The 2023 MLB draft is complete! And after 20 rounds of picks, Atlanta Braves fans are surely already dreaming that one of the newest Braves will be a star. But which one? Here's more on Atlanta's 2023 draft class, with analysis from ESPN insiders.
First round (No. 24 overall): Hurston Waldrep, RHP, Florida
14th in Kiley McDaniel's pre-draft rankings
Who is Waldrep? While many pitchers taken this early in the draft are known for their velocity, it's a devastating split-change that comes to hitters at 85-89 mph and drops sharply just before it gets to home plate that has Waldrep going this high. Although his overall ERA this season was an underwhelming 4.16, look no further than his postseason performance to see why he's so highly regarded. The Florida right-hander struck out 12 batters against UConn in the regional round, followed by 13 against South Carolina over eight scoreless super regional innings, and then K'd 12 Oral Roberts batters over six innings at the College World Series.
Why the Braves took him here: Because they've been pretty good in recent years in drafting college pitchers and getting them quickly to the majors (see 2023 All-Stars Spencer Strider and Bryce Elder). From a stuff standpoint, Waldrep is more Strider than Elder, which speaks to the upside here -- besides the splitter, he also hits 99 mph with the fastball. He fanned 156 batters in 101 2/3 innings for the Gators and while the control has to improve, the Braves' track record makes this an intriguing selection. -- David Schoenfield
McDaniel's pre-draft take: Waldrep's fortunes improved this spring as the use of his nasty splitter continued to increase. It's a plus-plus pitch while his fastball is OK considering it's mid-90s velocity, a 55-grade pitch. Waldrep has a feel for two above-average breaking balls but the questions scouts ask are more about his precision and command, if he can turn over a lineup as a durable starter. That question will dictate if Waldrep goes closer to 10th or 20th, but he seems like a strong multi-inning leverage type at the least.
Second round (No. 59 overall): Drue Hackenberg, RHP, Virginia Tech
86th in Kiley McDaniel's rankings
McDaniel's pre-draft take: Exactly the kind of "boring" (solid-average stuff, durable workhorse) major conference starter that goes in the back of the second or third round. Depending on your sport, you'll find it more interesting that he's the brother of Adam (baseball), Brandon (soccer) and Christian (football).
Compensation pick (No. 70 overall):Cade Kuehler, RHP, Campbell
48th in Kiley McDaniel's rankings
McDaniel's pre-draft take: Kuehler's fastball characteristics are excellent, so his 93-96 mph heater that peaks at 98 mph as a starter may be a plus-plus pitch. He has enough feel and above average offspeed pitches to project as a solid starter, with a fallback as a closer.
Third round (No. 94 overall): Sabin Ceballos, SS, Oregon
162nd in Kiley McDaniel's rankings
Fourth round (No. 126 overall):Garrett Baumann, P, Hagerty (Fla.) HS
249th in Kiley McDaniel's rankings
Fifth round (No 162 overall): Isaiah Drake, OF, North Atlanta (Ga.) HS
272nd in Kiley McDaniel's rankings
Sixth round (No. 189 overall): Lucas Braun, P, Cal State Northridge
Seventh round (No. 219 overall): Justin Long, P, Rice
Eighth round (No. 249 overall): Cory Wall, P, William & Mary
Ninth round (No. 279 overall): Riley Gowens, P, Illinois
Tenth round (No. 309 overall): Pier-Olivier Boucher, OF, Southern Illinois Carbondale
Eleventh round (No. 339 overall): Jace Grady, OF, Dallas Baptist
Twelfth round (No. 369 overall): Brady Day, 2B, Kansas State
Thirteenth round (No. 399 overall): Will Verdung, 3B, Itawamba JC
Fourteenth round (No. 429 overall): Mitch Farris, P, Wingate
Fifteenth round (No. 459 overall): David Rodriguez, P, San Joaquin Delta College
Sixteenth round (No. 489 overall): Isaac Gallegos, P, New Mexico
Seventeenth round (No. 519 overall): Kade Kern, OF, Ohio State
260th in Kiley McDaniel's rankings
Eighteenth round (No. 549 overall): Cam Magee, SS, Washington State
Nineteenth round (No. 579 overall): Riley Frey, P, Milwaukee
Twentieth round (No. 609 overall): Will King, C, Eastern Kentucky