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 sixth weekly recap of the weekend action for the top college draft prospects.
Dylan Crews was our first draft prospect profile. The LSU outfielder went 1-for-4 with a single in his match-up against top pitching prospect Chase Dollander (see below) from Tennessee. Crews went 1-for-3 with a walk and hit-by-pitch on Friday. He saved his big day for Saturday, when he went 4-for-4 with a double, run scored, three RBIs and a walk. He’s now hitting .543/.664/.947 in 28 games, with 11 doubles, nine homers and 29 walks.
LSU right-handed pitcher Paul Skenes is a top five draft prospect, who is off to a tremendous start. He was our fourth prospect profile. He continued that strong pitching on Thursday against Tennessee, going seven innings on one run, five hits, one walk and 12 strikeouts. He’s 5-0, 0.81 in 44.1 innings, with an 0.61 WHIP, a .127 BAA and 83 strikeouts.
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 LSU on Thursday. He allowed two runs over 4.2 innings, with four hits, three walks and three strikeouts. He has a 4-2, 3.92 record in 39 innings, with 56 strikeouts, a .229 BAA and a 1.13 WHIP.
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. Langford was supposed to be out of action for at least another month after injuring himself by getting hit with a foul ball off of his own bat. However, he has returned already, going 4-for-9 this past weekend, with a homer and eight walks against Auburn. That got him up to a .392 average in 22 games, with nine doubles, two triples, eight homers and 25 walks.
Jacob Wilson from Grand Canyon University has a long shot at being the #1, but he’s still a top ten prospect. The son of former Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson had a series against Utah Valley this weekend. He went 1-for-4 with a double, RBI, walk and two runs scored on Friday. He was 1-for-3 on Saturday, with two RBIs, a walk, HBP and a stolen base. He didn’t play on Sunday. He’s hitting .465/.504/.703 in 26 games
Here’s a play from Saturday
Flash that leather, @jacobwilsonn22! 😱#SCTop10 | #WACTopPlay pic.twitter.com/EXdZasS1W3
— Grand Canyon Baseball (@GCU_Baseball) April 1, 2023
Shortstop Jacob Gonzalez from Ole Miss is another name to watch, though he needs to make a move soon to have any chance at the #1 spot. He played against Texas A&M this weekend. He went 2-for-5 on Friday night, with a two-run homer and a single. He went 2-for-2 with a double, two RBIs and three walks on Saturday. He went 1-for-2 on Sunday, with a double, walk and an RBI on a sacrifice fly. He’s hitting .347/.481/.594 in 27 games, with ten doubles, five homers and 22 walks.
Here’s the Friday homer
Get us going @jakegonzalez717! 🚀 pic.twitter.com/5o8SUecnAd
— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) March 31, 2023
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 home run by him from a few days ago
South Brunswick outfielder Walker Jenkins hit a ball a bajillion feet. He’s going to go good this July. pic.twitter.com/oqkfRbYvMl
— Joe Doyle (@JoeDoyleMiLB) March 30, 2023
Max Clark has been added to our watch. The Indiana outfielder was profiled here in our fifth article for the series. His season started on Saturday, so there’s not much to go on yet that isn’t in his recent profile. As with Jenkins, stats will be added when possible. Clark had three hits in his season debut.
No surprise here – ‘23 OF Max Clark (@maxxclarkk13) w/ a 3 hit day
6’1/200lb @VandyBoys recruit showing off his opposite field 💪🏻, driving two 2B off the LF wall
Flawless defense in CF, as well
3 for 4 | 2 RBI | IBB | SB | R @FCHS___Baseball @ShooterHunt #MLBDraft pic.twitter.com/qDtTtQoRRr
— PBR Indiana (@PBRIndiana) April 1, 2023
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.
I kind of wish Crews wasn’t there and just take Skenes, but I still think this team needs some high end hitters with power more than anything. They seem to find respectable pitching moreso than finding and keeping hitters. I take Crews or see where Langford ends up.
It could be a bonus thing too- see who agrees to what.
Also while I’m tooting the LSU train. Tre Morgan. Draft him.
He’s an outstanding 1st baseman
He’s been actually getting OF time this year, now that there’s actually room for him to get time out there. He’s a very very athletic and talented 1B, which could play well in the future if he needs to move back, but he’s athletic enough that he can begin as an OF.
