The 2023 NFL Draft has wrapped up, which means it is time to start getting excited for another draft, the MLB Draft in July. While this draft is never going to have a chance to raise to the hype that the NFL Draft brings to fans all over the world, it has gotten more intriguing these last several years. With the 2023 MLB season in full swing and the college baseball season heading towards its finish line, let’s get to our first MLB Mock Draft of the first round. This year’s draft will take place from July 9 to July 11 in Seattle, following the first ever draft lottery awarding the Pirates with the top pick. Pittsburgh, you are on the clock.

1. Pittsburgh Pirates – Dylan Crews, OF, LSU

The Pirates lucked out in winning the first-ever MLB Draft lottery, especially during a year in which a player like Crews is the top prospect. Not only do they have a chance to take the incredibly talented LSU product, but Pittsburgh has gotten off to a hot start this season, and recently extended Bryan Reynolds. Adding Crews to the mix only makes their future that much brighter.

Crews has it all, a pure five tool player who won’t take long to make it up to Pittsburgh. The 2022 co-SEC Player of the Year is a plus-plus hitter with plus power and has worked on controlling the strike zone better this season. He can steal his share of bases, play a solid center field, and has the arm strength to play right field if the Pirates want to move him there.

2. Washington Nationals – Paul Skenes, RHP, LSU

Air Force transfer Skenes is the top pitching prospect in the draft. The Nationals add a big arm to their much improved farm system after the Juan Soto trade. After going prep bat the last couple drafts in the first round, they add a pitcher who could quickly become Washington’s No. 1 in a couple of years. Skenes is the best college pitching prospect since Stephen Strasburg, who these same Nats drafted in the first round of the 2009 draft. He has been dominating his competition this season with a high-90s fastball, mid-80s sweeper with sharp break and filthy swing-and-miss, and a tailing high-80s power changeup.

3. Detroit Tigers – Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida

The Tigers need to start adding some more high-ceiling bats to their system. It would not be surprising to see them go to the college ranks in the first round for the second straight year after they drafted Texas Tech alum Jace Jung last year. Detroit also added shortstop Peyton Graham out of Oklahoma in the second round, so this time they shift to the outfield. Langford has five-tool potential and has been on a heater this season. An outfield with Riley Green and Langford a few years down the line would be outstanding.

4. Texas Rangers – Max Clark, OF, Franklin HS (IN)

The first prep prospect to be taken in the draft is between two outfielders. In this mock it’s Clark, a very complete hitter with at least four plus tools. The Vanderbilt commit has one of the more advanced approaches at the plate for a prep bat over the last several drafts. He uses the whole field and also has some pop. On top of his hitting tools, Clark is super quick and athletic to play a solid outfield. The ceiling is massively high, but even the floor is higher than most prep players. After taking former Vanderbilt pitchers Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker in the first round the last two years, the Rangers shift back to offense. They took infielder Justin Foscue out of Mississippi State in 2020.

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

Another prep outfielder, Jenkins is not far behind Clark as the top prep prospect. Some outlets, like MLB Pipeline, now even have the North Carolina prepster ranked ahead of Clark. With his pop and strong arm in the outfield, Jenkins profiles best as a right fielder. As the best prep prospect in North Carolina since Josh Hamilton in 1999, the future is very bright. He has the ability to turn on fastballs and send them to all fields while making consistently hard contact. Minnesota has shortstops Brooks Lee and Royce Lewis leading their farm system, which lacks much outfield talent at the moment. Adding Jenkins gives them a player that would immediately be on the radar as their top outfielder in a few years.

6. Oakland Athletics – Chase Dollander, RHP, Tennessee

Once viewed as the second-ranked prospect in the entire draft, Dollander has been passed by Skenes as the top pitcher. While not having nearly as dominant a season as last year, the right-hander’s stuff has still been very good. The A’s luck out that he hasn’t dominated, as he falls to them at sixth overall. Dollander has struck out 82 batters over 57 1/3 innings this season, so his strikeout stuff hasn’t slowed. Oakland added a few promising arms at the deadline last season, and add another one in the Tennessee ace.

