Way-too-early 2023 MLB draft rankings

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Now that the 2022 MLB draft is behind us, it’s time to turn our attention to the top prospects for 2023.

Right now, next year’s draft class isn’t overwhelming at the top. We’re over halfway through the key summer events, so a couple of more names will emerge, but most likely outside the top 30-50, just filling out the depth of the class.

Unlike last year at this time, when we already had Druw Jones and Termarr Johnson in a top tier, and the year before when we knew Jordan Lawlar and Marcelo Mayer were going to go in the top 10 for sure (and probably high up), this time around we have some solid names but no slam-dunk No. 1 overall prospect.

Multiple times in the process of whittling down this list, I was told to move a player out of one of the top few spots — but the person suggesting that never had a replacement name in mind. The FV, or future value, here at the top (50 is the highest and there are 10 players at that tier) tells you that numerically: the three top prep position players in this year’s draft (Jones, Johnson and Jackson Holliday) were all 55 FVs, which is basically spots 20-to-50 on the minor league Top 100. The top 10 on this list would all fit in the 51-to-120 slots on an extended top 100, so it’s pretty tightly packed.

On the bright side, the college pitching crop has bounced back and the 50 FV tier is deeper this year than last (eight players were 50 FV or better in the 2022 draft) because of the depth of the college hitter class.

LSU right fielder Dylan Crews and Vanderbilt center fielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. (and maybe Ole Miss shortstop Jacob Gonzalez?) are probably the most famous names, Grand Canyon SS Jacob Wilson (son of former Pirates SS Jack) is the notable bloodline connection and Indiana prep outfielder Andrew Wiggins is… well, he has the same name as the Warriors’ guard. Maybe the link in the blurb for my 29th-ranked player will be for you. The other notable thing up top is the prevalence of the ACC and SEC on the list: Nine of the top 16 play in those two leagues and three more are committed to play there if they don’t sign.

50 FV Tier

1. Wyatt Langford (age next year: 21.7), CF, Florida

Langford has come out of nowhere, getting to campus as a low-profile backup catcher and then becoming Florida’s regular left fielder as a sophomore. He’s surprisingly good defensively in a corner and, also surprisingly, will give you a plus run time here and there, so he might be a center fielder.

He’s tops for me because 1) he has a quiet, repeatable, low-maintenance swing that kind of reminds me of Pete Alonso mechanically (though Langford has only 55-to-60-grade raw power, good for 25ish homers annually in the big leagues) and 2) Langford as a sophomore just had basically the same season that Jonathan India did as a junior, a campaign that propelled India from his prior third-round projection to the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 draft:

India 2018: 226 AB, .350/.497/.717, 21 home runs, 60/56 BB/K

Langford 2022: 256 AB, .355/.447/.719, 26 home runs, 36/44 BB/K

I’d love to see Langford prove he can stay in center field and maybe show a bit more patience now that he’ll be the hitter in the Gators lineup that other teams will be making a game plan to stop, but all the elements are here.

2. Jacob Wilson (21.3), SS, Grand Canyon

Wilson is the son of former big league shortstop Jack Wilson. In watching how Jacob moves around, he reminds me of Trea Turner — although he’s not anywhere near that level as a runner. Last spring, Wilson struck out only seven times in 246 at-bats, with 12 homers, though granted it was in a lesser college league. This summer, he was on a stacked collegiate USA trials roster that included well over half of the college guys on this list and he led everyone in every hitting category for the five games. Even more importantly, he looked the part while doing so.

The question is how much in-game power there will be, but that’s also the thing that tends to come last and the tool teams have the most luck teaching to players who excel in many other areas.

3. Max Clark (18.5), CF, Franklin Community HS (IN), Vanderbilt commit

Clark has long been one of the top players in his class and that is helped by a tradition of strong summer performance at Team USA events from other previous players from his region such as Mike Siani (Pennsylvania, Reds organization now), Alek Thomas (Illinois, D-backs) and Jarred Kelenic (Wisconsin, Mariners). Kelenic is a name that hangs around as Clark is similarly an intense personality on the field but also a plus at almost everything on the field right now except in-game power, which probably settles around average in the end.

4. Dylan Crews (21.4), RF, LSU

The early favorite to be No. 1 on this list two years ago, Crews is still the same player, but I’ve cooled on him a bit. He still has 30-plus homer power and he’s still an above-average athlete who offers real defensive value in right. His swing mechanics have gotten a bit noisy and his swing decisions are good but not great. For comparison’s sake, his 2022 line: 249 AB, .349/.463/.691, 22 homers, 42 walks to 56 strikeouts.

