2023 MLB Mock Draft: Pirates go with LSU standout at No. 1, plus projections for entire first round – CBS Sports

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The 2023 MLB Draft is here. 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.
The Pirates won the draft lottery in December and hold the No. 1 selection in the 2023 draft. It is the sixth time they’ve held the No. 1 pick, the most among all teams. Pittsburgh used their previous five No. 1 picks on Jeff King (1986), Kris Benson (1996), Bryan Bullington (2002), Gerrit Cole (2011), and the recently called up Henry Davis (2021).
“The first choice is really important, to state the obvious,” Pirates GM Ben Cherington told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review recently. “Every team’s job is to get as much total talent out of every draft as they can. Historically, when you have the first pick, the biggest portion of that is going to be for the first pick so we have to consider that. History says that that’s where the best player is going to come from. But the whole draft is important and our job is to get as much as we can out of it.”
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.
Here are R.J. Anderson’s top 30 draft prospects and here are our first and our second 2023 first round mock drafts. Below is our third and final mock draft based on the latest chatter, rumors, and speculation.
Pick:& OF Dylan Crews, LSU (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 1)
Slot value: $9,721,000
MLB.com’s Jim Callis recently mentioned Crews is seeking $10 million, which would smash the current bonus record of the draft pool era (Spencer Torkelson at $8.4 million). That said, we always hear the No. 1 prospect wants an enormous number this time of year. That $10 million ask strikes me as a bluff worth calling. Realistically, can Crews go back to LSU for his senior year and improve his stock? Probably not. That said, I expect him to get a record bonus ($9 million?).
The other two players linked to Pittsburgh and the No. 1 pick are righty Paul Skenes, Crews’ teammate at LSU, and high school outfielder Max Clark, who is rumored to be open to a discount. The minimum bonus is 75% of slot value, so that’s $7,290,750 for the No. 1 pick. The minimum bonus at No. 1 is better than a slot bonus at No. 5 ($7,139,700). Under Cherington, the team’s M.O. has been to take hitters early, so I’m not sure Skenes is the preference, nor would I rule out Florida masher Wyatt Langford. I’m not a fan of playing games with the No. 1 pick. Just take the best player — Crews — and pay him.
June 18 mock pick: Crews
June 28 mock pick: Crews
Pick: RHP Paul Skenes, LSU (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 5)
Slot value: $8,998,500
It would be a stunner if Crews makes it beyond this pick. History tells us the Nationals take the best player when they draft this high and Crews is the consensus No. 1 prospect in the draft class. And, if Washington has to pay him $10 million to get it done, they’ll target discounts with later picks to make the money work. With Crews off the board in our mock draft, Skenes is the pick here, though a case could be made for Florida slugger Wyatt Langford instead. Skenes had a loud finish to the season in the College World Series and that positioned him well for this No. 2 pick.
June 18 mock pick Skenes
June 28 mock pick: Skenes
Pick: OF Wyatt Langford, Florida (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 2)
Slot value: $8,341,700
Although the Tigers have been connected to just about every player expected to come off the board in the top 4-5 picks, word is they are zeroing in on a college hitter. Langford is the best available college hitter in our mock draft and the best available college hitter in the draft class behind Crews. Detroit has an extra competitive balance pick (No. 37) and could take a player at a discount here, and use the bonus pool savings on a top talent who falls to No. 37. Virginia backstop Kyle Teel is a possible target for such a strategy.
June 18 mock pick: Langford
June 28 mock pick: Langford
Pick: OF Max Clark, Franklin HS (Indiana) (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 4)
Slot value: $7,698,700
Clark and fellow high school outfielder Walker Jenkins are the best players still available in our mock draft and the Rangers had plenty of eyes on both this spring. Texas forfeited multiple picks to sign Jacob deGrom and Nathan Eovaldi as qualified free agents, so their second selection will not come until the fourth round (No. 108). This pick could come down to money. Whichever one of Clark or Jenkins is willing take the biggest discount could be the pick, allowing the Rangers to use any savings on other players later in the draft, and giving them greater flexibility overall. I’m guessing Texas would love the Tigers to go the discount route and leave Langford on the board for them at No. 4.
