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Grades for every pick in the first round of the 2023 MLB Draft

We’re give out grades for each pick in the first round from Seattle on Sunday night.

Harold Reynolds talks to the MLB draft prospects before the 2023 MLB Draft at Lumen Field on July 09, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

After days, weeks, even months of speculation, we’re finally here. The 2023 MLB Draft starts tonight at 7 pm ET, with the Pittsburgh Pirates on the clock at No. 1 overall.

The top college players available are outfielders Dylan Crews (LSU) and Wyatt Langford (Florida), along with LSU righthander Paul Skenes, the 2023 College Player of the Year. Indiana prep outfielder Max Clark, the 2023 High School Player of the Year, and outfielder Walker Jenkins from North Carolina, are the top-ranked high school players.

Below is the full draft order, followed by analysis of every pick in the first round as it happens.

2023 MLB Draft live grades

1. Pittsburgh Pirates — Paul Skenes, RHP, LSU

Grade: A-

The only mistake Pittsburgh could’ve made here was getting cute in an effort to save money. Skenes, Dylan Crews and Wyatt Langford were all eminently defensible choices, but Skenes — a generational pitching prospect who dominated en route to a national title with the Tigers this year — fits nicely into a Pirates system that has impact bats at the top but could really use a top-of-the-rotation arm. So why isn’t this an A+? It’s just much riskier to take a pitcher than a hitter, especially when two proven elite college options were available.

2. Washington Nationals — Dylan Crews, OF, LSU

Grade: A+

After much speculation, the Tigers went 1-2 at the top, just as we predicted they might the minute they captured the College World Series. Crews began the year as the frontrunner to go number one overall, and while he wound up going No. 2, he did nothing to disprove that notion on the field. Crews is every bit the prospect Skenes is, neck-and-neck with Adley Rutschman as the best position players the draft has seen in recent memory after slashing a ridiculous .426/.567/.713 with 18 homers for LSU this past season. He hit the ball harder than anyone in the country, and he projects to stick in center field in the Majors.

3. Detroit Tigers — Max Clark, OF, Franklin Community HS (IN)

Grade: B+

We have our first (relative) surprise. With Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford still on the board, the Tigers elected to make Clark the first high schooler selected. In any other draft, the Vandy commit would’ve been smack in the middle of the 1.1 conversation, a plus-plus bat with a smooth lefty swing and great speed and instincts in center. The one question mark is whether he’ll develop power as he grows and fills out, but Clark is as proven as any prep you’ll see. (He also has among the strongest TikTok games around.) Langford is just a bit more of a sure thing, and he’s the only ding against this pick.

4. Texas Rangers — Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida

Grade: A

As good as Skenes and Crews were this past season, there’s an argument for Langford — who fell a game short against LSU in the CWS final — as the best player in this draft. He’s not quite the athlete Crews is, but he actually hits the ball in the air a bit more consistently, with superior bat-to-ball skills. In any other draft, we’d be talking about Langford as the generational prospect, and he’s a coup for the Rangers.

5. Minnesota Twins — Walker Jenkins, OF, South Brunswick HS (NC)

Grade: B

The fifth guy in what’s largely considered a five-player draft, there was some talk that Jenkins was in play at No. 1 if the Pirates wanted a cheaper option. If you’re a sucker for a beautiful lefty swing — and who isn’t, really — Jenkins is your guy, an easy plus hit/plus power projection who’s a better athlete in the outfield than he gets credit for. Still, he’ll likely be relegated to a corner spot in the pros, which does cap his long-term value unless he really, really hits.

6. Oakland Athletics — Jacob Wilson, SS, Grand Canyon

Grade: D

The son of 12-year big leaguer Jack Wilson — yes, we’re all old — Jacob can hit much more than his glove-first father, although this still feels like a bit of a reach. Contact skills are the name of his game; the younger Wilson slashed .412/.461/.635 this past year and is one of the better pure hitters in the class. The question is how much damage he can do with that contact, as he’s never hit for very much power and his exit velocities weren’t great. This draft was also going to open up after the first five picks, but there was more impact talent available.

