The 2023 MLB Draft is a little more than two weeks away. Two years ago, MLB pushed the draft back from the first week of June to the All-Star break in an effort to better market the event, and it will remain there moving forward, even though many executives don't like it. This year, the three-day draft begins Sunday, July 9.
"I think we're all excited knowing what that means to an organization, to be able to have two picks first overall within three years," Pirates president Travis Williams told MLB.com recently. "It's pretty important to a small market team like us. We're excited that we get that opportunity, and we're going to use that pick to the best of our ability to continue to bring that sustainable wave of top-caliber players that will allow us to be competing for championships."
There are only 28 picks in the first round this year because the Mets and Dodgers exceeded the $270 million third competitive balance tax threshold last season, pushing their first selection in this year's draft back 10 spots. The Mets now pick at No. 32 instead of No. 22, and the Dodgers now pick at No. 36 instead of No. 26. They fell out of the first round.
and . Below is our second 2023 first round mock draft based on the latest chatter, speculation, and rumors. We'll have one final mock draft in the days leading up to the draft.
Pick: OF Dylan Crews, LSU ($9,721,000 slot value) (: No. 1)
There has been speculation the Pirates could opt for righty Paul Skenes, Crews' teammate at LSU, given his electric showing at the College World Series. That seems like outside noise more than something the Pirates are seriously considering, however. They prefer hitters at the top of the draft and, all things being equal, you should take the hitter over the pitcher because pitchers carry so much inherent injury risk.
If the Pirates pivot away from Crews, it's likely they will take a different hitter and sign him to a below slot bonus so they can use the savings on other players later in the draft. High school outfielder Max Clark is a prime candidate. The minimum bonus is 75% of slot, so that's $7,290,750 for the No. 1 pick. For Clark (or any player), taking the minimum bonus at No. 1 would be more lucrative than taking slot at No. 5 ($7,139,700), and it would leave the Pirates more than $2.5 million in savings to use elsewhere. Two weeks before the draft, Crews is not a lock to go No. 1. It's just the most likely outcome.
June 18 mock pick: Crews
Pick: RHP Paul Skenes, LSU ($8,998,500 slot value) (: No. 5)
You can count on the Nationals taking whoever they consider the best available player when they draft near the top of the first round. They don't play games with their bonus pool. Skenes is electric and arguably the best college pitching prospect since Stephen Strasburg. The smart money is on Washington taking whichever one of Crews and Skenes is still on the board here. And, if both are available, Crews would likely be the pick. He's the consensus No. 1 prospect in the draft class.
June 18 mock pick: Skenes
Pick: OF Wyatt Langford, Florida ($8,341,700 slot value) (: No. 2)
Word is the Tigers are targeting a hitter here, though I think they would jump on Skenes if he fall into their lap. Langford would be the consensus No. 1 prospect in a draft class that isn't as deep as this one. At this point, the best available hitters are Langford and high schoolers Clark and Walker Jenkins, and it makes sense to go with the quick-moving college player who hits the ball as hard as anyone in the country (and does a bunch of other things to help his team win too).
June 18 mock pick: Langford
Pick: OF Max Clark, Franklin HS (Indiana) ($7,698,700 slot value) (: No. 4)
Clark and Jenkins are the best available players here and you really have to nitpick their games to favor one over the other. Either would be a fine pick, so it could come down to money. Is one willing to sign below slot? If yes, that could be the pick. The Rangers do not pick again until the fourth round (No. 108) after forfeiting picks to sign qualified free agents Jacob deGrom and Nathan Eovaldi. Saving a few bucks here would help with their rest of their draft.
June 18 mock pick: OF Walker Jenkins, South Brunswick HS (North Carolina)
Pick: OF Walker Jenkins, South Brunswick HS (North Carolina) ($7,139,700 slot value) (: No. 3)
The Twins were the second-biggest winner in the draft lottery (behind the Pirates) because they moved up from No. 13 to No. 5 in a draft class with five players who stand out from the pack. In some respects, Minnesota has the easiest decision in the draft. They'll just take whichever one of Clark, Crews, Jenkins, Langford, and Skenes is still on the board. In this mock draft that's Jenkins, and if multiple members of that group are available, I suspect the Twins would go hitter over pitcher, and college over high school.
