Each week I’ll be trying to provide report cards for the Top 10 College Draft Prospects throughout the NCAA baseball season. On Saturday, I released my first Weekend Report Card for #2 draft prospect and the top pitcher in the draft Chase Dollander, which can be seen by clicking here. Further pitching Weekend Report Cards are coming for LSU’s Paul Skenes, Wake Forest’s Rhett Lowder, and Florida’s Thurston Waldrep. But first, here’s the Opening Weekend Report Cards for the Top 6 NCAA position players for the 2023 MLB Draft.
Although it is overreaction Monday around college baseball, it’s important to note that these report cards are reflections only of this past weekend’s performance and not a grade reflective of their draft ranking or overall season performance. None of these players’ draft rankings will be affected by a single weekend such as the one that just passed. This is more an opportunity to track and see how each prospect does week to week throughout the season.
Rankings are courtesy of Baseball America’s Top 2023 MLB Draft Prospects Article.
CF Dylan Crews, LSU
2023 Prospect Ranking: #1
Weekend Stats: 3-9, HR, 2 RBI, 3 runs, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts
He’s the best player in the country on what appears to be the best team in the country, despite losing Grant Taylor to Tommy John surgery earlier in the week and losing Tommy White to a minor injury one AB into the season. Against Western Michigan in some chilly and windy weather at home in Baton Rouge, Dylan Crews quietly went about his business and had a solid weekend.
The most impressive highlight for Crews over the weekend was his absolute missile to right center on Sunday. With the game tied 1-1 in the 5th and a runner on first, Crews hammered a 2-1 pitch 410+ feet just to the right of the batter’s eye to make it 3-1. LSU never looked back. An underrated play by Crews that occurred on Friday afternoon and isn’t shown in the box score is when he scored on a shallow fly out to left field, showing off his excellent speed and baserunning ability as he beat the throw home to give LSU the 2-0 in the 1st Inning of Game #1 on the year.
His plate discipline was on display as he had to really earn two of the three walks he drew. In Game 1 on Friday, he led off the 6th inning with an 8 pitch battle before drawing the walk. He was able to foul off two good pitches and lay off another to find himself at first base to lead off the inning. In his first plate appearance of Game 2, it was more of the same after Crews found himself down 0-2 early in the count and had to lay off some close pitches and foul one off to earn the right to get on base. Some low lights from the weekend for Crews include the two double plays he grounded into and two strikeouts, but that’s baseball. LSU won all three games with ease over Western Michigan.
Weekend Grade: B
SS Jacob Gonzalez, Ole Miss
2023 Prospect Ranking: #3
Weekend Stats: 4-12, 2B, HR, 8 RBI, 2 runs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts, 1 CS
Like Dylan Crews, it was a pretty routine weekend as Jacob Gonzalez and the defending National Champions in Ole Miss took care of business in all three games against Delaware. The #3 overall prospect and top shortstop was his usual fantastic self on defense while putting in a monster performance in the series finale on Sunday. Gonzalez came up twice with the bases loaded and made the most of those two opportunities. It was the first pitch of his second at-bat with the Rebels leading 1-0 when he homered to right to break the game wide open early. By the time he came up with the bases loaded again (he did fly out to CF in the AB in between) in the 5th, it was 10-1 Ole Miss and Delaware’s buses were getting warmed up to take them to the airport. Once again he hit a deep fly ball to right, just narrowly missing another grand slam. It was a 3 RBI triple to make it 13-1. The game would end after 7 with Ole Miss leading 14-4.
For the first two games of the series, Gonzalez was just doing the small thing rights and putting together good plate appearances, even if the result wasn’t what he was looking for. One particular example came in his first plate appearance in Game 2 when he came up in the 1st Inning with Ethan Groff on first and nobody out. He ultimately ended up striking out swinging but not after a 10-pitch struggle with the pitcher in which he fouled off 4 good pitches and worked the count full after being down 0-2. Some low lights for the stud short stop included being caught stealing in the 6th inning on Friday and when he struck out swinging on a 1-2 pitch in the 6th inning Saturday.
Weekend Grade: B+
OF Wyatt Langford, Florida
2023 Prospect Ranking: #4
Weekend Stats: 3-12, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, 6 Runs, 2 Walks, Strikeout, 1 HBP
There’s been talk that Wyatt Langford could push Dylan Crews for the that #1 player title and this weekend allowed him to show flashes of that capability, particularly in the opening game of the series against Charleston Southern on Friday. Aside from a brief inning in the second game where he played center field, Langford batted 2nd in the order and played left for the Gators as they beat Charleston Southern handedly in all three games over the weekend.