5. Chase Dollander (21.6), RHP, Tennessee

Yes! A college pitcher up near the top! Dollander burst onto the scene last spring after transferring from Georgia Southern, sitting 94-98 mph, mixing in a plus slider, plus curve and above-average changeup with starter traits. He physically looks and pitches kind of like Jacob deGrom, but I’m not expecting anything like that: If he becomes a good No. 2 or 3 starter, that would be a great outcome.

6. Walker Jenkins (18.4), RF, South Brunswick HS (NC), North Carolina commit

Jenkins reminded me of J.D. Drew last summer and I thought at the time that I’d have him at No. 1 on this list a year later. He lost a step and now looks like a corner-only guy, putting some pressure on the bat — but he also may be the best hit/power combo in the whole prep class and that’s usually a safe bet.

7. Jacob Gonzalez (21.1), SS, Ole Miss

Gonzalez is a 6-foot-2 shortstop with 20-homer power potential who had a breakout 2022 campaign: 18 homers, 50 walks to 32 strikeouts. I’m not sure he’ll show above-average hit and power at the same time in pro ball as some scouts wonder about his swing direction (he bails a bit toward first base).

8. Brayden Taylor (21.0), 2B, TCU

Taylor isn’t going to light up a scouting report, but he may have the best approach in the draft. He is an advanced lefty hitter with solid physical ability and he can play the infield. Numbers-based teams will love the high floor here: 104 walks to 86 strikeouts with 25 homers and 25 stolen bases in his college career.

9. Kevin McGonigle (18.8), SS, Monsignor Bonner HS (PA), Auburn commit

McGonigle is one of the bigger surprises of the summer showcase circuit; I was expecting to rank him 20-30th because he’s listed at just 5-foot-11, 185 pounds but I knew he could hit. He’s been the best hitter at every event, there’s solid-average raw power potential in his bat and while he may not be a shortstop, it doesn’t really matter.

10. Enrique Bradfield Jr. (21.6), CF, Vanderbilt

If you watch college baseball at all, you know Bradfield. Scouts have known him since his freshman year of high school (Mets Triple-A third baseman Mark Vientos was the draft-eligible star on his high school team), then the next year they were back (Red Sox Triple-A first baseman Triston Casas was draft-eligible) and Bradfield was the leadoff hitter on a good travel team when he was already committed to Vandy. All this to say that scouts have a ridiculous amount of history to evaluate (it will be seven full years by the time he’s drafted) and Bradfield is still improving, showing more gap power in 2022, improving that weakest element of his game. He’s a true 80 runner with a solid approach who was a third-round type prospect out of high school.

45+ FV Tier

11. Jake Gelof (21.4), 3B, Virginia

The brother of A’s top prospect Zack, Gelof had his own breakout 2022 season to rival No. 1 prospect Langford by posting a .377/.477/.764 slash line with 21 homers this spring.

12. Kyle Teel (21.4), C, Virginia

The Virginia guys gravitated near each other naturally here. Teel was a third-round type player out of high school because of above-average hit/power potential (though the in-game power still lags behind, as is common with Virginia hitters) and enough defense to stick behind the plate.

45 FV Tier

13. Eric Bitonti (17.8), SS, Aquinas HS (CA), Oregon commit

He got the attention of national scouts by hitting a monster homer at Dodger Stadium as a 16-year-old. He’ll be model-friendly thanks to his age, power upside and offensive track record, regardless of whether he slides over to third base eventually.

14. Drew Bowser (21.8), 3B, Stanford

He had a huge bonus ask out of high school and has continued to show 30-homer potential in college, but is still striking out a bit too much.

15. Maui Ahuna (21.3), SS, Tennessee

Ahuna is a Kansas transfer who stands to gain a lot by proving it in the SEC because he already checks a lot of boxes as a lefty-hitting shortstop with above-average tools across the board, but he may swing a bit too much.

16. Rhett Lowder (21.3), RHP, Wake Forest

Wake will be a scouting destination this year and Lowder is narrowly the best prospect on the team in my view. He physically looks like Mike Clevinger on the mound, but also shows three above-average pitches with starter command.

17. Tommy Troy (21.4), SS, Stanford

Troy was a solid follow as the spring ended but he jumped into mid-first-round contention with a loud performance in the Cape Cod League, where he topped his spring numbers at Stanford and did so with a wood bat against better pitching.

18. Nolan Souza (18.1), SS, Punahou HS (HI), Arkansas commit

He’s a plus runner who might stick at short and has one of the prettier swings in the draft. Souza’s bat speed gives him a shot at above-average offensive output.

19. Brock Wilken (21.0), 1B, Wake Forest

Wilken has plus-plus raw power and is trying to play third base (he’s fine but not great), but his draft stock will be determined by his swing decisions (34 walks, 71 strikeouts in 2022).

