The hours before the 2023 MLB Draft kicks off are dwindling and time is running out for teams to try to line up their Draft boards.
Trying to bring you the latest intel, we worked late into the night to come up with our best final projections of how the first round will go Sunday. There’s still much up in the air, and teams will undoubtedly be working feverishly leading up to the Pirates making the first selection.
The action begins at 6 p.m. ET with a one-hour pregame show on MLB Network, with Pittsburgh set to make the No. 1 pick shortly after 7 p.m. ET live on MLB Network and ESPN. With the likelihood of Pittsburgh working through the names in contention for the top pick up until the last minute, there’s still a lot of uncertainty of how this will go down, but we can’t wait to see how it unfolds.
Callis: Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida (No. 3)
It looks like one of the three Southeastern Conference superstars for the Pirates, and probably one of the hitters. Money aside, most teams would take Louisiana State outfielder Dylan Crews, but clubs can't just put money aside in the bonus pool era, and he's going to command more than Langford. How much more? Probably $500,000 and maybe closer to $1 million. Personally, I'd take Louisiana State right-hander Paul Skenes because of the rarity of his talent, and it wouldn't shock me if Pittsburgh opted for him.
Mayo: Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida (No. 3)
Here’s how I ended up with this, with the disclaimer that the Pirates will continue to work through all possibilities involving the top five players: There’s a growing sense that the Pirates are leaning toward a bat over an arm (Paul Skenes), and despite the buzz, I think Dylan Crews is still in play. That said, the chatter that he wasn’t their guy was hard to ignore. So if he’s off the table, that likely leaves Langford and Max Clark, and it could come down to whatever combination of agreement on talent and cost. There were scouts who felt Langford was just as good as Crews -- or at least close -- and would sign for less. And he'd be the “get to the big leagues faster” option over Clark.
Callis: Paul Skenes, RHP, Louisiana State (No. 1)
It's a lock that the Nationals take Skenes if the Pirates don't. Crews would be Washington's backup plan.
Mayo: Paul Skenes, RHP, Louisiana State (No. 1)
We’ve said for a while that the only thing that would keep the Nationals from taking Skenes was if the Pirates selected him. With Pittsburgh going bat, the Nats can get their man.
Callis: Dylan Crews, OF, Louisiana State (No. 2)
With Skenes almost certainly going No. 2, the Tigers will take whichever SEC outfielder remains on the board.
Mayo: Dylan Crews, OF, Louisiana State (No. 2)
Like I said earlier this week, this was a best college outfielder spot. They’ve just been flipped, with Langford going with the top selection, and the Tigers likely very happy to get the LSU star.
Callis: Max Clark, OF, Franklin (Ind.) HS (No. 5)
The Rangers would pounce on Langford or Crews if they got to No. 4, which is virtually impossible. They're proponents for both of the top high school outfielders, Clark and Walker Jenkins, either of whom would be more in the running for the No. 1 overall choice in a less-loaded Draft. There's been more Clark buzz with Texas as of late.
Mayo: Max Clark, OF, Franklin (Ind.) HS (No. 5)
I did wonder for a minute if there was a way that Crews could get here, and if he did, I don’t think he’d go further. But with the three college players off the board, this goes back to the Clark vs. Walker Jenkins debate, and signs point to Clark being the guy.
Callis: Walker Jenkins, OF, South Brunswick HS, Southport, N.C. (No. 4)
Now things start to get a little less clear. There are five top-tier prospects, and the obvious move would be to grab whichever one remains. If the Twins' model prefers a collegian, the top choices appear to be Wake Forest right-hander Rhett Lowder and Mississippi shortstop Jacob Gonzalez, in that order.
Mayo: Jacob Gonzalez, SS, Mississippi (No. 18)
The Twins will react to how things go above them, and in this scenario, they still could go with the top-ranked player available in Jenkins. But there’s more of a feel that they will go with a college hitter who does well in their model. That could include Virginia catcher Kyle Teel or Grand Canyon shortstop Jacob Wilson, but the idea of a deal with Gonzalez was gaining steam.
Callis: Chase Dollander, RHP, Tennessee (No. 9)
After an inconsistent season and talk that he could slide into the teens, Dollander suddenly seems like the favorite at No. 6. Other possibilities include Grand Canyon shortstop Jacob Wilson, Lowder and Texas Christian third baseman Brayden Taylor. It's unclear if the A's would take Jenkins or Clark if they get past the Rangers and Twins, and Clark declined to interview with the club at the MLB Draft Combine.
Mayo: Jacob Wilson, SS, Grand Canyon (No. 10)
It’s the same group of college bats here, with Wilson’s contact skills and defensive abilities at shortstop getting the nod over Teel or Brayden Taylor. The A’s were also still considering college arms: Wake Forest’s Rhett Lowder or Tennessee’s Chase Dollander.
