McDaniel: In a loaded MCWS, who are the best MLB draft prospects?


At this time last year, I previewed the top prospects in the 2022 Men’s College World Series — a good-not-great group headlined by an underclassman and some fringe first rounders. (What I didn’t know then is Cade Horton would be white-hot in Omaha — 24 strikeouts and just four runs allowed in 13 ⅓ innings — and eventually go seventh overall to the Cubs.)

This year’s group, though, might be one of the most loaded Omaha prospect crops of all-time, fitting for one of the best drafts in over a decade. The top of the list is star-studded, with the current favorites to go first, second, and third overall, and there are at least seven others who I’d say are likely to go in the top 30 picks this summer. And that’s not even considering the half dozen or so first-round talents who are eligible for the 2024 or 2025 drafts who will also be present.

I counted roughly 40 players with a good shot to go in the top three rounds when they’re eligible — all 41 are ranked below. Remember this ranking is purely on pro potential and draft stock, not players’ potential College World Series impact. Also, I left out injured players who are on rosters but won’t be on the field, including notables like LSU righties Chase Shores and Grant Taylor and Wake Forest righty Teddy McGraw. Prospects are 2023 draft eligible unless noted otherwise.

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1. Dylan Crews, CF, LSU
2. Paul Skenes, RHP, LSU
3. Wyatt Langford, LF, Florida
4. Nick Kurtz, 1B, Wake Forest (2024)
5. Chase Dollander, RHP, Tennessee
6. Kyle Teel, C, Virginia
7. Jac Caglianone, 1B/LHP, Florida (2024)
8. Rhett Lowder, RHP, Wake Forest
9. Tommy Troy, 3B, Stanford
10. Brayden Taylor, 3B, TCU
11. Hurston Waldrep, RHP, Florida
12. Brock Wilken, 3B, Wake Forest
13. Malcolm Moore, C, Stanford (2024)
14. Christian Moore, 2B, Tennessee (2024)
15. Tommy White, 3B, LSU (2024)
16. Cade Kurland, SS, Florida (2025)
17. Anthony Silva, SS, TCU (2024)
18. Braden Montgomery, RF/RHP, Stanford (2024)
19. Josh Hartle, LHP, Wake Forest (2024)
20. Chase Burns, RHP, Tennessee (2024)
21. Jake Gelof, 3B, Virginia
22. Paxton Kling, CF, LSU (2024)
23. Brady Neal, C, LSU (2025)
24. Drew Beam, RHP, Tennessee (2024)
25. Brandon Sproat, RHP, Florida
26. Jared Jones, C/1B, LSU (2025)
27. Thatcher Hurd, RHP, LSU (2024)
28. Maui Ahuna, SS, Tennessee
29. Tommy Hawke, CF, Wake Forest
30. Ethan O’Donnell, CF, Virginia
31. Jordan Thompson, SS, LSU
32. Casey Saucke, 3B, Virginia (2024)
33. Ty Floyd, RHP, LSU
34. Blake Burke, 1B, Tennessee (2024)
35. Tre’ Morgan, 1B, LSU
36. Seth Keener, RHP, Wake Forest
37. Sean Sullivan, LHP, Wake Forest
38. Jared Dickey, C/OF, Tennessee
39. Christian Little, RHP, LSU
40. Ethan Anderson, 1B, Virginia (2024)
41. Jay Woolfolk, RHP, Virginia (2024)


Wake Forest

Top Prospect: Nick Kurtz, 1B (2024)

The sophomore Kurtz (No. 4) has captured the imagination of scouts, despite his first-base-only projection. One who saw this list suggested he’s a 70-grade hitter with 70-grade power, which converts to a .300 hitter with 35 homers. He’s likely to go in the top 10 picks in next year’s draft.

Lowder (No. 8) is above average at almost everything on the mound, but might not have many plus qualities. He slots behind Skenes and Dollander but still in the first round, likely around the eighth-15th pick. Wilken (No. 12) has 30-homer upside and is hot right now, but some evaluators worry he’ll end up being a right/right first baseman who hits .240 or .250 — getting close to platoon territory. Hartle (No. 19) was a second-round talent out of high school who has continued to progress; Hawke (No. 29) is a true 80-grade runner who’s starting to show a bit more power. Righties Seth Keener (No. 36), Camden Minacci and Michael Massey (2024), lefty Sean Sullivan (No. 37), and infielder Danny Corona (2024) all have third-to-fifth round type talent.

Stanford

Top Prospect: Tommy Troy, 3B

Troy (No. 9) projects as a third baseman with a shot for above average hit and power tools, but likely without star upside, fitting in the middle of the first round. Moore (No. 13) and Montgomery (No. 18) were both top three round types out of high school with high signability numbers and have continued to progress well on campus, with top-two round upside for the 2024 draft.

3B Drew Bowser got to campus with first round aspirations but had a very uneven spring, pushing his draft stock to the fourth or fifth round. A strong CWS could change that — he’s been red hot of late. Alberto Rios is in a similar area on draft boards but got there differently, with a lower prospect profile until he began to climb this spring. First baseman Carter Graham, LHP Quinn Mathews, LHP Ryan Bruno, LHP Drew Dowd and CF Eddie Park could all go in the top five rounds, as well.

