Finally, we can see a light at the end of the tunnel.
The conclusion of the holidays and the NFL playoffs in full swing can only mean one thing—college baseball is barely a month away! (RELATED: Preseason Top 50)
So, with the season suddenly upon us, it’s time to introduce our 2023 First and Second Prospect All-America Teams. It was an extra special honor to select both squads, as the collection of draft-eligible talent indicates that 2023 could not only be a bumper crop, but a well-rounded one as well. As has not been the case for several years, the ’23 draft class offers a wide array of both hitters and pitchers who could hear their names called within the first 10 picks.
And if this isn’t enough, both squads offer a sneak peak at some of the premium talent that will be available in 2024, as seven—nearly one-quarter—of the Prospect All-Americans are sophomores.
At any rate, the caliber of play in college baseball is arguably better than it’s ever been, and the result of this will be evident when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred steps to the podium in early July. Until then, just sit back, read, and get familiar with some of the names that will shape the action this spring.
Please join us again in several weeks when we introduce College Baseball Nation's Freshmen Prospect All-America Teams.
Kyle Teel (2023 draft eligible), LHH, Virginia—Though not in the Adley Rutschman or Henry Davis class of college catchers, Teel offers an enticing package of strong arm, unmatched athleticism, and sweet left-handed swing that should make him a late 1st rounder come July. At the plate, Teel’s respective 14.8 and 13 percent BB and K-rates portend a hitter who has an excellent feel for the strike zone. His batted ball data are also strong. Behind the dish, Teel is highly mobile with a quick release and cannon for an arm.
Nick Kurtz (2024), LHH, Wake Forest—If light-tower power is your thing then Kurtz is your guy. But be careful, because this 6-05/225 behemoth is far more than a one-trick pony. As a freshman in the always-tough ACC, Kurtz slugged 30 XBHs in just 54 games while striking out in less than 15 percent of his PAs. It’s possible that the native Tennessean will one day offer both double-plus hit and power tools. Kurtz primarily played 1B last season; however, his above average speed and good arm could lead to an eventual transition to RF.
Matt Shaw (2023), RHH, Maryland—No player elevated his stock more in summer ball than Shaw, who slashed to the tune of .360/.432/.574 in 155 appearances in the vaunted Cape Cod League. Shaw displayed a short, simple swing geared to launching line drives to all fields. A shortstop for the Terrapins, Shaw profiles best at 2B, but projects as at least average at 3B and corner OF.
Jacob Gonzalez (2023), LHH, Ole Miss—Gonzalez can get pull happy at times and he’s not the most fleet of foot, but this is nitpicking. His overall game evokes comparisons to Red Sox farmhand Marcelo Mayer. He has a smooth swing from the left side to go along with expert pitch recognition skills. In the field, he’s highly instinctual with smooth actions and a strong, accurate arm.
Brayden Taylor (2023), LHH, TCU—Taylor’s batted ball data are still on the light side, but that’s mostly a function of him not yet filling out his 6-01/175 frame. He has a sweet lefty swing that covers all quadrants of the zone and generates power to all fields. His pitch recognition ranks at the top of the class and resulted in a miniscule 14.7% K-rate last season. Taylor, who’ll probably play SS for the Horned Frogs this season, projects as a well above average third baseman with plenty of arm strength and lateral quickness. If it all comes together for the Utah native, a Robin Ventura-like career arc is not out of the question.
Dylan Crews (2023), RHH, LSU—The highest-rated prep to set foot on a college campus following the 2020 draft, Crews has been a star from day 1 since arriving in Baton Rouge. The 6-00/205 slugger has posted an Atariesque .356/.458/.677 slash line while striking out just 16.8% of the time and posting elite exit velocities (EVs). In addition to his offensive heroics, Crews plays an adequate CF and has a decent chance to remain there early in his pro career.
Enrique Bradfielld Jr. (2023), LHH, Vanderbilt—The Kenny Lofton comps have come fast and furious and they’re not unjustified. Bradfield has top-shelf speed and covers more ground in CF than a late model Toro. At the plate he’s a line drive machine with a selective eye. Power will never be his strong suit, but he’s become much more adept at impacting the baseball since arriving in Nashville. He belted 8 HR his sophomore year after hitting just a sole dinger as a freshman.
