The 2023 MLB Draft has been completed, and it may be too early to see how many players will have an impact in the majors, there is still time to grade the picks as they stand and how much the players make sense going to their team for the future.
In a draft class loaded with talent, there could be quality players found in any of the 20 rounds of selection. There is no guarantee that a player drafted before another will be a better player, but it could be the difference between which player gets a chance to prove themselves in the big leagues.
The first round of the 2023 MLB Draft was filled with potential day one impact players and potential superstars, but the expectations of what these players can become is largely up for interpretation.
1. Pittsburgh Pirates - Paul Skenes - A
The best pitcher to come out of the draft in the last 10 years. Pittsburgh’s rotation has lacked an ace since trading Gerrit Cole in 2018, and there is a possibility that Skenes could reach the majors in 2023. Coming off one of the best individual seasons by a collegiate pitcher of all time, Skenes was ranked the number one prospect in one of the best draft classes in recent history.
2. Washington Nationals - Dylan Crews - A
It was almost certain at one point that Crews would land in Pittsburgh, but after asking for a record-breaking signing bonus, Washington ended up selecting the Golden Spikes Award winner with the second pick. Crews had one of the most decorated careers of all time by an LSU player, slashing a remarkable .380/.498/.689 across 3 seasons for the Tigers.
3. Detroit Tigers - Max Clark - A-
The first high school player to come off the board, as Clark’s impressive skills jump off the screen with 4 above-average tools. His 70-grade speed gives him a chance to stay in center field long term and was thought to be in contention to be selected No. 1. Clark projects to be at least a 20-homer bat with a sweet lefty swing that produces hard contact all over the field.
4. Texas Rangers - Wyatt Langford - A
Langford was considered to be one of, if not the best hitters in this year’s draft class. After tying the Florida single-season home run record in his sophomore campaign with 26 homers, Langford cemented himself as a potential five-tool player that has enough raw power in his bat to hit 30 home runs in a season at the big-league level.
5. Minnesota Twins - Walker Jenkins - B
Jenkins was named the top high school player in the 2023 draft in the spring and is the top prep position player to come out of North Carolina since 2000. Jenkins uses his big 6-foot-3, 210 pound frame to generate a quick and powerful swing that produces loft to the pull side and hard contact to the opposite field. Despite a hamate injury that kept him off the U.S. national 18-and-under team, his bat still projects to be a slugging right fielder with a plus arm.
6. Oakland Athletics - Jacob Wilson - C+
Perhaps the best contact hitter in the draft, Wilson has struck out just 12 times in his past 2 seasons at Grand Canyon. The son of former MLB All-Star Jack Wilson, Oakland has landed on a player they hope can be a key contributor to their rebuild as a high IQ player that is also a defensive standout. His power is starting to develop with a .635 slugging percentage as Oakland owns the worst slugging of any team in 2023.
7. Cincinnati Reds - Rhett Lowder - B+
Lowder was one of the best pitchers in college baseball in 2023, posting a 15-0 record with a 1.87 ERA across 19 starts. The ace of the regular season number one seed Wake Forest possesses some of the best control in the draft with dominant offspeed pitches that keep hitters off balance and generate more ground balls than swings and misses. His high floor puts him in the top 10 as Cincinnati continues to add arms to a rotation that has been a big part of their success in 2023.
8. Kansas City Royals - Blake Mitchell - B-
The first backstop to come off the board in 2023, despite teams having concerns about taking high school catchers in the first round. Mitchell has standout tools on both sides of the ball, with a 70-grade arm tool that also can get up to 97 on the mound. His power at the plate does not come without strikeouts, but his ability to hit the ball with loft to all fields could be in play for Kansas City.
9. Colorado Rockies - Chase Dollander - A-
Dollander was projected to be the No. 1 pick prior to the start of the season, and despite a fallback season at Tennessee, his stuff and projectability still finds him in the top 10. His fastball reaches up to 99 mph with an elite slider and developing curveball and changeup that could prove to become solid pitches.
10. Miami Marlins - Noble Meyer - B-
Meyer was widely considered the best prep arm in the class, rounding out the top 10 as Miami continues to add solid depth in the rotation. With a fastball that sits mid-90s, he adds a power slider that works down in the zone and a changeup that he sells with quality arm speed.
11. Los Angeles Angels - Nolan Schanuel - C+
Schanuel was one of the best college hitters in 2023, slashing a remarkable .447/.615/.868 for FAU, becoming the highest selected player in school history. Primarily acting as the first baseman his first two years at FAU, scouts believe he possesses enough athleticism to play a corner outfield spot. His power has started to develop, hitting 35 home runs across the last 2 seasons.
12. Arizona Diamondbacks - Tommy Troy - C
Stanford’s standout shortstop is most known for his ability to make consistent hard contact and rarely goes out of the strike zone. His speed gives him the opportunity to play anywhere in the field, after moving to third base for Stanford in 2023, but could see another switch to center field or second base as he moves through the minors.
13. Chicago Cubs - Matt Shaw - B
Shaw is one of the better hitters in this draft class, pushing himself up the draft board after winning the MVP in the Cape Cod League following his sophomore season. His ability to draw walks and barrel the ball with ease will be a factor wherever he plays in the field. His speed not only plays in the field where he shows a lot of versatility, but also on the basepaths where he’s shown to be a true basestealing threat.
