- The 2023 Major League Baseball draft is July 9-11 in Seattle.
- The Pittsburgh Pirates have the first overall selection.
- This was the first year a lottery system was used to assign the first six selections.
Running alongside the MLB All-Star Game, the 2023 MLB Draft will be Sunday, July 9 to Tuesday, July 11, in Seattle, and there are a ton of talented up-and-coming players for teams to choose from.
This is the first draft to be run in the new format, as decided in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that came into effect in March 2022. Under the new system, all 18 non-playoff teams from the previous season enter a lottery for the top six picks.
The first six picks of this year’s draft, as decided by the lottery, are:
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- Washington Nationals
- Detroit Tigers
- Texas Rangers
- Minnesota Twins
- Detroit Tigers
With hundreds of amateur players hoping to be selected, below are my rankings of the top five prospects going into the draft, along with their current scouting grades from MLB.com.
Ranking Top 5 Players in 2023 MLB Draft
1. Dylan Crews, OF, Louisiana State
Crews was in the conversation as a first-round pick back in 2020 when he graduated high school, but after withdrawing from the draft to play at LSU, he’s back and better than ever.
While it’s always a risky move to turn down an MLB opportunity, it clearly paid off for Crews, who a number teams are interested in and will likely now see a far bigger signing bonus when selected.
The 21-year-old outfielder is expected to be the first pick of the draft, and as a plus-plus hitter with plus power, it’s easy to see why. He’s posted very solid contact rates and reliably gotten on base over the last three years. As of June 7, he’s batting over .400 in 2023 with substantially more walks (61) than strikeouts (40).
— LSU Baseball (@LSUbaseball) June 4, 2023
While Crews has slightly lower fielding scores than often seen in a potential top pick (though still well above average), his skills in center field have improved immensely over the last year. He has an extremely high ceiling with the right development, and I expect to see Crews in the majors before the end of next season.
Scouting grades: Hit: 70 | Power: 60 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 65
2. Paul Skenes, RHP, Louisiana State
Another talent out of Louisiana State, Skenes is the best pitcher of the 2023 draft class, often lauded by scouts as the best college pitching prospect since Stephen Strasburg in 2009.
As the only NCAA Division I player to reach double figures in wins in 2022, I won’t be surprised to see Skenes selected second overall this year.
Skenes is one of the hardest-throwing collegiate pitchers in recent memory, and the 6-foot-6 right-hander continues to improve. He’s averaged around 98 mph this season on his near-impossible-to-hit fastball, 85-89 mph on his ever-improving slider, and 88-93 mph on his newly-developed power-changeup.
Only 21 years old, Skenes has a ton of potential in the majors, and if he can avoid the relatively-inevitable injuries that face any hard-throwing pitcher, he’s staring down a long career. As the top pitcher in the draft, I expect a lot of teams to be extremely interested in picking Skenes.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 80 | Slider: 70 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 55 | Overall: 65
3. Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida
Langford has five-tool potential, which is why I’ve seen multiple draft rankings place him second above Skenes. If this were any other year, Langford would almost certainly be the top position player in the draft, if not the first pick overall.
— Florida Gators Baseball (@GatorsBB) June 5, 2023
So far in 2023, Langford is batting .387/.511/.799 with 18 home runs, recently earning him All-American status by Collegiate Baseball. He arguably has a higher offensive ceiling than Crews, but his defensive ability in the outfield is still developing, which could be explained by the fact that he was a third baseman and catcher in high school.
Even if he stays in the outfield in the majors, Langford has a lot of potential, and I expect it won’t take long for his defensive skills to catch up with his offense.
Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 65 | Run: 55 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 60
4. Walker Jenkins, OF, South Brunswick (NC)
Entering the draft straight out of high school, the 18-year-old Jenkins has impressed scouts even as he’s recovered from a hamate injury last summer. The injury hasn’t appeared to slow him down too much, though — he won his second consecutive Gatorade North Carolina Player of the Year award on May 30, having slashed .417/.632/.633 this past season.
Jenkins is a left-handed hitter with brilliant bat control, which is reflected in his ability to turn fastballs into home runs out to right field. At 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, he’s slowed down a bit as he’s gotten older and stronger, having displayed strong plus-speed as a runner earlier in his high school career. Still, his grades put his speed above average.
Jenkins has primarily played center field, though I could see his decreasing speed moving him to right field in the majors, especially since he’s likely to still have some filling out to do. His plus arm strength, strong instincts, and ability to make consistent hard contact at the plate put him as the best high school player in the draft.
Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 60 | Run: 55 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 60
5. Max Clark, OF, Franklin (IN)
Another left-handed hitter entering the draft out of high school, there’s an argument to be made that Clark should rank above Jenkins. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes earlier than the fifth selection, especially with his 70 run score and 65 arm.
Clark makes reliable, hard contact at the plate, with an easy swing that focuses on driving balls from gap to gap, rather than launching them out the park. His plus-defense makes him a sure thing to stay in center field in the majors, but his impressive arm strength means he could be a real asset anywhere in the outfield.
At just 18 years old, Clark has been praised by scouts for his work ethic, competitiveness, and attitude, which is inspiring for a player built for stardom. In the 2022-23 season, he slashed .346/.447/.685 in 38 games, so with the right strength development, he’s brimming with potential. I expect Clark to be a slugger to watch in the majors.
Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 50 | Run: 70 | Arm: 65 | Field: 60 | Overall: 60
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