While players continue to move up and down Draft boards, and MLB Pipeline expands its 2023 Draft rankings to 200 names, there appears to be one certainty as etched in stone as anything Draft-related can be: There’s a clear top five in this class.
Crews has been the top prospect since the Top 100 was published back in December, and the outfielder has put up a .420/.567/.710 line with 15 homers and 20 more walks than strikeouts. But while he hit .405 for the year in the SEC, a little lull in May, combined with tSkenes’ continued domination, led some around the game to think perhaps the arm had surpassed the bat.
MLB Pipeline surveyed the scouting industry to see exactly how they stacked up this top five. A total of 29 evaluators and decision-makers, from national crosscheckers to scouting directors to general managers, responded. And it appears that talk of Crews falling from his perch may have been exaggerated.
The center fielder received 17 first-place votes in the poll, by far the most, with his teammate Skenes receiving seven. A sign that there may not be that much separating any of these players and that all would be a legitimate contender for the No. 1 overall pick is that each of them received at least one first-place vote. Using a 5-4-3-2-1 scoring system, this fab five ended up like this:
The majority of those who responded put Crews in the top spot and Skenes at No. 2 (the right-hander received 13 second-place votes). The reasons were pretty straight-forward: Crews’ bat is special, and there’s inherent risk in taking a pitcher.
“Crews is clearly the best player in the Draft and is approaching some of the best college position players in the last few years,” one National League scouting director said. “Skenes would be a worthy 1-1 if Crews wasn’t around and taking a pitcher 1-1 wasn’t so scary.”
“Crews is the best overall prospect since Adley Rutschman,” one American League scouting executive said. “Skenes is in a similar tier of college starters and close with Langford, who may be 1-1 if not for the other two.”
“Crews is the best bat in the Draft with a chance to stay in center field,” another NL scouting director said. “Skenes is easily the best arm in the Draft. I’m taking the premium position player over the arm.”
“Elite college performance followed by high school upside,” said a third NL scouting director, explaining why he went in the order listed above.
1. Dylan Crews, OF, LSU
2. Paul Skenes, RHP, LSU
3. Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida
4. Walker Jenkins, OF, South Brunswick (N.C.) HS
5. Max Clark, OF, Franklin (Ind.) HS
6. Chase Dollander, RHP, Tennessee
7. Jacob Wilson, SS, Grand Canyon
8. Rhett Lowder, RHP, Wake Forest
9. Arjun Nimmala, SS, Strawberry Crest (Fla.) HS
10. Kyle Teel, C, Virginia
Complete list »
But it was far from universal. Skenes did receive seven first-place votes. Much like with his teammate, evaluators talked about how Skenes has the chance to be an impact player, and in a hurry.
“Skenes’ stuff can play immediately,” an AL scouting director said.
“It’s a generational college pitcher in Skenes,” an NL national crosschecker said. “Crews’ performance and tools [put him second].”
Langford and Jenkins each got two first-place votes, with Clark receiving one. Each of them had proponents for putting them atop a Draft board.
“I prefer Langford’s tools over Crews’, and the performance difference isn’t enough to flip it for me,” an NL scouting director said. It should be noted that Langford’s 1.344 OPS is actually higher than Crews’ 1.277.
“I have the most confidence in Langford’s bat and power,” an NL assistant director agreed.
Often in scouting, seeing is believing. And those who saw Jenkins this spring at the right time — which evidently was often — thought he was the best talent in the class.
“The best players in order of tools and preference,” an AL assistant director said, who voted for Jenkins in the top spot, followed by Langford, Skenes, Clark and Crews.
“How I’ve seen them,” an NL crosschecker reported after voting Jenkins-Langford-Clark-Crews-Skenes.
“Clark, Crews and Langford are all in the same range,” said the one executive who voted Clark No. 1. “I like the left-handed bat and upside in Clark.”