June 18 mock pick: OF Max Clark, Franklin HS (Indiana)
Pick: SS Jacob Wilson, Grand Canyon ($6,634,000 slot value) (: No. 22)
There is a small but definitely not 0% chance one of Clark, Crews, Jenkins, Langford, or Skenes is still on the board here, in which case I think the Athletics would pounce. Since that doesn't happen in our mock draft, I'm giving them Wilson, son of longtime big leaguer Jack Wilson. Wilson (Jacob, not Jack) is a analytic model darling because he makes so much contact. Also, there's a real chance he falls out of the top 10 entirely if he's not picked here. In that case, cutting a below slot deal with the A's is preferably to a slot bonus later in the first round. Oakland has a competitive balance pick (No. 39) and would be able to use the savings on a talented player who falls there.
June 18 mock pick: C Kyle Teel, Virginia
Pick: RHP Chase Dollander, Tennessee ($6,275,200 slot value) (: No. 8)
There's a lot of buzz that Dollander, who at times looked like the second-most dominant college pitcher in the country behind Skenes, will come off the board within the top 10 picks. The Reds have used their last three first-round picks on hitters (Austin Hendrick, Matt McLain, Cam Collier) though they are unafraid to take a big arm in the top 10 (Hunter Greene in 2017, Nick Lodolo in 2019), and Dollander fits the mold as a guy with crazy high upside but also some clear development needs.
June 18 mock pick: RHP Rhett Lowder, Wake Forest
Pick: C Blake Mitchell, Sinton HS (Texas) ($5,980,100 slot value) (: No. 23)
High school catchers have a poor track record in pro ball, though there's been a lot of buzz surrounding the Royals and Mitchell the last few weeks, and where there's smoke, there's fire. There's a chance Mitchell will fall out of the top 20 should Kansas City pass. He would come out ahead financially by taking a below slot deal here, which would also set the Royals up to spend a little more on their competitive balance pick (No. 6).
June 18 mock pick: SS Jacob Wilson, Grand Canyon
Pick: RHP Rhett Lowder, Wake Forest ($5,716,900 slot value) (: No. 15)
Lowder finished his college career in style, throwing seven shutout innings and matching Skenes zero for zero in what was an Rockies seem likely to target a pitcher here, and Lowder fits their recent draft M.O. as a guy with big velocity on a sinking two-seamer. He could come off the board before this and would be a nice get for Colorado.. The
June 18 mock pick: RHP Noble Meyer, Jesuit HS (Oregon)
Pick: C Kyle Teel, Virginia ($5,475,300 slot value) (: No. 7)
Teel is a bit of a wild card. He could conceivably come off the board as high as No. 3 to the Tigers and slot in anywhere from No. 6-10, really. It's not often the best college catcher in the draft class slides into the back half of the first round and I can't imagine Teel would do so this year. He's been connected to too many teams in the top 10 (i.e. almost all of them). The Marlins have not fared particularly well with their recent first-round picks (Connor Scott, JJ Bleday, Kahlil Watson, etc.) and Teel would be a "safer" pick with relatively high probability.
June 18 mock pick: SS Jacob Gonzalez, Mississippi
Pick: SS Jacob Gonzalez, Mississippi ($5,253,000 slot value) (: No. 21)
Opinions are somewhat split on Gonzalez, who seems to have as good a chance to be the top middle infielder taken as he does to fall out of the top 20. The smart money is on the Angels taking a quick-moving college player. I can tell you that much. Realistically, the player they select here won't be able to help them in 2022, but don't be shocked if he winds up being the first 2023 draft pick to reach the big leagues, the same way Chase Silseth was the first 2021 draft pick to reach the big leagues and Zach Neto was the first 2022 draft pick to do so. This is what the Angels do.
June 18 mock pick: OF Enrique Bradfield Jr., Vanderbilt
Pick: SS Colin Houck, Parkview HS (Georgia) ($5,043,800 slot value) (: No. 13)
The Diamondbacks and Houck have been connected for months even though he's not the elite up-the-middle athlete with short levers and a compact swing they typically target in the draft (Corbin Carroll types, basically). That said, Houck's power potential is exciting, and he spent his high school career splitting time between baseball and football. Whichever team drafts him will do so hoping he really blossoms once he focused on baseball full-time.
June 18 mock pick: Houck
Pick: SS Arjun Nimmala, Strawberry Crest HS (Florida) ($4,848,500 slot value) (: No. 6)
Difficult to pin down the Cubs this draft season. Nimmala had a great spring and has been connected to pretty much every team in the No. 5-15 range. He would be a higher upside play than some of the college players who figure to come off the board in this range, namely Maryland's Matt Shaw and TCU's Brayden Taylor.