June 18 mock pick: OF Walker Jenkins, South Brunswick HS (North Carolina)
June 28 mock pick: Clark
Pick: C Kyle Teel, Virginia (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 7)
Slot value: $7,139,700
The Twins moved up from No. 13 to No. 5 in the draft lottery and the consensus is five players (Clark, Crews, Jenkins, Langford, Skenes) stand out from the pack in this draft class, so Minnesota can simply take whichever one is still available. That’s Jenkins in our mock draft. However, recent draft history indicates Minnesota’s model prefers college hitters, and they’ve been connected to Teel, TCU slugger Brayden Taylor, and Mississippi shortstop Jacob Gonzalez the last few weeks.
June 18 mock pick: OF Max Clark, Franklin HS (Indiana)
June 28 mock pick: OF Walker Jenkins, South Brunswick HS (North Carolina)
Pick: 3B Brayden Taylor, TCU (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 30)
Slot value: $6,634,000
The Athletics have been linked to college bats all spring, basically anyone with a chance to go in the first round, and the rumors are strong enough that passing on Jenkins would not be a surprise. Taylor finished the season very well with the Horned Frogs after stumbling out of the gate, well enough that he’s now back in the mix for a top 10 pick.
June 18 mock pick: C Kyle Teel, Virginia
June 28 mock pick: SS Jacob Wilson, Grand Canyon
Pick: OF Walker Jenkins, South Brunswick HS (North Carolina) (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 3)
Slot value: $6,275,200
Things really begin to open up around this pick and it seems unlikely Jenkins, or any of the other consensus top five (Clark, Crews, Langford, Skenes), will make it beyond this pick. The Reds were tied mostly to college arms earlier this spring but those rumors have faded a bit, and Cincinnati seems open to pretty much anything depending how the six picks ahead of them play out.
June 18 mock pick: RHP Rhett Lowder, Wake Forest
June 28 mock pick: RHP Chase Dollander, Tennessee
Pick: C Blake Mitchell, Sinton HS (Texas) (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 23)
Slot value: $5,980,100
The Royals and Mitchell have been a steady connection in recent weeks, as has the Royals and Teel, who is not available here in our mock draft. The track record of high school catchers in pro ball is not very good, but Mitchell has enough bat and athleticism to move to a corner outfield spot down the line, if necessary. Kansas City has a competitive balance pick (No. 66) and Mitchell is a candidate to take a discount here because he might fall out of the top 20 otherwise. A below slot deal with Mitchell would set the Royals up well financially for the rest of the draft.
June 18 mock pick: SS Jacob Wilson, Grand Canyon
June 29 mock pick: Mitchell
Pick: RHP Chase Dollander, Tennessee (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 8)
Slot value: $5,716,900
If you’re a draft-eligible pitcher, chances are the Rockies have scouted you this spring. They’ve been tied to every pitcher with a chance to go in the first round, particularly the college guys, and Dollander has had a lot of top 10 buzz the last few weeks. The case can be made he is the second-most talented pitcher in the draft class behind Skenes, though there are enough inconsistencies that he could slide much further down the board.
June 18 mock pick: RHP Noble Meyer, Jesuit HS (Oregon)
June 28 mock pick: RHP Rhett Lowder, Wake Forest
Pick: SS Jacob Wilson, Grand Canyon (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 22)
Slot value: $5,475,300
Analytic models love Wilson, the son of longtime big leaguer Jack Wilson, because he’s performed everywhere he’s played and has posted exceptionally high contact rates. The Marlins have a competitive balance pick (No. 35), though it doesn’t sound like they are hunting a discount here so they can spend the bonus pool savings later.