7. Cincinnati Reds – Enrique Bradfield Jr., OF, Vanderbilt

While not having much power potential, Bradfield Jr. is the fastest prospect in the draft. His game-changing speed and defensive prowess have drawn comparisons to the great Kenny Lofton, who really should be a Hall of Famer. That’s a discussion for another time, though. Bradfield knows exactly how to make an impact as he wrecks havoc on the basepaths. He uses the whole field with his level right-handed swing and can bunt for hits. Even not having much power, Bradfield smacked eight homers in 2022 with his sneaky pop to the pull side. The Reds love their speedsters and get another one in the Vanderbilt outfielder.

8. Kansas City Royals – Noble Meyer, RHP, Jesuit HS (OR)

The battle for top prep pitcher in the class is very close, and Meyer has established himself right at the forefront of that race. Jesuit High School had the top prep arm in the 2020 draft, in right-hander Mick Abel, and can see a repeat of that with Meyer. Abel is now one of the top pitchers in the Phillies farm system after they took him with the 15th pick that year.

Meyer is very projectable for a high school pitcher, as he showcases a solid three-pitch mix. Before taking Gavin Cross with the 9th pick last year, the Royals had gone pitching heavy in the first round – taking Asa Lacy and prep southpaw Frank Mozzicato the two years prior. Taking another prep arm to pair with Mozzicato would make for a solid mix in the organization.

9. Colorado Rockies – Jacob Wilson, SS, Grand Canyon

The first shortstop of the board, Wilson is right up there with the likes of Crews and Langford as the top pure college hitters in the class. Although he doesn’t have as strong a power tool as those two, he has begun to tap into it with 12 homers last season and is slugging over .600 in 2023. His plate approach is outstanding, striking out just seven times in 275 plate appearances as a sophomore last season.

The product of Grand Canyon University has solid range and an above average arm to stick at shortstop. Scouts also believe he will hit enough to slide over to third, which might be in the cards if Colorado drafts him. The Rockies currently have two top-level shortstops in the organization, Ezequiel Tovar – who is in the majors – and Adael Amador.

10. Miami Marlins – Jacob Gonzalez, SS, Ole Miss

Another college shortstop off of the board, Gonzalez has plus hit and power tools. He has 25-homer potential while also being able to hit for average to all fields. He might not be very quick out of the batter’s box, but Gonzalez has the instincts, range, and plus-arm strength to stick at shortstop. Even if he has to shift to third or second base, he profiles well at whatever position he winds up sticking at. Khalil Watson, who the Marlins drafted as a shortstop in the first round in 2021, is off to a hot start for High-A Beloit. But his struggles at shortstop make him more of a fit at second – where he has been more consistent – or third base.

11. Los Angeles Angels – Hurston Waldrep, RHP, Florida

It’ll be the year 2075 and the Angels will still need pitching. Well, that’s if Rob Manfred doesn’t completely nuke Major League Baseball. No matter what they do, the Halos just can’t seem to get it right even with the two best players on the planet. On top of that, they likely will be losing Shohei Ohtani in free agency after this season if they don’t wind up moving him at the trade deadline. Waldrep has a legitimate three-pitch mix as his fastball, splitter, and slider all flash plus.
12. Arizona Diamondbacks – Aidan Miller, 3B, Mitchell HS (Florida)

After taking Druw Jones second overall last draft, the Diamondbacks dive back into the prep player pool. They go back down south, this time taking a high school third baseman from Florida, in Miller. Aidan is the younger brother of Jackson Miller, who the Reds drafted in the second round of the 2020 draft. Aidan has a great feel for the barrel and has already begun to tap into his raw power, performing at a high-level against top pitching.
13. Chicago Cubs – Thomas White, LHP, Phillips Academy (MA)

The Cubs took University of Oklahoma right-hander Cade Horton seventh overall last year and prep southpaw Jackson Ferris in the second round. They go with another prep southpaw, this time in the first round. White could become the first high school left-hander from the state of Massachusetts to be drafted in the first round of the MLB Draft. At 6’5″, he has pure stuff and two pitches – fastball and curveball – that could be plus offerings.
14. Boston Red Sox – Blake Mitchell, C, Sinton HS (TX)