14. Boston Red Sox - Kyle Teel - A
Regarded as the best catcher in the draft, Boston is able to steal the number 7 overall prospect with the 14th selection. His athleticism behind the plate saw him rise up draft boards as his bat continues to prove it can play against high-level pitching.
15. Chicago White Sox - Jacob Gonzalez - B
Gonzalez has proved to be a key player in the big moment, helping deliver Mississippi its first-ever College World Series championship in 2022. His collegiate career started with the National Freshman of the Year award in 2021, proving to be a solid contact hitter that has the potential to be a 20-homer bat. His speed is below average, but his instincts and high IQ should help him stick at shortstop.
16. San Francisco Giants - Bryce Eldridge - B-
One of the most polarizing players in this year’s draft, with a towering presence on the mound standing at 6-foot-7. As a two-way player, Eldridge displays repeatable mechanics on the mound with a mid-90s fastball and an effective slider. He features raw power at the plate and has good actions at first base.
17. Baltimore Orioles - Enrique Bradfield Jr. - B+
Considered to be the fastest player in college baseball, Bradfield totaled 130 stolen bases in his 3 seasons at Vanderbilt. He utilizes his speed by using the entire field and forcing the defense to make the play in a hurry. His elite defense is capped by a below average arm, but his ability to cut balls off and reach balls faster than any other player.
18. Milwaukee Brewers - Brock Wilken - C
Wilken profiles as the stereotypical power hitter with professional bat speed and a strong 6-foot-4 build. He set the Wake Forest and ACC record with 71 career home runs and took a step forward in 2023 limiting his strikeout total and making more consistent contact. His below-average speed could push him to first base, but his solid defense profiles him as a third baseman going forward.
19. Tampa Bay Rays - Brayden Taylor - B-
Taylor features some of the most consistent tools across the board and has performed well in the Big 12, and was an All-Star in the Cape Cod League in 2021. His power stroke found another level in 2023, setting the TCU record for single-season and career home run totals. His defense could keep him at the hot corner with enough arm strength to keep up with his range.
20. Toronto Blue Jays - Arjun Nimmala - B+
Nimmala was the 4th ranked high school prospect in the draft, and Toronto gets one of the best value picks of the first round taking the projectable shortstop with the 20th pick. His mobility and instincts in the field project him to be a long-term shortstop and if the bat comes together, Toronto could potentially have found a steal in the back-end of the first round.
21. St. Louis Cardinals - Chase Davis - B+
Davis possesses some of the best raw power of any player in the class and has learned how to use his power to all fields in the last 2 seasons. His speed is cause to keep him in center field for the time being, but his power could move him to a corner as a sweet-swinging, power hitting outfielder.
22. Seattle Mariners - Colt Emerson - C
Emerson was a two-sport athlete before his senior year, when he decided to focus on baseball. He was named the Ohio Player of the Year with a consistent left-handed swing that produces enough hard contact to have enough power to move through Seattle’s system. His average speed will most likely push him to third with enough arm strength to remain a capable defender.
23. Cleveland Guardians - Ralphy Velazquez - C+
Velazquez has some of the most raw power of any prep player in the class, with the ability to make consistent hard contact putting himself in talks of going in the first round. He has more athleticism than he gets credit for, he will get the chance to stick behind the plate but could make the move to first base.
24. Atlanta Braves - Hurston Waldrep - B+
With a legitimate three-pitch mix, Waldrep possesses some of the best power stuff of any pitcher in the draft. With a fastball that sits upper-90s, walks have been somewhat of an issue for the Florida right-hander, but his offspeed proves to be good enough to keep him in the first round. If he can command the strike zone consistently, Atlanta may have found another potential ace to plug in their rotation.
25. San Diego Padres - Dillon Head - C-
With 80-grade speed, Head uses his best tool to his advantage in center field to chase down balls from gap-to-gap and move all around the field. His bat will most likely not produce much power, but he profiles as a potential top-of-the-lineup bat that could easily steal 40 bases per year.
26. New York Yankees - George Lombard Jr. - C
New York goes to a familiar path, going with another high school shortstop in the first round. With intriguing tools that raises questions of where he will stick defensively, his speed will most likely keep him on the left side of the infield. His swing is filled with raw power that he can still tap into, but strikeouts could be a concern going forward.
27. Philadelphia Phillies - Aidan Miller - B+
Already 19 years old, Miller fell to Philadelphia at the 27th pick, and possesses enough power to be a middle of the order bat that could produce 25-30 homers per year. His actions could keep him at third in the short term, but as he continues to grow into his body, he could make the switch to first base.
28. Houston Astros - Brice Matthews - C-
Matthews was one of the best athletes in the Big Ten, as his 60-grade speed was his highest graded tool going into the draft. There is some swing-and-miss in his game, but if he is able to make consistent hard contact, he could prove to be a powerful bat at the next level. Currently a shortstop, his athleticism could see him move to the outfield.
32. New York Mets - Colin Houck - B
Houck projects to be a shortstop with his speed and shows the ability to pull the ball with authority from the right side. His swing comes with some swing and miss, but he has proved to be more consistent while using more of the whole field. He could end up making the move to third as he fills out, but he has enough athleticism to stick up the middle for the coming years.
36. Los Angeles Dodgers - Kendall George - C+
George is considered one of the fastest players in the draft, showcasing his speed every chance he gets. His speed drives his game, moving around center field with ease and a short swing from the left side built to make contact.