With two days almost to the minute of release, Taylor Blake Ward of the Sporting Tribune gives his final full-length mock draft for 2023. Team meetings are finalized, and players have been to ballparks across the nation for private workouts. This is a reflection of the information collected by Taylor Blake Ward from the industry on how the 2023 MLB Draft will unfold.
There is a consensus top five talents in this draft class, with variances of how they will be selected, even at the top. All will be addressed in the mock, but even the top pick is not solidified to date. The top five talents are LSU outfielder Dylan Crews, LSU right-handed pitcher Paul Skenes, Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford, Indiana-prep outfielder Max Clark, and North Carolina-prep outfielder Walker Jenkins.
With a draft class deep in talent, many prospects expected to go in the first round will fall to the compensation/second round, with a high variance of how the draft will play out with the first 40-or-so picks before getting into the mayhem of the second round and beyond. It’s a hitter friendly class with pitchers sporadically going early because of the lack of high-tier college and prep arms and in particular, left-handed pitchers in general.
Taylor Blake Ward of The Sporting Tribune will have a names only mock just prior to the start of the 2023 MLB Draft, with an estimated release time of 3:30pm PT, Sunday, July 9. –
1. Pittsburgh Pirates – Dylan Crews, OF, LSU
There’s still a strong industry belief that LSU’s Dylan Crews and Paul Skenes will go first and second overall in some order. As we approach the zenith and final few hours before the draft, rumors will always come with it, and it’s no different in 2023. There’s plenty of noise, whether with credence or business folly, about Crews’ bonus demands making for a more difficult bonus scenario for the Pirates, which brings up the annual question of what kind of dollar figure bridges the gap between the talent with your first pick and what talent you could attain following. Based on the floating rumor of Crews’ bonus hopes, Pittsburgh could save a bit by taking Skenes with the altering question of how often a pitcher who throws as hard as he does going a full six years without some form of injury and giving the selecting team peak value. Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford is another money-saving option and the gap between him and Crews can alter between far and close in talent proximity pending who you ask. There is still the long-founded rumor that Indiana-prep outfielder Max Clark wants to go 1-1 and could be the biggest money-saving option, and the industry still believes this could be a scenario that plays out. There’s a big-money gap here that could range from going over slot by more than $250K and under slot by $1.3 million, which is a massive divergence which will be the dictating marker with this selection. In my last mock, I gave percentages of my belief on who will go 1-1, and for the sake of consistency: Crews 40%, Skenes 33%, Clark 15%, Langford 12%. I’m sticking with Crews but check back for my names only mock on Sunday to see if I still have the same confidence I do now.
2. Washington Nationals – Paul Skenes, RHP, LSU
It gets a bit simpler here. If Skenes doesn’t go one, he goes here. If Skenes does go one, Crews goes here.
3. Detroit Tigers – Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida
Staying simple with the scenarios. If Crews and Skenes go in some order ahead of this, Langford goes here. If Crews is available, he goes here. There is some traction that if Langford is the only one available, the Tigers could maneuver to a different college bat but I’m not buying.
4. Texas Rangers – Max Clark, OF, Franklin HS (IN)
It’s no longer a pipedream that Crews or Langford could be available for Texas, but I’d lean to a sub-10% chance of that and even smaller feeling Crews falls beyond the top three. Clark and North-Carolina prep outfielder Walker Jenkins are the two primaries here, and the debate is active which Texas would prefer. In my last mock, I went with Jenkins, but am altering position once again by a miniscule margin.
5. Minnesota Twins – Jacob Gonzalez, SS, Ole Miss
This is where the percentages start to play out. There’s always fickleness in the draft and the likelihood that someone in the top five pulls a surprise deal is always in play leaving differing scenarios of which of the top five talents would be available into and beyond the actual top five selections. You can safely assume Crews and Skenes are off the board. Langford has a sub-10% chance of making it here but it’s not an eliminated percentage. The percentage one of Clark or Jenkins is here is over 80%. If Langford is available, you could assume he’d be the pick. If one of the two prep outfielders is here, you can assume they’d at least be in the deep conversation. In this scenario, Jenkins is available and likely a suitor, but with a draft-model that leans more heavily on the college side, names like Gonzalez and other college players are gaining traction. I wouldn’t rule out Clark or Jenkins, and especially Langford, but am going to lean with the noise surrounding Gonzalez and Minnesota, and long track record aiding to their draft-model.
