Who Could the Pirates Take First Overall in the 2023 MLB Draft?

The Pittsburgh Pirates won the first ever MLB Draft Lottery and they will now pick first in the 2023 MLB draft. Baseball America was quick to update their site with a new mock draft, now that we know where the teams will be picking early in the draft. 

Getting an extremely early look at the top players is a fun exercise, but it’s important to remember that the draft is a full seven months away now, so things will change plenty between now and then.

Right now, Baseball America has the Pirates taking LSU outfielder Dylan Crews with that first overall pick. He’s also BA’s top draft prospect.

Crews is a right-handed hitter, standing 6’0″, 203 pounds, and he will be 21 years old when the draft rolls around. He was highly rated out of high school, but he decided to pull his name from the 2020 draft. He’s a power hitter, who has put up two strong seasons at LSU. BA says he will probably be a corner outfield, and they do note that there is some swing-and-miss to his game, but the power is legit and he has the performances/track record to back it up.

Our draft coverage will get into full swing in February, usually around the end of the month when teams first start playing games. Any mock drafts from major sources will be covered between now and then. Crews will obviously be a big part of our coverage, but we will focus on anyone with a possibility of being picked.

That includes college right-handed pitcher Chase Dollander, who is considered to be the best pitcher in this class, thanks to a four-pitch mix that includes an upper 90s fastball, which has led to high strikeout/low walk rates.

Another noteworthy name that could come into play is Jacob Wilson, who is ranked sixth in his class and he’s fourth in the mock draft. He’s a 6’3″, 175 college shortstop who just happens to be the son of Jack Wilson, the long-time Pirates shortstop. Jacob is something you don’t see often in baseball anymore. He makes contact at an extremely high rate, and not just by 2022 contact standards. That has led to solid stats in college at Grand Canyon, where he will get extra attention due to the Pirates connection.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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steve_zielinski

This Draft, the Pirates should select whomever they believe to be the BAP. If that is rews, then so be it. That said, I would not want the Pirates to take Dollander. My hope is that, in 2025-6, the 2023 1-1 pick makes the Majors and contributes. We Pirates fans know that first round picks bust sometimes and that pitchers are risky.

cabbo80

Why cant one year we get the 1st pick a Bryce Harper is not in the draft? All I ask is once.

NMR

Without sounding like too much of a monday morning quarterback, I hope this time around they don’t try to get too cute.

I can’t quite square the dichotomy of both believing that HS talent is the riskiest class in the draft with the most negotiating leverage (so beware of targeting them at 1.1) BUUUUTTTT it’s also smart baseball to literally craft your entire draft strategy in a manner that targets these exact players.

The industry has put a massive price tag on age. Enormous. You see it in trade value as well as the draft. Prep kids are getting paid as if they were already the elite college junior they argue they’ll be in three years when draft eligible again. Teams pay future value and shoulder the entire risk of player not actually being worth it. Like paying full price for a free agent reclamation project.

Could they have drafted Mayer/Lawler and all of Solo, Bubba, and Lonnie?

No.

Could they have drafted Mayer/Lawler and at least one if not two of the others? Absolutely.

I was one that convinced himself there wasn’t actually any daylight between Davis and the other two, but I think we can all accept that just wasn’t/isn’t the case.

Last edited 1 month ago by NMR
ArkyWags

So much changes for these guys so quickly when they turn pro compared to questions they had as amateurs. Maybe by this time in 2025, Hank will look like Piazza.

PiratePrimate

Jeez, I hope not. It’d be nice to have a catcher with an arm

bradlej31

FG has three 50 grade draft prospects currently: Jacob Gonzalez, Dylan Crews, Drew Willikan

Willikan sounds so much like Will Craig that you’ll shiver:

Wilken hit 23 home runs combined between his freshman season at Wake Forest and his summer on Cape Cod. He has majestic raw power already, topping out with a whopping 120 mph max exit velo. His swing is very athletic, so explosive that at times he can lose his footing in the box, but Wilken still manages to track pitches well and doesn’t have any scary swing-and-miss issues. A choppy, below-average hands-and-feet athlete at third base, Wilken makes a lot of plays via sheer effort and explosiveness, and thanks to his plus arm. He’s among the top prospects in the 2023 draft, a power-hitting monster without big contact red flags, and is likely to end up somewhere decent on the defensive spectrum.

