We posted three mock drafts between late Thursday night and early Friday morning. The first was from Jonathan Mayo at MLB Pipeline. The next two were from Baseball America and Kiley McDaniel from ESPN. All three of those mock drafts had the Pittsburgh Pirates selecting LSU right-handed pitcher Paul Skenes with the first overall pick in the 2023 draft.
Keith Law posted his latest mock draft late last night. He doesn’t have the Pirates going for Skenes. He has them taking Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford with the first overall pick.
Langford had an outstanding season, in which he nearly led Florida to a College World Series title. He actually had a better OPS than Dylan Crews during the regular season, with both top prospects playing in the same conference, one in which Crews didn’t have to face the best pitcher (Skenes). That was also with Langford suffering a rough injury mid-season, followed by returning well before he was originally supposed to return.
This pick by Law shouldn’t be a surprise here, even when factoring in potential bonus amounts into the equation. There are plenty of scouts according to the draft experts who like Langford the best in this draft class. Crews has more fans, but Skenes, Langford and prep outfielder Max Clark all have scouts who believe that they are the best in this elite 2023 draft group that also includes prep outfielder Walker Jenkins.
Law mentions that he believes the Pirates want hitting over pitching, while getting someone closer to the majors, which is why he went Langford over Skenes and Clark. He also mentioned the high bonus demands from Crews that we have heard rumors about, which led them to Langford with his pick. That potential savings, while getting a pick that some scouts think is first overall, would help the Pirates stock up on over-slot talent in this draft class.
The rest of the elite five are going:
2. Washington Nationals – Skenes
3. Detroit Tigers – Crews
4. Texas Rangers – Clark
7. Cincinnati Reds – Jenkins
This is the second mock in which there’s a belief that the Minnesota Twins and Oakland A’s will both pass on the better players for cheaper college players (still highly rated). The Reds would be getting a player with first overall type talent in both scenarios, despite picking seventh.
The draft begins tomorrow night at 7 PM on MLB Network. The Pirates will also be making the 42nd and 67th overall picks tomorrow. Monday will be rounds 2-10, while Tuesday will have rounds 11-20. Everything will be covered in depth here through the entire draft.
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.