At this time last year, I previewed the top prospects in the Men’s College World Series and it was headlined by two incredibly famous soon-to-be-early-picks in Vanderbilt righties Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker.
This year, we don’t have anyone quite that famous or that projects to go that high in the upcoming MLB draft headed to Omaha, Nebraska, but there is a deep group of potential top-three-round talent — along with a potential At the. 1st overall pick in the 2023 draft.
Remember this ranking is purely on pro potential and draft stock, not on their potential College World Series impact. Also, I left out injured players that are on rosters but won’t be on the field, most notably Texas RHP Tanner Witt. He’s a projected late first-rounder for the 2023 class recovering from a midseason Tommy John surgery. Prospects are 2022 draft eligible unless noted otherwise.
Watch: Men’s College World Series, starting Friday on ESPN
Top 15 MLB draft prospects
1. Jacob Gonzalez, SS, Ole Miss (2023)
2. Peyton Graham, SS, Oklahoma
3. Cayden Wallace, 3B, Arkansas
4. Brock Jones, CF, Stanford
5. Drew Bowser, 3B, Stanford (2023)
6. Jaxon Wiggins, RHP, Arkansas (2023)
7. Jake Bennett, LHP, Oklahoma
8. Jimmy Crooks, C, Oklahoma
9. Ivan Melendez, 1B, Texas
10. Braden Montgomery, RF, Stanford (2024)
11. Robert Moore, 2B, Arkansas
12. Silas Ardoin, C, Texas
13. Hayden Dunhurst, C, Ole Miss
14. Cade Horton, RHP, Oklahoma
15. Sonny DiChiara, 1B, Auburn
Top prospect: Cayden Wallace, 3B
Wallace has been hot lately with a shot to go in the 20 to 30 range. He has sure hands at the hot corner and power that he’s been using in games. Wiggins is regularly in the upper-90s and has above-average off-speed stuff but is still inexperienced. Moore is a second-to third-rounder who may return to school. He has shown inconsistent contact and below-average power but his speed, defense and feel of him are strong. Shortstop Jalen Battles was eligible for last year’s draft and has some contact questions, but possessed real defensive ability and power. Brady Tygart is the latest exciting, electric reliever for the Hogs who should be able to convert to the rotation in the next couple seasons. Second baseman Peyton Stovall, who is 2024 draft eligible, and LHP Hagen Smith are also impact freshmen.
Top prospect: Sonny DiChiara, 1B
Auburn isn’t as loaded with top-tier pro prospects as other SEC teams, but the Tigers have a lot of pro-worthy depth. A Samford transfer known as Sonny D, DiChiara had a huge season and figures to go between the third and fifth rounds. Righty Blake Burhalter is a key bullpen arm who sits in the mid 90s, while Trace Bright and Mason Barnett have shown flashes as potential starter types. Second baseman Cole Foster (2023) is another name in the lineup to keep an eye on.
Top prospect: Jacob Gonzalez, SS (2023)
Gonzalez is right in the thick of a half-dozen college hitters in the mix to go No. 1 overall next summer. He has a slightly quirky bail-oriented swing from the left side, but he’s a sure shortstop with outstanding numbers and above-average tools in the best amateur league in the country.
Hayden Dunhurst has been frustrating for scouts, with a solid set of defensive skills and power, but an odd setup at the plate that’s led to an up-and-down year offensively. LHP Hunter Elliott (2024) has emerged as a potential selection in the top three rounds in a couple years, while 2023-eligible 1B Kemp Alderman has big power. A half-dozen other arms of various classes have solid pro potential.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Top prospect: Liam Simon, RHP
Notre Dame’s pro prospect group is led by power righties, with Simon (into the high 90s, solid slider, improving control with starting role) and Jack Brannigan (reliever often in the upper 90s, but still inexperienced as he’s also the regular third basemen) — both eligible in 2022 — just missing the list and 22-year old Alex Rao (94 to 96 mph, above-average splitter) just behind them. LHP Jack Findlay and RHP Roman Kimball, both 2024 eligible, are freshmen who both possess early-round upside with solid-average stuff and strong contributions this year.
Top prospect: Peyton Graham, SS
Graham is similar to Tim Anderson of the White Sox. Both are slim-framed shortstops with excellent tools that are limited a bit by swinging too often. Graham has a shot, buoyed by a better approach down the stretch, to sneak into the 20 to 30 range. Bennett is in the second or third round with some reliever questions but above average stuff from the left side. Crooks is also in that mix with a solid approach and sure hands behind the plate. Cade Horton is a round behind them with outstanding stuff, but he still needs more refinement given the recent Tommy John surgery, two-way play and a football background. Second baseman Jackson Nicklaus (2024) is another potential early-round prospect.
Top prospect: Brock Jones, CF
Jones looked like a possible pick in the top half of the first round coming off of a solid summer with Team USA, but had a horrid start to the 2022 season, with scouts putting him in the third round as his swing fell apart. He got hot again late in the season and is now in the mix for the end of the first round. Drew Bowser has 30-homer potential and outstanding skills, but he needs to cut down on the swings and misses. Montgomery also could stand to do that but he had a strong freshman season at the plate and on the mound. First baseman Carter Graham (2023) will be a priority follow for next year’s draft, while RHP Alex Williams, C Kody Huff and LHP Quinn Matthews fit between the third and fifth rounds this summer.
Top prospect: Ivan Melendez, 1B
Melendez joins Ole Miss’ DiChiara as another 22-year-old with a breakout season, launching him higher in this year’s draft. Melendez arguably has the most power in all of college baseball, and it’s not hard to see with his nation-leading 32 homers. Silas Ardoin is a solid backstop with some offensive upside while SS Trey Faltine has even more power and defensive upside, but much bigger contact concerns. LHP Pete Hansen and CF Douglas Hodo III are two more players with the potential to be picked in the top-five rounds this summer.
Texas A&M Aggies
Top prospect: Ryan Targac, 2B (2023)
Like Auburn, the Aggies aren’t overflowing with top-round talent, but they are well-coached and deep. Targac (would’ve been ranked 16th on this list) has a shot to sneak into the top 50 picks next summer with a nice mix of contact, power and defensive ability. RHP Nathan Dettmer (2023) has thrown in the mid 90s with solid off-speed stuff and some believe that might land him in the top three rounds next summer. RHP Chris Cortez (2024) is regularly in the upper 90s but has a relief look and does not currently strike out as many batters his stuff would have you believe.