The 2023 College World Series promises to showcase some of the top prospects for the upcoming MLB Draft. Unlike previous years, where many top college players missed the series, this year’s event will feature a stacked lineup of talent. From potential first-overall picks to standout pitchers, baseball fans will have the opportunity to witness the future stars of the game.
These 10 prospects represent the cream of the crop in this year’s Men’s College World Series. Their performances in Omaha will play a significant role in shaping their draft stock and future baseball careers. Fans should keep a close eye on these talented players as they compete on the big stage.
Here are the top 10 MLB Draft prospects to watch in this year’s Men’s College World Series:
10. Hurston Waldrep, RHP, Florida
Hurston Waldrep of Florida is a pitcher who can be both dominant and inconsistent. His performances against South Carolina this season illustrate this unpredictability. In one start, he struggled, giving up five runs on six hits and three walks over six innings. However, in another start during the College World Series super regionals, he excelled, throwing eight shutout innings with only three hits and two walks allowed while striking out 13.
Waldrep’s stuff is highly regarded, which is why he is projected to be the fourth college pitcher selected in the MLB Draft. He possesses a powerful fastball that reaches the upper-90s and a splitter that is considered one of the best in college baseball since Auburn’s Casey Mize. Additionally, his slider can be extremely difficult for hitters to handle.
However, Waldrep’s main challenge lies in maintaining consistent control and command over his pitches. This inconsistency is reflected in his stat line, where he recorded 142 strikeouts but also issued 48 walks and posted a 4.15 ERA across 93.1 innings of work after the super regionals.
9. Tommy Troy, 3B, Stanford
In the college shortstop class, there are several talented players with well-rounded skill sets. Matt Shaw, Jacob Gonzalez, and Jacob Wilson have all concluded their seasons, but Stanford’s Tommy Troy still has the opportunity to enhance his draft profile. Throughout the season, Troy excelled against Pac-12 pitching, boasting an impressive slash line of .397/.479/.711. He also displayed power with 17 home runs and showcased his speed by stealing 17 bases.
8. Brayden Taylor, 3B, TCU
Brayden Taylor’s season can be divided into two distinct parts. Initially regarded as one of the top draft prospects, he struggled in the early games, batting just .233 with seven home runs in his first 23 outings. However, he experienced a remarkable turnaround afterward. Over the next 40 games, Taylor has been on fire, hitting .362 and smacking 16 home runs, playing a crucial role in TCU’s journey to the College World Series.
One of the main concerns about Taylor before the season was his perceived lack of above-average power for a corner infielder. In response, he has been striving to address those doubts, boasting a slugging percentage of .657 and a career-best 23 home runs. If Taylor can maintain this level of power production, it could significantly boost his draft stock. Moreover, his standout plate approach, exceptional plate discipline, and consistent contact-making ability further strengthen his case as a higher-ranked prospect.
7. Brock Wilken, 3B, Wake Forest
Brock Wilken of Wake Forest is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to power-hitting. He made headlines during the super regionals by breaking the ACC career home run record with his 70th long ball, hitting three homers in a single game against Alabama in a dominant 22-5 victory. In the regular season, Wilken belted 30 home runs, tying him with Cam Fisher of Charlotte and trailing only Jac Caglianone’s 31 home runs. His slugging percentage of .835 ranks fourth among all Division I players.
As a draft prospect, Wilken’s power bat and a strong arm are his standout attributes. He is a fearsome presence at the plate, capable of wreaking havoc on opposing pitchers. Defensively, his infield arm strength is among the best in college baseball, particularly at third base. However, concerns about his ability to make consistent contact at the next level may linger, despite his impressive .357 batting average accompanied by 65 walks and 51 strikeouts. Nonetheless, his power potential is enough to entice teams to consider him as a mid-to-late first-round pick. Wilken, along with Wake Forest teammate Nick Kurtz, forms one of the most formidable duos in any lineup, and his recent surge in performance makes him an exciting player to watch in the College World Series.
6. Kyle Teel, C, Virginia
Kyle Teel is a highly sought-after prospect in this year’s draft due to his exceptional offensive skills combined with the ability to play as a catcher. Throughout the 2023 season, Teel had an outstanding performance, boasting a remarkable slash line of .418/.484/.673 with 13 home runs and five stolen bases. He also displayed impressive plate discipline, drawing 31 walks compared to just 33 strikeouts.
Defensively, Teel possesses the necessary athleticism and a strong throwing arm to remain a catcher in the long run. Moreover, there is a belief that his mobility could allow him to play multiple positions, offering versatility beyond just the catching role. This versatility sets him apart from catchers who are often limited to transitioning to first base if they can’t stay behind the plate. Teel is poised to be the first catcher selected in the draft, and with his potent bat anchoring Virginia’s lineup, he promises to be an exciting player to watch at the plate.
5. Chase Dollander, RHP, Tennessee
Dollander and Lowder can be flipped here, because Dolander has absolutely absurd stuff and pitchability. But we can’t ignore how dominant Lowder was this season, so we’re giving him the nod, but that’s no knock on Dollander.
Chase Dollander entered the season as a top candidate to be the first pitcher selected in the draft, and there was even speculation that he could contend for the first overall pick alongside Crews. However, Dollander has faced challenges throughout the season, entering the College World Series with a 4.50 ERA, 118 strikeouts, and 28 walks in 86 innings pitched. Notably, he has struggled with giving up home runs, allowing 14 long balls thus far.
