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 fourth weekly recap of the weekend action for the top college draft prospects.
Dylan Crews was our first draft prospect profile. The LSU outfielder went 2-for-3 on Friday against Texas A&M, with a double, two walks and three runs scored. He went 1-for-4 with two walks and two runs scored on Saturday. He went 2-for-4 on Sunday, with two doubles, two runs and a walk. He’s now hitting .493/.639/.855 in 21 games.
LSU right-handed pitcher Paul Skenes is a top ten draft prospect, who is off to a tremendous start. He continued that strong pitching on Friday against Texas A&M, putting up 6.1 shutout innings on four hits, no walks and 11 strikeouts. He is 5-0, 0.59 in five starts, with a .115 BAA in 30.1 innings, to go along with a 4:59 BB/SO ratio.
Here’s a highlight video
Jim Schlossnagle on LSU’s Paul Skenes: “I’ve been doing this 33 years and Stephen Strasburg, Mark Prior and Paul Skenes are the best I’ve ever seen. He’s pitching in the wrong league, I’ll tell you that. He needs to be in the American or National League.” pic.twitter.com/gtKre6HrW5
— Harrison Valentine (@HValentineLSU) March 18, 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 Missouri on Friday, and he got hit hard. He went 5.2 innings, with six runs on nine hits, a walk and four strikeouts. That hit total included five doubles and a triple. He actually did well after giving up four runs in the first inning, but this was his worst college start. Dollander has a 3.90 ERA in five starts, with a .248 WHIP and a 6:45 BB/SO ratio in 27.2 innings.
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. However, Langford is out of action for at least a 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 Sacramento State this weekend. He went 3-for-6 with a home run and four RBIs on Friday. He was 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and a walk during the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday. He went 2-for-4 in game two, with two runs, a double, an RBI, a walk and a stolen base.
Wilson is hitting .446/.458/.730 in 19 games. That line makes it look like he has drawn one walk, but it’s actually off-set a bit by four sacrifice flies. He has five walks and four strikeouts in 83 plate appearances.
Here’s his grand slam from Friday
💣 𝐆𝐑𝐀𝐍𝐃 𝐒𝐋𝐀𝐌 @jacobwilsonn22💣
Three straight GCU walks load the bases and Wilson brings them home #LopesUp
GCU 4, SAC 0 pic.twitter.com/uIHgomq9vk
— Grand Canyon Baseball (@GCU_Baseball) March 18, 2023
Shortstop Jacob Gonzalez from Ole Miss is another early name to watch. He played against Vanderbilt this weekend in a big test. He went 1-for-4 with a double and a run scored on Thursday. He went 0-for-4 on Friday, as his team nearly got no-hit. He went 1-for-4 with a solo homer on Saturday. He’s hitting .333/.485/.520 in 20 games.
Here’s the homer
.@jakegonzalez717 goes yard to get the Rebs on the board! 💣 pic.twitter.com/RhETDrElDY
— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) March 18, 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. For the two boxscores available, he went 3-for-8 with four runs scored. Here’s video of his first homer, which was not part of those limited stats.
Getting a look at OF Walker Jenkins (N.C.) tonight and he’s got a couple of hard hit balls after two ABs including this no-doubt HR to right-center. pic.twitter.com/PEyikwiGT8
— Carlos Collazo (@CarlosACollazo) March 15, 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.
Perhaps something to consider
From 2020 draft preview period
I can squint real hard to 2027 and see Skenes and Shim as our #1 and #2 SP’s, not necessarily in that order. After the last 3 drafts, I’d go with the best pitcher this year. TOR arms get us to playoffs and win short playoff series.
Watching the WBC
Serious question – is Sasaki the best pitcher in the world?
And yes, he just gave up a HR
Follow up serious question, is Yoshinobu Yamamoto actually better?
that is one big country boy
my weekly post of:
If Crews looks like he can pop a handful of yrs as a solid CF, then he’s the pick, no debate.
If Crews looks like a RF, there’s a debate. Maybe Crews wins the debate, but there has to be a debate.
Gawd i do like skenes
Crews is a no-doubt CF in any org who plays Oneil Cruz at SS on purpose. Not even a debate.
idk if playing Cruz at SS is some declaration that they dont care about defense. maybe it is. no idea.
Of course if you take Crews and then he ends up being borderline whether he can stick at CF or not, you keep him out there for the length it gives the lineup, as long as hes not a disaster.
But here, it’s about choosing the right player and having to split hairs!
I made no judgement on quality.
They may believe Oneil is a fine defender. Or they may just believe defense is overrated.
But they’ve now made two consequential decisions at up-the-middle positions. If we give them even the smallest amount of respect, it should be that they are intentional and logical in their decision making process.
The only thing illogical would be treating Crews differently than they have Cruz and Davis.
If the universal DH weren’t adopted in the last CBA Skenes would be the no-doubt top pick, right?
