’23 Draftees off to hot starts — one for each team

Detroit Tigers

Every scouting department in baseball hopes that a Draft class produces big leaguers, from contributors to All-Star caliber players. And there’s no doubt the 2023 crop will be chock full of them — there’s one in the big leagues already!

It’s important not to put too much stock into a draftee’s summer pro debut as it’s mostly a time for a new pro to get his feet wet and gain an understanding of what it’s like to play at this level. That said, getting off to a good start can often be a springboard for players to move more quickly — and several of this year’s class have already advanced levels in a hurry — and even exceed expectations. That’s the hope for the 30 draftees who have had very strong pro debuts, listed below along with their MLB Pipeline prospect ranking.

Blue Jays: Jace Bohrofen, OF (No. 21)
After two difficult seasons at Oklahoma and Arkansas in 2021 and 2022, Bohrofen found his footing as a junior Razorback this spring and has carried that momentum into Minor League ball. The sixth-rounder has posted a .307/.442/.677 line with six homers, five doubles and 15 walks in 17 games with Single-A Dunedin since joining the full-season club on Aug. 9. He’s already recorded seven barrels over 35 batted-ball events in front of Statcast cameras (not counting Daytona games), and that 20 percent rate would be special if he can hold it over a larger sample.

Rays: Colton Ledbetter, OF (No. 9)
The second-rounder out of Mississippi State has been a doubles machine for Single-A Charleston with six of his 13 hits so far going for two bases. He’s also added a homer and eight walks over 14 games with the RiverDogs, resulting in a .265/.368/.449 line and 132 wRC+ in the Carolina League. The 21-year-old missed time after pulling up with an apparent hamstring issue on Aug. 22, but he returned on Sept. 1, going 2-for-4 with a double and a walk just like his usual self.

Orioles: Mac Horvath, 3B/2B (No. 12)
The Orioles’ second-rounder out of North Carolina entered pro ball with a power (over hit)-speed combination and he’s not disappointed while swinging the bat overall a bit better than expected. He’s made his way up to High-A and has a combined .354/.469/.677 line with five homers and 10 steals. He’s going to have to cut down the swing-and-miss (25.9 percent K rate), but it’s hard to argue with the production while also seeing time at third, second and a little time in right field.

Red Sox: Kyle Teel, C (No. 4/MLB No. 83)
The Red Sox were delighted to find the best catcher in college baseball available with the 14th overall pick. A Virginia product who’s an advanced hitter with average power and plenty of athleticism and arm strength, Teel already has reached Double-A and has batted .375/.481/.484 in 18 games between three stops.

Yankees: Jared Wegner, OF (Not ranked among Yankees Top 30)
Wegner has more upside than a typical 23-year-old college draftee, standing out with his swing decisions, exit velocities and power potential. A ninth-rounder from Arkansas who bashed 15 homers in 43 games despite a broken hand during the spring, he has four homers in 19 pro games while batting .308/.375/.600 at three levels, mostly in High-A.

Guardians: Cooper Ingle, C (Not ranked among Guardians Top 30)
Ingle fits the hit-over-power profile the Guardians love, and the fourth-rounder from Clemson also is quicker and more athletic than most catchers. He’s hitting .295/.456/.386 in 14 games in High-A and his ability to make contact and control the strike zone is evidenced by his 13 walks versus seven whiffs in 57 plate appearances.

Royals: Trevor Werner, 3B (Not ranked among Royals Top 30)
The seventh-rounder from Texas A&M arrived on Single-A Columbia’s roster on Aug. 2 and has already picked up two Carolina League Player of the Week honors in each of the last two periods. He leads the circuit with a .699 slugging percentage, 1.159 OPS and 18 extra-base hits over 26 games with the Fireflies, while his 65 total bases rank tied for second and his seven homers third. Werner brings impressive raw power and arm strength to the KC system, but at 23 already, he’ll need to find a tougher challenge next summer.

Tigers: Max Clark, OF (No. 1/MLB No. 15)
This year’s No. 3 overall pick got off to a wickedly hot start in the Florida Complex League, going 13-for-46 (.283) with two homers, four steals and a near-even 10/9 K/BB ratio through 12 games before joining Single-A Lakeland at just 18. He’s cooled off significantly since (5-for-30) in the FSL, but even then, he’s taking his walks (eight) and hitting the ball hard with a 103.5 mph max exit velo through eight batted-ball events. Expect more explosiveness to come from the Indiana native.

Twins: Walker Jenkins, OF (No. 1/MLB No. 16)
Jenkins went No. 5 for a reason as one of the best high school hitters in the class and he hasn’t missed a beat in pro ball. He’s absolutely raking with full-season Fort Myers over his first eight games there (.441/.487/.706) and has a combined .375/.427/.602 line across two levels. He has nearly as many walks (8) as strikeouts (9) to go along with 11 extra-base hits and 20 RBIs in 22 total games.