June 18 mock pick: SS Matt Shaw, Maryland
Pick: SS Matt Shaw, Maryland ($4,663,100 slot value) (: No. 11)
The Red Sox have used their last few first-round picks on hitters with premium bat-tracking data (Mikey Romero, Marcelo Mayer, Nick Yorke, Triston Casas) and Shaw certainly fits the mold. This draft class is very deep in hitters, both college and high school, and Boston figures to have its pick of several players who would go in the top 10 in a more "normal" draft year.
June 18 mock pick: SS Aiden Miller, Mitchell HS (Florida)
Pick: 3B Brayden Taylor, TCU ($4,448,600 slot value) (: No. 30)
Entering the spring, Taylor looked like a potential top-five pick, though a sluggish first few weeks and some swing-and-miss concerns have pushed him down draft boards. He finished the season quite strong, however, strong enough to hear his name called in the middle of the first round. The White Sox had a run of fairly safe college bats from 2016-18 (Jake Burger, Nick Madrigal, Andrew Vaughn) and Taylor fit with that group. There's a small army of higher-end high school shortstops still on the board in our mock draft, should the ChiSox opt to take a bigger swing.
June 18 mock pick: SS Arjun Nimmala, Strawberry Crest HS (Florida)
Pick: OF Enrique Bradfield Jr., Vanderbilt ($4,326,600 slot value) (: No. 9)
Despite a strong connection to prep shortstop Walker Martin throughout the spring, the winds have shifted toward a college hitter in recent weeks for the Giants, and they get a good one in our mock draft in Bradfield. He's a dynamic leadoff type who would be a real coup at this spot. I assume Shaw and Taylor are on their radar here as well.
June 18 mock pick: SS Walker Martin, Eaton HS (Colorado)
Pick: 1B/RHP Bryce Eldridge, James Madison HS (Virginia) ($4,169,700 slot value) (: No. 24)
The Orioles are a team with a type -- hitters with power and elite ball-tracking data -- and Eldridge fits the profile. He is the draft's best two-way prospect and he says he wants to hit and pitch as long as possible, and I assume whichever team drafts him will be OK with that. Point is, the O's have a track record of developing exactly this kind of hitter into a monster prospect (think Gunnar Henderson, Jackson Holliday, Heston Kjerstad, etc.).
June 18 mock pick: Eldridge
Pick: 3B Yohandy Morales, Miami ($4,021,400 slot value) (: Unranked)
Morales is not the same kind of hit tool-first premium athlete the Brewers have taken with their last few early draft picks (Eric Brown, Sal Frelick, Tyler Black, etc.), but he can hit, and Milwaukee generally targets college guys who can bang. There are more quality college hitters who would fit in the No. 11-20 range than there are picks in the No. 11-20 range this year. It's a good year to want a college bat.
June 18 mock pick: 3B Brayden Taylor, TCU
Pick: SS Aiden Miller, Mitchell HS (Florida) ($3,880,100 slot value) (: Unranked)
A broken hamate bone sabotaged Miller's spring, otherwise he might have played his way into the top 10. The Rays have a competitive balance pick (No. 31) and could go with a college hitter here -- Stanford's Tommy Troy stands out among the players still available in our mock draft -- and then take a big swing on a top high schooler who slides out of the first round. I think they'll instead be opportunistic and jump on Miller, a player who was unlikely to be available here had he stayed healthy.
June 18 mock pick: C Blake Mitchell, Sinton HS (Texas)
Pick: RHP Noble Meyer, Jesuit HS (Oregon) ($3,746,000 slot value) (: No. 16)
This one is probably far-fetched. Meyer is the best high school pitcher in the draft class and has been connected to just about every team in the No. 5-15 range, but because teams are so finicky about high school pitchers, it feels like Meyer will either go in the top 10 or fall out of the first round completely, when a team with an extra pick can pay him a big bonus. The Blue Jays are not one of those teams (they have one of the smallest bonus pools after forfeiting their second rounder to sign qualified free agent Chris Bassitt), so I'm not sure they can make the money work, but Toronto has a history of grabbing top players who fall to them for whatever reason (Austin Martin's positional questions, Gunnar Hoglund's Tommy John surgery, etc.). Grabbing Meyer here would fit that strategy, as unlikely as it may be.
