Draft Prospects With A Chance To Be Lottery Picks

Mason McRae
15 min readDec 6, 2022

The MLB draft will have its first ever draft lottery today. Unlike the NFL draft, we rarely who the ‘can’t miss’ top prospect is one year out, though we do have a hunch. This year that player looks to be Dylan Crews, but there plenty of others in the mix.

The last time the pressumed top prospect actually went first overall was back in 2019 with Adley Rutschman. In 2020, it was Emerson Hancock and Spencer Torkelson. In 2021, it was Kumar Rocker. And in 2022, it was Elijah Green. Since Crews is a college positional player (these profiles very rarely fall off a cliff), it’s unlikely he isn’t a top pick, but this isn’t the NHL with a McDavid or Matthews type of talent.

Dylan Crews, OF, LSU

Crews was one of the best hitters in high school up until his rising senior summer where he struggled. With the pandemic shortening his high school season, he didn’t have much time to perform in front of scouts and regain the helium he lost in the summer. As a freshman, he was an All-American, and then as a sophomore he finished with more home runs and a higher wOBA.

His swing path is flat with attack angles between 2 and 6 degrees, but he has forward arm bend with spinal tilt and a low early connection rate so he can still lift the ball. He leads all of college baseball in batted balls hit > 100 mph since 2020, and he can do it to both fields. He leads all of right-handed hitters in batted balls hit > 100 mph to right field. Nearly one-third of his HR have been hit to the opposite field. He has 70-grade raw power, his 90th percentile EV is 108.3 mph, and his max EV of 115.4 mph came at 18 degrees, so even with the flat path he’s getting his best contact at desirable launch angles.

He’s made improvements with his swing decisions dropping his swing rate below 40% and his swing rate on poor pitches (< 35% strike prob) below 15%. He does damage when he does swing but also generates plenty of runs with his takes. His bat-to-ball skills are above-average with around average contact, and better in-zone contact. A lot of his whiffs actually come in favorable counts where he’s trying to ambush a pitch, when he gets to 2-strikes he rarely whiffs in the zone but tends to expand way more while swinging nearly 50% of the time. He’s so skilled, the only blemish is that he’s likely a RF instead of a CF — although a 55 in RF — and that he doesn’t have the best plate discipline. It’s a 70-grade power tool with a 55-grade hit. He’s a safe amateur prospect that’ll move quickly in pro ball.

Max Clark, OF, Franklin

Better athletic profile than skillset which says a lot because he has barrel feel/accuracy and makes good decisions. He’s a plus athlete, can play CF and has a 60-grade arm. Up to 97 on the mound from the left-side, he’s an easy 60 in the outfield as a plus-runner with quick hips and range to both sides. Has plus bat speed with quick hands, fast torso rotation. Lands with some weight on front foot but torso closed off and hands at the back of his helmet. Does delay-rotation and his lower half/hands rotate on time. His swing is simple with a short load, firm front leg at contact, and quick hinge.

Doesn’t whiff much, better bat-to-ball skills than discipline, rarely expands the zone against higher-end pitching. Has a 60-grade hit tool which says a lot because a prep hit tool is tough to tab as a 60. Has flashed elite barrel accuracy with performance over his years on the showcase circuit. He’s a performer who works to all-fields with his power. Will be a tough sign, committed to Vanderbilt. The advanced offensive profile combined with his athleticism and potential 60-grade glove in CF will make it worth it. Has already added a lot of strength, don’t think there’s a lot of projection left but he’s already advanced on that side. Could see him at the top of a big league lineup one day. Some similarities to Pete Crow-Armstrong out of high school.

Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida

Langford had one of the highest 90th percentile EVs in the country last year at 110.6 mph, and was one of just a dozen players to run a zone whiff < 15% and have a Max EV > 113 mph. His average EV was in the 97th percentile, he consistently hit the ball hard and when he did swing the results were generally good. It’s not a power profile lacking contact like many corner outfielders in college, he whiffed on just 22% of swings, and he swung at 70% of pitches in the zone. He sees pitches well and does damage when he does swing. It’s everything you’re looking for in a college hitter, but most of the profile is dependent on the bat performing which is why it can be a risky profile. Him having 70 raw and 60 power limits the risk as we know those are premier tools.