Callis: Rhett Lowder, RHP, Wake Forest (No. 6)
The Reds have more realistic hope now of getting Jenkins or Clark than they have had all year. If that doesn't happen, they'll choose between Lowder and Virginia catcher Kyle Teel.
Mayo: Walker Jenkins, OF, South Brunswick HS, Southport, N.C. (No. 4)
If it plays out like this, the Reds would have to be very excited to get Jenkins’ bat into their system. If he goes above them, it could come down to Teel or Lowder, while they’ll continue to consider prep right-hander Noble Meyer and high school catcher Blake Mitchell.
Callis: Brayden Taylor, 3B, Texas Christian (No. 15)
After the two SEC outfielders, Taylor is the Royals' favorite college bat. High school catcher Blake Mitchell gets mentioned here a lot and could go in the 7-10 range, fit in the teens or drop into the 20s. Lowder or Dollander would make some sense too.
Mayo: Blake Mitchell, C, Sinton (Texas) HS (No. 14)
There’s interest in Meyer, but many in the industry felt they wouldn’t go the high school pitching route again this year. They could look at the college hitters available, like Teel, as well as the college arms mentioned above, but Mitchell could be a money-saver up this high, allowing the Royals to be aggressive later on.
Callis: Noble Meyer, RHP, Jesuit HS, Portland, Ore. (No. 8)
The Rockies would like a pitcher but Lowder or Dollander won't get to them if the Draft unfolds like this. I'm not entirely convinced they'd take a high school arm, though they do like the best right-hander (Meyer) and the best left-hander (Thomas White). Could they push a college pitcher up and do a discount like they did last year with Gabriel Hughes at No. 10, leading them to Florida right-hander Hurston Waldrep or fast-rising Louisiana State righty Ty Floyd? This is the ceiling for Vanderbilt outfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. and perhaps Arizona outfielder Chase Davis.
Mayo: Rhett Lowder, RHP, Wake Forest (No. 6)
All signs point to the Rockies taking a pitcher, and Lowder’s their guy if he’s available. If he goes above to the A’s or Reds, then Dollander comes into the picture and they could consider Meyer if they are insistent on taking an arm.
Callis: Colin Houck, SS, Parkview HS, Lilburn, Ga. (No. 12)
The Marlins do a better job of developing pitchers than hitters but have a greater need for the latter. There's talk that they could underpay one of the deep crop of high school shortstops (Houck, Arjun Nimmala, Colt Emerson, perhaps Tai Peete) at No. 10 or overpay them at No. 35. They could be tempted by Meyer or White, but they aren't getting linked to the college hitter pool as much.
Mayo: Brayden Taylor, 3B, Texas Christian (No. 15)
A few days ago, I wrote that the Marlins would be happy if the TCU third baseman landed here, and he does in this scenario. They also like Meyer and other college hitters like Teel, Maryland’s Matt Shaw or Stanford’s Tommy Troy could potentially enter the conversation. This could also be a landing spot for prep shortstop Arjun Nimmala.
Callis: Kyle Teel, C, Virginia (No. 7)
Teel could perhaps go No. 3 if Crews and Langford go 1-2, and he's a leading contender at No. 7, but otherwise it's hard to find him a home in the Top 10. He would fit the Angels' desire for another collegian who could move as fast as 2022 first-rounder Zach Neto, who reached the big leagues in April. So would Florida Atlantic first baseman Nolan Schanuel, Gonzalez and a host of other hitters.
Mayo: Kyle Teel, C, Virginia (No. 7)
Nimmala and Bryce Eldridge are mentioned as high school options here, but the Angels do seem to be all about guys who can get to the big leagues quickly. That could include college hitters like Shaw, Troy or Florida International’s Nolan Schanuel, but it might be hard to pass on Teel, who could very well be a top 10 pick.
Callis: Hurston Waldrep, RHP, Florida (No. 19)
After being tied to Houck for a while, the D-backs apparently prefer collegians. Lowder, Teel and Dollander would be in play if still available. If not, Waldrep would be the top pitching option and several college shortstops (Maryland's Matt Shaw, Stanford's Tommy Troy, Wilson) could be attractive.
Mayo: Colin Houck, SS, Parkview HS, Lilburn, Ga. (No. 12)
Why change now, right? It’s been Houck all along here and there’s no reason to stray from it, though they could look at other high school hitters like Nimmala, Aidan Miller or Colt Emerson.
Callis: Nolan Schanuel, 1B/OF, Florida Atlantic (No. 26)
After projecting Nimmala to the Cubs in my last two mocks, I no longer believe that's a consideration. College bats (Taylor, Schanuel, Shaw, Troy, Gonzalez, Wilson, Bradfield) may be the favored demographic -- or just the strength of this part of the draft.