Despite his struggles, Dollander is still projected to be an early draft pick, potentially as high as the sixth selection. His fastball is a standout, featuring high velocity and movement. In addition to his fastball, Dollander possesses a slider and changeup that are considered plus offerings and can be extremely challenging for hitters when he is on his game. He also incorporates a curveball into his repertoire, solidifying him as a big-time prospect at the next level.
4. Rhett Lowder, RHP, Wake Forest
The draft decision between Chase Dollander and Rhett Lowder revolves around the balance between polish and upside. Dollander demonstrates flashes of ace-level stuff at his best, showcasing impressive pitching abilities. On the other hand, Lowder consistently performs at a high level, rarely allowing more than three earned runs in a start since March 10. He has recorded at least six innings in all but three starts, with those exceptions occurring on or before April 9. Lowder currently holds a remarkable 1.92 ERA, ranking fourth in the country, and leads the nation with 15 wins and zero losses. Additionally, his strikeout-to-walk ratio of 6.24 (131-to-21) places him 11th nationally.
Lowder possesses an above-average pitch repertoire overall, with his changeup standing out as a true elite pitch. While concerns may arise about his potential for improvement, considering his advanced training at Wake Forest’s pitching lab and his lack of elite velocity, Lowder brings a high level of polish to his game. He provides Wake Forest with a dependable and consistent arm that they can rely on, especially as they prepare to face the top teams in the country during the College World Series. Ultimately, the draft decision between Dollander and Lowder will involve weighing the upside potential of Dollander’s ace stuff against Lowder’s established polish and consistent performance.
3. Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida
Wyatt Langford has been an impressive standout in Florida, showcasing his two-way abilities and displaying exceptional power at the plate. Despite hitting fewer home runs than Jac Caglianone, Langford holds a higher slugging percentage at .769, primarily due to his 24 doubles and 18 homers. Moreover, Langford boasts an impressive on-base percentage of just under .500 at .498, along with more walks (51) than strikeouts (41).
In any other year, Langford would be a strong contender for the first overall draft pick. He possesses a well-rounded skill set with the potential to be a middle-of-the-order hitter. Langford combines a powerful swing with an advanced approach at the plate, and his speed allows him to contribute on the basepaths and in the outfield. While he may be limited to a corner outfield position defensively, his exceptional bat ensures that, aside from Crews, no other college hitter is likely to be selected before him in the MLB draft. Langford is a star talent in Florida’s lineup, making him a player to watch and a source of excitement in any baseball game he participates in.
2. Paul Skenes, RHP, LSU
LSU is fortunate to have both the top hitter and the top pitcher in the 2023 draft class. Paul Skenes has been a dominant force throughout the college baseball season, establishing himself as the clear standout among pitchers. His impressive statistics speak for themselves: he boasts the second-lowest ERA (1.77), the lowest WHIP (0.78), the highest K/9 (15.81), the most strikeouts (188), and the third-best strikeout-to-walk ratio (10.44) among all Division I players. Skenes has consistently showcased his dominance, with only one outing where he struck out fewer than eight batters and one game where he allowed more than three earned runs.
What sets Skenes apart is his rare combination of exceptional stuff and refined pitching skills. His fastball reaches triple digits, with a remarkable spin that gives the pitch the potential to be among the best at the MLB level. Skenes complements his fastball with an upper-80s slider that is difficult for batters to handle, as well as a plus changeup. Beyond his repertoire, Skenes possesses standout control and command, further elevating his game and providing him with a high floor as a prospect. His well-rounded abilities and polished approach make him a strong candidate to be the first pitcher selected in the draft, and there is even a possibility that he could be the first overall pick. In college baseball, pitchers as complete as Skenes have not been seen since the likes of Stephen Strasburg, who is often regarded as one of the greatest pitching prospects of all time.
1. Dylan Crews, OF, LSU
Dylan Crews has had an exceptional college season, solidifying his status as the top talent in the 2023 draft class. His performance has been nothing short of remarkable, showcasing his well-rounded skill set and establishing himself as one of the most complete college players since Adley Rutschman. Crews’ offensive numbers speak for themselves, as he compiled an outstanding slash line of .433/.570/.732. His on-base percentage ranked second in Division I, and he also contributed with 17 home runs, including two during the regionals.
As a draft prospect, Crews excels in all facets of the game. Defensively, he possesses the necessary skills, including strong defensive ability and arm strength, to stay in center field and provide above-average defense. However, it is his offensive prowess that truly sets him apart. Scouts have praised his approach at the plate and his exceptional ability to make contact, considering his hit tool as one of the best from the college ranks in recent years. With his well-rounded package of skills, Crews also brings a noteworthy level of speed, making him a threat on the basepaths despite not heavily relying on stolen bases in his game.
Overall, Crews is an elite college prospect who commands attention whenever he steps up to the plate. His combination of offensive firepower, defensive capabilities, and base-running skills makes him an incredibly enticing prospect for MLB teams. It is rare for a player to maintain their status as the top talent throughout the draft season, but Crews has proven himself worthy of such recognition with his exceptional performance.