White Sox: Lucas Gordon, LHP (Not ranked among White Sox Top 30)
A classic finesse left-hander with a quality changeup, Gordon won Big 12 pitcher of the year honors this spring at Texas before the White Sox picked him in the sixth round. He hasn’t allowed a run in two Single-A starts and has a 0.82 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 11 innings between that level and Rookie ball.

Angels: Nolan Schanuel, 1B (No. 1/MLB No. 100)
The newest addition to the Top 100, Schanuel was seen as an advanced college hitter, but no one could see this coming, even with the Angels’ penchant for pushing guys fast. The first rounder out of Florida Atlantic University torched Minor League pitching (.365/.505/.487) with an insane 21/10 BB/K ratio and got called up to the big leagues after just 22 games. He’s more than holding his own, hitting .288 with a .439 OBP over 14 games, with extra-base thump the only thing yet to come.

Astros: Cam Fisher, OF (Not ranked among Astros Top 30)
One of the best fourth-year college prospects in the 2023 Draft, Fisher set Charlotte records for homers in a season (30, third in NCAA Division I) and a career (48) this spring before the Astros made him a fourth-round pick. With solid power and speed to match, he’s hitting .286/.411/.495 with 11 extra-base hits and four steals in 26 Single-A games.

A’s: Will Simpson, 1B (Not ranked among A’s Top 30)
Tip of the cap to first-round pick Jacob Wilson for his fine start, but we wanted to shine a light on a late-round guy who has been swinging the bat well. Coming off a very strong final year at Washington (1.061 OPS), Simpson went in Round 15 to the A’s. He had to start off at the ground floor, but has hit his way from the Arizona Complex League to Single-A Stockton, putting up a nifty .328/.373/.552 line with five homers and 21 RBIs in 31 games.

Mariners: Colt Emerson, SS (No. 4)
Emerson is the third straight high school hitter the Mariners have taken in the first round and so far it’s looking pretty good. The Ohio prepster made quick work of the Arizona Complex League and while he hasn’t been as red-hot in the California League, he’s still put together a .371/.506/.557 start to his pro career. Don’t be shocked if Emerson eventually joins the previous two high school bats, Harry Ford and Cole Young, in the Top 100.

Rangers: Wyatt Langford, OF (No. 2/MLB No. 13)
The Rangers were big winners in the inaugural Draft Lottery, moving up from No. 7 to No. 4 and landing Langford, the best power prospect in the 2023 crop. After leading Florida to the College World Series finals and topping NCAA Division I with 28 doubles and 52 extra-base hits, he’s continuing to rake as a pro. He has batted .327/.435/.644 with six homers and eight steals in 28 games while advancing from Rookie ball to Double-A.

Braves: Hurston Waldrep, RHP (No. 2)
Newly drafted pitchers don’t often throw all that much and the Braves are definitely not overworking their first-rounder after he topped 100 innings at Florida this past spring. Even so, it’s hard not to be impressed by how well his stuff has played as he’s reached Double-A with a combined 1.00 ERA over 18 innings, allowing just five hits while striking out 29. It’s going to come down to command for Waldrep after walking 4.2 per nine in his Gators career (He’s walked 4.5 per nine in his pro debut.).

Marlins: Xavier Meachem, RHP (Not ranked among Marlins Top 30)
Meachem became the first North Carolina A&T product ever to make the U.S. collegiate national team, throwing a scoreless inning this summer before the Marlins selected him in the 10th round. Armed with a fastball that reaches 95 mph and a slider that flashes plus, he hasn’t surrendered a run in 8 1/3 innings in Single-A. He has an overall 2.04 ERA, .161 opponent average and 25 strikeouts in 17 2/3 frames between that level and Rookie ball.

Mets: Nolan McLean, TWP (No. 23)
New York was clear when it took the former Oklahoma State star in the third round that it planned to let him play two ways to begin his Minor League career. He’s done that so far, showing off loud tools on both sides of the ball. He’s already touched 97.5 mph in his first pitching appearance while mixing in a low-90s slider and a low-80s curveball for Single-A St. Lucie, and his first hit was a 102 mph rocket for a homer in the FCL. McLean still projects best on the bump, but the raw power might earn him a few more at-bats as he climbs toward Queens.

Nationals: Yohandy Morales, 3B (No. 7)
Dylan Crews deserves credit for climbing the quickest of the Nats’ Draft class, having already reached Double-A, but when it comes to consistency, Morales gets the early edge here. The Miami product has posted a .365/.445/.532 line with 15 doubles and 16 walks in 31 games between Single-A Fredericksburg and High-A Wilmington since joining the full-season ranks on Aug. 1. The 21-year-old is pushing to open 2024 in the upper Minors, making him another key piece in Washington’s youth movement.