LSU

Top Prospect: Dylan Crews, CF

I just wrote about the historic level of talent on this LSU squad last week, a collection of players that is better than a half-dozen MLB farm systems. Crews (No. 1) is the best draft prospect since Adley Rutschman in 2019, and if he doesn’t go first overall, he’s extremely likely to go second and get the highest bonus in the draft. Skenes (No. 2) is the best draft pitching prospect since Gerrit Cole in 2011, and he’s the favorite to go second overall — even if he doesn’t, he has a good shot at landing the second-highest bonus in the draft. Behind them are a number of interesting top-three-round talents for future drafts, with Tommy White (No. 15), Paxton Kling (No. 22), and Thatcher Hurd (No. 27) for 2024 and Brady Neal (No. 23) and Jared Jones (No. 26) for 2025. For the 2023 draft, SS Jordan Thompson (No. 31), RHP Ty Floyd (No. 33), 1B Tre’ Morgan (No. 35), and RHP Christian Little (No. 39) all look like late second- to fourth-round talents.

Tennessee

Top Prospect: Chase Dollander, RHP

Dollander (No. 5) began his college career at Georgia Southern after being lightly scouted at high school in Georgia. He transferred to Tennessee for the 2022 season and set the SEC on fire, becoming the best pitching prospect in all of college baseball at this time last year. This spring, he’s looked mortal at times, but things have clicked of late and his command has been sharper, increasing the odds he goes in the top 10 picks in July. SS Maui Ahuna (No. 28) could go in the second round this summer while C/OF Jared Dickey (No. 38) and RHP Andrew Lindsey are in the third-to-fifth range.

For the class of 2024 crew, RHP Chase Burns (No. 20) has been used as a starter and reliever this season — where he’ll land has been the question about him since he hit 100 mph in the summer before his senior year in high school. Second baseman Christian Moore (No. 14) was a solid prospect when he stepped on campus but has really blossomed this spring; he now has a shot to join Burns in the first round next summer. RHP Drew Beam (No. 24) isn’t far behind. He has just a little less raw stuff than Burns, but a better chance to remain a starter. First baseman Blake Burke (No. 34) is another strong prospect in the same draft class with 30-plus homer potential.

Florida

Top Prospect: Wyatt Langford, LF

Langford (No. 3) will go in the top four picks this summer and immediately enter the top half of the minor league prospect list. He has arguably even more raw tools than Dylan Crews, featuring plus speed and 30 homer potential shown in two springs of loud SEC performance.

Speaking of loud performances, 1B/LHP Jac Caglianone (No. 7, class of 2024) has even more raw power and is also the Gators’ Sunday starter, sitting in the mid-90’s and mixing in an above average-to-plus slider. He’s still got a little work to do with command on the mound and pitch selection at the plate, but he’s one of the best prospects for the 2024 draft.

Waldrep (No. 11) should land somewhere in the back half of the first round, buoyed by his four above-average pitches and strong performances of late, though questions about his command remain. Sproat (No. 25) went unsigned in last year’s draft but, with a high-90’s sinker and plus changeup, will probably go in the second round this year. Josh Rivera is another 22-year-old who should go in the top five rounds, and lefty Philip Abner might join him. Cade Kurland and Cade Fisher, both 2025-eligible, had strong freshman campaigns, while Brandon Neely and Luke Heyman are notable 2024-eligible prospects.

Virginia

Top Prospect: Kyle Teel, C

Teel’s stock has steadily gone up all spring to where he now seems likely to go in the top ten picks (No. 6). He’s a plus defender with a track record and intangibles that project for solid average offense. Gelof (No. 21) probably fits in the second round, maybe as a compensation pick, as a decent third baseman with big power. He’s trying to pull and lift everything, so some scouts wonder how that approach will translate at higher levels.

Ethan O’Donnell (No. 30) is a plus runner and solid center fielder with feel for the bat head and a little pop; he’ll likely land in the third round with a shot to sneak into the second. RHP Jay Woolfolk (No. 41, also a quarterback for the Cavaliers), 3B Casey Saucke (No. 32) and 1B Ethan Anderson (No. 40) headline the 2024 group for the Cavaliers, with second or third round grades on each and SS Griff O’Ferrall just behind them. Righty Jack O’Connor and infielder Henry Godbout both have top three round looks as freshmen already making an impact.

TCU

Top Prospect: Brayden Taylor, 3B

TCU is a solid program and has a good team, but it can’t quite keep up with the first six teams listed for the amount of solid pro prospects. The Horned Frogs top two pro prospects — Taylor (No. 10) and SS Anthony Silva (No. 17) — are both top two round types with Taylor likely to go in the middle of the first round in July. Behind those two infielders, it’s more fourth-to-fifth round types helped by a solid freshman class in righty Cam Brown, righty Kole Klecker (2025), lefty Ben Abeldt (2025), and four position players: Karson Bowen (2025), Kurtis Byrne, Tre Richardson and Cole Fontenelle.

Oral Roberts

Top Prospect: Jonah Cox, CF

Here’s the shocker — a four-seed that made it to Omaha! Cox is a nice middle-round prospect whose stock has been steadily climbing down the stretch. He can run enough to stick in center field, with enough bat-to-ball ability and athleticism to profile in the fourth- to fifth-round range. Righty Cade Denton is also a pro prospect, with power stuff up to 97 mph in the late innings.



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