MLB

MLB Draft: Who could go No. 1 in 2023? LSU’s Dylan Crews, Ole Miss’ Jacob Gonzalez among top candidates

Major League Baseball’s 2022 Draft reached its conclusion on Tuesday, putting the bow on another year of scouting. Plenty of negotiation and reflection are sure to follow, but we don’t have time for that trivial nonsense here. Instead, we’re forging ahead by highlighting some names to know for next summer’s draft.

Below, we’ve highlighted five individuals who scouts and analysts have identified as individuals of note in the 2023 class. Bear in mind that there are more than five worthwhile players, and that we’re not saying these five players will necessarily go in the top five or even the top 10 (though we do expect them all to make our top 30 list next preseason). Additionally, do note that the players are presented alphabetically.

With the fine print out of the way, let’s get to the reckless speculation. 

1. Enrique Bradfield Jr., OF, Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt is an elite program at recruiting and developing players, so it’s no surprise that Commodores tend to populate these lists. Bradfield is a true center fielder with top-notch speed and a top-of-the-order skill set. In two seasons to date, he’s batted .327/.433/.456 with more walks than strikeouts and an otherworldly 93 stolen bases on 99 attempts. The biggest knock on Bradfield is power; he’s homered just nine times in college, and he doesn’t project for even fringe-average pop. You have to go back to Nick Madrigal in 2018 to find a player selected in the top five who was this bereft of home run power. Perhaps Bradfield proves to be the next exception, but history suggests he’s more likely to fall into the back half of the top 10 by next July.

2. Max Clark, OF, Franklin Community HS (IN)

There’s another slice of the universe out there somewhere where Clark succeeds Bradfield as Vanderbilt’s starting center fielder. Wherever that scenario plays out, it won’t occur in our frame of reality. Clark, who rocks long blonde hair and eye black, is a prepster with both quality tools and pre-existing polish. That combination tends to attract teams who are seeking a potential star early in the draft. A lot can happen in a year’s time, but as it stands he’s one of the best prep prospects out there.

3. Dylan Crews, OF, LSU

Crews withdrew from the 2020 draft in favor of joining the LSU Tigers. After two seasons, that appears to have been a prudent decision. All he’s done at LSU is hit and then hit some more, amassing a .356/.458/.677 slash line with 40 home runs and a strikeout rate of less than 17 percent. Teams never need their arms to be twisted to take note of elite-level SEC performers. Crews having both the tools and the pedigree to back up his stat line should allow him to enter the spring in the conversation for the top pick.

4. Jacob Gonzalez, SS, Ole Miss

Gonzalez is another decorated SEC performer who seems destined to come off the board early next July. In two seasons at Ole Miss, he’s batted .316/.424/.560 with 30 home runs and 22 more walks than strikeouts. Indeed, Gonzalez’s strikeout rate this past season was just under 11 percent; for a comparison point, the SEC average was around 21 percent. And by the way, he should be above-average at short, and he’ll have a chance to repeat as a national champion. Some people just have it all.

5. Brock Wilken, 3B, Wake Forest

We’ll wrap this list up with Wilken, a large righty who can and has clobbered the baseball in his two seasons as a member of the Deacon Devils. 

He’s batted .275/.363/.609 with 40 home runs and 25 additional extra-base hits to date. Wilkens did see his K rate spike this season, and he might end up outgrowing third base. Still, he has middle-of-the-order upside and that makes him a name worth knowing.



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