ArkyWags

They also haven’t updated those ratings in about a year. Maybe longer. When they get around to that, expect the ratings to change drastically. And given the year Wiilken had as a soph, he’s gonna sink like a stone.

TNBucs

Was Craig known for that kind of exit velocity?

bradlej31

Yup. It’s when that stuff was brand new

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

leefieux

Is Ken Griffey, Jr, Jr available in this draft?

NoVaBurgher

Is there another one? I was only aware of Trey Griffey who wound up playing football. Believe he was on the Steelers practice squad for a hot second

leefieux

It was a joke on needing a Ken Griffey like player at 1:1. 🙂

NoVaBurgher

Damn, I thought there might have been another one

Catch_22

Pirates selected 1-1

Jeff King 17 fWAR
Kris Benson 14.8
Brian Bullington -0.2
Gerrit Cole 38.7 (15.5 in 127 starts for PGH)
Henry Davis

I would be ecstatic if Davis has a career like Jeff King’s

Wilbur Miller

Fortunately, Davis seems far more motivated than King did. Other than that, there’s a lot of similarity.

johnalcorn

Longenhagen made a comment in his chat on FG a couple weeks ago that he is hearing bad things about Davis’s makeup from scouts. Totally unsupported statement, but definitely caught my ear. Anyone here have any idea what he is referring too?

Get Two, Brute?: Hey Eric, love your work. How do you think the Pirates handle Davis/Endy going forward? A rotation between C/DH/OF? Will it be a 50/50 split? Thanks!

12:58 Eric A Longenhagen: Davis looks bad. Scouts think his makeup is bad.

Catch_22

I vaguely remember hearing stories of King being aloof. King had an 80 grade stache

bianco599

Jeff King and Sid Bream idolized Tom Selleck. Which in turn made them Jeff Reboulet’s hero.

Wilbur Miller

He apparently just wanted to go hunting. But he was a good player.

Catch_22

hahaha

skliesen

The more I think about it, the more I like Dollander. But I fully expect to change my mind at least 14 times between now and next July.

agent00

i’m all aboard the dollander train, pitcher health be damned!!

skliesen

Fortune favors the bold!

JimEastTennessee

As a UT alum, I could get behind a Dollander pick, but I still want Crews.

Scam likely

Pirates have interest in Barnhart, coming off a down yr with Detroit but not a bad stop gap and he will have more than 69 ab’s.

jaygray007

is “down yr” from a player with a career wrc+ of 80 actually a “down yr”?

Wilbur Miller

Outside the box — Sign both him and Perez. Trading a catcher at the deadline shouldn’t be hard.

Wilbur Miller

Mets get Q for a reasonable 2/26. We get Velasquez, who’s never had an ERA below 4.12.

bscat

Jose signed with a potential winner. It’s not always about the money.

jsdspud

Agree. That was reasonable money for a guy who had some success here last year.

b mcferren

how can we not afford this? it was only $13mil per year

AdministrativeSky236

My assumption is he wanted to play for a winner at this point in his career

leefieux

Could not agree more. Nutbucks make me sick.

skliesen

It’s ok, BC is going to sign Manaea. (Sarcasm Font)

PirateRican21

Danatural08

I followed a good bit of college baseball last year, my early pick would be Jacob Gonzalez, but looking forward even more to following along this year now the bucs have 1-1.

LSU was a weird team that appeared loaded with talent last year, but they weren’t a good team. They played like an all star team, everyone playing for themselves. Just didn’t like the vibe from them, thus would pass on Crews unless he has a massive year.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

LSU was loaded offensively, but had atrocious pitching and defense. Partly why I was very against drafting Berry, cause he looked already like a career DH. Blake Money was supposed to be their Friday night workhorse, and he was brutal, though he’s someone I’d be interested if he benefits from Wes Johnson leaving the Twins to become LSU’s pitching coach. Big kid with big stuff that he needs to refine.

Long story short, I’m still all aboard the Crews train.

ArkyWags

Jeff come on…Crews Control. It’s right there.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Missed opportunity

Cocktailsfor2

Another Crews Missile?