I think he’s a perfect candidate for hit tool now, develop power later.
Skenes all the way
Skenes looks like a legit TOR arm. Crews looks like a future MVP. What could go wrong?
It seems to me Dylan Crews is the obvious choice with one concern. I’m wondering who his agent may be. If it’s Scott Boras, Dylan’s a pass.
His agent shouldn’t matter in the least.
I remember Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Cole. Boras held out for over slot money. He matters.
There was no slotting system in either draft.
I don’t recall but I believe you. Nonetheless, he prolonged the negotiations until the Pirates relented in signing these players to Boras’ demands, i.e., greater amounts of $’s. Furthermore, Boras is nearly impossible to deal with prior to ‘free agency.’ His clients nearly always get there as a matter of strategy. He’s the reason the Pirates shed Cole and ‘Tinker’ Bell. Alvarez, of course, didn’t ‘pan out.’ Boras is an impossible impediment for small market teams and the ‘holding company’ for the large markets. They get the advantage of allowing the top small market players to mature without development costs or headaches before ‘gobbling them up.’ They have so many advantages, why give them more? Let the large markets, pay a premium with risk up front.
NMR is right there was no slotting system. By your line of thinking here, it seems pretty easy to take a lesser player all based on who his agent is. That’s a bold take.
The best players and draft prospects have the best agents. In any sport. That’s part of the business and if management or ownership shows hesitancy to deal with those agents, they’re in the wrong line of work. It’s foolish to shut yourself off from one huge stream of talent for that reason.
I understand your logic. It’s not right or wrong. I’m only pointing out that Pirate fortunes with Boras clients is not good. They paid top dollar for Alvarez, Cole, and Bell, yet did not receive top performance from any of them and were forced to part with them before they reached their ceiling, Alvarez being the failed exception. Why go there again. Teams are … well, teams. They are the sum of parts, and the parts don’t have to be the best player at any position. If that’s a viable way of thinking, then the top pitcher (the most important position, in my estimation) should be the selection and you hope he’s
shovelmajor league ready when you sign him so that he doesn’t waste ML time realizing his potential before you lose him via trade or free agency. So, I respectfully disagree, a player’s agent ought to be at least a consideration when drafting a player. If the Pirates want to sign a Boras free agent, that’s fine. The player would be a known quantity, but can you name one? I can’t, they’re too expansive for this team.
Langford is back & has been playing since March 25th, he missed about 2 weeks. He hit his 8th HR yesterday.
Also of note is Crews’ hit streak is now around 27 games.
I watched about half the Thursday night game and I was firmly a Dylan Crews guy until I saw Skenes pitch the first inning.
12 pitches….one 87 mph slider, one 99 mph fastball, and the other 10 fastballs all 100 – 102 with movement.
Now I would be happy with either one at #1 , and I’m not so sure I don’t secretly want it to be Skenes….
I don’t believe a soul who says this is anywhere near definitive in favor of Crews has ever actually watched Skenes pitch. Godd*amn is it impressive.
I’m likely to be 51/49 Crews over Skenes come the draft. Every time I watch Skenes pitch, I’m amazed. There are times where I’m left actually laughing at how bad I feel for the hitters when they’re geared up for 100+, then he just lays in that filthy slider and they’re helpless.
Skenes got that dawg in him, I’m tellin you.
All aboard the skenes train!
There are just so many other things that have me talking myself into him as well. He’s got a big boy build, and is already under the tutelage of a MLB pitching coach. Which helps explain why he saw huge steps forward with a lot of his stuff, along with focusing primarily on pitching now.
Hopefully they draft him and turn him into a sinkerball pitcher (ducks).
I agree. I was on Team Crews until I Skenes pitch. He has prototypical size for a starter and a pretty effortless delivery. Also of note, during an in game interview, LSU’s coach referred to Skenes as one of the best people on the planet. I don’t think that they can go wrong with either player.
I have favored Crews as well, but Thursday was the first time I ever saw Skenes pitch in a game. I have seen Dollander pitch several times before, but never saw Skenes in a game. I was never as high on Dollander as some, but I was very impressed with Skenes. He looked as advertised. I still would favor Crews personally, but I agree. I do not think we would go wrong with either player.
Bryce gonna lose, Dylan gonna Crews. That’s what’s in