The Pittsburgh Pirates have the first overall pick in the July 2023 MLB draft. Our draft preview looked at the top prospects for the pick.
At this stage, the draft is very much up in the air. Every Monday, we’ll recap notable performances from around the prep and college ranks, with video to give you an early look at who could be available to the Pirates. This is our fifth weekly recap of the weekend action for the top college draft prospects.
Dylan Crews was our first draft prospect profile. The LSU outfielder went 3-for-5 on Friday against Arkansas, with his seventh homer, two RBIs and a run scored. He went 3-for-4 with a homer, a HBP, two runs and two RBIs in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader. He went 2-for-4 with a homer, four runs, three RBIs and a walk in the second game. He’s hitting .531/.658/.988 in 24 games, with ten doubles, nine homers and 26 walks.
Here’s the Friday home run
Dylan Crews shows why he may be the top pick in the 2023 MLB Draft. ⚾️💣 pic.twitter.com/vYl5JemgoT
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) March 24, 2023
Here’s another homer
It's a beautiful day to go yard.@__dc4__ | SECN pic.twitter.com/TIBtbQ5SxX
— LSU Baseball (@LSUbaseball) March 25, 2023
Here’s the third homer
That's four HR's in four games for 3️⃣@__dc4__ | SECN+ pic.twitter.com/c4F14CEMuV
— LSU Baseball (@LSUbaseball) March 26, 2023
LSU right-handed pitcher Paul Skenes is a top ten draft prospect, who is off to a tremendous start. He was our fourth prospect profile. He continued that strong pitching on Friday against Arkansas, going seven innings on one run, two hits, three walks and 12 strikeouts. He’s 5-0, 0.72 in 37.1 innings, with an 0.56 WHIP, a .112 BAA and 71 strikeouts.
Here are some highlights
Paul Skenes' 1st Inning. 🔥
Sitting 100-101mph T102mph 😳
With a 92mph Changeup thrown in. pic.twitter.com/ldBUao1brh
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 24, 2023
Chase Dollander is considered to be a top two pitcher in the class right now, along with Skenes. We took a closer look at him in our second prospect profile. The University of Tennessee right-hander went up against Texas A&M on Friday, trying to rebound from his worst college start. He had a bit of a bounce back against Texas A&M, but he wasn’t dominant. He went 6.2 innings, with three runs on three hits, two walks and eight strikeouts. He is 4-2, 3.93 in 34.1 innings, with a .228 BAA and an 8:53 BB/SO ratio.
Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford has a chance to go #1. He was recently rated as the top draft prospect by The Athletic, with his athleticism being the thing that pushed him ahead of Crews for Keith Law. Baseball America had him ranked second in their latest update. However, Langford is out of action for at least another month after injuring himself by getting hit with a foul ball off of his own bat. That’s going to cost him some big opportunities to prove himself in front of scouts.
Jacob Wilson from Grand Canyon University has a long shot at being the #1, but he’s still a top ten prospect now. The son of former Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson had a series against Sam Houston this weekend. He went 0-for-3 with an RBI and a walk on Friday. He went 4-for-7 on Saturday in a high scoring/extra-innings contest. He had a double, two runs and three RBIs. Wilson went 4-for-4 with a double and run scored on Sunday. He has a .495 average in 24 games, with ten doubles, four triples, two homers, six walks and four strikeouts in 99 plate appearances.
Shortstop Jacob Gonzalez from Ole Miss is another name to watch. He played against Florida this weekend in a big test, starting with a doubleheader on Saturday. He went 1-for-4 with a double, walk, RBI and run scored in game one. He went 1-for-5 with a run scored in game two. Gonzalez went 1-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a walk on Sunday. He’s hitting .326/.466/.543 in 24 games.
Walker Jenkins is the first of two high school players we plan on adding, though if anyone else starts getting mentioned higher, they will be added too. Jenkins was our third player profile article. His stats are going to be hard to come by, but I’ll add updates where I can.
Here’s a video where Baseball America talks about him and shares highlights. They give Jenkins an Austin Meadows comp, but don’t let that scare you off just because Meadows is 28 years old with 6.7 career WAR. He’s been hurt a lot in his career. No one is drafting Jenkins in the first round hoping for that outcome as a ceiling. The comp is based on the tools from a lefty swinging high school outfielder, though their arm strength puts them in completely different area codes. Jenkins has a plus arm, which you can see here. The rest of the comp fits.
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.
We know Nutting won’t pony-up, so avoid Scott Boros at all costs: Crews, Skenes, Langford, or Dollander (in that order).
Except he’s signed Boras clients before. Many times.
and they all leave ASAP
I’m making a conscious choice to be excited either Crews or Skenes will be part of the organization later this summer, rather than being disappointed the other one wasn’t selected. But damn it’s hard. They’re both so F’ing great! Kinda like being at an art auction and only have enough money to buy either DaVinci’s Mona Lisa or Michelangelo’s statue of David.
How do you make the right choice? How do you make the wrong choice?
Models will likely discount Skenes’ future production at a higher rate given the greater probability of injury risk to pitchers. Crews seems to be the safer bet, while Skenes is higher risk but higher reward. This FO seems to favor the former based on previous first round selections. As we sit here today, you probably take the guy that agrees to the lower bonus.
