While betting on college baseball may be over for the summer, this week provides a perfect opportunity to wager on some of the best amateur baseball players in the world one last time before they go pro. The 2023 MLB draft is quickly approaching, and here at Baseball Prospect Journal, we want to provide some information to help you predict, or bet, this weekend’s event in Seattle.
Who is the 1-1?
The Pittsburgh Pirates hold the top selection in the draft. From a hitting perspective, LSU’s Dylan Crews has the talent that warrants this pick. If the Bucs are eyeing a college arm, then Crews’ teammate Paul Skenes appears to be a generational talent that any organization hates to pass up.
The key here at the top involves slot value and the Pirates’ ability to control the top of the draft. They also have pick No. 42 and two other selections in the top 75. If they go under-slot with a prep option, they suddenly have the motive to keep pulling money down to the next respective selection.
Passing up Crews isn’t crazy, considering the negotiating and posturing that’s sure to be taking place. To pass on Skenes – especially if the righty is willing to be flexible with signability – is a little outlandish. However, if Pittsburgh is committed to going under-slot and funneling the money down, then a high school athlete is in play. With that said, if you want an underdog with steam, look no further than Max Clark from Franklin Community (Ind.) High School.
Clark is a lefty outfielder with massive potential. There’s been momentum with the name at 1-1 for the 2023 MLB draft. And recent activity on the betting boards reflect that chatter. This time last week, Clark was 20/1 odds at two different online sportsbooks. His name is now as short as +400 at some books. I personally grabbed this as a free bet at +2000 last week. That number obviously isn’t available anymore, but worth noting if you want to bet or even mock a draft. If there’s a surprise at No. 1, it will be Clark. You can bet on it!
We also like Walker Jenkins as a super-long shot. You can find him on the boards at 30/1 or longer. Jenkins grades out extremely well. He’s a candidate to be a player with 60s on the 20/80 scouting scale across the board in the near future. He’s a young athlete that makes quite the impression on top brass when he flashes his personality and character traits. We feel like he’s pretty solidified with an organization or two. But these extremely long odds are enticing for a small wager.
Florida’s Wyatt Langford (+350) is tempting as well. He’s in the same neighborhood as Clark, but the prep has more steam. The price on Langford has also shortened a great deal during the week. The Florida outfielder was listed around 15/1 odds a week ago. There’s a theory that if Langford is willing to sign low enough, it may tempt the Pirates to go under-slot to parlay the chunk of change into a big prep signing at No. 42 (see above). Langford posted elite metrics at the plate for the Gators in 2023. He’s an exit velocity machine and a decent athlete in the field. What’s the drop-off in terms of talent from Crews? Is it a million-dollar difference?
If you expect a surprise, hedging Clark and Langford is the likely the play. If you want to wager a small amount for a long-shot, Jenkins is probably your guy. The safe bet may be Skenes (let’s say +200), but not sure how much value there is in the number. As of now, that seems like a fair bet. But today has revealed lots of movement on the board. There will only be more chaos and rumors as we approach even closer to the MLB draft.
These are my thoughts for now. We see some more angles to take with some draft props, but waiting to bet those (over/under draft position, etc.) is the best move. As the event draws closer, hours before the draft becomes the telegram for helium and last-minute chatter. Check back here at Baseball Prospect Journal for takes on attacking the 2023 MLB draft from the betting board, or download the podcast.