Mayo: Arjun Nimmala, SS, Strawberry Crest HS, Dover, Fla. (No. 11)
It is unclear where Nimmala would land if he’s not gone by now, but there does appear to be interest from the Cubs. They could also decide to go the college hitter route, with Shaw and Troy the best remaining options.
14. Red Sox
Callis: Colt Emerson, SS/3B, Glenn HS, New Concord, Ohio (No. 29)
Houck, Emerson, third baseman Aidan Miller or Peete would give the Red Sox a prep infielder in the Draft for the fourth straight year. Mitchell could be appealing as well.
Mayo: Matt Shaw, SS, Maryland (No. 16)
After seeing past first-rounders Marcelo Mayer and Nick Yorke play in the Futures Game together, it was tempting to go with another high school hitter here, someone like Miller. But it did sound like they were leaning toward college guys, with Shaw edging out names such as Enrique Bradfield Jr. and Chase Davis.
15. White Sox
Callis: Jacob Gonzalez, SS, Mississippi (No. 18)
Gonzalez performed for three years in the SEC and needs a home somewhere in the first round, and my guess is here. The White Sox could use a pitcher and are the high-water mark for Floyd, who struck out a record-tying 17 in the College World Series finals. They also could be the ceiling for a group of position players that includes Davis, Miami third baseman Yohandy Morales and high school shortstop Walker Martin.
Mayo: Yohandy Morales, 3B, Miami (No. 20)
Morales had a huge year in Miami and his name has been all over the back half of the first round. In this last go-round, he’s getting the nod over Troy, Bradfield, Davis or Schanuel. A prep bat like Miller could still be in the mix.
Callis: Tommy Troy, SS, Stanford (No. 17)
Most of the clubs from 16-21 seem focused on college bats, though that crop is so deep that at least a couple among Troy, Shaw, Wilson, Bradfield, Morales, Davis and Wake Forest third baseman Brock Wilken will last even longer. Miller and Martin also have some proponents here.
Mayo: Chase Dollander, RHP, Tennessee (No. 9)
This could be a situation where the Giants would be thrilled to get a college arm they never thought would be available (and he might not be). If Dollander is off the board, they could go prep arm with Meyer or lefty Thomas White, or the college hitters they’ve been associated with, Bradfield and Troy.
Callis: Arjun Nimmala, SS, Strawberry Crest HS, Dover, Fla. (No. 11)
The most likely club to take a high school hitter in the 16-21 range, the Orioles will have several talented players to sift through in Nimmala, Miller, Mitchell and Eldridge.
Mayo: Tommy Troy, SS, Stanford (No. 17)
The hitter connection here feels like a good one, given the first-round history of the organization lately, with Troy a good possibility along with Schanuel. If they want to go the prep hitter route, there could be interest in guys like Miller or Eldridge, and this is one of the spots Hurston Waldrep’s name comes up from the college pitching crop.
Callis: Enrique Bradfield Jr., OF, Vanderbilt (No. 21)
The Brewers figure to opt for a first-round college bat for the fourth straight Draft, and all of those names mentioned with the Giants at 16 are candidates here as well. There's a lot of recent chatter that Bradfield won't get past Milwaukee.
Mayo: Hurston Waldrep, RHP, Florida (No. 19)
Sticking with the Brewers breaking their college hitter streak by taking Waldrep, the last of the college arms that seems certain to go in the opening round. But if they can’t kick the habit, they could look at Schanuel or Davis.
Callis: Matt Shaw, SS, Maryland (No. 16)
The Rays also are in on the college hitters, though they could be attracted to one of the prepsters who slides more than he should. It could come down to Shaw or Morales versus Eldridge, Miller or Mitchell.
Mayo: Bryce Eldridge, 1B/RHP, Madison HS, Vienna, Va. (No. 23)
The Rays scouted Eldridge heavily all year, and most evaluators liked the two-way player’s bat more than his arm on the mound, so that could be the way they go here. Miller could very well land in this spot as well.
20. Blue Jays
Callis: Yohandy Morales, 3B, Miami (No. 20)
Of the college bats still on the board, Morales and Davis appear to be the top priorities for the Blue Jays. They aren't afraid to take high school pitchers in the first round, either, so White or right-hander Charlee Soto could be in play.
Mayo: Noble Meyer, RHP, Jesuit HS, Portland, Ore. (No. 8)
Figuring out where high school pitching will land in any Draft is tough, even with someone as talented as Meyer. His name gets mentioned as high as the Top 10, and some in the industry think he doesn’t get past the top half of the first round. If he somehow does, the Blue Jays have not shied away from the prep pitching market. But if they decide to go the safer college hitter route, Schanuel remains the best option.