6. Oakland Athletics – Kyle Teel, C, Virginia
Though I wouldn’t rule out Jenkins, college bats are the attached demographic to Oakland. There is a small bridge between the top five and next tier of Teel and Wake Forest pitcher Rhett Lowder before getting to “Tier-2-B”. The A’s have been linked to Teel’s teammate Jake Gelof and are hoping to land him with their sandwich pick, not dissimilar to when they took his brother (Zack) in the second round in 2021, so you can’t rule out seeing the Virginia duo attached to Oakland. Any of Teel, Gonzalez, and TCU infielder Brayden Taylor are in play here.
7. Cincinnati Reds – Walker Jenkins, OF, South Brunswick HS (NC)
Jenkins being available could leave teams in this range placed in a Jeff Carson and Jacksonville scenario, though they’ll all have more experience and an actual real life non-Hollywood script dictating their motives (I hope you understood that dumb reference). Playing back into scenarios, if one of the prep outfielders continues to tumble out of the top five, this seems like the most likely landing pad. Cincinnati is heavily attached to the “Tier-2-A” players in Lowder and Teel, with Lowder probably getting the nod.
8. Kansas City Royals – Noble Meyer, RHP, Jesuit HS (OR)
This has been a long attachment through the spring, and it seems with the current scenario he would be near or at the top of their board. Teel and Texas-prep catcher Blake Mitchell come up often here as well, with a handful of teams hoping to float Mitchell to their sandwich/second pick.
9. Colorado Rockies – Rhett Lowder, RHP, Wake Forest
There’s some scenarios – particularly Cincinnati at seven – where Lowder isn’t available, but there may not be a match more made in heaven than Lowder and the Rockies. If Lowder isn’t available, Colorado could maneuver to Meyer or Tennessee pitcher Chase Dollander – who would get the edge – with plenty of noise of them focused of the pitching market.
10. Miami Marlins – Brayden Taylor, 3B, TCU
There’s a phase in each draft where a grouping of players all go in a wide range of order with no deadlock pattern of how they go and it kind of begins here with Miami, if not earlier pending some under slot movement in the top ten. Meyer seems to be near the top of their board and could be the pick if available. Believe is they’ve placed more value on Teel and Taylor than their college hitting counterparts, with Maryland infielder Matt Shaw getting the next nod. There’s some belief this pick will set up their bonus finances for their next two picks at 35 and 47, which gives leniency to the college crowd.
11. Los Angeles Angels – Chase Dollander, RHP, Tennessee
As mentioned in my last mock, the Angels are mostly attached to quick-moving college players. They sent a few decision makers to see Gonzalez over the spring and he seems like a good fit if available. Up-the-middle hitters are more frequently mentioned in the likes of Gonzalez, Teel (who most likely isn’t available), Vanderbilt outfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr., and Grand Canyon infielder Jacob Wilson, but there’s some frequency to the Angels taking advantage of the pitching market inefficiency and taking a faller like Dollander or going under slot with Florida pitcher Hurston Waldrep. Virginia-prep two-way Bryce Eldridge gets plenty of noise here but that seems to be more of a two-way attachment based on Angels past development than actual credence.
12. Arizona Diamondbacks – Colin Houck, SS, Parkview HS (GA)
It’s been long-standing smoke that Mike Hazen likes Houck and that has never led me wrong before even when much deeper in the draft (Matt McClain, 2018) so I’m sticking with it. Florida-prep infielder Arjun Nimmala gets some noise as well.
13. Chicago Cubs – Aidan Miller, 3B, Mitchell HS (FL)
After meetings and private workouts, it sounds like Chicago is pivoting from college middle infielders to mass-upside preps. I won’t rule out the second-tier college bats pending which or all are available. Nimmala is also mentioned with Miller at this pick.
14. Boston Red Sox – Matt Shaw, SS, Maryland
Pure-hitting continues to be the trend with Boston as it has in past years, and Shaw is argued as the best pure hitter in the class with a wood bat track record. There are long-standing rumors they covet Miller who may land here with a solid chance he’s available. Pending how the hitting market pans out, there are some rumors of them going slightly off board with Arizona outfielder Chase Davis, with the same rumors coming at the next pick with Chicago. California-prep infielder Trent Caraway is mentioned with their second pick.