June 18 mock pick: SS Jacob Gonzalez, Mississippi
June 28 mock pick: C Kyle Teel, Virginia
Pick: RHP Rhett Lowder, Wake Forest (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 15)
Slot value: $5,253,000
The safe bet is the Angels will take a quick-mover who will be among the first 2023 draftees to reach the big leagues. Lowder had a tremendous spring with the Demon Deacons and his arsenal has already been optimized by the player development gurus at Wake Forest. He’s essentially a plug-and-play pitching prospect, though there is debate about his ultimate ceiling. Some see a solid back-end guy more than a difference-maker.
June 18 mock pick: OF Enrique Bradfield Jr., Vanderbilt
June 28 mock pick: SS Jacob Gonzalez, Mississippi
Pick: SS Colin Houck, Parkview HS (Georgia) (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 13)
Slot value: $5,043,800
Once you get outside the top few picks, matching players to teams is roughly 95% guesswork and 5% intel, but this one has been a solid connection all spring. The Diamondbacks have been in on Houck heavily. He has big power and he played both baseball and football in high school, and the thinking is he’ll really blossom as a ballplayer once he focuses on the diamond full-time.
June 18 mock pick: Houck
June 28 mock pick: Houck
Pick: OF Enrique Bradfield Jr., Vanderbilt (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 9)
Slow value: $4,848,500
The Cubs have been linked to every demographic (college hitter, college pitcher, high school hitter, high school pitcher, etc.) at one point or another, so they’re difficult to pin down. They have taken a college player with nine of their last 10 first-round picks with largely the same front office in place, so I’m inclined to think they’ll go the same route again this year. Bradfield is a dynamic speed threat and the best leadoff hitter prospect in this year’s draft.
June 18 mock pick: SS Matt Shaw, Maryland
June 28 mock pick: SS Arjun Nimmala, Strawberry Crest HS (Florida)
Pick: OF Chase Davis, Arizona (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 10)
Slot value: $4,663,100
Some teams have a “type” on draft day and the Red Sox are among them. They’ve used their last four first-round picks on hitters with aesthetically-pleasing swings and premium ball-tracking data (exit velocity, etc.). All four also went to high schoolers, but I don’t get the sense they’re opposed to a college player. Davis played very well down the stretch for Arizona and he hits the ball as hard as just about anyone in the draft class.
June 18 mock pick: SS Aiden Miller, Mitchell HS (Florida)
June 28 mock pick: SS Matt Shaw, Maryland
Pick: RHP Hurston Waldrep (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 14)
Slot value: $4,448,600 slot value
There are folks in the industry who consider Waldrep the second-best pitching prospect in the draft class. His arm talent and power three-pitch mix (fastball, changeup, slider) is undeniable, but control has been an issue at times. I think that, worst case scenario, Waldrep will be a lockdown high leverage reliever (as long as he stays healthy, of course). The White Sox have been linked to all the top college pitchers as well as a host of college hitters projected to come off the board in this range.
June 18 mock pick: SS Arjun Nimmala, Strawberry Crest HS (Florida)
June 28 mock draft: 3B Brayden Taylor, TCU
Pick: SS Matt Shaw, Maryland (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 11)
Slot value: $4,326,600
Shaw wowed at the MLB Draft Combine last month and he is adored by scouts and statheads alike. He’s a candidate to come off the board much earlier than this, perhaps even in the 6-10 range, and I have a hard time seeing Shaw lasting beyond this pick. The Giants have been very college heavy early on in the last few drafts and Shaw is right up their alley as a high-end performer who checks all the analytical boxes as well.
June 18 mock pick: SS Walker Martin, Eaton HS (Colorado)
June 28 mock pick: OF Enrique Bradfield Jr., Vanderbilt
Pick: RHP Noble Meyer, Jesuit HS (Oregon) (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 16)
Slot value: $4,169,700
This one is a bit off the board because the Orioles, under GM Mike Elias, have targeted hitters with elite exit velocities in the early rounds, then stocked up on pitching later. Conditions are ripe to buck that trend this year. Meyer is the best high school pitcher in the draft class and he has outrageously good analytical data on his arsenal. This draft is deep in bats and the O’s have a competitive balance pick (No. 63). Elias & Co. could be opportunistic by using this selection on a pitcher with the kind of stuff rarely available this late in the first round, knowing there will still be quality bats available later on.