20. Yohandy Morales (21.8), 3B, Miami

Morales was a second/third-round talent out of high school and has continued along that path, showing easy plus raw power in a classic third-base profile.

21. Matt Shaw (21.6), SS, Maryland

Shaw is the next big Cape winner behind Troy. Shaw probably isn’t a shortstop long-term but there’s above hit/power potential in a compact frame, in the Justin Foscue (2020 14th overall pick) mold.

22. Travis Sykora (19.1), RHP, Round Rock HS (TX), Texas commit

Sykora has been into the upper-90s for over a year now and has been working 93-98 mph with a plus slider this summer. He has a Hans Crouse-esque rock-and-fire delivery, but arm-speed-forward prep righties who are also old for the class are a risky demographic that many teams round down at this point.

23. Will Sanders (21.3), RHP, South Carolina

Sanders was a 2020 pandemic draft prep pitcher who may have gotten paid then if he had had a full spring to show the arm speed he added in his freshman year of college. He’s been showing three above-average pitches with command for two full seasons now.

24. Aidan Miller (19.0), 3B, Mitchell HS (FL), Arkansas commit

25. Gavin Grahovac (18.5), CF, Villa Park HS (CA), Texas A&M commit

I’ll group these two together: Miller is a little more physical and has more bat speed and power, but he’s also on the older side for the prep class while Grahovac is a more fluid athlete who could grow into comparable tools.

26. Thomas White (18.7), LHP, Phillips Academy HS (MA), Vanderbilt commit

White’s been the most famous pitcher from this prep class for years, but is in the back half of the first round because the other players have caught up to him. He still looks pretty similar to when I saw him over a year ago. To be clear, he is still a Joey Wentz or Blake Walston sort of loose lefty with above-average stuff and he could still catapult himself even higher as he’s very projectable.

27. Cade Kuehler (21.0), RHP, Campbell

Kuehler is a data favorite, with plus-plus lift to his 93-96 mph heater, but he also mixes in an above-average slurve and enough physical ability to gain the command needed to start. He’s the next in the borderline unbelievable run of early picks from Campbell (Seth Johnson, Zach Neto, Thomas Harrington).

28. Blake Mitchell (18.9), C, Sinton HS (TX), LSU commit

Mitchell is up to 97 on the mound and mixes in an above-average breaker, but he is a superior prospect behind the plate, where he shows above-average tools across the board.

29. Tai Peete (17.9), SS, Trinity Christian HS (GA), Georgia Tech commit

Peete is a lefty-hitting, 6-foot-3 shortstop with above-average tools and solid offensive performances. He’s also young for the class and is a top-five-round prospect on the mound. He showed both skills while dominating his little brother in wiffle ball.

30. Noble Meyer (18.4), RHP, Jesuit HS (OR), Oregon commit

31. Justin Lee (18.1), RHP, Notre Dame HS (CA), UCLA commit

Meyer and Lee have been the two most surprising prep arms of the summer. Meyer is a 6-foot-5 righty from the same school that produced Mick Abel (2020 first-rounder by the Phillies, current Top 100 prospect) who works 94-98 mph with a plus-flashing slider from a low three-quarters slot. Lee gets way down the mound with plus lift to a 92-94 mph heater (lots of parallels here with recent Braves first-rounder Owen Murphy) and three above-average pitches including a brand new splitter.

32. Dillon Head (18.8), CF, Homewood Flossmoor HS (IL), Clemson commit
33. Adam Hachman (18.2), LHP, Timberland HS (MO), Arkansas commit
34. Nolan Schanuel (21.3), RF, Florida Atlantic
35. Hurston Waldrep (21.3), RHP, Florida
36. Roman Martin (18.9), SS, Servite HS (CA), UCLA commit
37. Charlee Soto (17.8), RHP, Reborn Christian HS (FL), UCF commit

40+ FV Tier

38. Max Anderson (21.3), 3B, Nebraska
39. Jackson Baumeister (21.0), RHP, Florida State
40. Jack Hurley (21.3), CF, Virginia Tech
41. Andrew Wiggins (18.8), CF, Heritage Christian HS (IN), Indiana commit
42. Roch Cholowsky (18.2), SS, Hamilton HS (AZ), UCLA commit
43. Dylan Cupp (18.9), SS, Cedartown HS (GA), Mississippi State commit
44. Tanner Witt (21.0), RHP, Texas
45. Cole Schoenwetter (18.8), RHP, San Marcos HS (CA), UC Santa Barbara commit
46. Patrick Reilly (21.8), RHP, Vanderbilt
47. Juaron Watts-Brown (21.4), RHP, Long Beach State
48. Christian Knapczyk (21.5), SS, Louisville
49. Teddy McGraw (21.7), RHP, Wake Forest
50. Chase Davis (21.6), RF, Arizona