15. Chicago White Sox – Yohandy Morales, 3B, Miami
Unless Lowder or Dollander is available, it sounds like college hitters here with power being the leading force, though there have been some late rumors of Waldrep being a market inefficiency pick in this range. Davis gets some traction here, as does Morales, and the rest of the college hitting crowd.
16. San Francisco Giants – Tommy Troy, SS, Stanford
Similar to the teams ahead of them, if one of the top pitchers is off the board the college hitting trend will continue. All the previously mentioned bats could fit with Troy being one of the remaining, though he has suitors ahead of this as well. With an affinity for SEC and ACC performers you can’t rule out Bradfield, Morales, or Wake Forest infielder Brock Wilken. One scenario here is that the Giants are believed to be one of the teams who would permit Eldridge to develop as a two-way player making him an interesting potential outcome.
17. Baltimore Orioles – Arjun Nimmala, SS, Strawberry Crest HS (FL)
Sticking to bats. It sounds more like prep unless one of Gonzalez, Taylor, Shaw, or Troy falls. Waldrep keeps coming up with Baltimore which would be beneficial for the player who could use an organization who knows how to reshape a fastball and better utilize an arsenal. As mentioned in my last mock, this is the first place I hear any credence to Wilken’s name being popped.
18. Milwaukee Brewers – Jacob Wilson, SS, Grand Canyon
Any of the falling college bats could fit, while Wilson and Bradfield are two of the hardest players to peg down because of the questions about their offensive impactability, but with a draft-model that has some emphasis on positional value, both could fit here. This is another spot for Waldrep though I think focus will still be on bats.
19. Tampa Bay Rays – Bryce Eldridge, RHP/1B, Madison HS (VA)
With another pick at 31, Tampa could wait out the hitting market and try and swing a prep to their next pick or go full throttle on the handful of toolsy preps they’re openly interested in. Mentioned before with the Giants and Angels, Tampa is seen as willing to develop Eldridge as a two-way, and he won’t be available with their next pick.
20. Toronto Blue Jays – Enrique Bradfield Jr., OF, Vanderbilt
It’s probably repetitive at this point, but another team who could be waiting to see what the hitting market gives them. Florida-prep infielder George Lombard Jr. has been mentioned here as well as this general range, but that seems to be more of an MLB lineage attachment which Toronto has coveted in the past. Bradfield, Wilson, and Troy are the college hitters who could move down to this range, and it sounds like Bradfield could be a preference for Toronto regardless of which does fall. Some prep pitchers are mentioned here.
21. St. Louis Cardinals – Nolan Schanuel, 1B/OF, Florida Atlantic
Let’s pause a minute for some honesty. Most of this mock will not play out the way it has in the actual draft, and some of the college and prep hitters will maneuver into the 20’s, while under slot deals will play their part and someone (or multiple clubs) will grab one of the pitchers to exploit the market inefficiency. I’m playing with the information I have and making educated guesses on how the draft will play out, which is all that can be asked for on my end, but I like to include honesty for two reasons: First, it gives me a safety net of knowing only so much and a place to ask for forgiveness when I’m wrong; Second: It lets you, the reader, know there is unpredictability.
With that out of the way, the Cardinals are in a similar situation to the clubs ahead of them and would like a college bat to fall in their lap. In this scenario, all of the top and second-tier bats are off the board leading to a third tier pending your opinion of some hitters. That third tier includes Davis, Wilken, and Schanuel.
22. Seattle Mariners – Blake Mitchell, C, Sinton HS (TX)
With a wide net cast on the upside preps, a college faller could fit here to float one of their preferred preps to their next picks where they lead off the sandwich round with picks 29 and 30. It’s mostly a large blend of prep shortstops mostly mentioned between Lombard, Ohio-prep Colt Emerson, Colorado-prep Walker Martin, and New York-prep Sammy Stafura. There’s a good chance one or more of those options would be free at 29, leaving Seattle in a good spot to take a falling talent such as some of the previously mentioned preps or Mitchell who (as mentioned) has teams trying to float him to their sandwich/second-round picks.