June 18 mock pick: 1B/RHP Bryce Eldridge, James Madison HS (Virginia)
June 28 mock pick: Eldridge
Pick: SS Jacob Gonzalez, Mississippi (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 21)
Slot value: $4,021,400
The Brewers have used their last few first-round picks on college hitters who a) were very good athletes at up-the-middle positions, b) showed strong underlying data (contact rates, exit velocity, etc.), and c) weren’t necessarily expected to be available for their pick. In other words, Milwaukee has jumped on college hitters who slipped for whatever reason, and in our mock draft that’s Gonzalez, who is reportedly in play as high as the No. 6 pick.
June 18 mock pick: 3B Brayden Taylor, TCU
June 28 mock pick: 3B Yohandy Morales, Miami
Pick: 1B/RHP Bryce Eldridge, James Madison HS (Virginia) (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 24)
Slot value: $3,880,100
Eldridge is the best two-way prospect in the draft class — he’s said he wants to pitch and hit as long as possible — and the Rays have shown a willingness to let players try the two-way thing in pro ball (Brendan McKay, Tanner Dodson, etc.). If that doesn’t work out, Eldridge has serious thump from the left side of the plate, and could be a long-term middle of the lineup hitter. Tampa Bay also has a competitive balance pick (No. 31) and thus plenty of bonus pool money to play with should an unexpected opportunity arise.
June 18 mock pick: C Blake Mitchell, Sinton HS (Texas)
June 28 mock pick: SS Aiden Miller, Mitchell HS (Florida)
Pick: SS Arjun Nimmala, Strawberry Crest HS (Florida) (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 6)
Slot value: $3,746,000
A spring that has featured more swing and miss than expected created concerns with Nimmala, who has an explosive swing and a chance to stay at shortstop. He’s also one of the youngest players in the draft class. Nimmala is a long-term project, but this late in the draft, not one available offers more upside, and in recent years the Blue Jays have shown a willingness to roll the dice on talented players with red flags.
June 18 mock pick: RHP Chase Dollander, Tennessee
June 28 mock pick: RHP Noble Meyer, Jesuit HS (Oregon)
Pick: SS Tommy Troy, Stanford (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 12)
Slot value: $3,618,200
The Cardinals have been linked mostly to college hitters in recent weeks and there are still several good ones available in our mock draft. Troy is arguably the best all-around college bat still on the board and he performed extremely well down the stretch in the college postseason. This late in the first round though, St. Louis has cast a wide net, as has everyone else.
June 18 mock pick: RHP Hurston Waldrep, Florida
June 28 mock pick: 1B Nolan Schanuel, Florida Atlantic
Pick:  LHP Joe Whitman, Kent State (CBS Sports top 30 rank: Unranked)
Slot value: $3,496,600
This draft is very deep overall but it is fairly thin on left-handed pitching. Whitman emerged as the best college lefty the last few weeks and the best college lefty pretty much always goes in the first round (you have to go back to 1979 for the last time a college lefty was not taken in the first round). The Mariners have knocked it out of the park with college arms in recent years (Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, etc.) and Whitman, who threw 5 2/3 total innings his freshman and sophomore seasons at Purdue before transferring to Kent State this spring, seems to be just scratching the surface of his ability.
It should be noted Seattle also holds the No. 29 pick (Prospect Promotion Incentive pick for Julio Rodríguez winning AL Rookie of the Year) and No. 30 pick (competitive balance) pick. They have three early picks and a large bonus pool, and the thinking is they will go with a below slot college player here, then spend huge on two top talents who fall to Nos. 29 and 30.
