Create Account
Sign in Create Account
Draft  | Story  | 2/1/2024

MLB Draft: Positional Recap & Preview

Tyler Henninger      Tyler Kotila      Isaiah Burrows     
Positional Recap & Preview: Catchers | Corner Infielders | Middle Infielders

It’s a new week, and the PG Draft team has another Draft history article, diving into the different positional groups along the way. Last week’s was the middle infielders, talking through players of past drafts and who might be first up in this year’s draft. 

This time, the PG Draft team is rewinding the clocks to 2021, 2022, and 2023, respectively, breaking down outfielders of past and present. We’ll discuss some of the players who were first off the board in their respective draft years, what they brought to the table, etc.  

Then, our PG Draft Team will make some of their own picks, diving into this year’s 2024 draft class.  

2023 Draft History: Outfielder 

Prep: Maxwell Clark, 3rd overall, Detroit Tigers 

Last year, the top of the draft was all but solidified in being Paul Skenes or Dylan Crews as the first two names off the board, but after that, it was a bit of a battle on which prep player would be first off the board. Franklin, Ind. native Max Clark would be the first prep player and first outfielder off the board, being selected by the Detroit Tigers with the third overall pick. Clark was heralded as the top prep talent alongside Walker Jenkins, who went to the Minnesota Twins fifth overall. Clark's a left-handed bat with a ton of athleticism throughout his 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame. In the batter's box, it's a left-handed stroke with tons of bat speed and strength to impact. He handles the barrel well and has a fluid stroke through it, which the Tigers hope translates well as he gets into his big-league career. He produces some power, and there's hope for budding power to show through as he continues his road toward the big leagues. Clark's bat certainly set him apart from others, but the athleticism overall piqued the interest of many. A 6.33 60-yard dash runner in his prep days is often known for his speed and agility. It attracted big-league teams on top of his tools in the box. He glides in the outfield and finds himself in a position to make plays often. There's potential for great upside as a defender, which, paired with his upside at the plate, makes him a top-tier prospect moving forward. - Tyler Kotila 

College: Dylan Crews, 2nd overall, Washington Nationals 

Right before Clark was off the board, Dylan Crews was selected by the Washington Nationals. Crews was the second name off the board, behind only Paul Skenes. At points during last year's draft cycle, it really felt like Crews might even end up being 1:1. He was a heralded prep prospect but bet on himself after choosing to go to LSU and play for the Tigers. He carved out a heck of a college career for himself, piloting him to be drafted with that second overall pick. Crews was expected to be a big-time pick for years, so it's no shock he went as high as he did. He's a 6-foot, 205-pound frame with tons of athleticism. It's an elite bat-to-ball profile, and he just finds ways to get it done offensively. He's got plus power and the ability to do damage, proving that with LSU during his time in Baton Rouge. He's also quite smart in the box, with good swing decisions and the feel that work counts well. He already made his affiliate ball debut, getting into 35 minor league games and reaching Double-A within the Nationals organization. Over his 35 games, he logged 137 at-bats with a .292/.377/.467 with nine doubles and five home runs. He walked 14 times and struck out 38, a quality debut after winning a National Championship and getting drafted second overall. - TK 

2022 Draft History: Outfielder 

Prep: Andruw Jones, Wesleyan HS (GA), 2nd pick (1st rd.)

Jones possessed an extremely loud skill set as a prep and showcased it well leading up to the draft. Son of former big leaguer Andrew Jones, the Georgia prep outfielder showed 70-grade speed and the potential for plus power as his 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame continued to fill out. Arguably the best defensive outfielder in the class and the ability to handle center field rounded out a profile to dream on. A prep player with 5-tool potential, big league bloodlines, and an uber-protectable build, it is easy to see why Jones was the second player off the board. -Tyler Henninger

College: Gavin Cross, Virginia Tech, 9th pick (1st rd.)

Cross put together three outstanding seasons at Virginia Tech before being selected by the Royals with the 9th overall selection. Considered amongst the best collegiate bats in the country, Cross featured a potential above-average hit tool and above-average power. A strong build and generated hard contact often with power playing to all fields during in-game action. Although there were concerns for some about contact rates/swing decisions and likelihood of ending up at a corner spot defensively, the upside of the bat was too great for Cross to slip out of the Top-10 picks. -TH

2021 Draft History

College: Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston

Cowser was as steady a performer as they come leading up to the 2021 MLB Draft. The fifth overall pick by the Baltimore Orioles simply lived on the barrel throughout his collegiate career. He graded out as a comfortable above-average hit tool from the left side with speed and keen hand-eye at the plate. The speed and defensive acumen in center field combined with his overall barrel skills have him a considerable floor as a first rounder. When healthy, Cowser has continued that same production in the minors and has since made his MLB debut with the Orioles. -Isaiah Burrows

Prep: Benny Montgomery, OF, Red Land HS (PA)

Looking back at the ‘21 class, it was harder to find a more tooled up prep prospect than Montgomery. He’s a plus runner with all kinds of quick twitch muscle and a chance for plus power and a plus arm defensively. He was simply dominant at our Underclass and the tools simply stood out at National. The hit tool needed more time and polish, but given the athlete and package of high end tools, Montgomery was the eighth overall pick by the Colorado Rockies. Montgomery is starting to find his groove in the minors and if it all clicks, watch out. -IB