Callis: Jacob Wilson, SS, Grand Canyon (No. 10)
Wilson has the best bat-to-ball skills in the Draft and could go as early as No. 6, but there are concerns about his exit velocities and potential offensive impact, so he could drop further than expected. This may be the ceiling for Kent State's Joe Whitman, the best college left-hander in a fallow crop.
Mayo: Nolan Schanuel, 1B/OF, Florida Atlantic (No. 26)
This continues to be a popular spot for college bats. If things go the way that’s outlined above, Schanuel might top the tier of hitters available such as Davis and Bradfield. If they want to go in another direction, the top prep lefty (White) is still on the board.
Callis: Blake Mitchell, C, Sinton (Texas) HS (No. 14)
The Mariners have bonus choices at Nos. 29 and 30, giving them the seventh-highest bonus pool ($13,170,900) and the wherewithal to float talented players to their first selection. Mitchell, Miller and White all would fit that bill and other teams believe Seattle will use all three picks on prepsters.
Mayo: Colt Emerson, SS/3B, Glenn HS, New Concord, Ohio (No. 29)
Emerson could edge out other high school hitters available here like Walker Martin or George Lombard Jr.
Callis: Brock Wilken, 3B, Wake Forest (No. 25)
Home state product Emerson fits the typical Guardians mold and would be an obvious choice if he somehow got to No. 23. Wilken would fill Cleveland's need for power, as would Eldridge. Sammy Stafura is another prep shortstop option.
Mayo: Brock Wilken, 3B, Wake Forest (No. 25)
There are still high school bats in play here -- like Sammy Stafura -- but there’s been interest in Wilken’s power coming from the college ranks, and that’s what wins out this time.
Callis: Bryce Eldridge, 1B/RHP, Madison HS, Vienna, Va. (No. 23)
The Braves may covet Emerson more than the Guardians, with Eldridge being their fallback if the first round plays out like this. If they want a pitcher, it could be Floyd or Whitman.
Mayo: Walker Martin, SS, Eaton (Col.) HS (No. 30)
The talk around the Braves continues to be high school hitters, with Martin high on their list. If he goes above to a team like the Mariners, Atlanta could look at Stafura or Lombard.
Callis: Aidan Miller, 3B, Mitchell HS, New Port Richey, Fla. (No. 13)
Miller was the best hitter on the high school showcase circuit last summer, though some teams ding him for his age (19) and for missing much of this spring with a hamate injury. It's likely that a quality player will surprisingly find his way to No. 25, with Mitchell, Bradfield, White and Davis among the possibilities. High schoolers such as Stafura, catcher/first baseman Ralphy Velazquez and outfielder Dillon Head could be more cost-effective choices.
Mayo: Thomas White, LHP, Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass. (No. 24)
White could very well go higher than this, but the Padres would be interested if he were still available. High school hitters come up often here -- guys like Dillon Head and Ralphy Velazquez -- and Miller could find a home here. On the college bat side, Davis could come into play.
Callis: George Lombard Jr., SS/3B, Gulliver Prep, Pinecrest, Fla. (No. 31)
The Yankees have been linked to several of the prep shortstops: Lombard, Stafura, Peete and Kevin McGonigle. If they desire a pitcher, White or Whitman could head to New York.
Mayo: Sammy Stafura, SS, Panas HS, Cortlandt Manor, N.Y. (No. 32)
High school hitters receive most of the buzz here, with Stafura the head of a class that could include Head, Lombard, Kevin McGonigle and Tai Peete. If the Yankees want to continue their recent trend of college bats in the first round, some think Davis could land in this spot.
Callis: Chase Davis, OF, Arizona (No. 22)
This is more of a floor for Davis, who could go in the mid-teens and may have a shot at a discount deal (Rockies?) in the Top 10. The Phillies also could pursue high school shortstops (Stafura, Lombard) and pitchers (White, Soto).
Mayo: Chase Davis, OF, Arizona (No. 22)
A lot of people think Davis will either be gone before here or that this is his floor, though the Phillies don’t shy away from high school arms, with Charlee Soto’s name coming up quite a bit.
Callis: Ty Floyd, RHP, Louisiana State (No. 58)
Floyd seems to have as much helium as any potential first-rounder coming off his CWS breakout performance, and he probably won't get this far. If not, the Astros could hope for college performers (Morales, Wilken, Davis) to drop, travel the prep shortstop route (Stafura, Martin) or take one of the better high school bats (Velazquez).
Mayo: Ralphy Velazquez, C/1B, Huntington Beach (Calif.) HS (No. 34)
For much of the run up to the Draft, this has been a spot for college hitters. But many of the names that have come up -- Morales, Wilken, Davis -- are off the board. The Astros might have to switch gears and go with a high school hitter like Velazquez, who could go anywhere from here through the comp round and into the second.