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2023 MLB Draft Preview: Right-handed Pitchers

Taking a look at some of the top RHP in the 2023 MLB Draft class as well as some who could interest the Braves.

COLLEGE BASEBALL: MAY 25 SEC Baseball Tournament - LSU vs Arkansas
Paul Skenes
Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As we reach the end of June we’ve come to the time that the 2023 MLB Draft is starting to really approach, which means it’s time to start to preview the draft’s top players as well as players who could interest the Atlanta Braves during the course of the draft. Today we start with right-handed pitcher, which along with outfield is always one of the two biggest position groups in the draft in terms of volume of players selected.

This is a position that the Braves will likely be paying close attention to during the draft, as they are known to draft pitcher-heavy. Even with Dana Brown moving on to take over the front office in Houston, that much isn’t likely to change - even if the team doesn’t use its top pick on a right-hander.

Top Guys

Paul Skenes, LSU - Arguably the best pitching prospect to enter the draft since Stephen Strasburg more than a decade ago now, Paul Skenes is a lock to go in the first five picks. The dominant LSU hurler would easily be the #1 overall prospect in most drafts, but his teammate Dylan Crews is a similar type of prospect as a bat. Skenes can hit 100+ MPH, has a plus-plus slider, and above average command. He’s also athletic enough that he hit 13 homers as a two way player at Air Force last season before transferring.

Chase Dollander, Tennessee - Chase Dollander is the type of pitcher who is normally the first pitcher off the board in the MLB Draft. A successful SEC arm with a fastball up to 99 MPH, a swing and miss slider, and two other solid or better pitches with the ability to throw strikes. However the presence of Skenes will likely make Dollander the second right hander taken next month.

Rhett Lowder, Wake Forest - We all know how much the Braves love Wake Forest arms, especially after they used their first round pick on them two years in a row before taking a prep arm first last year. Rhett Lowder is the most talented out of all of those recent Wake arms, including another trio of them you will read about a little later. Lowder’s best pitch is his plus change, and it’s his only present plus pitch. His slider has flashed as a second plus pitch and his fastball comes in as more above-average, but he might get a plus grade for his command which helps his stuff play up. Lowder is considered the third best right-hander in this draft, though he’s more of a higher floor potential middle of the rotation guy than he is a potential front end guy.

Noble Meyer, Oregon HS - Noble Meyer comes from the same high school as recent Phillies first round pick and now top prospect Mick Abel. Meyer is a very appealing arm as a projectable 6’5”, 185-pounder who can hit 98 MPH, has a potential future plus slider, and has shown ability to throw strikes. He would be the final guy on this list I would feel comfortable saying the Braves have no shot at seeing when they get on the clock in the first round.

Bryce Eldridge, Virginia HS - Bryce Eldridge is a tough guy to rank because there isn’t a true consensus over what he is. The 6’7”, 223-pound right-hander is also a similar level prospect as a left-handed bat. He grades out as average or above in basically every category on the scouting scorecard - as both a pitcher and a hitter. Since he’s being ranked as a pitcher here, it’s worth mentioning that he is a projectable, athletic strike thrower with three potentially above average pitches. The general thought is more prefer him as a batter right now, where he has a chance to hit for some average and plus power. Eldridge is a prospect I wouldn’t expect to be there for the Braves at 24, but it isn’t out of the question either.

Hurston Waldrep, Florida - Hurston Waldrep is the type of pitcher teams who love raw stuff will be all over in the draft. Waldrep has a potentially plus-plus fastball and a plus splitter with some feel for a plus slider. The issue is the fact he can get a little inconsistent with his strike throwing and carries some reliever risk for that reason. If he is available I’m not sure that Waldrep is a guy the Braves would target, simply because they prefer better command with their top picks.

Charlee Soto, Florida HS - Charlee Soto is the first guy on this list that seems very likely to be available at 24 and fits the profile that the Braves love with their early pitcher selections. Soto is young for the class, at still just 17-years-old, and projectable at 6’5”, 210-pounds. He also has a potentially plus fastball up to 98 MPH, a slider that could develop into a second plus pitch, and feel for an offspeed pitch. Soto also throws strikes. The Braves seem to be a little more in on bats for their first pick, but Soto is very much a Braves-type of pitcher.

Travis Sykora, Texas HS - Travis Sykora is what you think of when you think of a Texas prep pitcher. He’s big (6’6”, 232) and throws very hard (101 MPH). Sykora also has a potential plus splitter as his offspeed pitch and some ability to get swings and misses with his slider. Throw in an ability to throw strikes and some remaining projection on his already large frame, and it’s easy to see what the draw with him is. The one thing working against Sykora is the fact he’s old for the class at already 19-years-old.

Blake Wolters, Illinois HS - Blake Wolters is another guy who fits what the Braves like with prep arms. He’s a former two sport star (basketball), athletic, and throws strikes. Wolters has a fastball up to 99 MPH and a potentially plus slider - though his changeup is still a work in progress at this point of his development.

Cole Schoenwetter, California HS - Scouts out West have compared Schoenwetter to JR Ritchie, the Braves comp round pick last year. If that alone doesn’t scream out a reason why the Braves could be interested in him, I don’t know what else to say. Schoenwetter has three potentially above-average or better pitches in his athletic and projectable frame.

Others Who Could be of Interest

Steven Echavarria, New Jersey HS - Echavarria may not have anything as a true plus on his scouting scorecard, but he’s average to above across it. Echavarria is still able to add a little more and has been up to 98 MPH this spring with a promising curve and change plus a slider and above-average grades for his command. Echavarria is a cold weather prep arm with some stuff and plenty of pitchability, which is something the Braves do value.

