Yeah, yeah, we know, we know.
We are crazy for doing this “way too early” mock draft for the 2023 class the day after the 2022 draft ends. We said it last year, and we said it the year before that and the year before that. We’ll keep saying it. We know we’re crazy!
That’s what we do here at Baseball America. Go crazy over prospects.
Here’s our look at the top 10 picks of the 2023 draft class a year in advance. Keep in mind the top of the 2023 draft will be determined by a lottery for the first time. For this exercise we are simply using the reverse order of the current MLB standings.
1. Nationals — Dylan Crews, OF, Louisiana State
Crews was a first-round talent out of high school in 2020 but withdrew from the draft just before it kicked off. He has only cemented himself as a first-round talent in his first two years at Louisiana State, showing an exceptional blend of power, hitting ability and athleticism in the outfield. He is a strong right-handed hitter with plenty of bat speed who shows easy plus power in batting practice and has homered 40 times already in just 125 games. Crews will be the focal point of an LSU team that should be one of the most talented in the country and he matches the sort of now-physicality and tools that the Nationals have coveted—and recently acquired in the case of 2022 and 2021 first- round picks Elijah Green and Brady House. Whoever is picking first in the 2023 draft might have to think long and hard before passing up Crews’ right-handed bat.
2. Athletics — Max ClarkOF, Franklin (Ind.) Community HS
The top-ranked player on our recently updated 2023 draft list, Clark heads a group of strong outfielders that includes the previously mentioned Crews and fellow high school product Walker Jenkins. Clark might be one of the toolsiest all-around players in the 2023 class on top of being one of the best pure hitters. He has a center field profile and has turned in 70-grade run times from home-to-first consistently and has earned Jacoby Ellsbury comparisons from scouts—although his arm strength is quite a bit better than that already.
3. Reds — Chase DollanderRHP, Tennessee
The 2022 draft should show how many teams crave college pitching at the top of the first round, even in a down year for the demographic. Dollander currently stands as the top overall pitcher in the 2023 class and has exceptional stuff to go along with advanced pitching ability. His fastball is routinely around 95 mph and is likely to touch triple digits soon. He complements that heater with a solid trio of secondary offerings.
4. Cubs — Walker Jenkins, OF, South Brunswick HS, Southport, NC
Some scouts prefer Jenkins as the top high school hitter in the class, and he showed why during USA Baseball’s PDP League a few weeks ago. Jenkins has a gorgeous left-handed swing with easy bat speed, plenty of strength and showed excellent timing and the ability to drive the ball deep to all parts of the park.
5. Royals — Jacob Gonzalez, SS, Mississippi
Gonzalez made it to campus at Mississippi despite being a highly-ranked high school prospect (who was also a standout quarterback) and immediately led the team in most major offensive categories. While his 2022 season wasn’t quite as loud in the batting average category, he continued to show impressive power and patience at the plate as a left-handed hitter while also handling the team’s everyday shortstop responsibilities. As one of the more productive SEC hitters, Gonzalez would generate plenty of interest, but add on the fact that he’s a lefty-hitting shortstop and he figures to go among the first few picks in the draft with continued performance.
6. Tigers — Rhett Lowder, RHP, Wake Forest
The 2022 ACC Pitcher of the Year, Lowder showed improvement during his sophomore season with Wake Forest and was also one of the standout arms for Team USA this summer. He has a three-pitch mix with a fastball in the 93-94 mph range, a mid-80s changeup and a low-80s slider.
7. Pirates — Enrique Bradfield, OF, Vanderbilt
Bradfield is among the most exciting players in the country. A top-of-the-scale runner who covers a massive amount of ground in center field with ease, Bradfield is a terror for opposing batters and he can easily turn a single or a walk into a double with his wheels on the bases. In 2022 he stole 46 bags and wasn’t caught a single time, and he also went from a single home run as a freshman to eight as a sophomore. While power will never be a featured part of his game, adding strength to a still-lean frame could make him all the more dangerous on both sides of the ball.
8. Angels — Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida
Langford tied the Florida single-season record for home runs (26) during the 2022 season and was one of the best hitters in the country with a .356/.447/.719 slash line. The second-team All-American played left field primarily but offers some interesting defensive versatility and figuring out his most optimal defensive position in pro ball will be something scouts look for in 2023. His bat should get him drafted, though.
LSU Baseball: Five Questions to Answer Entering 2022
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9. D-backs — Kevin McGonigle, SS, Monsignor Bonner HS, Drexel Hill, Pa.
McGonigle is a barrel machine and was one of the most impressive bats at USA Baseball’s PDP League several weeks before the 2022 draft. In some ways he is similar to recent Northeastern prep shortstops Cole Young and Anthony Volpe at the same age. He doesn’t have a loud set of tools, but has a precocious feel for hitting and an aggressive approach at the plate.
10. Rangers — Will Sanders, RHP, South Carolina
Sanders drew plenty of interest out of high school as a super lanky and tall righthander who didn’t have the loudest pure stuff—but scouts knew they could dream about him filling out and adding power to his game. That is precisely what happened with Sanders at South Carolina. He’s packed on muscle and now sits in the 92-94 mph range and attacks with a downhill angle that is tough on both righties and lefties.