NMR

booze crews

Danatural08

Was just reading up on LSU’s fall ball season & saw that Tommy White transferred to LSU. Wow, about as good of a replacement for Jacob Berry as possible! LSU is going to have 2 of the best bats in college baseball this year. To be seen how their pitching staff does.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

The SEC as a whole seems loaded, and I’m wondering if this is in part due to NIL now. BA’s first mock draft has the top 3 picks as all SEC kids, 4 of top 5, and 6 of top 10. There’s more after that too lol

Maybe SEC is turning it’s football domination over to baseball now lol

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

They picked up a 2-way player from Air Force too, Paul Skenes, who BA mocked to Marlins at 10th

VTBucFan

Make room guys, I’m hopping aboard the Crews train. A middle of the order of Crews-Cruz in a few years works for me not to mention Termerr, Davis and Nicky G added to the mix. I know “stuff” happens and it may never all come together like that but at least let me dream awhile.

Danatural08

Good points, I agree. I should’ve also mentioned, I don’t like a RF profile at 1-1, if he were projected to stay in CF I’d be on the Crews train too.

NMR

A team that allows Oneil Cruz to be a major league shortstop would have absolutely no question about allowing Crews to be a centerfielder.

Whether or not that’s actually smart is a whole ‘nother question.

ArkyWags

Hoping to win a bunch of games 11-10 with that fielding alignment. Like a beer league softball team. I’m fine with that.

NMR

Joey Gallo, center fielder

jaygray007

it’ll be awfully awfully hard for me to get off the Crews train, but i guess i’ll try to be open minded as always.

Wilbur Miller

When they’ve drafted first before, there never seemed to be a clear 1-1. It’s an unfamiliar situation. The 2021 plan so far looks great, but if Crews is a legit 1-1 . . . .

MD78

Will Crews be a clear 1-1 in July? The last couple years it was Kumar and Green at this point.

It seems that every time the Bucs draft #1 there is no Griffey, Jr., Chipper, Strasburg, Harper at the top…just very good potential players.

kellea01

Cole?

Wilbur Miller

Well, Rocker is a pitcher and had arm issues. Greene was a prep guy with serious swing and miss. Crews is inherently lower risk.
Still, it should be hard to lose. Dollander looks like he’d be the slam dunk #1 most years and a bunch of other guys could legitimately contend other years, esp Gonzalez. This draft is loaded at the top. Great position to be in, not dependent on other teams.

capirate

I would expect the college class to be strong and deep this year since the 2020 draft only went 5 rounds. A lot of high school players that normally would have signed in 2020 headed to college instead and are eligible to be drafted next year. This might be a good year to go best player at 1-1 and draft more college guys later.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

I’m weary of the big college arms, as they’ve lately all seem to drop with arm issues. The SEC lost 3-4? of their high tiered arms last year. Barco, Prielipp, Landon Sims, and I feel like there was another.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)
Wilbur Miller

I’m strongly opposed to taking a P early in the draft. I just don’t want to say “never.” Think what Cole could have been if they hadn’t effed it up.

joebaseball

You have 40 guys on your team, half of them are pitchers. You ALWAYS need more pitching. you have 2 at every other position, so 10-1 take the pitcher. Take the best pitcher all the time.

Catch_22

He was still really effing good.

Wilbur Miller

Right. And there was still a ton of room for improvement, so he was a worthy 1-1. Which to me is the exception to the rule.

Catch_22

Admittingly, I know nothing about Dollander…How does he compare to Cole? 4 pitch mix, upper 90’s heat, high k’s, low bb’s. Sounds familiar. If he can go through the system quick like Cole, I’d be all over it.

ArkyWags

It’ll be interesting to see if Dollander repeats with something similar in 23. Two years like that in the big boy SEC? Yeah that’s pretty tough to turn down.

A bunch of outlets had Cole as among the best amateur arms they’ve scouted, which never really connected with his results in college. Most guys like that put up video game numbers (Strasburg, Price) and Cole didn’t (though his teammate did). It sounded like that Cole had four plus pitches, but they weren’t always rocking at the same time, and he’d get hit. Dollander, at least now, seems on that level…without really getting hit.

