019, the captains of the four teams were Hall of Famers Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones and Barry Larkin, and 2006 NL MVP Ryan Howard, providing the next wave of baseball talent a valuable opportunity to learn from some of the best players of the last 30 years.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity to not only see how you stack up against the best, but also to pick the brain of former players,” said Callis.
PDP League alumni have gone on to be first-round Draft selections and included in MLB Pipeline’s prospect rankings. Top 100 prospects Tyler Soderstrom (No. 42), Robert Hassell III (No. 43), Jordan Walker (No. 57) and Mick Abel (No. 64) all took part in the PDP League, and the majority of the prep prospects in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 2022 Draft prospect rankings played in the 2021 iteration of the league.
Here are the top 25 prospects participating in the 2022 PDP League listed in alphabetical order:
Antonio Anderson, SS/2B/RHP, Tri-Cities HS (Ga.)
Kade Anderson, LHP, St. Paul’s HS (La.)
Eric Bitonti, SS/3B, Aquinas HS (Calif.)
Max Clark, OF, Franklin Community HS (Ind.)
Dylan Cupp, SS/2B/3B/, Cedartown HS (Ga.)
Gavin Grahovac, OF/1B/3B/C, Villa Park HS (Calif.)
Adam Hachman, LHP, Timberland HS (Mo.)
James Hays, RHP/1B, The Westfield School (Ga.)
Dillon Head, OF/LHP, Homewood Flossmoor HS (Ill.)
Ryder Helfrick, C/IF, Clayton Valley HS (Calif.)
Braden Holcomb, SS/3B, Foundation Academy (Fla.)
Walker Jenkins, OF, South Brunswick HS (N.C.)
Cameron Johnson, LHP, Bishop McNamara HS (Md.)
Aidan Keenan, RHP, Live Oak HS (Calif.)
Kevin McGonigle, SS/2B/3B, Bonner-Pendergast HS (Penn.)
Aidan Miller, 3B/OF/RHP, JW Mitchell HS (Fla.)
Blake Mitchell, C/RHP, Sinton HS (Texas)
Zander Mueth, RHP, Belleville East HS (Ill.)
Christian Rodriguez, OF/RHP, Stoneman Douglas HS (Fla.)
Campbell Smithwick, C, Conway HS (S.C.)
Nolan Stevens, LHP/1B, Franklin HS (Calif.)
Travis Sykora, RHP, Round Rock HS (Texas)
TayShaun Walton, OF, IMG Academy (Fla.)
Dean West, OF, Notre Dame HS (Calif.)
Thomas White, LHP, Phillips Academy (Mass.)