The Red Sox are seriously lacking catcher depth in their system and, after trading Christian Vazquez last trade deadline, have Reese McGuire and Connor Wong as their major league catchers. As much as McGuire can jack one out once in a while, he’s not a franchise type of catcher. Sorry, bad joke. Anyway, adding Mitchell would help with Boston’s catching depth as well as their pitching, potentially, as he is a two-way player at the moment. His main talent is behind and at the plate, though, as he has plus hit and power tools and a plus-plus-plus arm (can we go triple-plus? Well I am anyway).
15. Chicago White Sox – Brayden Taylor, 3B, TCU

The White Sox have been flailing like a fish so far this season. Their offseason plan of adding a couple average pieces is, unsurprisingly, failing. Though, I don’t think anyone expected them to be this bad. The Big 12 Freshman of the Year in 2021, Taylor controls the strike zone well and does a nice job of making consistent contact to all fields. The White Sox currently have a number of pitchers and infielders in their system and Taylor would add to their infield depth. He is a projectable third baseman and can develop quickly in the minors.
16. San Francisco Giants – Arjun Nimmala, SS, Strawberry Crest HS (FL)

After missing out on Carlos Correa this past offseason, the Giants now turn to Marco Luciano as their future (hopeful) All-Star shortstop. Although, some scouts believe he will have to be moved off shortstop eventually. Nimmala, on the other hand, is enamored for his top-level talent at the premium position. The Florida high schooler sports solid range and a strong arm as well as having high upside as a hitter. Either way, the Giants pounce on getting depth for the left side of the infield, as current starting shortstop Brandon Crawford is 36 and was recently placed on the shelf.
17. Baltimore Orioles – Bryce Eldridge, 1B/RHP, James Madison HS (VA)

The Orioles have done an excellent job of player development these last few years, which sees them at the end of their rebuild. Eldridge has excelled on the mound and at the plate as a prep two-way star. He has a higher ceiling as a hitter, where he has serious raw pop and a legit feel for the barrel. But as a pitcher, Eldridge also has promise while sporting a solid three-pitch mix.
18. Milwaukee Brewers – Tommy Troy, INF, Stanford

There are quite a handful of shortstop prospects that could get drafted in the first round. Troy began as a shortstop but moved to third base for Stanford this season. He has the makings, however, to move over to second and stick there. Either way, he’s got strong bat-to-ball skills and rarely strikes out. Milwaukee would also be getting flexibility, as Troy could likely move around and has good enough speed to play outfield as well.
19. Tampa Bay Rays – Charlee Soto, RHP, Reborn Christian HS (FL)

On top of being a prep player from Florida, Charlee Soto just sounds like a Tampa Bay Ray pitcher. The Rays love their high school players as they drafted prep guys in the previous two first rounds. They took first baseman Xavier Isaac at 29th overall last year after taking shortstop Carson Williams 28th overall in 2021. This time, they shift back to pitching which they always seem to develop very well. Soto has a high ceiling with a fastball already close to reaching triple digits, slider that has plus potential, and an at least average changeup.
20. Toronto Blue Jays – Yohandy Morales, 3B, Miami

Toronto added solid infielders in the early rounds of the 2022 MLB Draft, namely Tucker Toman, Cade Doughty, and Josh Kasevich. All three of them can quickly rise up the ranks to play alongside Bo Bichette in the major league infield. The Blue Jays add another potential quick riser in Morales, a top 200 prospect as a Florida high schooler in 2020. “Yo-Yo” has a lot of power potential and consistently hits the ball hard to all fields- making him a perfect fit for the hot corner in Toronto.
21. St. Louis Cardinals – Jack Hurley, OF, Virginia Tech

For the second straight year, a Virginia Tech outfielder will have a chance to go in the first round. Cross was a lock for the first round last year and, as we know, went ninth to the Royals. Hurley is much more of a late first round prospect, but has a lot of solid tools to be great at the next level. He was the left fielder for the Hokies in 2022, but his speed and defensive ability allowed a move to center once Cross was gone. The bat-to-ball skills are excellent and he has begun tapping into some of his raw power. St. Louis recently moved top prospect Jordan Walker to the outfield, but need more depth in that area for the system.
22. Seattle Mariners – Kyle Teel, C, Virgina

