Mock draft: Prep talent makes big push up board

May 18th, 2023

Two weeks have passed since Jim Callis officially started our mock Draft season with our first projection of the first round of the 2023 Draft. Now it’s my turn.

While there has been some buzz about players moving up and down, and I’ve tried to reflect some of that below, much of what Jim wrote remains the same. Namely, the top five names have continued to cement themselves as the clear top of the class: LSU teammates Dylan Crews and Paul Skenes, Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford and high school outfielders Walker Jenkins and Max Clark. There was no cause to keep them from filling in the top five spots, though I did mix the order a bit after the top two.

After that, the key word continues to be "uncertainty." As anyone who does mocks this time of the year will tell you, the goal is to try to put a name in every spot that at least is feasible, and I think I’ve at least come close to doing that, while being a little creative with what happens with that top quintet.

As always, scouting reports for all the players in this projection are found with our Draft Top 150 (rankings in parentheses). We’re going 28 deep after the Mets' and Dodgers' top choices dropped 10 spots (to Nos. 32 and 36, respectively) because they exceeded the competitive balance tax threshold by more than $40 million.

1. Pirates: Dylan Crews, OF, Louisiana State (No. 1)
He has an OPS north of 1.300 and twice as many walks as strikeouts, leading to a .445/.600/.757 line. He’s been productive all three years in the SEC and that counts for something.

2. Nationals: Paul Skenes, RHP, Louisiana State (No. 2)
In many other years, there’d be no debating and Skenes would be the clear choice to go 1-1. And he still might, with his 1.69 ERA, 17.2 K/9 rate, 10.9 K/BB rate and .162 opponents' average against as data points that keep him in the conversation.

3. Tigers: Walker Jenkins, OF, South Brunswick HS, Southport, N.C. (No. 4)
Jenkins was the talk of the early spring and nothing has happened to diminish that shine. He’s always had an impressive left-handed swing with power potential, and he’s been running better and showing he can play center field.

4. Rangers: Max Clark, OF, Franklin (Ind.) HS (No. 5)
He’s a no-doubt center fielder with the best chance to be a true five-tool player. He’s being heavily scouted by every team above Texas.

5. Twins: Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida (No. 3)
Langford’s OPS of 1.347 is only slightly behind Crews at this point, with a higher slugging percentage (.813) than his SEC counterpart. If you’re going to nitpick, he hasn’t really played center (like Crews) and hits right-handed (unlike Jenkins and Clark).

6. Athletics: Kyle Teel, C, Virginia (No. 15)
Some might see this as a stretch, and it might be. But in the Wild West after the top five, anything could happen and this isn’t far-fetched, with teams at this level not being afraid of taking a college hitter with an OPS of 1.133 (answering questions about the bat) while continuing to show he can catch for a long time.

7. Reds: Noble Meyer, RHP, Jesuit HS, Portland, Ore. (No. 16)
This might be a bit rich for the top high school arm in the class, but the Reds have been scouting the Pacific Northwest prepster pretty heavily.

8. Royals: Jacob Wilson, SS, Grand Canyon (No. 7)
Jack’s kid never strikes out (five in 189 plate appearances this year), hits (.428/.476/.669) and can play shortstop. What’s not to like?

9. Rockies: Chase Dollander, RHP, Tennessee (No. 6)
He’s been up-and-down this year, particularly in SEC play, but he still has a solid four-pitch mix in a year with not that many college pitching options. A few good starts down the stretch could right the ship.

10. Marlins: Jacob Gonzalez, SS, Mississippi (No. 8)
He can hit -- with power -- showing enough offensive upside to outweigh questions about his ability to play shortstop long-term. There isn’t much separating the college bats in play right now in picks 6-10.

11. Angels: Arjun Nimmala, SS, Strawberry Crest HS, Dover, Fla. (No. 14)
There’s still a good chance Nimmala, who has a ton of raw pop and has the kind of athleticism that should allow him to play short for a long time, lands in the Top 10.