In his first plate appearance of the season Langford worked the count full and then ripped a triple to right center for the Gators’ first hit of the 2023 NCAA season. Up again in the second with a runner in scoring position, Langford worked the count full again but ultimately was unable to drive in the run as he was struck out to end the inning. When he came up in the 4th inning, Langford worked the count for the third straight time and drew an RBI walk with the bases loaded. His double down the right field line came when he was leading off the 6th inning and facing an 0-1 pitch. He scored on the next batter and Florida won the opening game 13-3 in 7 innings.
There’s not a whole lot to talk about following Langford’s opening game performance. He went a combined 1 for 8 with a walk and a hit by pitch, though he did get an RBI on an error in the second game. In order to give him a B- or B, I would’ve liked to have seen more from the second and third games.
Weekend Grade: C+
SS Jacob Wilson, Grand Canyon
2023 Prospect Ranking: #7
Weekend Stats: 4-11, 2 3B, 4 RBI, 3 runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 1 error
Like Brayden Taylor and Enrique Bradfield, who we’ll talk about next, Jacob Wilson got a chance to shine in primetime during a big Opening Weekend showcase. Grand Canyon was playing in the Desert Invitational, and by the time this comes out, will be playing their fourth and final game of the competition against Mitch Jebb and the Michigan State Spartans. Other teams in the Desert Invitational include Tennessee, Arizona, UC San Diego, Michigan, and Michigan State.
In the first two games of the Invitational, the son of former MLB short stop Jack Wilson was able to really impress in games against UC-San Diego and then on MLB Network against Chase Burns and the Tennessee Volunteers. He batted third and played shortstop all weekend for Grand Canyon, and started both games by hitting a triple. Against San Diego on Friday, the first triple went to left and drove in a run. Against stud sophomore Chase Burns (#1 college arm for 2024 draft) and Tennessee, the second triple went to right and drove in a run. He was able to add in an impressive 2 RBI single up the middle in the 2nd inning against San Diego to give Grand Canyon an early 3-0 lead. They won that game 12-4 and stunned Tennessee 4-3, in large part to the performances of their star shortstop.
The third game of the weekend for Wilson, however, didn’t go very well as they faced Michigan in the desert. He’d go 0-4 with a walk and a throwing error. His one strikeout (which is rare) came in the 3rd inning with a runner in scoring position and a tie game at 2-2. He battled to work the count foul but ultimately K’d swinging. He did come up in the 9th inning with his team down 6-4 and runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs, but Michigan wisely opted to intentionally walk the star who could’ve tied or won the game with a single swing in that moment. Tyler Wilson, the next batter, grounded out to end the game. Michigan won 6-4 and it’s not shocking that when Jacob Wilson has a bad game, Grand Canyon loses.
Weekend Grade: B-
3B Brayden Taylor, TCU
2023 Prospect Ranking: #9
Weekend Stats: 7-12, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 3 runs, 5 walks, 3 strikeouts, 2 errors
Now we come to our final two prospects of the week and they just so happen to be our best and worst performances of the weekend. Like Jacob Wilson, Brayden Taylor had an opportunity to impress during a primetime showcase, though this one was The College Baseball Showdown. Taylor and the Horned Frogs would face Vanderbilt, Arkansas, and Missouri.
Brayden Taylor had a monster weekend for TCU and went 7-12 with 5 walks. Yes, he had 2 errors at 3B but they weren’t super impact errors and when you reach base 10 times in three games, 2 errors aren’t such a big deal. He hit monster shot against Vanderbilt on Friday in arguably his worst game of the weekend and consistently worked 3-ball counts to draw 5 walks and force opposing pitches to throw strikes. They beat Vanderbilt with ease on Friday, 11-3; beat Arkansas 18-6 where Taylor reach based 6 times; lost to Missouri on Sunday where Taylor reach based 4 times.
Weekend Grade: A-
OF Enrique Bradfield, Vanderbilt
2023 Prospect Ranking: #11
Weekend Stats: 1-11, 1 RBI, 3 runs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts, 1 SB
Like TCU, Vanderbilt was playing in prime time on Opening Weekend as one of the participants of the College Baseball Showdown. Enrique Bradfield is a special talent in large parts to his size and speed. It was not a good weekend for him despite Vanderbilt winning two of their three games.
Leading off and playing centerfield for Vanderbilt in all three games over the weekend, Bradfield was unable to show off his impressive talent and electric speed. Yes, he scored from first on a Polk triple against Oklahoma State on Saturday and he did have a stolen base against Texas on Sunday. But one hit and two walks is not enough to get him wreaking havoc on the basepaths and Vanderbilt was lucky to win two games with Bradfield not producing at the plate. It does help, however, that he plays outstanding defense in centerfield.
Weekend Grade: D