Chase Dollander, RHP, Tennessee

Among college pitchers with at least 10 starts last year, he led the country in strike rate. If he had 50-grade stuff this wouldn’t matter, but he has plus stuff. He has plus command of his four-seamer, which is a 55-grade pitch. Its best aspect is the velocity but the other traits help out as he has a low release from a three-quarter slot. His heater’s whiff rate is below the college average relative to peers at his velocity, and he only gets 15–16" of lift on it, so there is some concern with how it’ll translate into the pro game, but it’s still an above-average pitch due to the velocity.

He’s been up to 99 twice in the past and ranges from 93–98 in his long starts. His breaking balls are where he’s best. His slider was somewhat better in ’21 short-form and given the velocity jumps would’ve still been better shape-wise in ’22 as he had less lift and threw it 3 mph slower. He’s getting 10" of sweep now on a pitch that’s an easy 60-grade with some lift at 84–89, and sometimes into the 90s but when it gets that hard it tends to have 10–14" of lift with slight cut, in which case it’s a completely different shape/pitch. His curve has 16" of sweep with 53" of drop at 75–79, it’s a 55-grade pitch and he can land it in the zone.

His stuff is great, and yet his whiff rate in ’22 was just 29.6%. A decent clip, but not for somebody with his stuff. This is where living in the zone so much comes back to bite him. He’s able to get strikes out of the zone, and had a high chase rate this past spring and would almost definitely benefit from throwing less pitches in the zone, not intentionally, but by throwing more sliders, and especially more changeups. What could be a 60-grade pitch, he threw it just 88 times last year. He’s shown he can command it, and the shape is legit with 17" of fade and the ability to kill lift and create depth with an 8–10 mph drop-off. He threw it for more strikes than both of his breaking balls and it missed more bats than the four-seamer.

In his breakout ’22 year, he had a 2.28 FIP, 2.57 xFIP, and .222 wOBA against. He had a 23.9% whiff rate on pitches in the zone, got ahead — both with sliders and four-seams — and he dominated the best conference in amateur baseball with a 2.99 FIP and 2.62 xERA against SEC teams. This is the best amateur pitching prospect in the last few drafts, but I’m hesitant on putting him in the top-10 due to the volatility of amateur pitching prospects.

Zion Rose, C, IMG Academy

There’s always talk about how few prep catchers have panned out over the years, but the only catcher in the last few years with the athleticism to match Rose was Harry Ford, who went in the top-20 two years ago for similar reasons Rose could go that high. He’s an elite athlete, maybe one of the best that’s come out of the draft in recent years. The athleticism plays a part in both his glove and above-average arm, but also his bat speed and explosivness in the box. He can hit for power and there isn’t any red flag surrounding the hit tool though it isn’t a standout tool. He’s also extremely young and continues to trend up.

Jacob Gonzalez, SS, Ole Miss

In a vacuum, he looks similar to Austin Martin who had better instincts than athleticism which allowed him to be a 45 in CF and a 40 at short. Gonzalez looks like a 2B in pro ball with decent instincts and good enough but not great athleticism — this is based on athletic screenings, not my eye, although his agility and twitch doesn’t look good on video either. His offensive skills are similar as well to Martin as both have/had a max EV between 108–109 mph, and a 90th percentile EV between 103.5–104.5 mph. They both ran an in-zone whiff rate at 10% and a contact rate of 85%.

The only real differences between the two is that Gonzalez expands the zone more often with a flatter path. He’s able to get on-plane with pitches but lacks loft in his path and tends to hit most of his balls below 20 degrees. His power comes from quick decisions and pull side proclivity, not his bat speed alone, though that’s above-average. Going the other way is a real issue, his average EV drops below 85 mph and he hit just one batted ball > 100 mph that way. He hits less line drives and tends to chop the ball leading to a lot of mishits and a low BABIP to left.

Doesn’t do a create job of matching pitches with his angle attack and had a noticeable BABIP decrease this year. His xBABIP was nearly 40 points higher and it’s likely the result of an approach-driven power game that relies more so on the approach rather than his adjustability. It’s a 60-grade hit because of the contact and solid discipline. Power is a 50, had 18 home runs as sophomore, more reliant on lifting balls to pull-side instead of bat speed, don’t think he’ll be able to do it in pro ball with wood. Ultimately he’ll be a somewhat high on-base guy with enough power to produce a 105–110 wRC+ while playing a non-offensive position in 2B or SS. High floor type, could be high-upside with right drafting org. Looks like a 2 win player at his prime.