12. D-backs: Colin Houck, SS, Parkview HS, Lilburn, Ga. (No. 18)
A high school player with upside who plays up the middle? Sounds right out of the D-backs playbook, right? (Druw Jones, Jordan Lawlar, Corbin Carroll)

13. Cubs: Rhett Lowder, RHP, Wake Forest (No. 9)
He might not have Lowd stuff (sorry, couldn’t resist), but he’s been extremely consistent and has an ERA under 2.00. He’s had back-to-back seven-inning shutouts, which certainly doesn’t hurt his stock.

14. Red Sox: Matt Shaw, SS, Maryland (No. 19)
He’ll probably slide over to second, but who cares? The dude can hit, and with power (45 homers over the last two years), not to mention his Cape Cod League MVP from last summer.

15. White Sox: Aidan Miller, 3B, Mitchell HS, New Port Richey, Fla. (No. 12)
He’s tough to place because a hamate injury kept teams from seeing him this spring, but his strong showing on the summer showcase circuit might be enough. He could move up as he works out for teams.

16. Giants: Enrique Bradfield Jr., OF, Vanderbilt (No. 10)
The top-of-the-scale speed and up-the-middle defense will be coveted and the team that takes him at some point in this range of the first round will believe he’ll impact the ball enough to be a big league standout.

17. Orioles: Yohandy Morales, 3B, Miami (No. 23)
One of the college bats who seems to be floating up boards, and for good reason: Morales is now slashing .402/.471/.656 with a dozen homers.

18. Brewers: Colt Emerson, SS/3B, Glenn HS, New Concord, Ohio (No. 31)
Milwaukee is always a good spot for college bats (first-rounders from that group each of the last three years), but they’re high on this prep infielder who is rising up boards with a strong spring.

19. Rays: Brayden Taylor, 3B, Texas Christian (No. 22)
While it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the Rays take someone not ranked as highly by the industry (see Isaac, Xavier and Williams, Carson), Taylor’s power at TCU (17 homers) -- along with the fact that he’s been heating up of late -- belongs somewhere at this stage of the Draft.

20. Blue Jays: Tommy Troy, SS, Stanford (No. 20)
Another college bat whose name has been floating up ahead of this, Troy has certainly helped his stock by slashing .379/.460/.676 with 11 homers and 15 steals in the Pac-12 this year.

21. Cardinals: Thomas White, LHP, Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass. (No. 17)
Many evaluators think White will go higher than this, given that he’s the best lefty in the class and close to Meyer in terms of being the best high school arm to choose from. Upside-wise, he very well might not last this long, though it’s tough to predict the prep pitchers.

22. Mariners: Blake Mitchell, C, Sinton (Texas) HS (No. 13)
The Mariners certainly won’t shy away from a high school bat in the first round if it’s the right one, having taken Harry Ford in 2021 and Cole Young last year.

23. Guardians: Kevin McGonigle, SS/2B, Monsignor Bonner HS, Drexel Hill, Pa. (No. 26)
The Guardians like guys who can hit with advanced approaches and McGonigle has one of the best hit tools and understanding of what he wants to do at the plate of any high school bat in the class.

24. Braves: Walker Martin, SS, Eaton (Col.) HS (No. 41)
There’s some sense that the high school bat pool might be the deepest to pull from at this stage, with Martin, a two-sport standout, getting a lot of attention from decision-makers.

25. Padres: Bryce Eldridge, 1B/RHP, Madison HS, Vienna, Va. (No. 21)
Eldridge would be a legitimate prospect on the mound, but his ability to hit with a ton of power from the left side of the plate has jumped him into the first round.

26. Yankees: Hurston Waldrep, RHP, Florida (No. 11)
Stuff-wise, he still belongs much higher than this and he could very well go to a team that feels they can get him going, but his ERA right around 5.00 (5.52 in the SEC) and his 5.4 BB/9 rate have many scouts scratching their heads about the Southern Miss transfer.

27. Phillies: Charlee Soto, RHP, Reborn Christian Academy, Kissimmee, Fla. (No. 24)
They’ve taken Andrew Painter and Mick Abel in recent first rounds and Soto’s combination of stuff and athleticism on the mound has him in many first-round conversations.

28. Astros: Nolan Schanuel, 1B/OF, Florida Atlantic (No. 39)
He’s among the best hitters in college baseball period, leading Division I bats in on-base percentage while standing second in average and slugging percentage for a very robust .454/.614/.891 line.