7. Cincinnati Reds — Rhett Lowder, RHP, Wake Forest

Grade: B

The Reds are rich in young position players, from recent call-ups Elly De La Cruz and Matt McLain to farmhands like Noelvi Marte and Christian Encarnacion-Strand. The pitching staff, however, remains pretty sketchy, which makes Lowder a solid fit here. The most dominant non-Skenes college pitcher in the country this season, the two-time ACC pitcher of the year posted a 1.87 ERA over 19 starts for the Demon Deacons. The stuff backs that up, with a slider and change that both projected as plus pitches — the latter was probably the best changeup in the country in 2023. He lacks the top velocity or high upside of other pitchers in this class, but he’s as safe a mid-rotation prospect as you’ll find, and he should move quickly through Cincy’s system.

8. Kansas City Royals — Blake Mitchell, C, Sinton HS (TX)

Grade: C-

Man, I don’t know. Mitchell has an awfully smooth lefty swing, with plus hit and plus power a very real possibility. But the track record of high school catchers drafted in the first round is really not great — it’s probably the worst demographic to pull from in terms of success rate. Maybe Mitchell will buck that trend; the bat is certainly good enough, and he has the athleticism to move elsewhere if catching doesn’t work out. But this is way too much risk for not enough ceiling at this point in the draft.

9. Colorado Rockies — Rhett Dollander, RHP, Tennessee

Grade: B+

Look, the only path forward for Colorado is to keep trying to develop homegrown pitching, and Dollander’s upside is as high as anyone’s — entering the 2023 season, the big righty was actually ahead of Skenes on most draft boards. He backslid badly this year, though, especially with his command, with a 4.75 ERA and 30 walks in 89 innings. Still, this is an electric arm, an explosive high-90s fastball with elite ride and a potential plus slider. He may never learn how to land it consistently, but again, when you call Coors Field home, you need to take bigger swings.

10. Miami Marlins — Noble Meyer, RHP, Jesuit HS (OR)

Grade: B

In a draft heavy on college arms, Meyer was the consensus best high school pitcher available. He’s got a big, athletic frame at 6’5, 185 pounds, the kind you see in the dictionary next to the word “projectable”. It’s repeats whippy, crossfire delivery, but he repeats it well, and it makes his stuff harder to pick up. The slider is already a swing-and-miss offering, he has decent feel for a nascent changeup and his fastball velocity jumped this past year — you don’t have to squint too hard to see a real three-pitch mix coming from a body that can hold up over the long haul. It’s a package to dream on, and while high school arms are a risky group, Meyer is going to an organization with quite the recent track record of developing pitchers.

11. Los Angeles Angels — Nolan Schanuel, 1B, Florida Atlantic

Grade: D

The numbers jump off the page: Schanuel hit .447/.615/.868 for the Owls in 2023, with a comical 71/14 BB/K ratio. Of course, as is often the case, the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Schanuel is limited to first base already, which puts a ton of pressure on his bat to produce at the highest level. Whether he can continue mashing like this as he climbs the ladder is very much a question — he hit .200 and slugged .272 in Cape Cod’s wooden-bat league last summer — and if he doesn’t there’s nothing to fall back on.

12. Arizona Diamondbacks — Tommy Troy, 2B/3B

Grade: B+

Troy is a hitter’s hitter, utilizing elite bat speed to square up just about everything, especially fastballs — he didn’t whiff a single time on pitches 95+ mph this season. And unlike Jacob Wilson, Troy’s contact is consistently loud and in the air. Troy put up a .917 OPS on the Cape last summer before slashing .394/.478/.699 at Stanford this spring, so while there isn’t a ton more growth left, there are next to no questions about his bat. He’s a great bet to hit at or near the top of the order while playing a solid second or third base.

13. Chicago Cubs — Matt Shaw, 2B, Maryland

Grade: B

Troy and Shaw have long been grouped together as two polished college infielders, so it’s fitting that they go back-to-back. Shaw’s wonky batting stance — and easier competition in the Big 10 as opposed to the Pac-12 — introduce a bit more risk than his Stanford counterpart, but he too dominated on the Cape and hits the ball hard and in the air with consistency.

14. Boston Red Sox — Kyle Teel, C, Virginia

Grade: B

Teel was projected in the top 10 in most mocks after hitting a ridiculous .407/.475/.655 and showing off legit skills behind the plate for the Hoos. If anything, his contact skills might be too good: He can get the bat to anything, which, combined with some iffy swing decisions, can result in some weak grounders and flyouts on balls outside or on the fringes of the strike zone. Still, there’s no doubt that he can stick at catcher — a position of need for Boston — and he should move quickly and at least hit for a solid average. It’s good value, but the riskiness inherent in drafting a backtop dings this pick slightly, though.

