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High-A Prospects To Watch From The 2023 Draft Pt. 1

We move right along into the High-A prospects to watch from the 2023 MLB draft. As we saw with the Low-A prospects most are high school talents getting their first full crack at professional baseball. When it comes to these prospects at High-A we will see more College players than in Low-A. The level of competition increases as batters will continue to see advanced off-speed pitching and will have to adjust accordingly. Let’s dive into some of the prospects to watch in High-A from the 2023 MLB draft.

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High-A Prospects To Watch

Mac Horvath, 2B/3B BAL

Baltimore snagged Mac Horvath from UNC in the second round of the 2023 MLB Draft. The 22-year-old infielder had a solid debut in Baltimore’s organization after the draft. Horvath started in Complex Ball where he slashed .556/.667/1.111 with a home run, six runs scored, and three RBIs. Once he got the bump to Low-A Delmarva Horvath continued to hit for average slashing .308/.422/.500 with two home runs, 11 runs scored, five RBIs, and nine stolen bases in 14 games played. The Orioles then promoted Horvath to High-A Aberdeen to finish the season. In five games played with the Iron Birds Horvath slashed .235/.435/.647 with two home runs, nine runs scored, three RBIs, and five stolen bases.

At each stop in the minor leagues in 2023 Horvath displayed excellent on-base skills including a 22.23% walk rate while striking out 25.9% of his 99 total plate appearances. There is potential for above-average speed and power from Horvath long-term and with the early returns with the batting average he might be a sneaky trade target in dynasty leagues.

Enrique Bradfield Jr, OF BAL

Selected 17th overall by Baltimore in the 2023 MLB Draft Enrique Bradfield Jr had a solid collegiate career at Vanderbilt. With arguably the best speed in the draft Bradfield Jr played only three games in the Complex League slashing .556/.667/.667 with four runs scored, and one stolen base. The Orioles promoted Bradfield Jr to Low-A Delmarva where he went off. In 17 games played Bradfield Jr slashed .302/.494/.340 with 15 runs scored, six RBIs, and stole 20 bases in 22 attempts. This larger sample size displayed Bradfield Jr’s approach walking 24.7% while only striking out 11.7% of the 77 plate appearances with the Shorebirds.

The excellent results warranted a call-up to High-A Aberdeen where Bradfield Jr struggled to get going in his five games played. Across 21 plate appearances with the Iron Birds Bradfield Jr slashed .118/.286/.118 with three runs, and four stolen bases. Despite the low average Bradfield Jr stayed true to his approach and walked and struck out just 19% of the time. The assignment back to High-A comes as no surprise and if Bradfield Jr can catch fire Double-A Bowie isn’t too far off.

Jacob Gonzalez, 2B CHW

Chicago White Sox had the 15th overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft and selected Jacob Gonzalez out of Ole Miss. The former Rebel put up a solid Junior season slashing .327/.435/.564 with 10 home runs and 51 RBIs. Known for his above-average bat-to-ball skills and power Gonzalez seemed like a solid addition to the future middle infield for the White Sox. The results weren’t quite what the team or dynasty managers expected. The White Sox started Gonzalez out in Complex ball where he slashed .250/.375/.250 with two runs scored, and four RBIs in four games played. Once promoted to Low-A Kanapolis Gonzalez struggled slashing just .207/.328/.261 with one home run, 16 runs scored, 13 RBIs, and one stolen base.

Despite the slash line in Low-A Gonzalez maintained a solid 14.6% walk percentage while striking out just 16.8%. This performance might have come on the heels of a long season in the SEC with Ole Miss so I’m not shocked to see the White Sox aggressively pushing Gonzalez to High-A Winston Salem. With the White Sox in a rebuild mode there is a strong possibility Gonzalez will move quickly to debut with Colson Montgomery with a solid performance.

Luke Keaschall, 2B MIN

A prospect in the Twins organization that has been quietly solid since the draft has been Luke Keaschall. Selected by the Twins in the second round out of Arizona State, Keaschall is a second baseman with speed and power. After struggling in three games in the Complex League, the Twins promoted Keaschall to Low-A Fort Meyers. In 20 games with the Mighty Mussels, Keaschall slashed .292/.426/.472 with one home run, 20 runs scored, nine RBIs, and stole eight bases. When it comes to approach Keaschall had a solid approach walking 16% while striking out 21.3% of his 94 plate appearances.

These solid numbers prompted the Twins to promote Keaschall yet again this time to High-A Cedar Rapids. In eight games with the Kernels, Keaschall slashed .313/.353/.563 with two home runs, five runs scored, six RBIs, and one stolen base. The walk rate dropped in the short sample size to 5.9% as well as the strikeout rate to 8.8% in 34 plate appearances. If Keaschall can start the season strong it won’t be long before he gets the bump to Double-A.

Brice Matthews, SS HOU

The Houston Astros selected Brice Matthews out of the University of Nebraska in the first round of the 2023 MLB Draft. Matthews put up some solid numbers with Nebraska in his junior season slashing .359/.481/.723 with 20 home runs, 61 runs scored, 67 RBIs, and stole 20 bases in 54 games played. Once Matthews was in the Astros organization he had a short stint in the Complex League for two games before heading out to Low-A Fayetteville. Once with the Woodpeckers, Matthews struggled with the batting average slashing .217/.373/.367 but showed the power and speed as advertised. In 150 plate appearances, Matthews hit four home runs, with 22 runs scored, 11 RBIs, and stole 16 bases in 19 attempts.

When it came to plate discipline Brice Matthews walked 16% while striking out 26.7% of the time. The key will be for Matthews to hit for average as he makes his way to High-A Ashville to start the 2024 season. There is potentially a 20-20 bat here at shortstop and the Astros choosing to push Matthews to High-A despite his struggles in Low-A says a lot about how quickly they want him up with the big league club.

Isaiah Drake, OF ATL

Atlanta Native Isaiah Drake was thrilled to be drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the fifth round of the 2023 MLB Draft. The 18-year-old out of North Atlanta High School was known for his blistering speed on the basepaths as well as defensively in the outfield. The second carrying tool for Drake is the potential plus power in his bat. Overall Isaiah Drake is going to need time to improve all aspects of his game in the minor leagues and the Braves’ recent assignment speaks to how aggressive they will be.

After the draft Drake was sent to the Complex League where he slashed .221/.312/.279 with nine runs scored, eight RBIs, and stole nine bases in 11 attempts across 18 games played. Drake drew walks at a 10.4% rate but struggled mightily with a 37.7% strikeout rate in 77 plate appearances. All of this leads up to the High-A assignment to start the 2024 season. This is aggressive seeing as Drake struggled in the Complex League and left the spring breakout series with a cramp leaving little to no mark in his play. This paired with no experience at Low-A at just 18 years old is telling of what Atlanta sees in him. He will be a prospect on my radar as I watch Rome play in person.

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