Best value picks from 2023 Draft's first 10 rounds

July 13th, 2023

The 2023 MLB Draft boasted one of the deepest crops of high school and college talent in recent memory. While players always rise and fall from their projections over the course of 10 rounds and 614 picks, there are always bargains to be found.

On this week’s Pipeline Podcast, writers Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo chose what they think were the best value picks made in each round.

Round 1
Aidan Miller, SS, J.W. Mitchell HS (FL), Phillies No. 27; ranked No. 13
Mayo: He’s a guy who, talent-wise, belonged a lot higher in the Draft. So for the Phillies to get him at No. 27, even if they have to go over slot to sign him, that was a very good get for them. … All this guy did was hit and hit for power. Probably moves over to third base, but it was, I think, a very good value for them by the end of the first round -- a potential top-10 talent.

Round 2
Walker Martin, SS, Eaton HS (CO), Giants No. 52; ranked No. 30

Callis: Athletic Colorado high school shortstop, former quarterback. He may outgrow the position, he’s very athletic, he may wind up at third base, but he’s got the power profile there. This was a guy who had interest all over the second half of the first round, and they got him in the middle of the second round.

Round 3
Eric Bitonti, SS, Aquinas HS (CA), Brewers No. 87; ranked No. 68

Mayo: Six-foot-four, left-handed-hitting infielder, a ton of raw power, very athletic. I doubt he plays shortstop in the long run -- although he occasionally showed very good body control there -- I think he moves over to third base, but I like what the Brewers did with some of their high-end high schoolers. … For the third round, the upside and the ceiling was considerable.

Round 4
Cole Schoenwetter, RHP, San Marcos HS (CA), Reds No. 105; ranked No. 43

Callis: Most of your high-priced high school guys who don’t get drafted on Day 1, you figure they’re going to go early on Day 2 to the teams with the biggest bonus pools, or you aren’t going to sign. So when [the Reds] took Schoenwetter early in the fourth round, I was like, "Whoa." … That one really surprised me. … They came back with the high-upside high school guy.

Round 5
Spencer Nivens, OF, Missouri State (MO), Royals No. 142; ranked No. 119
Mayo: He can really hit. He does not strike out, makes a ton of contact. ... He has the chance to maybe get to average power. Left-handed hitter, really good swing, maybe has a chance to play center field, maybe he moves over to a corner, but I think it's the bat that's really interesting there.

Round 6
Cooper Pratt, SS, Magnolia Heights HS (MS), Brewers No. 182; ranked No. 45

Callis: One of my favorite players of the Draft … he’s the right-handed version of who?
Mayo: Gunnar Henderson.
Callis: Yeah. He’s a private school kid from the South, similar build, really advanced bat. I’m calling it right now -- that’s the steal of the Draft. Cooper Pratt will be in the Futures Game in a couple of years.

Round 7
George Wolkow, OF, Downers Grove North HS (IL), White Sox No. 209; ranked No. 71

Mayo: Big left-handed power bat. There are some questions about the hit tool, some swing-and-miss, some length to his swing and he’ll need to work on some swing decisions … but huge power, he’s athletic, runs really well, could be a right fielder with a good arm.

Round 8
Julian Brock, C, Louisiana Lafayette, Rangers No. 231; ranked No. 122

Callis: I think this is a steal for the Rangers. The college catching crop was very bleak this year. He’s power over hit, he’s got strength, he’s got plus raw power, but he made some strides with his approach to the plate and he showed more hitting ability this year than he had in the past. … He moves well behind the plate … blocks balls well, solid arm strength, quick release.

Round 9
Jake Peppers, Jacksonville State, White Sox No. 269; ranked No. 187
Mayo: He's relieved, he's started, I think you give him a chance to start at the next level because there are three pitches at work. Command-wise, maybe he ends up in the bullpen. He’s got a very good slider that missed a ton of bats and he’s got a good feel for a changeup.

Round 10
Ross Dunn, LHP, Arizona State, Twins No. 297; ranked No. 140

Callis: He’s a three-pitch lefty, he’s got a deceptive low-90s fastball, his low-80s slider is probably his best pitch, he’s got a mid-80s changeup. He needs to improve his command, but he’s a lefty with three pitches and he’s got a good build. If you can get him more consistent, you have a No. 4 starter, potentially.