12k’s in 18pa’s in high-level summer ball
Doubt that would translate well to MLB
Correct, not close to good enough to DH.
But do you remember pitchers hitting. That’s the competition to beat.
I have absolutely no doubt Skenes would be head and shoulders better.
Couldve maybe been the Ohtani knockoff that Brendan McKay was supposed to be
Madison Bumgarner was worth 1 WAR on offense with a 69 wRC+ (nice) in 2016.
The barrier to producing legitimate value was so incredibly low for pitchers hitting.
The top pitcher in any draft could be broke-ass Ohtani with the bat and still add enough value to make him the top pick in the draft short of a Bryce Harper year. DH is still probably best for quality of play in general but it’ll rob us of dudes like Bubba Chandler and Mason Wynn and Paul Skenes doing some really fun stuff.
Regardless of the universal DH, Skenes has the most upside of anyone in this draft.
You don’t pass on an arm like Skenes.
Ask Detroit about sec high drafted pitchers, pirates can’t risk taking a pitcher 1-1, you just can’t get the productivity out of them if they get hurt Tommy John. Plus Crews can flat out rake.
Nick Senzel could also flat out rake.
Dude fearmongers about Detroit pitchers as if Spencer Torkelson didn’t just get his teeth kicked in.
That was the undisputed top bat in the draft, at 1.1, as a first baseman, and they’ll now be lucky to get an average big league bat out of him.
I wanna see him get through an entire big conference season before cementing as my pick but I’m already there in spirit.
He is growing on me as well.
Dudes some day are going to be drinking beer at their college homecoming saying “You remember that day we all got mowed down by Skenes?”. One guy will be proud he fouled a few balls off. Just planning some of these college guys glory days for them.
TOR arms are more likely to come from the college crop than HS class in any given year, Skenes is separating himself in this class imo
Let’s wait for the conference season to jump on the bandwagon. This is still a small sample against underwhelming competition.
Texas A&M is part of the SEC
I said “season” and “small sample”. This real wasn’t underwhelming but the rest of the small sample was. Patience is all. That’s it. Patience.
After reading that quote and watching the video of Skenes, I’m kinda expecting him to be the ‘2024 OD SP.
Holy Live Arm, Batman!
LSU is coming to play UGA, about an hour away from me, in May. I’m thinking I need to go check him out.
I love the enthusiasm, but you might want to relax just a bit.
That type of development would be unprecedented.
Especially since it means that would be his first professional game after being drafted; new draft is too late to roster anyone the following OD.
They play South Carolina which is about 45 mins away from my house in early April. May try to get to get to the game but will have to see. He looks like he is throwing from a mound that closer to the plate.
That Schlossnagle quote 👀🔥
The schlossnagles taste like schlossnagles.
Go with Skenes. You miss here and it will hurt for years.
Which is exactly why you go with the elite position player over the arm. TINSTAAPP exists for a reason. The draft is littered with unbelievable arms that go pop in the night. I learned enough from the Machado/Taillon choice to not make that mistake again.
Take Crews we need outfield hitters and he won’t be in the minors very long. But his bonus demands are outrageous look for Clark, or walker for under slots.
Schlossnagle is one helluva College Coach, and, IMO, one of the best talent evaluators of pitching in the college ranks. He led TCU to 5 College World Series appearances in 14 years, and in his first year at Texas A&M in 2022, he took them to the College World Series.
Skenes pitched against his A&M team over the weekend, so he got to see him up close and personal. In 2021, Jack Leiter was the 1-1. He did not pitch that year, but Texas got him 22 starts in the AA Texas League last year. It was rough for Leiter who had a 3-10 record, and an ERA of 5.54, but he will be in AAA at some point this year and just a step away from MLB.
If that is the plan of the Pirates for Skenes, yes, I think he would be a solid 1-1 for the Pirates. I think I mentioned in another comment that Skenes pitched in 30 games for the Air Force, and was also the Catcher for 30 games. Don’t know if I have ever heard of a pitcher this good who knows the craft from both sides!
I’m rooting for Skenes to justify and then be the pick. Of course I’m not going to be disappointed if it’s Crews or Langford. Any other choice and I’ll feel like we’re not going best player available.
I’m saying to think we should maybe take Skene’s and put him in AA or even AAA to finish the year with the intent of bringing him to ST next year.
The Pirates try to keep a close eye on the number of innings pitched per year, and the way he is throwing, he will be well over 100 IP for LSU. Then a down period of about 30 days before the draft even happens and then time to work out a deal.
After that long of a shutdown, nothing positive can happen in 2023. Rest and come back strong in 2024 which will only be his age 22 season.
BTW, I errored by referring to Leiter as the 1-1 in 2021 – he was the 1-2, following the Pirates taking Henry Davis as the 1-1!
draft him today and slot him behind Keller to pitch game 2:)
I think he needs to do this in the conference games.