I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I really hope money isn’t the deciding factor in the selection.
If you’re not drafting for need and have the same grades on each player, you take the one that will sign for less. I saw something above about Boras representing all the top guys. If that’s the case, he can basically leverage them off of each other.
I love Crews but Skenes has been amazing early on. His stuff looks electric.
Perhaps a useful point of reference
Early in the season but the average slash line for the entire SEC is roughly
0.300 / 0.420 / 0.530 (OPS of 950)
And the league is no better than the FSL
In 2022, the triple slash in the FSL was
0.233 / 0.327 / 0.361 (OPS of 690)
I’d probably favor a HS bat at this point
If BC lets both Skenes and Crews go for a HS bat, he should be fired before the Nats make their pick.
I think crews is a no brainer with a .521 Average, a 11% K rate and 23% BB rate. He’s the guy no doubt!
I just love the thought of having a true dominant SP like Skenes in the organization, but as good as he appears to be, there’s almost no chance Pirates will let Crews get away.
It’s like deciding between Stras and Haper in the same draft with those LSU kids right now. Watching Skenes blow it by hitters is exciting, but to me it dwarfs in comparison to what the potential bat of Crews would bring to the lineup. Correct me if I’m wrong, but he’s not only in the running for 1-1, but he’s also considered very advanced. Maybe a AA debut for a cup of coffee at the end of the year with ST action and maybe a call-up in late ’24. With the disclaimer that everything would need to go perfectly for that to happen.
‘ He’s hitting .531/.658/.988 in 24 games, with ten doubles, nine homers and 26 walks.’
How many K’s does he have?
I just looked it up. I keep forgetting that BRef has College Stats, too.
And that is in 111 PAs. Pretty darn good!
This is a tough one. Skenes looks dominant, but I like the idea of going hitter. They have a harder time getting them. Gotta take the Wrecking Crews.
Wrecking Cruz’ Crews?
Sitting 100-101 touching 102!?!?!?!
0.56 whip, 71 k’s in 37.1 innings.
How do you pass on a seemingly generational talent?
For another generational talent.
They were saying the same kind of things about Dollander a few weeks ago. It’s a long time until July and unfortunately they’ll be no chance to see a direct matchup between Crews and Skenes, not that it would really tell you much.
It’s hard to see how the Pirates could go wrong with either of them. I just hope they don’t play the “draft someone cheaper” game because both of these guys seem to be special players. Predictions about who will be the best in the long run are always dangerous though
Right. I don’t see a wrong choice with either one. It will be cool to see if Skenes and Crews maintain this level as they get further into the SEC season.
After running the SEC gauntlet for a few weeks, we will know which of these guys is real
They’re both for real. I don’t think there’s much doubt about that at this point.
Dreaming of a scenario where they allow draft picks to be traded and we pull 1-2 from the nats to take crews and skenes…
Is it me or does Crews play more games than skeens?, this is getting into no brain territory. Hey Crews stay ln baseball shape for your August 1 mlb debut.
Is it me or is Skenes involved in more PAs than Crews? This is getting into no brain territory. Hey Skenes stay in baseball shape for joining our rotation for the stretch run.
Well crews is an OF and skenes is a pitcher, so yes he does play more often
Exactly , the position player impacts more games a week. Always take the impact hitter over pitcher.they could have the same war but the position player has more productivity over a full year.
That’s not how it works. Wins are wins. I agree with you that taking the position player is a no brainer, though. Dollander was supposedly the greatest pitcher since Cole. Now Skenes is the supposed generational prospect.
Pitching is much more subject to small sample size craziness and there is nowhere near enough info on Skenes to even really prefer him over Dollander, let alone Crews. It’s like using spring training to decide who makes the team. It will fail if we look at Skenes in a vacuum of this season so far.
Crews will not hit .500 for the season. Only Dave Magadan did that in the SEC in 1983. He hit .525 but he didn’t have the power. Here are the greatest seasons in college history:
Both players are on track to make that list. If you look at the pitchers, they kiss more than the hitters.
The quality of stuff and development observed from Skenes is the furthest thing from a small sample size. This is not how scouting pitchers works.
LOL. It is literally a small sample against a league equal to FSL. His previous two years are against a league equal to the best high school showcases. This is exactly how scouting pitchers works. Look at lost mocks and Dollander hasn’t even dropped below Skenes on all of them.
You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.
For Pirate fans’ mental health purposes, it’d be helpful for Crews to emerge as a clear cut, no doubt #1 -1.
But for $ purposes, it’s probably better if there is a jump ball between Crews and Skenes or someone else.
Bleep dollar purposes. Pay. The. Man!
Agreed, just draft best available and pay him. I only meant the possibility of a Henry Davis type scenario where maybe they are ranked even on their Draft Board, so you pick the guy who might give you a later slot advantage
Somehow, Wyatt Langford returned to play this past weekend vs Ol Miss. Think i saw he had an oppo HR too.
He had a rough series, think he went 2-5 with the HR in the one game but not much after that. Rough injury and sure he’s shaking off some rust. Excited to see him get going again
That injury sounded…painful.