Aidan Miller, 3B, JW Mitchell

Miller has a really good swing. Long hand load with movement that will garner critics, but elite bat speed makes up for it. Might have some of the best bat speed of any prep hitter in recent years and also has an elite rotational acceleration, plus hand speed, and plus swing efficiency. Has very steep path, VBA gets as low as -42 degrees below the zone and he doesn’t flatten out at top, getting easy power with the positive attack angles and bat speed. Might have 25+ home run potential with a 55-grade power tool. Isn’t producing a lot of power in games now despite a filled up frame (6–2, 220 lbs) which is concerning. Looks like he can get to contact late leading to a lot of mishits, doesn’t get to his pull side often. It’s a lot of projecting with the power, the angle/speed combination are just too good.

His decisions aren’t anything other than average. He can hit his mishits hard and looks like the type of player to outperform his expected stats due to the flush heavy contact quality he creates, lot of backspin. Average athlete, plus-plus arm, up to 95 on the mound, 50-grade at 3B, power-first profile, could see him having to move away from 3B long-term as he ages. The arm strength may allow player positioning to keep him at third for a bit, could see him in LF/RF, don’t see him as a 1B though. Has been good in front of scouts, performing down south at his Florida-based high school.

Travis Honeyman, OF, Boston College

Honeyman has battled with injuries for a few years now, most of them lower-body related. Missed portion of sophomore season due to an injury, didn’t play much his freshman year. He’s performed though and looks like an above-average defender in CF with speed and twitch. Has the potential to be the second-best college hitter in the class if he can put together a 60-game season as a junior. Makes hard contact and gets too it often while rarely whiffing. It’s an all-around offensive profile and he’s still got room to grow.

Has 60-grade raw power, hardest hit batted ball is 111 mph. Rarely mishits balls with attack angles > 5 mph, gets the most of his batted balls > 15 degrees, he just doesn’t lift the ball very often which is why he hasn’t hit for power in college. On the Cape is where the power has looked better as has the entire offensive toolset. It’s the whole package with speed and low chase rates despite a very aggressive approach. I think the player he is now will look completely different in a few years. Has plus bat-to-ball skills. It’s due to his barrel feel and less so the path he takes, although the latter helps. Potential for more power if he gives up some contact in order to take steeper paths and create more balls with launch angles above 20 degrees. Could be a plus hit/power profile but for now it’s a 60 hit, 50 power with 60 raw.

Will Gasparino, OF, Harvard-Westlake

Gasparino’s tooled up with physical traits and he’s trending up. He hasn’t performed the best against his peers but neither did James Wood during the summer of his draft year. It’s a profile that won’t reach its peak until he’s into his 20s. He’s a really good athlete that has already shown bat-to-ball skills with an unusual swing. It’s not an aesthetically pleasing offensive skillset but he’s an athlete with power, size, and bat speed. When it all comes together you could be looking at an all-star in RF with 30+ HR potential.

Hurston Waldrep, RHP, Florida

Waldrep had the second-best breaker in all of college baseball last year (trailing only Ben Joyce’s sweeper) according to my stuff+ model. Gets 8" of sweep with some lift at 84–89. The shape can be inconsistent. He’ll throw some with a lot of depth and minimal sweep at 88–89, almost like a low efficiency gyro-slider. It’s at its best around 84–87 with the right combination of sweep/velocity. His feel for the pitch is advanced and he shows strike with it but primarily works off of and below the zone with it. Threw it for more strikes than his four-seam and got more whiffs, softer contact but threw it 20% less. It’s a 70-grade pitch, and his other breaker is good too. He didn’t use it much but flashed a 60 curve at 80–84 with 45" of drop and 6" of sweep, missed a lot of bats with it.

His four-seam has gained efficiency, it’s a supination profile but he lingers around 85% efficiency from a vertical arm-slot, throws his heater from 12:15/12:30 and is able to create some lift on his heater which at 94–97 plays for whiffs. Has been up to 98.3 with it, solid 55-grade pitch. His changeup has splitter traits and he kills lift to the point of a negative VB at times, it flashes plus, landed it a the bottom of zone often. Had a 64% whiff rate with it and threw it for strikes. Nearly had a 40% whiff rate, potential for three plus pitches, advanced supination profile. Had a 2.19 FIP, 14.0 K/9 and 3.3 BB.9. It’s the complete profile; performance, plus stuff, and feel for four pitches.