The Mariners already have a top-level catcher in their system in Harry Ford, who they drafted 12th overall in the 2021 draft out of the Georgia prep ranks. Ford is, in fact, their top overall prospect, but there is absolutely no harm in adding to the depth. Plus, Teel is the kind of player that you can’t pass on if he were to fall this late in the first round. The Virginia backstop has a strong power stroke and has the chance to be a solid overall hitter. He very well may stick at catcher, but he has also shown the ability to play outfield with his impressive athleticism.
23. Cleveland Guardians –
Rhett Lowder, RHP, Wake Forest

Cleveland loves taking their share of college arms from the Southeast, and even prepsters for that matter. They are going through a bit of a youth movement in their rotation, and with the way they can develop pitching, they all could turn out great. Their current top prospect on MLB Pipeline is right-hander Daniel Espino, who they drafted with the 24th pick in the 2019 draft out of the Georgia prep ranks. Unfortunately, Espino had to undergo surgery on his right throwing shoulder and will miss at least 12 months. Adding Lowder, who has one of the top changeups in the country, to the mix could turn into another ace type pitcher for the Guardians.
24. Atlanta Braves – Travis Sykora, RHP, Round Rock HS (TX)

The Braves currently have a farm system that is stockpiled with pitching, and that has been the Atlanta way for a while now. They won a World Series by drafting pitching and nothing should stop them from sticking to that formula. Atlanta continues their run on high school pitchers after taking Owen Murphy and JR Ritchie with their first two picks last year. Sykora has a plus-plus fastball which frequently sits 95-98 mph and has already reached 101 with late run. His name is also coincidently very close to Michael Soroka, who is returning to the Braves’ rotation soon.

25. San Diego Padres – Tanner Witt, RHP, Texas

The Padres stick to pitching after drafting Georgia prep right-hander Dylan Lesko in the first round last year, followed by three more pitchers – one high schooler and two college arms – the next three picks. Witt was getting offered first-round money in the 2020 draft, but he was set on pitching for the Longhorns. Coming off Tommy John surgery last year, Witt has only gotten better and sports a strong four-pitch mix. All four pitches flash plus – led by a mid-to-high fastball with run and a filthy upper-70s curveball that falls off the table.
26. New York Yankees – Brock Wilken, 3B, Wake Forest

The Yankees have been searching for any sort of production from third base the last several years. While Gio Urshela provided his share of great moments, he was very much an average offensive third baseman for New York. Josh Donaldson, while being great defensively at the hot corner, has essentially been a non-factor at the plate since the infamous trade to the Bronx. DJ LeMahieu has played the majority of games at third this season, but he is 34 and his power just isn’t really there anymore. The Bombers need a power third baseman, and that comes in the form of a Wilken. The Demon Deacon burst onto the scene in 2021, setting a Wake Forest freshman record with 17 homers, then followed up with 23 bombs last year. He has a plus-plus arm at the hot corner and moves well enough to provide adequate defense.
27. Philadelphia Phillies – Kevin McGonigle, SS/2B, Monsignor Bonner HS (PA)

Just like Joey Porter Jr. getting drafted to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second round of the NFL Draft, this landing spot for McGonigle makes too much sense. The infielder grew up just outside of Philadelphia and loved watching Chase Utley. The only thing that will stop this from happening is the fact McGonigle is worthy of an earlier selection. He hit everywhere on the summer circuit and has a knack for always finding the barrel while not fishing outside the zone. Just like Utley, he will likely need to move to second as he has fringy range.
28. Houston Astros – Juaron Watts-Brown, RHP, Oklahoma State

After taking two outfielders – Drew Gilbert and Jacob Melton – with their first two picks last year, the Astros shift back to pitching. Houston is another team that is always developing pitching well Watts-Brown has a great feel for pitching but there have been questions about how he will be able to handle a starter’s workload in the majors. The right-hander has a weapon in his slider, which gets a ton of swing-and-misses in and out of the zone, sitting at 83-86 mph. The Astros know how to work out the kinks with pitchers, and even if Watts-Brown doesn’t stick as a starter, they would have another weapon in their bullpen.

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Main Image Credit: From Getty Images


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