Pirates Draft Prospect Watch: Max Clark is Off to a Strong Start

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.

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 2-for-5, with two singles and a walk in a mid-week game against Tulane. He went 0-for-2, with two walks and a HBP in the first game of a three-game series against Kentucky. He went 2-for-2, with a double, two walks, three runs and an RBI on Friday. He was 1-for-3 with a single and two walks on Saturday. He’s hitting .500/.648/.842 in 35 games, with 12 doubles, nine homers, 39 walks and nine HBPs.

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 had his first rough start of the season last Thursday against South Carolina, allowing three runs (two earned) on two hits (both homers) in three innings.

His start against Kentucky this Thursday wasn’t his best performance either. He went six innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits, one walk and 13 strikeouts. Skenes is 6-1, 1.69 in nine starts this year, with a .150 BAA and a 104:10 SO/BB ratio in 53.1 innings. 

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 Arkansas on Saturday and had a mediocre outing, allowing three runs (two earned) on two hits and two walks, while striking out eight batters. He needed 93 pitches to get through his somewhat limited outing.

Dollander now has a 4-4, 4.18 record in 47.1 innings, with a .220 BAA and 71 strikeouts.

Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford has a chance to go #1. He was 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. He was our sixth draft prospect profile.

Langford went 1-for-3 with a single and a walk in a mid-week game against Florida State. Florida faced Georgia for three games over the weekend. He went 2-for-3 with two runs, three walks and a stolen base on Friday. He was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts on Saturday. He went 2-for-4 with two singles and a HBP on Sunday. He’s hitting .377/.537/.783 in 30 games, with ten doubles, three triples, nine homers and 34 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 didn’t play last weekend because he was hit on the hand with a pitch last weekend. There were no breaks, so he was able to return this weekend, after missing about ten days total.

He came off of the bench on Friday and singled in his only at-bat. He went 3-for-5 with a double, walk and three runs on Saturday against Abilene Christian. He went 1-for-4 with two walks and a stolen base on Sunday. He’s hitting .464 in 29 games, with 11 doubles, four triples, two homers, 14 walks and five strikeouts in 130 plate appearances.

Shortstop Jacob Gonzalez from Ole Miss is another name to watch, though he needs to keep up his recent hot streak to have any chance at the #1 spot. He put up strong stats over the past two weeks after a slow start to the season. This week he went 0-for-4 with a walk on Tuesday against Memphis. He played a second mid-week game against Alcorn State, going 1-for-2 with a double and four RBIs. Two of the RBIs came on sacrifice flies.

Gonzalez played a weekend series against Mississippi State. He went 1-for-5 on Friday with a solo homer. He went 2-for-4 with two doubles, two RBIs and a walk on Saturday. He was 2-for-3 on Sunday, with a double and two walks. He’s now hitting .348/.477/.621 in 36 games.

Here’s Friday’s homer

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. He has been walked a ton this year, so the video highlights are tough to come by. He had a double during a mid-week game that can be seen here.

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 April 1st, 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, the hit his first homer of the year a few days later. In his first eight games this year, he is 14-for-21, with six extra-base hits and 14 walks.

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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robertkasperski

I just don’t know who they should pick !!!

joesolo6181

With Crews being represented by Boros Crews will be looking to set a new high bonus signing record which might make him to costly for the pirates to sign.

adicesa14

How depressing. I was afraid of something like this. Boras is a curse on small markets. He should be avoided.

Last edited 1 month ago by adicesa14
ArkyWags

You think he’s getting more than Harper/Strasburg? Yeah that ain’t happening.

NMR

Strasburg’s bonus was only $7.5m and Harper’s $6.5m; they were part of larger Major League deals, but you can’t do that anymore.

Crews will absolutely get more than them, and I do think it’s all but certain that Boras will go for the largest bonus ever in the slot era.

jimmyz

To your last point about Crews/Boras shooting for the stars and record number, that would only help the Pirates as they have the largest bonus pool and by virtue of picking 1:1 the largest individual slot amount. Ideally I’d love them to go get Crews but realistically they could take Skenes and still “save” money to build out the rest of their draft.

ArkyWags

So am I reading deals here wrong where Harper ($9.9M) and SS ($15.1M) are kind of counted differently? Were those amounts paid out over those 4 year deals they signed? I get it’s a different system now, so if it’s bonus only…yeah Crews will get more than those amounts you listed.

Frankly I don’t care who the agent is. If they think Crews is the best, they should take him. And while I’m saying that in a simplistic way; but if they think he’s clearly the best guy even at the high price, he should be the pick. I get your point about underslot, but l don’t want a full fledged punt and for them to go too far underslot and end up with Mickey Moniak 2.0.

Last edited 1 month ago by ArkyWags
NMR

Yeah the old days allowed guys to sign Major League deals out of the draft.

I’m 100% with you on strategy.

JoeNastasi

Only thing that might hold his bonus down would be corner OF or threat of taking Skenes 1-1

Anthony

I’m pretty sure he represents Skenes too.

NMR

Eesh.

I’m not a fan of intentionally going underslot at 1.1, but the good thing about having that pick is most years nobody is going to be worth full slot. I believe only twice in the slot era has it happened.

You end up with the best talent AND some cap space to work with.

b mcferren

why mess with another Appel situation when we can get another slew of Tank, Solo, Bubba, White and Bishop?

adicesa14

Boras also represented Kumar Rocker, who did the same thing to the Mets in 2021.

NMR

Because most of those guys will stink.

Last edited 1 month ago by NMR
b mcferren

if two dont then its a better strategy

NMR

They had a plenty big enough pool to get three of the big four WITHOUT taking a lesser player up top.

A success of two is an awful outcome for the strategy unless they’re both absolute stars.

ArkyWags

To me, they took the underslot strategy too far with Hank. I think this is what you’re saying. The risk with the underslot strategy is you better have a huge swath of guys you want because most of them will get picked before you can scoop them up.

jimmyz

As far as I’m concerned that Davis draft was all about getting the money right to go get Bubba. I mean the dude had black and gold confetti dropping on him in his draft reaction moment when he was taken in the 3rd round for about 3 million. Solometo and White were just cherries on top.

NMR

That’s a great take, man. I would agree.

NMR

Yep, right there with you.

It could’ve just been a straight scouting miss, but my gut says that expected bonuses formed a bias among evaluators that presented itself as justifying all five dudes or whatever were inseparable. They may have been close, but in how many drafts could that not be said?

Scam likely

Tried to find who is representing Crews and couldn’t find anything, perhaps you have a link.

AdministrativeSky236

If skenes falters down the stretch and crews keeps rolling, could make our decision much easier

skliesen

I would think it’s less about results of the balance of the schedule, unless there’s a glaring difference, and more about projection of their skills at the MLB level. With money being the wildcard.

At this point I’ll be excited about Crews, Skenes, or Langford, and highly disappointed if they choose anyone else.

roberto

The real action will be lower in the draft. None of the top 10 will be willing to sign an extension. But guys who only got a bonus of $1 million might. Obviously, the Bucs can negotiate with the top players, but they can scout and talk to players ranked 30+.

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