15. Chicago White Sox — Jacob Gonzalez, SS, Mississippi

Grade: B-

Gonzalez did it for three years in the toughest conference in the country, and he’s at least average just about everywhere on the scouting report. He’s a good bet to stick at shortstop, he makes consistent contact and he has at least a bit of pop — he’s a very safe pick, in other words, and sometimes guys like this with very few weaknesses become more than the sum of their parts. (Of course, sometimes they also get exposed up the ladder.)

16. San Francisco Giants — Bryce Eldridge, 1B/RHP, James Madison HS (VA)

Grade: C+

With most two-way guys, you generally have a good sense of which side they’ll wind up on. It’s an open question with Eldridge, though, after he excelled both at the plate and on the mound during the summer showcase circuit. The 6’7 slugger has massive power from the left side, but it’s unclear whether his hit tool will hold up. As a pitcher, meanwhile, he sits in the mid-90s with his fastball and boasts a nice slider and changeup. Rob Manfred announced Eldridge as a two-way guy, which suggests that the Giants will let him try to do both professionally, so he’ll be fun to monitor — but I’m not convinced that he’s good enough to be a regular at the plate or a starter on the mound.

17. Baltimore Orioles — Enrique Bradfield Jr., OF, Vanderbilt

Grade: B+

There he is. Bradfield is a downright electric athlete: He stole 130 bases in 143 tries over three years at Vandy, and he was the best defensive center fielder in the country. He’s not hopeless at the plate — he hit .311 in college, and he makes tons of contact — but he slugged just .429, so the glove and the speed will have to carry the profile. There’s a chance he winds up as Myles Straw; there’s also a chance that an O’s organization that’s churned out quality hitters of late unlocks more loft and power in his swing and he becomes a star. No. 17 overall is a good time to take the gamble.

18. Milwaukee Brewers — Brock Wilken, 3B, Wake Forest

Grade: C+

Wilken is what you think of when you think of a stereotypical power-hitting corner infielder. He absolutely crushed the ball for a powerhouse Wake team, his third straight year of great production (he eventually captured the ACC’s career home-run record). There is swing-and-miss here, though, as well as questions about whether he’ll be able to stick at third as he matures. It’s a rock-solid profile with the best game power in this draft class, but the margin for error is pretty slim — if the bat falls apart amid a pile of strikeouts, there’s not much to fall back on.

19. Tampa Bay Rays — Brayden Taylor, 3B, TCU

Grade: B+

I love the fit here. Taylor made the choice to trade in some contact for power in his junior year in Fort Worth, upping his SLG from .576 to .631 while striking out 20 more times. It’s not overwhelming power, but he drives the ball from line-to-line, and the Rays are exactly the right team to maximize his swing decisions and help his increased power stick in the pros without collapsing his hit tool. With the potential to be plus at third base, Taylor reminds a bit of current Ray Brandon Lowe, who was blossoming into a star before back injuries derailed his trajectory.

20. Toronto Blue Jays — Arjun Nimmala, Strawberry Crest HS (FL)

Grade: A-

One of my personal favorite players in this draft, Nimmala is boom-or-bust in the extreme. Nimmala’s parents came to the U.S. from India, and their son opted for baseball over cricket as he grew up. He’s still just 17, and the upside is massive — he plays a very smooth shortstop and hits the ball very, very hard when he makes contact, and he’s done it all facing guys typically a year his senior. There’s a chance the hit tool never develops and he flames out in the Minors; there’s also a chance that he turns into Carlos Correa.

21. St. Louis Cardinals — Chase Davis, OF, Arizona

Grade: A

Of course Davis fell to the Cardinals. St. Louis turns out quality hitters as well as any organization in the league, and they have quite the starting point in the Arizona outfielder, whose production this past season wasn’t too far off of Crews and Langford. Why did he fall this far? There were a lot of red flags prior to 2023, and he really only has one year of this sort of production; his first two years in Tucson were pretty pedestrian, and he struggled in wood-bat summer leagues. Still, guys who can square the ball up this often and stick in center field don’t come around very often, and the Cardinals are a team to bet on.

22. Seattle Mariners — Cole Emerson, SS, Glenn HS (OH)

Grade: B-

One of the youngest players in this class, Emerson won’t turn 18 for another 10 days, although that belies his level of polish. Still, there are red flags here, namely a likelihood that he’ll move off shortstop as he grows and the risk that he won’t hit for very much power. There’s a chance that he grows into 20-homer pop from a middle-infield spot, but there’s also a chance that none of his tools ever sticks out.