Vance Honeycutt (2024), RHH, North Carolina—With 25 HR and 29 SBs as a freshman last year, Honeycutt burst upon the scene as one of the most tooled up players in decades in college baseball. Honeycutt’s 90 strikeouts in 303 PA underscore the trouble he’s had with high velocity and he’ll have to remedy that to secure a top spot in the ’24 draft. His blazing speed and strong arm translate very well in CF.
Wyatt Langford (2023), RHH, Florida—Talk about rags to riches. A year ago this time, Langford was a little-known backup catcher but in the interim has developed into the thinking man’s early pick to go 1-01 in July. Langford tightened up his body and the result has been a noticeable burst in running speed and power. In 2022, the 6-01/215 power plant showcased a 93.9 MPH average EV with a 90th percentile EV of 110.6 MPH while producing impressive K-and BB-rates of 14.5 and 11.9 percent, respectively. And to add to the intrigue, he showed that he could play a strong CF last summer and fall.
Chase Dollander (2023), RHP, Tennessee—Size, stuff, command, athleticism, easy delivery, and moxie—Dollander has it all and is considered by many to be the best college pitching prospect since Gerrit Cole. Dollander’s high 90’s heater has plenty of hop and great shape, while his slider is the best in the draft. He also throws an above average deuce and changeup—all of which he commands expertly from a perfectly synchronized pitching motion. An arm hasn’t gone 1-01 since Casey Mize in 2018, but that may change in 2023.
Hurston Waldrep (2023), RHP, Florida—Waldrep is the crown jewel of Florida’s transfer class, and with his stuff it’s easy to see why. His electric fastball can approach the century mark and he’s able to miss plenty of bats with both a slider and curveball. And if you’re looking for more, he throws a viable splitter that should only get better. Waldrep’s power arsenal and muscular frame evoke comparisons to Ben Sheets.
Rhett Lowder (2023), RHP, Wake Forest—With his long, flowing locks, Lowder doesn’t just look like MLB standout Mike Clevinger, he pitches like him too. Lowder is adept at inducing ground balls with his 92-95 MPH fastball and uses his fading mid-80’s changeup as his primary swing-and-miss offering. His slider also grades out as plus.
Paul Skenes (2023), RHP, LSU—A two-way force who’s transferred from Air Force, Skenes will look to make his mark in the SEC. The 6-06/235 Skenes is all about fear and intimidation—he was up to 99 MPH with the heat in the fall and his high 80’s slider was toxic. He also revealed a changeup with good fade. For a guy as big as him, Skenes is well coordinated and has no problems repeating his delivery.
Tanner Witt (2023), RHP, Texas—Don’t be shocked if Witt emerges as this year’s version of Cal Quantrill or Connor Prielipp—an uber-talented arm who underwent Tommy John surgery the prior year then shined in pre-draft workouts. Before going down, Witt demonstrated a full suite of power offerings to go along with enhanced command. He also boasts classic pitcher’s build with room to add on.
Andrew Walters (2023), RHP, Miami—Walters turned down a deal with the Orioles last July to return to Miami, where his 17.1 K/9 rate made evident just how lethal his supersonic fastball/vicious slider combination are.
Jared Dickey (2023), LHH, Tennessee—We realize this may be a bit of a stretch since Dickey only caught seven games last year and projects more as a corner OF at the next level. But we needed an excuse to include his potent bat! He has power to all fields as well as enough plate discipline to consistently post solid OBPs. While Dickey’s defense behind the dish is raw in all areas, he’d have enough range and arm strength to project as at least serviceable in RF.
Blake Burke (2024), LHH, Tennessee—The most unheralded player on either squad, Burke is known for the immense power he generates with his left-handed swing. Simply put, it’s easy juice. Burke crushes fastballs but has occasional trouble with breaking stuff. A former catcher, Burke’s lack of mobility will limit him to 1B.
Tommy Troy (2023), RHH, Stanford—At 5-10/195, Troy isn’t the biggest specimen, but as his .339/.371/.568 slash line last season suggests, he is adept at barreling the baseball to all fields. He followed his success in Palo Alto with a banner campaign on the Cape. Although Troy may man the “6” for the Cardinal this spring, his future home will surely be 2B.