Looking ahead to the 2024 MLB Draft: 

Prep: Konnor Griffin, OF, Jackson Preparatory (MS), LSU commit 

This year's draft class may have a huge focus on the college bats at the top, but when the prep players do start coming off the board, it's likely to be Konnor Griffin who is first to hear his name. He's got the potential to be the first prep player off the board in this year's draft. The Jackson Prep standout plays both ways but has a ton of upside as a right-handed hitting outfielder with a ridiculous amount of athleticism. The tools are exceptional, and he's the most toolsed-up player in this 2024 prep class. The LSU Tigers commit has a massive 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame with pure athleticism. Griffin's a 6.36 runner in the 60-yard dash, and the uber projectable frame carries over on offense, in the field, and on the mound. Griffin moves exceptionally well in the outfield and has a ton of arm strength, throwing 96 from the outfield. At the plate, it's a balanced right-handed stroke with easy juice and the ability to lift the ball. Exit velocities are in the upper-90s with tons of thump off the barrel. There's a ton of bat speed through contact; it's a profile to easily get excited about. On top of all that, Griffin can get up on the mound and work the low- to mid-90s with spin above 2,300 RPMs and tons of life through the zone. He pairs that with a slider that he has a good feel for. The pitch spins above 2,500 RPMs with a good bite to it. Griffin's just a truly special talent. - TK 

College: Vance Honeycutt, OF, North Carolina 

It will be interesting to see who's first off the board in a collegiate class dominated by college bats. One of the players who could come off the board early is outfielder Vance Honeycutt. The right-handed hitting outfielder is uber-athletic, with a ton of speed and the strength to hit for power. There's just a ton to like with Honeycutt's profile, and he could easily be the first collegiate outfielder off the board. Honeycutt will patrol centerfield for North Carolina this year, fresh off of 2023, where he slashed .257/.418/.492 with seven doubles, a triple, and 12 home runs, driving in 43 runs. He swiped 19 bags on 23 attempts. Honeycutt walked 49 times while striking out 51 times. It's quite impressive, his swing decisions, walking just two fewer times than he strikes out. It speaks to the profile, and Honeycutt has an excellent feel for the strike zone. On top of that, he's a plus-runner (6.84 in his prep days) with premier defense in the outfield and will be a staple at the top of the UNC lineup this year with his bat. It's a right-handed stroke with a good barrel whip. He rotates hard with strength to impact while both lifting and leveraging balls often. There's a ton to like on both sides of the ball here, and it will get teams' attention this spring ahead of the draft.  -TK 

Looking ahead to 2024 MLB Draft:

Prep: Dante Nori, Northville HS (MI)

It is hard to find a twitchier athlete in this year’s class than Dante Nori. The prep outfielder out of Michigan features one of the more intriguing power/speed combinations. Posting a 6.15 60-yard dash at PG National, Nori uses his 70-grade speed well in-game and looks to be uber aggressive on the bases. Meanwhile, Nori’s stocky, compact build can generate big time power at the plate. In fact, Nori was the PG All-American Classic HR Derby runner up this past year. It is one of the more dynamic offensive profiles in the prep class. The top-of-the-order skill set can cause havoc and create runs on a regular basis. There should be plenty of teams interested within the first thirty picks next summer. -TH

College: Braden Montgomery, Texas A&M

Montgomery was a key piece in Stanford’s back-to-back runs to Omaha the last two seasons. The two-way standout has now transferred to Texas A&M, where he will not only be a strong contender for the Golden Spikes Award, but has a chance to be a Top-5 pick this summer. Montgomery is a switch-hitter with a fluid, easy swing that he can repeat well. The arm strength is what carries the profile. Easy, on-line carry stands out from right field and can shut down opposing run games. It also translates well to the mound, where Montgomery can run it into the mid-90’s. The projectability and extremely high ceiling are a handful of reasons why Montgomery might hear his name called within the first few picks. -TH

Prep: Slade Caldwell, OF, Valley View HS (AR)

If there’s a prep outfielder with a good amount of buzz heading into the spring, it’s Valley View’s Slade Caldwell. Don’t let the 5-foot-9 frame fool you, as it’s full of quick twitch muscle and athleticism across the board. He’s a 70-runner and one of the most impactful athletes in the class with his foot speed, beating out routine grounders and swiping bags. He’s an above-average defender in center with high end barrel skills in a left-handed swing. It’s plus bat speed and all types of bat-to-ball skills with a potential at double digit homer power at the highest level. Caldwell checks a ton of boxes and should garner plenty of interest come July. -IB

College: Mike Sirota, OF, Northeastern

Sirota may not jump off the page tools wise, but he does so many things and checks a ton of boxes as a potential first rounder heading into the college season. He’s an above-average defender and runner in center with great jumps and routes. But at the plate, he’s a real at-bat with a selective approach and ultra quick wrists that spray the barrel to all fields. The power really showed last year and his ability to stay inside and drive the ball is awfully hard to find in the ‘24 outfield crop. It’s a potential plus hit tool with a good amount of 55s sprinkled around. -IB