Alonzo Tredwell, UCLA - Tredwell is a 6’8”, 230-pounder, though despite that frame doesn’t have massive raw stuff. His fastball grades out more average to above with a potentially plus slider and an above average change to go with a curve. He also has potentially plus command, which helps his stuff play up despite not having elite velocity. There is some thought that Tredwell may have some remaining projection in his large frame, and mixed with the command and pitchability he is especially intriguing.

Landen Maroudis, Florida HS - Another pitcher who fits the Braves profile is Maroudis. A two-way player with remaining projection, and a strike thrower with a potentially plus changeup, Maroudis fits the Braves in more than just one way if they think they can get a little more with his fastball as he focuses full time on the mound.

Grant Taylor, LSU - The Braves have shown they don’t mind taking a chance on a college reliever with starter traits, nor do they mind taking an injured arm early. They’ve even done it with Spencer Schwellenbach, who fit both categories. Grant Taylor from LSU could be the next of that type, as he cut his walk rate last year before opening eyes in the Cape last summer. He’s got a potentially plus fastball and cutter with a pair of solid breaking balls. Unfortunately he went down early this spring so we didn’t get to see him handle a starter’s workload before the draft, but if the Braves believe enough in his stuff and traits they could take him early knowing that a late inning relief role is always a fallback option for him.

Tanner Witt, Texas - Witt has huge stuff and not a ton of innings on him as he suffered an injury that required Tommy John surgery and only returned later on this year. He has made six starts and totaled 10.2 innings and the numbers - and command haven’t been good, but that is to be expected coming back from that surgery. Witt can get his fastball close to triple digits with two swing and miss breaking balls and some promise on the change. Taking Witt is believing in the stuff and what we saw out the Longhorn pen in 2021 as well as two starts before getting hurt last year.

Juaron Watts-Brown, Oklahoma - JWB is an athletic pitcher with a plus slider and promising curve. His biggest weakness is his fastball being a bit too hittable because he doesn’t command it as well as he could. A team like the Braves could buy into that slider/curve mix and believe they can improve the fastball command enough to make him worth a high pick.

Luke McNeillie, Georgia HS - Luke McNeillie is the next real prospect out of Milton HS, and this projectable arm is more about dreaming on what could be rather than what he is right now. McNeillie can hit 94 MPH, but he’s flashed the makings of a plus change and has above-average command. He’s a Florida commit, but if the Braves believe in his stuff coming they could take a swing here.

Nolan McLean, Oklahoma State - The Braves could have interest in Nolan McLean because they were rumored to be interested in him last year. He also fits their type as a former two-sport (football) star and a two-way player. McLean’s not too much different from what he was last year, despite the numbers being down as both a hitter and an arm - though even more are bought in on him ending up as a pitcher as a pro now.

Will Sanders, South Carolina - Will Sanders is no longer seen as the projectable arm he was out of high school in Georgia, but the 6’6”, 23-pounder has four average to above pitches with good command of his arsenal. Sanders is a guy they could see as a potential backend starter, and if they believe they can get just a little more velocity out of him then he would make even more sense.

Carson Montgomery, Florida State - Carson Montgomery was a real first round candidate that the Braves were rumored to be interested in back in 2020, but no team met his high asking price. He hasn’t quite had the career most expected while at FSU, with this spring being an even bigger drop off for his numbers. Still the stuff we saw out of him that made him coveted in high school is still flashing through at times, and he could be a candidate for a change of scenery to get back closer to where he once was.

Bishop Letson, Indiana HS - Letson is a projectable arm from a cold weather state that has three potentially average to above pitches and a good feel for throwing strikes. That is a profile that appeals to the Braves and makes him a potential arm to watch on Day 2 or 3 of the draft.

Carlson Reed, West Virginia - Carlson Reed has interesting stuff but real questions with his command. He also has three above-average to plus pitches that may make someone want to try him as a starter. I think with his command issues and the potential for his 98 MPH fastball to play up out of the pen with his plus change and swing and miss slider, he could be a very intriguing bullpen arm.

Parker Detmers, Illinois HS - The younger brother of Angels lefty Reid Detmers is a right-hander committed to Louisville with some similarities despite the different handedness. Detmers is probably likely to end up going to school, but I list him simply because the Braves liked Reid enough to draft him out of high school and they very well could have similar feelings with his brother.

The Other Wake Forest Arms

Teddy McGraw, Seth Keener, and Camden Minacci, Wake Forest - As mentioned with Lowder, the Braves love their Wake Forest arms as Wake’s focus on analytics and development has really resulted in the Braves paying close attention to their players. Beyond Lowder, McGraw is the best of the bunch. He was seen as a potential first rounder before needing Tommy John surgery just before the season started. McGraw has three above-average to plus pitches, though will need to improve his command. Taking McGraw could let the Braves get a premium arm from Wake without having to spend quite the premium pick and bonus it would normally take.

Keener is another college reliever with starter traits. His best pitch is his plus slider, though he has a fastball he can hit 97 MPH with and does a good job of throwing strikes. He posted some excellent ratios this year mostly out of the bullpen, particularly the 12.3 K/9 and 5.0 H/9.

Minacci is a college reliever who will stay as a reliever once moving on to the pros. However Minacci has two legitimate plus pitches in his fastball and his slider- though those are his only two pitches.

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