June 18 mock pick: 1B Nolan Schanuel, Florida Atlantic
June 28 mock pick: OF Chase Davis, Arizona
Pick: SS Colt Emerson, Glenn HS (Ohio) (CBS Sports top 30 rank: Unranked)
Slot value: $3,380,900
The Guardians and Emerson have been linked all spring and not just because he’s an Ohio native. He performed well at the MLB Draft Combine last month and he fits Cleveland’s M.O. as a bat-to-ball guy who is young for the draft class. There are several quality college bats available in our mock draft, and the Guardians could instead target someone like Florida Atlantic slugger Nolan Schanuel or Wake Forest’s Brock Wilken if they want a player who will move through the minors quickly.
June 18 mock pick: Emerson
June 28 mock pick: Emerson
Pick: 1B Nolan Schanuel, Florida Atlanta (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 19)
Slot value: $3,270,500
Schanuel posted absurd numbers this spring — .447/.615/.868 with 71 walks and 14 strikeouts — and he’s been linked to just about every team in the 11-20 range. There are more 11-20 caliber prospects than picks in the 11-20 range this year, so a few players are going to get squeezed down, and that’s what happened with Schanuel in our mock draft. He has the best pure hitting ability among players still available in our mock draft.
June 18 mock pick: SS Kevin McGonigle, Monsignor Bonner HS (Pennsylvania)
June 28 mock pick: SS Walker Martin, Eaton HS (Colorado)
Pick: SS Aiden Miller, Mitchell HS (Florida) (CBS Sports top 30 rank: Unranked)
Slot value: $3,165,400
You can always count on Padres GM A.J. Preller to take big swings in the first round. San Diego has targeted upside first and foremost in the Preller era, and Miller had a chance to play his way into the top 10 picks before missing several weeks with a broken hamate this spring. He has significant power and a lightning quick bat. The Padres forfeited their second- and fifth-round picks to sign Xander Bogaerts as a qualified free agent, so they don’t pick again until No. 96, and they have one of the smallest bonus pools. That will limit their options somewhat.
June 18 mock pick: OF Dillon Head, Homewood-Flossmoor HS (Illinois)
June 28 mock pick: Head
Pick: SS Sammy Stafura, Panas HS (New York) (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 27)
Slot value: $3,065,000
The Yankees have been linked to Stafura all spring. It’s as strong a connection as you’ll find this late in the first round. Stafura is a local kid who grew up not far north of Yankee Stadium and he stood out at the MLB Draft Combine last month for his slow heartbeat and baseball IQ as much as his physical skills. This is not a slam dunk — many other teams are in on Stafura, including several who pick before New York — but it’s known the Yankees covet him.
June 18 mock pick: Stafura
June 28 mock pick: Stafura
Pick: OF Dillon Head, Homewood-Flossmoor HS (Illinois) (CBS Sports top 30 rank: No. 26)
Slot value: $2,968,800
The Phillies have targeted super-high-upside high schoolers in the last few drafts, both pitchers and hitters, and Head stands out as a premium athlete with surprising pop and the innate ability to get the fat part of the bat on the ball. His speed is a difference-maker in center field and on the bases. Head’s approach needs to be refined, but he has the highest ceiling among players still available in our mock draft. Prep shortstop George Lombard Jr., son of Tigers bench coach George Lombard, also fits Philadelphia’s recent M.O.
June 18 mock pick: RHP Travis Sykora, Round Rock HS (Texas)
June 28 mock pick: SS Kevin McGonigle, Monsignor Bonner HS (Pennsylvania)
Pick: 3B Brock Wilken, Wake Forest (CBS Sports top 30 rank: Unranked)
Slot value: $2,880,700
Wilken had a decorated college career and has arguably the most present game power in the draft class. He’s an analytical darling because he posts monster exit velocities that rate alongside top big league power hitters. The Astros are rumored to have interest in basically every college player who come come off the board in the 15-30 range, and this draft is deep enough to ensure a few of those guys are going to fall into Houston’s lap. Whoever they get here will be better than the No. 28 pick in most draft classes. Another name to keep in mind here: LSU’s Ty Floyd, who struck out 17 against Florida in the College World Series Finals and has elite fastball metrics.
June 18 mock pick: SS Tommy Troy, Stanford
June 28 mock draft: RHP Hurston Waldrep, Florida
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