23. Cleveland Guardians – Brock Wilken, 3B, Wake Forest
Tracking back to last week’s mock, Cleveland hangs tight to their draft model of up-the-middle youth which makes Emerson – an Ohio-prep – so appealing (he doesn’t turn 18 until two weeks after the draft). Wilken isn’t a shortstop, but he’s a very young collegiate with a wood bat track record and more data to lean on, which is also a high point of Cleveland’s model. I might be biting myself in the rear end by not going Emerson here, but I have a bit more faith in Wilken’s profile being deeply embedded in Cleveland’s model.
24. Atlanta Braves – Hurston Waldrep, RHP, Florida
Let’s go back to some honesty. I’ve mentioned Waldrep all over the first round starting in the early teens. I really don’t expect him to be available this deep into the 20’s and am simply placing him with a good bet as opposed to actual intel. Most of the preps mentioned before this are also mentioned with Atlanta as well as Wilken.
25. San Diego Padres – Chase Davis, OF, Arizona
I recently heard some information and called a trusted source to try and confirm it. The conversation went as such:
“I heard ____ had a private workout with San Diego.”
“They have private workouts with everyone.”
“Yes, but this guy fits their range and typical profile.”
“They have private workouts with everyone. Literally everyone.”
“So should I buy into this?”
It’s true. San Diego brings in plenty of talent for private workouts, and though I had a dead set name on it, I garnered some extra information from my trusted source. It’s all the obvious upside preps which includes Illinois-prep outfielder Dillon Head (hint, hint), while Davis is getting some of the biggest traction and I’m buying on the smoke if he hasn’t already been plucked and wouldn’t fall much further.
26. New York Yankees – Sammy Stafura, SS, Panas HS (NY)
I almost want to copy and paste what I wrote in last week’s mock, but I’ll create some kind of originality. There’s been a long connection between Stafura and New York, which might be more based on him being a local talent and comparisons to Anthony Volpe (though I’ll openly admit I don’t see the comparison beyond being a New York prep and general tools). There’s enough credence to the connection to have confidence in mocking him here, but that doesn’t rule out also mentioning Lombard, Head, and California-prep catcher/infielder Ralphy Velazquez.
27. Thomas White, LHP, Phillips Academy (MA)
Prep arms are the industry consensus theme with Philadelphia and though there may be some track record history attached to that theme, executive sightings tend to confirm the interest at minimum. There is a strong case to be made for White not being available here, and even being taken upwards of the late top ten or teens, but he is available here. Florida-prep arm Charlee Soto is the other most attached name here, but White gets the nod for his left-handedness.
28. Houston Astros – Joe Whitman, LHP, Kent State
College data is the driving force. Most of the names who would fit have already been taken in this mock, so I’m leaning on market inefficiency and going with the softest demographic in college southpaws and a team who has taken advantage of the market before. That said, not much would surprise me at this stage of the draft and any demographic or under slot hitting option could be in play, which is partial copout on my end and partially how the mock played out.
*Author’s Note*: Before we head into the compensation round, I just want to point out there are some first-round type players – particularly on the prep side – who are more likely to be selected in the first round than not. I have a bit of confidence that I am low-balling prep shortstops George Lombard Jr., Colt Emerson, Walker Martin, Tai Peete, and Cooper Pratt; prep outfielders Dillon Head and Jonny Farmelo, prep pitcher Charlee Soto; college infielders Mitch Jebb and Jake Gelof; and college pitchers Ty Floyd and Cade Kuehler. It speaks volumes to the talent of this draft class but must be noted: I will be wrong and some of these names will be called prior to the comp round.
29. Seattle Mariners – Colt Emerson, SS, Glenn HS (OH)
30. Seattle Mariners – Jonny Farmelo, OF, Westfield HS (VA)
31. Tampa Bay Rays – Tai Peete, SS, Trinity Christian HS (GA)
32. New York Mets – George Lombard Jr., SS, Gulliver Prep (FL)
33. Milwaukee Brewers – Adrian Santana, SS, Doral Academy (FL)
34. Minnesota Twins – Mitch Jebb, SS, Michigan State
35. Miami Marlins – Cam Johnson, LHP, IMG Academy (FL)
36. Los Angeles Dodgers – Cole Carrigg, C/SS/OF, San Diego State
37. Detroit Tigers – Dillon Head, OF, Homewood-Flossmoor HS (IL)
38. Cincinnati Reds – Jack Hurley, OF, Virginia Tech
39. Oakland Athletics – Jake Gelof, 3B, Virginia