2023 MLB Draft: Top Five College Prospects

Whaddup, Razzbaseballers!? One quick Ask Jeeves search and I can easily tell you that my last baseball post came on July 21 of the year 2022. That’s 182 days. Enough time to go around the world or watch all of Grey’s Anatomy, the choice is yours. But in my first post back in action, we’ll quickly dive back into the college baseball realm, unveiling the top-five college prospects for the 2023 MLB Draft. It’s littered with SEC talent as well as one unexpected Big 12 inclusion and is heavy with four bats compared to one hurler. But it’s been a long winter sitting in my cave and eating acorns (that’s how I visualize hibernation), so let’s jump right into the list and cruise on down to Prospect Alley.

1A. Dylan Crews | OF | LSU

See what I did there!? Look at any mock draft or respective publication’s rankings of the 2023 MLB Draft’s top prospects and no doubt you’ll see Crews right at the top of every list. And I don’t necessarily disagree with the lofty opinions when you’re talking about a true centerfielder who has slashed .356/.458/.677 with 40 homers, 17 steals, a 13.6 BB% and 16.8 K% in two seasons at LSU. Crews came to Baton Rouge with hype and has lived up to it every step of the way, winning Co-SEC Player of the Year last season. What I do disagree with is how undisputed his status at the top appears, because I think that’s a mistake. I firmly believe every player in this top five has a chance to make a case for the top overall selection in January, particularly the slugger in the on-deck circle and the craftsman in the hole.

1B. Wyatt Langford | OF | Florida

Comparing Crews to Langford is like comparing a new Marucci CAT X from Dick’s to your father’s rusty Bombat from beer league softball. Both can hit the ball a country mile. One is just handled with more glamor than the other. My first grade teacher would tell me that’s actually contrasting, and to try again. She was a nerd anyway. While Crews was a blue-chip recruit who played in 63 games his freshman year, Langford logged just four at-bats. But after coming in as a catcher-corner infield type, Langford transformed his build and transitioned to the outfield in an effort to receive more playing time, which worked out well: He started 66 games, amassed 303 plate appearances and produced a 1,000 fielding percentage with two assists in left field en route to becoming an All-American. Langford’s .356/.447/.719 slash line season stacks right up there with Crews, as does his 11.9 BB% and 14.5 K%. In fact, if you’re splitting Grey’s hairs and factor in Langford’s 26 jacks and seven swiped bags, you might even take him over Crews. And also might make Gray yelp. But the latter has the track record and profiles more as a true centerfielder — although certain pundits argue Langford can handle the position in his own right.

3. Chase Dollander | RHP | Tennessee

If Crews is the CAT X and Langford is the Bombat, then Dollander has to be a Customized A200 Game Model Glove. Take it straight from MLB Pipeline, who offers that Dollander “may be the best college pitching prospect since Stephen Strasburg (2009) and Gerrit Cole (2011).” While I believe that sentiment to be a bit extreme, Dollander does have four quality offerings (FB-CB-SL-CH) that all have shown plus upside, and he dominated in his SEC debut last season: 10-0, 79.0 IP, 2.39 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 12.3 K/9, 1.5 BB/9. Hard to not love those numbers, which is why Dollander is positioned where he is. The righty works 95-97 in starts and tops out at 99, while his best secondary pitch is a 60-grade hard slide piece. His 4.04 ERA and 5.1 BB/9 in 49.0 IP at Georgia Southern in 2021 was meh at best, but his 2022 body of work has him noticeably ahead of Florida’s Hurston Waldrep and LSU’s Paul Skenes as the top college arm in the class.

4. Brayden Taylor | INF | TCU extension

Time to mix it up. While you’ll find the trio of Crews, Dollander and Langford atop most college boards, muddiness follows. Many lists have the likes of LSU RHP Paul Skenes, Ole Miss SS Jacob Gonzales, Vanderbilt OF Enqique Bradifled Jr. and Grand Canyon SS Jacob Wilson ahead of Taylor — but don’t sleep on the TCU shortstop. Whether he profiles as a shortstop or third baseman as a pro is up for debate, but the bat is not. In two seasons as a Horned Frog, he has batted .319/.450/.574 with 25 homers, 25 doubles, 25 steals, a 19.1 BB% and a 15.8 K%. “Hobbs, are you telling me this young man not only hits for average, but also hits for power, swipes bags, and draws walks more than he strikes out?” Yes, I am telling you that. And that’s an elite walk rate regardless of the swing and miss, but still yes. 18 more walks than punchouts in his career than him. TCU has been known to produce high caliber MLB talent. Someone needs to tell my tailor I’ve found a new Taylor, and this one doesn’t need to measure my waist.

5. Enrique Bradfield Jr. | OF | Vanderbilt

The only question is will he slug enough to be an elite threat in a lineup at the next level? He can run: 93 SBs in 99 SBAs in 129 games. He can field: career 1,000 fielding percentage with outstanding range. He can hit and get on base: career .327 hitter, .433 on base with 159 hits and 86 walks. But can he hit for power? In college with the metal, he has slugged .456 (noice) with nine homers in 597 plate appearances. However, he slugged .498 last season, hit eight homers in 292 PAs and has room in his lean frame to add muscle as a pro. His .194/.348/.194 slash in 11 games on The Cape last summer won’t help matters, but this is a top-10 overall pick. Bradfield Jr. will wreak havoc on the basepaths as a pro and will be a valuable fantasy commodity as long as he can maintain a sliver of his base-reaching ways.

That’s all for this week, Razzball fam! As always, I’m happy to take this conversation into the comments section or on Twitter, where you can find me @WorldOfHobbs.

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