Phillies: Aidan Miller, SS/3B (No. 4/MLB No. 91)
Had Miller not missed most of his senior season of high school in Florida because of a broken hamate, he likely wouldn’t have been around when the Phillies took him at No. 27 overall. The early returns to prove that have been very promising, as he’s hit his way from the FCL to full-season Clearwater, putting up a robust .359/.477/.453 line, with as many walks as strikeouts (11) in 65 plate appearances. He likely will be a third baseman long-term, but has been able to man shortstop during his debut.

Brewers: Brock Wilken, 3B (No. 7)
The former Wake Forest slugger enters Wednesday on a 10-game hitting streak for High-A Wisconsin, during which he’s hit .385/.489/.564 with five extra-base hits and eight walks. Since joining the Timber Rattlers on Aug. 3, Wilken sports a .308/.442/.462 line and 158 wRC+ (sixth-best in the Midwest League among 176 players with at least 120 plate appearances). His power should play even better as he grows more comfortable in the pros after he set an ACC record with 71 career homers as a Demon Deacon.

Cardinals: Zach Levenson, OF (Not ranked among Cardinals Top 30)
Maybe the Miami product just likes playing in the Sunshine State. Since debuting for Single-A Palm Beach on July 21, the fifth-rounder ranks among the Florida State League top 10 in average (.270, 10th), slugging (.495, fifth), OPS (.828, sixth), homers (six, fourth) and total bases (55, seventh). Levenson has some pull-heavy tendencies that may need ironing out the closer he gets to St. Louis, but for now, it’s allowing his power to play in pro ball.

Cubs: Matt Shaw, SS (No. 6/MLB No. 98)
One of the top college hitters in the 2023 Draft, Shaw won the Cape Cod League batting title (.360) and MVP award last summer, then set Maryland’s career home run record (53) en route to Big Ten Conference player of the year accolades this spring. The 13th overall choice, he combines aggressiveness and discipline at the plate and has batted .398/.441/.678 with six homers and 12 steals in 29 games between three levels while reaching Double-A.

Pirates: Charles McAdoo, OF (Not ranked among Pirates Top 30)
A cousin of basketball Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo, Charles entered the Pirates system without much in the way of expectations as a 13th-round pick out of San Jose State. He’s opened some eyes, even within the organization, with his effortless right-handed swing that has produced a .321/.421/.556 line with five homers and 22 RBIs in 23 games with Single-A Bradenton.

Reds: Ethan O’Donnell, OF (Not ranked among Reds Top 30)
After two years at Northwestern, O’Donnell transferred to Virginia and his 1.034 OPS helped land him in the sixth round of the Draft with the Reds. He’s continued to show a knack for finding the barrel this summer, hitting .342/.422/.506 over his first 23 games, all but four coming with Single-A Daytona while playing up the middle in center field.

D-backs: Tommy Troy, SS (No. 3/MLB No. 99)
The 12th overall pick laid waste to the Arizona Complex League, going 5-for-11 (.455) with a triple and four walks in four games before receiving a bump to High-A Hillsboro. He’s showing off decent power (four homers, five doubles) and speed (eight steals) in his 23-game introduction to the Northwest League, and while his 26.3 percent K rate is higher than desirable, he’s still carrying an above-average 113 wRC+. Strikeouts were rarely an issue for Troy at Stanford, but it’ll be worth following his contact rate as his pro sample expands next spring.

Dodgers: Kendall George, OF (No. 14)
The Dodgers used their top choice (36th overall) on George, a Texas high schooler who physically resembles Juan Pierre and offered as much speed as anyone in the Draft. He has stolen 13 bases in his first 24 pro games — though he has been caught six times — while hitting .371/.463/.427 between Rookie ball and Single-A.

Giants: Quinn McDaniel, 2B (Not ranked among Giants Top 30)
A Maine product, McDaniel set an American East Conference record with 60 walks in 53 games this spring while ranking 10th in that category and 12th in on-base percentage (.513). Drafted in the fifth round, he has drawn 26 free passes in 25 pro games while hitting .295/.463/.577 between Rookie ball and Single-A.

Padres: Homer Bush Jr., OF (No. 13)
Coming out of Grand Canyon, Bush had a reputation as a player who can fly, and that has carried into pro ball with 19 steals in 20 attempts over 34 games between the Arizona Complex and California Leagues. That’s tied for 13th-most in the Minors since his pro debut on July 22. Bush’s bat has cooled off at the Single-A level (.244/.362/.346 in 22 games) after a long spring and summer, but the OBP is healthy enough to make him a threat to pick up extra bases in other ways.

Rockies: Cole Carrigg, OF/SS/C (No. 11)
Carrigg showed glimpses of several tools during his time at San Diego State and the second rounder has used all of them thus far in his pro debut. Between the ACL and Single-A Fresno, the switch-hitter has a .350/.410/.626 line with 19 extra-base hits (including five homers, showing off more pop than he did in college) and 13 steals. He’s done it while seeing ample time up the middle – behind the plate, at shortstop and in center field.

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