23. Cleveland Guardians — Ralphy Velazquez, C/1B, Huntington Beach HS (CA)

Grade: B-

Velazquez blew up this spring, crushing the ball on the showcase circuit and watching his draft stock rise. The bat has middle-of-the-order potential; there’s a ton of raw power with better feel for hitting than you’d expect, and his exit velocities are among the best you’ll see from a high schooler. The real question is question is whether he can stick behind the plate, the answer to which depends on which particular scout you ask. If he doesn’t first base is really the only other viable option, which will put a ton of pressure on his bat to live up to its billing.

24. Atlanta Braves — Hurston Waldrep, SP, Florida

Grade: A-

A prediction: A few years from now we’ll be kicking ourselves, wondering how the league managed to let Waldrep fall to the Braves’ pitching development machine. The righty’s split-change is in the running for the title of best pitch in the draft, and he pairs it with a mid-to-upper 90s fastball. His command regressed badly this past season at Florida — he put up a 4.16 ERA and a 5 BB/9 — and his fastball is more hittable than the velocity would suggest, but he’s among the most obvious candidates to take a leap in the right landing spot. Apologies to the rest of baseball.

25. San Diego Padres — Dillon Head, OF, Homewood-Flossmoor HS (IL)

Grade: B-

All respect to Bradfield, Head might be the single fastest guy in this draft. It’s genuine top-of-the scale speed, and he knows how to leverage both on the bases and in center field. The offensive projection is far shakier, with a pull-happy approach that leaves plenty of questions about his hit tool. The speed and defense provide a good floor in case the bat never materializes, at least.

26. New York Yankees — George Lombard Jr., SS/3B, Gulliver Prep HS (FL)

Grade: B

Son of George Lombard, former big leaguer and current Tigers bench coach, Lombard Jr. certainly looks like the part at 6’3, 190. He has all the raw power that frame would suggest, and when the Vanderbilt commit gets into one, it shows. The questions, predictably, lie in where he’ll ultimately end up on defense and whether he can improve the quality of his at-bats to tap into that power more consistently. He’s likely to land at third base, so he’ll have to hit, but it’s not the worst bet here.

27. Philadelphia Phillies — Aidan Miller, 3B, Mitchell HS (FL)

Grade: B+

Miller gives off some distinct Josh Donaldson vibes, a third base-only infield prospect with plenty of pop from an absolutely violent right-handed swing. He’s already physically impressive at 6’2, 205 — he is a Phillies pick, after all — and he proved over the summer showcase circuit that he can get it into games even against the best pitching (and velocity) of his age cohort. There’s always risk involved in betting on high schoolers to hit their way to the Majors, but there’s a ton of potential to dream on.

28. Houston Astros — Brice Matthews, SS, Nebraska

Grade: C

How much do you believe in the 2023 gains? Matthews struggled in his first two years in Lincoln, batting just .266 with some shaky play at short. He erupted this past season, though, slashing .359/.481/.723 with 20 homers and 20 steals. The exit velocity and athleticism is elite, but he could have his swing-and-miss tendencies exposed against pro pitching, and he feels like a bit of a reach here.

Prospect promotion incentive picks

29. Seattle Mariners — Jonny Farmelo, OF, Westfield HS (VA)

Grade: B

Farmelo had some real helium as we approached draft day, a rangy athlete at 6’2, 205 pounds who can stick in center field moving forward. If it all hits, he’s above-average or better across the board, with the ability to barrel up the ball consistently and some power potential if he taps into more of his physicality. Worst case, the athleticism should give him a Major League floor.

Competitive Balance Round A

30. Seattle Mariners — Tai Peete, SS, Trinity Christian HS (GA)

Grade: C+

The Mariners had three picks tonight, and they used them all on toolsy, intriguing high school position players. Peete’s one of the youngest players in the draft, with lightning-quick bat speed and a ton of pop and leverage from a 6’2 frame. The athleticism and potential isn’t in question; the approach at the plate very much is, and he’s a bit raw right now. You can’t accuse Seattle of not aiming high, though.

31. Tampa Bay Rays — Adrian Santana, SS, Doral Academy (FL)

Grade: B-

Santana might be 150 pounds sopping wet, but he already possesses two elite tools: top-of-the-scale speed and excellent defense at shortstop. How much he can add to that profile is anyone’s guess; he might get the bat knocked out of his hands at higher levels. Still, if he can add strength to his 5’11 frame he should at least be able to hit for average, with the potential to start and hit at the bottom of the order while generating most of his value with the glove.