June 18 mock pick: RHP Chase Dollander, Tennessee
Pick: 1B Nolan Schanuel, Florida Atlantic ($3,618,200 slot value) (: No. 19)
Schanuel had an absurd statistical season -- .447/.615/.868 with 71 walks and 14 strikeouts! -- and he's been speculated as a below-slot target for teams in the middle of the first round with extra picks (Brewers, D-Backs, Orioles, Rays, etc.). The Cardinals are not one of those teams. In fact, they forfeited their second-rounder to sign Willson Contreras as a qualified free agent. Still, Schanuel is expected to come off the board in this range, so we'll give him to St. Louis.
June 18 mock pick: RHP Hurston Waldrep, Florida
Pick: OF Chase Davis, Arizona ($3,496,600 slot value) (: No. 10)
The Mariners also hold the No. 29 pick (Prospect Promotion Incentive pick for Julio Rodríguez winning AL Rookie of the Year) and the No. 30 pick (competitive balance) and thus have a nice big bonus pool. They're in position to jump on any high-end talent who falls here (Meyer?) or go the college route before taking bigger swings at No. 29 and 30. I'm betting on the latter strategy here, not that Davis is a slouch. He has enormous power and played his way into the first round late in the spring.
June 18 mock pick: 1B Nolan Schanuel, Florida Atlantic
Pick: SS Colt Emerson, Glenn HS (Ohio) ($3,380,900 slot value) (: Unranked)
The Guardians have their pick of several touted high school shortstops in our mock draft. We'll give them Emerson, who is right up their alley, and not (just) because he's a local kid. Cleveland typically seeks players with contact skills (like Bo Naylor) who are young for the draft class (like Daniel Espino) when they dip into the high school ranks, and Emerson checks all the boxes.
June 18 mock pick: Emerson
Pick: SS Walker Martin, Eaton HS (Colorado) ($3,270,500 slot value) (: No. 18)
Martin is one of the most fascinating players in the draft class. He's an inexperienced cold weather state kid who didn't play in as many showcase events as his peers because of football commitments, but when he did play in showcases, he wowed. Martin has the tools to be an impact player, especially at the plate, but he's very unrefined. Whichever team selects him will do so dreaming on what he can become once he focuses on baseball full-time and gets consistent reps under his belt.
June 18 mock pick: SS Kevin McGonigle, Monsignor Bonner HS (Pennsylvania)
Pick: OF Dillon Head, Homewood-Flossmoor HS (Illinois) ($3,165,400 slot value) (: No. 26)
The Padres have always taken huge swings in the first round under GM A.J. Preller and I see no reason to believe this year will be any different. I imagine Florida righty Hurston Waldrep would be awfully tempting here, but Head is an electrifying athlete with refined skills and a track record of performance against elite competition. He's a candidate to come off the board well before this pick, though San Diego lucks out in our mock draft.
June 18 mock pick: Head
Pick: SS Sammy Stafura, Panas HS (New York) ($3,065,000 slot value) (: No. 27)
The Yankees have been connected to Stafura all spring. It's as strong a connection as you'll find outside the top 10 two weeks before the draft. Stafura's a local kid who grew up not far north of the Bronx and elicits Anthony Volpe comparisons for his all-around skill set and uncommon baseball IQ. Part of me wonders the strong connection to Stafura has led to New York's interest in others being downplayed, setting them up for an out-of-nowhere selection.
June 18 mock pick: Stafura
Pick: SS Kevin McGonigle, Monsignor Bonner HS (Pennsylvania) ($2,968,800 slot value) (: No. 17)
McGonigle is not the same super-high-upside type the Phillies have targeted in the first round in recent years (Justin Crawford, Andrew Painter, etc.), though he's a very polished player with as good a chance to be a big leaguer as any high school player in the draft. It doesn't hurt that he's a local Philadelphia kid either. If the Phillies want to take a bigger swing, high school infielder George Lombard Sr. would be the way to go given who's still available in our mock draft. Lombard's father, George Sr., is currently the Tigers bench coach.
June 18 mock pick: RHP Travis Sykora, Round Rock HS (Texas)
Pick: RHP Hurston Waldrep ($2,880,700 slot value) (: No. 14)
Waldrep falling this far seems unlikely to me -- there's a case to be made he's the second-most talented college pitcher in the draft class -- but he's still on the board in our mock draft, and I think the Astros would pounce even though they have been mostly connected to hitters the last few weeks. There are more first-round caliber players than first-round picks this year. Houston could very well land a player who would go inside the top 15 in another year.
June 18 mock pick: SS Tommy Troy, Stanford