NoVaBurgher

Bauer put up better numbers at UCLA than cole did. Cole always had the stuff, but Bauer had a more advanced approach

Wilbur Miller

Very similar, supposedly with better command.
I’m actually glad I don’t have to make these choices. Some unicorns in this draft. Dollander gets a lot of swing and miss but also throws strikes. Gonzalez is high-contact but still puts up high EVs. Analytics guys expected to go bonkers over this draft.

PirateRican21
Wilbur Miller

This draft . . . holy s***.

TNBucs

Same could be said about the SEC this year. I imagine the SEC Tournament will have nearly every team’s scouting director in attendance.

Wilbur Miller

LSU sounds fun. I never watch college games, but maybe I’ll have a look.

Danatural08

Ya, with LSU picking up Tommy White from NC State was a massive add, plus 6 guys recently rated in the top 100 of draft eligible players has LSU looking like an early favorite but in reality the whole SEC is loaded with talent.

If you do this, I strongly recommend watching the recaps made by the Youtuber Wheels:

https://www.youtube.com/@WheelsYT

That link will take you to his home page where he has playlists of each year of College baseball. He clips the game down to 10-15 minutes of just the noteworthy plays/highlights. Really quite efficient & entertaining.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Never been to a LSU baseball game since I’ve lived in New Orleans, but, I may have to find a weekend to make the trip up to Baton Rouge for a game or 2.

Danatural08
  • top 100 College eligible players
Wilbur Miller

Cool thx

melkel

If BC trades Reynolds to Seattle, he better have them throw in the two draft picks they can trade.

leefieux

Only 15% of those comp picks ever do anything of any note in the majors. So, they’d better be just ‘throw in’s’.

melkel

Totally agree, at least 5 prospects and a change of scenery outfielder plus the picks if not more. Most of their top prospects have either graduated to the majors or have been traded.

joebaseball

You use them for under slot and put the $$$ in your top picks allowance.

Wilbur Miller

Now there’s a thought.

b mcferren

How much under slot will Jacob Wilson accept?

Where can we identify a list of high school names that we can convince not to start at quarterback for clemson?

clemo83

Jack Wilson was my favorite player, I don’t think I could stomach a contact hitter at #1 . There’s obviously more there for him to be ranked the fifth best player, but that would feel like a big letdown at this point in time.

bianco599

I loved Jack Flash as well. Actually two of my favorite players came from the Cards in trades. Van Slyke as well. Make that three. I almost forgot about Spanky. But I’m with you on the contact hitter thing. Wasn’t that Nick Gonzales calling card?

Wilbur Miller

Lord save us from the local guy angle.

That said, Dad was an utterly unique defensive wizard. Very ordinary range and arm, but an uncanny athleticism that let him make plays other guys couldn’t make.

steve_zielinski

Great hands.

Wilbur Miller

And he could throw accurately (incredibly accurately) from positions where it didn’t seem physically possible.

b mcferren

200 hits in a season

JimEastTennessee

As a UT alum…I am hoping for Dollander (due to the Scrooge McDuck-ness of BN and his unwilliness to pay for pitching). However, I like Crews even more. The kid from Indiana would be an under-slot sign, so he intrigues me, too.

Last edited 1 month ago by JimEastTennessee
joebaseball

Take RHP college Dollander at under slot and take LHP Thomas White (high school) with pick in 2nd round with $$ saved. Last thing Bucs need is more MIs. Pitching wins out.

JimEastTennessee

I do not think Dollander would sign under-slot. Up the middle offense players always make valuable trade commodity.

joebaseball

He takes 2nd $$$ to be the first pick or we take someone else. He falls in line.

JimEastTennessee

next.

Wilbur Miller

Just looking at the talent at the top of this class, under slot deals may be hard to find unless you way overdraft.

JimEastTennessee

As a high school kid 1-1, I think possibly…

JimEastTennessee

I agree, the top 6+ look pretty strong so far.

tmcgowan

I’m on the Max Clark helium watch

NoVaBurgher

Me too. Him or Walker Jenkins I feel are gonna be at the top when all is said and done, IMO

ArkyWags

Walker Texas Jenkins. You know that’s where he’ll end up.

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