32. New York Mets — Colin Houck, SS, Parkview HS (GA)

Grade: A-

Steve Cohen is bringing out the bag. A two-sport star with SEC offers as a quarterback, Houck’s name was frequently mentioned in the top half of the first round, sliding both due to swing-and-miss and signability concerns. Still, he could grow by leaps and bounds as he finally commits to baseball full-time, and he has a strong, well-built frame that generates plus power already from a relatively quiet, direct swing. He’ll likely need to slide to third as he matures, but if the bat hits, it’ll play anywhere

33. Milwaukee Brewers — Josh Knoth, RHP, Patchogue-Medford HS (NY)

Grade: C-

A relatively undersized right-hander with a questionable fastball but a lights-out, power curve? Hey, it worked for Lance McCullers Jr. (well, at least until arm trouble got in the way). McCullers is the exception, though, not the rule, and with effort to his delivery and a lack of a third pitch, there’s real reliever risk with Knoth already. Milwaukee has become a bit of a pitching factory of late, but the odds are stacked against them here.

34. Minnesota Twins — Charlee Soto, RHP, Reborn Christian Academy (FLA)

Grade: B+

How’d you like to be 6’5, 210 pounds at just 17 years old? Soto’s arrow is pointing straight up, moving from shortstop to the mound as he continued to grow and focusing on pitching full-time over the past year. The fastball is electric, and the offspeed pitches show enough to dream on given how relatively few reps he’s had. He throws everything hard with reasonable command from a stereotypical starter’s frame, and he’s just getting started.

35. Miami Marlins — Thomas White, LHP, Phillips Academy (MA)

Grade: B

The Marlins have gone ahead and snagged the top two prep pitchers in this draft. White is officially the first high school left-hander from the state of Massachusetts to be taken in the first round, and it’s not hard to see why — it’s not often you find teenagers who are 6’5 with mid-90s velocity and a potentially plus, high-spin curveball. High school lefties are an inherently risky proposition, but it’s not hard to see him developing into a mid-rotation arm with a solid three-pitch mix.

36. Los Angeles Dodgers — Kendall George, OF, Atascocita HS (TX)

Grade: C

It’s reductive to liken George to the other prominent speedy, defense-first outfielder in this draft, but there’s more than a little Enrique Bradfield Jr. to George’s game. Standing 5’10, 170 pounds and hitting from the left side, he’s a spitting image of Juan Pierre, and he’s got those type of wheels and the ability to go get it in center. Also like Pierre, it’s compact, contact-oriented approach at the plate, with virtually no power projection. George is very likely to develop into some sort of useful Major Leaguer, but this feels like a low-ceiling pick.

37. Detroit Tigers — Kevin McGonigle, SS, Monsignor Bonner HS (PA)

Grade: A-

We’ve seen a lot of guys with hit tool questions to this point in the draft. McGonigle is not one of them, even as a prepster. There’s some Chase Utley here if you squint — a gritty, left-handed middle infielder who sprays line drives with a short, simple stroke. He’s a bit old for his class, and he’s an average athlete who might have to move off short. He’s also one of the best pure hitters in this class with the 37th pick, and while there are questions about his future power, they had those questions about Utley, too.

38. Cincinnati Reds — Ty Floyd, RHP, LSU

Grade: B-

Floyd has long flashed considerable talent — he was most recently seen striking out 17 Florida Gators in the CWS final last month — but it’s never lasted for more than a couple of starts at a time. His fastball is a vertical movement monster, with great shape that helps it play better than its average velocity. He still doesn’t have much in the way of a secondary offering, but if you look hard enough, there’s some Bryce Miller to this profile.

39. Oakland Athletics — Myles Naylor, 3B, St. Joan of Arc Catholic SS (Ontario, Canada)

Grade: C+

One more Naylor brother for the road. With Josh and Bo currently tag-teaming it in Cleveland, the youngest of the three will start his pro career in Oakland’s system. Unlike his two older brothers, Naylor hits from the right side, showing solid raw power that’s not quite as big as Josh’s and a solid approach without having quite the hit tool of Bo. There are a lot of average or above-average tools here, which makes his relative lack of polish — he has a hard time laying off spin, in particular — concerning.