Others of note

(All 40 FV, ordered within position group/prospect type)

Colin Houck (18.8), SS, Parkview HS (GA), None commit
Ryder Helfrick (18.4), C, Clayton Valley HS (CA), Arkansas commit
Arjun Nimmala (17.8), SS, Strawberry Crest HS (FL), Florida State commit
Andrew Duncan (18.4), CF, Bishop McLaughlin HS (FL), Florida State commit
George Wolkow (17.5), 3B, Downers Grove North HS (IL), South Carolina commit
Will Gasparino (18.5), CF, Harvard Westlake HS (CA), Texas commit
Drew Burress (18.5), CF, Houston County HS (GA), Georgia Tech commit
Braden Holcomb (18.7), 3B, Foundation Academy HS (FL), Vanderbilt commit
Justin Best (18.7), CF, Combine Academy HS (NC), Florida State commit
Cameron Kim (18.6), 3B, Norco HS (CA), UCLA commit
Jonny Farmelo (18.8), RF, Westfield HS (VA), Virginia commit
Brandon Winokur (18.5), 3B, Huntington Beach HS (CA), UCLA commit
Antonio Anderson (18.0), SS, North Atlanta HS (GA), Georgia Tech commit
R.J. Hamilton (18.7), SS, Hoover HS (AL), Vanderbilt commit
Adrian Santana (17.9), SS, Doral Academy HS (FL), Miami commit
Riley Jackson (18.7), C, Eau Gallie HS (FL), Florida State commit
George Lombard Jr. (18.0), SS, Gulliver Prep HS (FL), Vanderbilt commit
A.J. Ewing (18.9), SS, Springboro HS (OH), Alabama commit
Campbell Smithwick (18.0), C, Oxford HS (MS), Ole Miss commit
Alex Philpott (18.8), CF/RHP, Strawberry Crest HS (FL), Florida commit

Justin Leguernic (17.8), LHP, Half Hollow Hills West HS (NY), Clemson commit
Hunter Dietz (18.3), LHP, Calvary Christian HS (FL), USF commit
Alex Clemmey (17.9), LHP, Bishop Hendricken HS (RI), Vanderbilt commit
Bryce Eldridge (18.8), RHP/RF, Madison HS (VA), Alabama commit
Kade Anderson (19.0), LHP, St. Paul’s HS (LA), LSU commit
Mac Heuer (19.0), RHP, Home School (GA), Texas Tech commit
Matthew Dallas (19.1), LHP, Briarcrest Christian HS (TN), Tennessee commit
Barrett Kent (18.7), RHP, Pottsboro HS (TX), Arkansas commit
Brayden Sharp (18.4), LHP, The Woodlands HS (TX), Baylor commit
Chance Mako (18.9), RHP, East Rowan HS (NC), North Carolina State commit
Zander Mueth (18.0), RHP, Belleville Township HS (IL), Ole Miss commit
Cameron Johnson (18.4), LHP, IMG Academy (FL), LSU commit
Dylan Questad (18.7), RHP, Waterford HS (WI), Arkansas commit

C.J. Kayfus (21.7), RF, Miami
Ryan Lasko (21.0), CF, Rutgers
Alex Mooney (21.0), SS, Duke
Travis Honeyman (21.7), LF, Boston College
John Peck (21.0), SS, Pepperdine
Roc Riggio (21.0), 2B, Oklahoma State
Ryan Targac (21.2), 2B, Texas A&M
Luke Keaschall (20.9), SS, Arizona State
Tre Morgan (20.9), 1B, LSU
Cameron Leary (21.6), RF, Boston College
Carter Trice (20.9), 2B, North Carolina State
Mitch Jebb (21.1), 3B, Michigan State
Michael Carico (20.9), C, Davidson

Jason Savacool (21.1), RHP, Maryland
Jaxon Wiggins (21.8), RHP, Arkansas
Grayson Hitt (21.6), LHP, Alabama
Wyatt Crowell (21.7), LHP, Florida State
Cam Brown (21.7), RHP, TCU
Carson Montgomery (20.9), RHP, Florida State
Ethan Flanagan (21.0), LHP, UCLA
Grant Taylor (21.1), RHP, LSU
Alejandro Rosario (21.5), RHP, Miami
Ross Dunn (21.3), LHP, Arizona State
Nathan Dettmer (21.1), RHP, Texas A&M
Christian Little (20.0), RHP, LSU
Alonzo Tredwell (21.0), RHP, UCLA
Tanner Hall (21.3), RHP, Southern Miss
Max Carlson (21.9), RHP, North Carolina
Hunter Owen (21.3), LHP, Vanderbilt

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