Brock Wilken, 3B, Wake Forest

Barring an unforeseen drop-off in production, Wilken should be an easy first rounder. He’s just good enough to play third throughout his 20s at an average rate and then transition to first as he gets into the 30s. But the offensive profile is good enough to carry him throughout his career as a slugger with the plate discipline and barrel accuracy to be a .260/.340/.450 type that can hit 35+ HR and also get on base. He doesn’t whiff much, especially in the zone, and he limits the chases while doing damage on his swings. He’s an average hitter with plus power, and the swing plays. He didn’t have the Tork-level dominance as an underclassmen, but he could put similar numbers in a star-studded Wake Forest lineup as a junior.

Walker Jenkins, OF, South Brunswick

Plays CF well in high school, has some range and can track down balls. 55-grade runner, solid athlete with present strength but should end up in RF over time. He fits the spot better given the athletic/power profile and his frame. Already has a physical build, lot of pull side power, quick hands and torque, rotates fast with torso closed off as he lands with front side. Has typical left-handed power profile with power and loft-centric approach. Works vertically with path, has high swing efficiency, gets on plane.

Has shown he can lift balls to pull side. Power is already playing in games with wood. Showed flashes this summer, looked good at times in the PDP league. Has an average hit tool, the bat-to-ball skills are fringy, aggressive hitter. Plus raw power, gets to it in games. Profile is heavily reliant on his skillset rather than athleticism/twitch. Potential for 30+ home runs in the corner.

Enrique Bradfield Jr, OF, Vanderbilt

An elite athlete that can handle CF as good as anybody. On balls hit to Bradfield (by definition he’s the closest defender to the ball), hitters have an xBA of .242 and xSLG of .413, but they’re running a .210 average and .260 slugging percentage. The difference between Bradfield and the average college CF is approximately 70 points on the wOBA scale. He’s an easy 70-grade defender that will win awards there. His speed is an 80 but the instincts and awareness for the spot are great too. Even when the athleticism drops off he could still be a 60 defender at the tail-end of his prime.

That same athleticism hasn’t translated into a lot of offensive production despite a very high ground ball rate. He did manage to outperform his xBA by a large sum — as you’d expect given his speed — but he still ran a below-average BABIP which says a lot about his inconsistent contact quality. It’s not as simple as getting the ball on the ground more, he does that, and he has a .373 BABIP when he does. He has issues getting the ball in the air and on a line; has a .469 BABIP on said batted balls.. His flat path gets to a lot of pitches, but he struggles with elevated heaters and has a weird inability to lift/backspin them despite a flat VBA. The results of his swing are erratic, but he doesn’t swing often and walked more than he struck out. Has around average bat speed but does have a 90th percentile EV > 100 mph and a max > 105 mph, so he has flashed some power relative to the contact output. I think it’s a 55 hit, 40 power profile at his peak with the athleticism being the carrying tool and his base running/plate discipline produce runs.

Tommy Troy, SS, Stanford

Has incredible barrel feel, hit a pitch with a 1.5% strike prob the other way for a single with a .691 xwOBA. Doesn’t whiff very often in the zone, but has well below-average swing decisions. Had a swing rate spike this year, which led to his walk rate getting cut in half, his chase rate getting near 30% and a large disparity between his whiff/zone-whiff rates. He’s been better on the Cape with regards to plate discipline, but his contact quality — which has never been an issue — has also trended up. He has 60-grade raw power; peaked at 110.5 mph in college. Had an an average EV above 90 mph and hit the ball hard often, he just rarely hit the ball hard and on the sweet spot at the same time. Hits his mishits well; ran a .381 BABIP as a result.

Was a decent shortstop in high school, had him 92nd in ’20 because of the bat-to-ball skills. He’s a 2B-only pro prospect. Has played SS on the Cape and he makes plays there but it’s not a long-term fit with his 50 speed, 45 range. Has always hit on the Cape, and he’s been solid in college, we haven’t yet seen his Cape performance translate into the spring. Potential to be a 20+ home run hitter with Brian Dozier traits; essentially a low AVG, high SLG type at 2B.

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