Experts draft prospects for 2023 and beyond
It’s time to put our future-telling skills to the test.
We use thousands upon thousands of words, written and spoken, talking about prospects here. So on the most recent episode of the MLB Pipeline Podcast, we decided to put our prognosticating skills to the test by drafting our own lineups of future stars.
Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo and Sam Dykstra picked a 10-man team in a serpentine-style draft, selecting players from a pool with set parameters. It was a deep pool, with nearly 700 players in it. The trio was allowed to select players from the current Top 30 lists with an ETA of 2023 or beyond, on the recent Top 50 international prospects list and on the Top 100 Draft prospects rankings.
In the end, 30 total players were taken, with the complete results of the draft below. The 2022 Draft class had the most selections (four), while the Texas Rangers led all organizations with three prospects taken. Here is each participant’s analysis of his draft. Set a reminder on your calendar to check on this five or six years from now to see who really got the upper hand.
This was an interesting draft because there were positions where there were so many good players bunched together (especially shortstop and catcher), so I didn’t feel a need to take those positions early and was happy to trade the No. 1 overall pick and a ninth-rounder for Sam’s No. 3 and a fourth-rounder. Based on value compared to other players at the position, I thought the most valuable player, by far, was Rangers first baseman Dustin Harris – he’ll crack the overall Top 100 in the near future – but I couldn’t take him in the first round. I was happy to grab him in the third.
Because of the way the draft worked, I got two of my three highest-rated prospects with my last two picks, Dodgers catcher Diego Cartaya and Red Sox shortstop Marcelo Mayer. There wasn’t an obvious value with my top choice, so I went with the best pitcher in Rangers right-hander Jack Leiter. I wish I could have gotten 2022 Draft prospect Termarr Johnson in the second round, but I rallied with Red Sox second baseman Nick Yorke and grabbed a bunch of pure hitters. My outfield could have turned out better, but I’m pleased with the rest of the team and stole 2022 Draft prospect Jacob Berry, Cartaya and Mayer with my last three selections.
I tried to find a balance between taking the best player and looking at position scarcity. I liked being in the No. 2 spot because I could react to whomever Sam took at 1-1. When he took (Anthony) Volpe, I opted for who I thought was the best prospect within our parameters in Francisco Álvarez, who has the added benefit of playing a premium position. Then I went full-on position scarcity and long-range projection by hitting up the 2022 Draft class. (Again, thank you, Sam, for taking a draft prospect ahead of me to pave the way). The second basemen group available to us was not robust, and Termarr Johnson has the chance to be a very, very special hitter.
Taking Jordan Walker in the third was another decision in which I thought he was the clear-cut best choice for the position. After that, I filled in my roster with players I liked who I also thought were at or near the top of their positions, even if they were deep, nabbing guys like Zac Veen in the outfield and Noelvi Marte at short. I am absolutely loving my outfield of Veen-The Martian-Michael Harris.
Take the best player available. Aim for high upside. It’s a typical drafting strategy, and one I wanted to lean into, especially once Jim made 1-1 available. I leapt at the chance to take Anthony Volpe first, giving my lineup a proven hitter at a premium position. I took a bigger swing with my second pick Druw Jones, the No. 1 Draft prospect in his class, to give me another high-ceiling talent up the middle. With Jones, Corbin Carroll (my third pick) and another 2022 Draft prospect Elijah Green (sixth pick) manning the outfield, I dare any opponent to test their ranges and arms on the grass.
Moving the other direction, I picked up some much-needed thump in Pirates catcher Henry Davis and added an intriguing, toolsy third baseman in the Reds’ Elly De La Cruz, who brings power, speed and an arm cannon from the hot corner. Second baseman Ezequiel Duran and first baseman Lawrence Butler round out the lineup as potential 20-20 candidates.
Guardians right-hander Daniel Espino, fresh off a 152-strikeout season in 91 2/3 innings, will be my ace with a plus-plus fastball and easily plus slider, while Mariners southpaw Brandon Williamson will be a dependable No. 2 out of a much more shallow pool of southpaws. I’m envisioning a Jones-Volpe-Carroll-Davis-De La Cruz-Green-Butler-Duran lineup with a fireballer in Espino on the mound, and I’m getting more excited by the second.
- (1-1) Anthony Volpe, SS, NYY (Dykstra -- from Callis)
- (1-2) Francisco Álvarez, C, NYM (Mayo)
- (1-3) Jack Leiter, RHP, TEX (Callis -- from Dykstra)
- (2-1) Druw Jones, OF, TBD (Dykstra)
- (2-2) Termarr Johnson, 2B, TBD (Mayo)
- (2-3) Nick Yorke, 2B, BOS (Callis)
- (3-1) Dustin Harris, 1B/3B, TEX (Callis)
- (3-2) Zac Veen, OF, COL (Mayo)
- (3-3) Corbin Carroll, OF, ARI (Dykstra)
- (4-1) Robert Hassell, OF, SD (Callis -- from Dykstra)
- (4-2) Jordan Walker, 3B, STL (Mayo)
- (4-3) George Valera, OF, CLE (Callis)
- (5-1) Kyle Harrison, LHP, SF (Callis)
- (5-2) Noelvi Marte, SS, SEA (Mayo)
- (5-3) Henry Davis, C, PIT (Dykstra)
- (6-1) Elly de la Cruz, 3B/SS, CIN (Dykstra)
- (6-2) Jasson Dominguez, OF, NYY (Mayo)
- (6-3) Luis Matos, OF, SF (Callis)
- (7-1) Jacob Berry, 3B, TBD (Callis)
- (7-2) Michael Harris, OF, ATL (Mayo)
- (7-3) Elijah Green, OF, TBD (Dykstra)
- (8-1) Daniel Espino, RHP, CLE (Dykstra)
- (8-2) Eury Perez, RHP, MIA (Mayo)
- (8-3) Diego Cartaya, C, LAD (Callis)
- (9-1) Brandon Williamson, LHP, SEA (Dykstra -- from Callis)
- (9-2) Blake Walston, LHP, ARI (Mayo)
- (9-3) Lawrence Butler, 1B/OF, OAK (Dykstra)
- (10-1) Ezequiel Duran, 2B/SS, TEX (Dykstra)
- (10-2) Kyle Manzardo, 1B, TB (Mayo)
- (10-3) Marcelo Mayer, SS, BOS (Callis)