Jacob Wilson (2023), RHH, Grand Canyon—Jack’s son has displayed an uncanny eye and approach beyond his 20 years (just 7 Ks in 275 PAs last year), though his modest 86.2 MPH average EV means he’ll have to fill out his still slender 6-03/185 frame to maximize his potential. Wilson’s a smooth SS with sufficient range, soft hands, and an above average arm.
Brock Wilken (2023), RHH, Wake Forest—Wilken may be the most divisive player in this year’s draft class. While some scouts cite the young slugger’s high EVs and howitzer arm and compare him to Braves star Austin Riley, others see his trouble with breaking stuff and lack of range when drawing comps to Bobby Dalbec. If Wilken makes better contact in ’23, he could assert himself as a potential Top 10 pick.
Travis Honeyman (2023), RHH, Boston College—Like Shaw, Honeyman greatly enhanced his stock on the Cape, where he established himself as a multi-tooled dynamo capable of holding down a job in CF. After putting up a .329/.402/.506 effort with the Eagles, Honeyman upped the ante to the tune of .289/.400/.530 in the summer. He displayed top-of-the-line athleticism and received high marks for his ability to hit high-end pitching.
Jack Hurley (2023), LHH, Virginia Tech—Much of Hurley’s draft stock this spring will hinge upon how well he shifts to CF. If it’s a seamless transition, Hurley could rocket up draft boards as his batted ball data are outstanding and he runs well. If Hurley’s offensive game does have a wart, it’s his tendency to occasionally chase outside the zone.
Jackson Linn (2024), RHH, Tulane—Hailing from Boston, Linn was a late riser in the 2021 draft cycle and turned down big money from the Astros to attend Tulane. So far, it’s proven to be the right move as Linn has posted excellent EVs and established himself as one of the best college bats in the ’24 class. An excellent right fielder with a machine gun for an arm, Linn required Tommy John surgery towards the end of the 2022 season and may therefore spend most of ’23 as the Green Waves’ DH.
Tommy White (2024), RHH, LSU—"Tommy Tanks” took America by storm last spring as he swatted 27 homers as an NC State freshman. Now White will try to add to that success as an LSU Tiger. Like most young sluggers, White punishes fastball but has trouble with soft stuff down and away. His long-term defensive home will be 1B, as his range and arm at the hot corner are below average.
Thatcher Hurd (2024), RHP, LSU—Hurd’s stellar freshman season at UCLA was interrupted by a back injury, but in the 34 innings he did throw for the Bruins, the 6-04/200 Californian showcased 1-01 upside. His heater, which can reach the mid-90’s, grades as plus, but his 3000 RPM slider is the pitch that will make him millions. Hurd’s curveball is also a plus, put-away pitch though his change is still a work in progress.
Will Sanders (2023), RHP, South Carolina—Sanders is a long, lean righthander who conjures up memories of John Lackey because of his stature and effective fastball/slider/changeup mix. The latter is his best secondary offering.
Cade Kuehler (2023), RHP, Campbell—The compactly built Kuehler has a mid-90’s fastball with top-shelf spin rates and a biting slider. His splitter isn’t on a par with his first two offerings but is still a usable third offering. Strong and well-conditioned, Kuehler can maintain his velocity deep into games.
Hagen Smith (2024), LHP, Arkansas—Smith isn’t overpowering but employs a sharp four-pitch mix that plays up because of the deception in his delivery. He’ll also need to finetune his control—his BB/9 last season was 5.4.
Teddy McGraw (2023), RHP, Wake Forest—A raw Northeast arm when he arrived on campus, McGraw has experienced some growing pains at Wake Forest, as evidenced by his 5.8 BB/9 rate. However, his improved control, mid-90’s fastball, and 2900 RPM slider have scouts predicting a mid-rotation upside for the New York native.
Ryan Bruno (2023), LHP, Stanford—Bruno’s mid-90’s cheese and knee-buckling curve have produced an otherworldly 15.8% K-rate at Stanford, but his questionable command will likely keep him in the bullpen as he climbs the ladder.