2023 MLB Draft Rankings Updated on The Board, 2024 Class Added

On Tuesday, we published an update to our 2022 Draft rankings. Today, I pushed 2023 and 2024 to The Board, with the small 2024 group consisting almost entirely of our highly-ranked, unsigned 2021 high schoolers.

The most significant takeaway from the 2023 class is its projected strength at the top. There’s currently only one 50 FV prospect in the 2022 class, but already three atop the 2023 group: Ole Miss shortstop Jacob Gonzalez, Wake Forest third baseman Brock Wilken, and LSU outfielder Dylan Crews. That’s more than has been typical for a class that’s still a year and a half away from draft day. Gonzalez has special bat-to-ball skills and can play a premium position, Wilken already has 70-grade raw power and rare athleticism for a corner defender, and Crews performed in the SEC and reinforced confidence in the huge tools that made him famous as a high schooler.

This group may eventually be joined by more prospects. Most of the college players who will be eligible in 2023 are still teenagers right now, and some of them have not even had the opportunity to play consistently as they are coming off freshman seasons at big, talent-rich programs. With a couple of obviously excellent prospects already in place at the top of the class, and so much of the rest of it still in a magmatic stage of development, the 2023 draft has a shot to be pretty special up top.

High schoolers have been added to this class’ draft list for the first time, with half a dozen prepsters now among the names. There will eventually be more of them, with most filling in during next summer’s showcase slate. These six (five up-the-middle players and one pitcher) are the group that I feel most comfortable projecting as first rounders 18 months from now.

Note that the bottom of the 2023 list (most of the 40 FV players below Kyle Teel) currently consists of prospects who had enough profile in high school to make the 2020 draft rankings (and our first 2023 rankings), but who mostly had rough freshman seasons, or no season at all due to injury. I provide an update on those guys in their scouting blurb on The Board. For example, Arkansas lefty Nick Griffin is ranked 30th here. I loved Griffin coming out of high school, but he didn’t pitch as a freshman. At this stage, he’s probably not one of the top 30 players in this class, but rather than remove him from The Board and reduce the amount of information it provides, Griffin’s FV fell, he slid toward the back of the list, and I’ve updated his blurb explaining why.

Keep in mind that the new CBA may have an impact on the draft, whether it’s something significant like an entirely new format, or something smaller like altering the date, which would have an impact on the date that determines sophomore eligibility. With the freshly-minted Draft League and Combine now part of MLB’s pre-draft procedure, if MLB and the Players Association agree to make a change, there’s much more to reckon with than before. Some of my scouting contacts speculate that this, coupled with the fact that we’re already halfway through the 2022 draft calendar, is enough of a short-term hurdle to prevent any procedural changes to the draft in the new CBA until 2023. Radical changes to amateur talent acquisition would have a more significant impact on the international market. More on that Monday.

Speaking of international players, the one significant FV alteration on the 2024 list was made based on perspective that came from assessing the international scene. UCLA lefty Gage Jump was a 40+ FV coming out of high school thanks to his fastball’s underlying traits. Like Jump, the top high schoolers taken in Japan and Korea are typically compactly-framed lefties with carry- and angle-dependent fastballs, and they typically have more polished feel to pitch than Jump does. There’s enough long-term relief risk there that I slid Jump into the 40s.

Other than that, the 2024 list includes the exact grades for players from the 2021 Draft Board who chose not to sign and instead went to school, plus a few additions: Power-hitting Wake Forest shortstop prospect Daniel Corona, 6-foot-8 lefty Pierce Coppola of Florida, and strong-framed righty Brody Brecht from Iowa.

Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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9 months ago

Dylan Crews’ 2021 line involved something like 285 PAs, about a 13% walk rate, 15% K rate, and 18 homers. He probably won’t be able to sustain the K rate and the walk rate simultaneously, but if he slips on the K rate he’d look a lot like a TTO slugger in the Danny Tartabull mold. That’s a 125-140 wRC+ type of player which would be a ridiculously good outcome for anyone. Of course, Tartabull (and a lot of other similar players like Jay Buhner and Adam Dunn) were terrible defenders and not especially speedy runners, Adam Dunn’s 19 steal season at 22 notwithstanding. You can go absolutely nuts thinking about a guy who was only 19, had blasts that frequently to all fields, plus run times from home to first and a plus arm, and a good approach at the plate.

So I think he’s my #1, although Gonzalez also seems like a 50. It’s kind of hard to find a lot of players who have 40 run times and 40 raw power but plus OBPs and plus defense in the middle infield. The closest thing I can think of is Jed Lowrie and he was not a good defensive shortstop. Teams are probably hoping he’s a bit more like Corey Seager if they’re drafting him 1-1.