MLB

MLB Draft Betting: Who Will Be Taken With the First Pick?

Austan Kas
Austan Kas@AustanKas
MLB Draft Betting: Who Will Be Taken With the First Pick?

The 2023 MLB Draft takes place on Sunday, July 9th in Seattle as part of the MLB's All-Star break festivities.

Despite the draft being just days away, there is plenty of uncertainty about who will go first overall. This was exactly the case the last time the Pittsburgh Pirates picked first (2021).

The MLB Draft betting odds at FanDuel Sportsbook list four players at +430 or shorter to be the first selection.

Player
Odds
Dylan Crews+200
Paul Skenes+220
Wyatt Langford+280
Max Clark+430

Outside of that four-man group, no one else is better than +3000 to be the top pick, so let's break down those four players.

Dylan Crews, OF, LSU

Crews is the betting favorite but only a slim one, and throughout Thursday, he and Skenes have flipped back and forth as to who has the shorter odds.

An outfielder for LSU's title-winning squad, Crews has a resume of three years of top-shelf production in the country's premier conference.

In 2023, Crews had his best season yet, notching a .426 average and 1.280 OPS while walking (71 times) way more than he struck out (46).

Crews going first would continue the trend of hitters being taken with the top pick, something that's happened in each of the past four drafts. In three of those drafts, it's been a college bat coming off the board first, and Crews is somewhat similar to Spencer Torkelson, Henry Davis and Adley Rutschman -- the No. 1 picks from 2019 to 2021 -- in terms of being a college hitter with a proven track record of outstanding production.

MLB.com has Crews as the No. 2 prospect while FanGraphs puts him first. Crews is the lone player in this class to whom FanGraphs assigned a Future Value of 60.

Paul Skenes, P, LSU

Despite Crews' comically great numbers and elite skill-set, he might not even be the first LSU player taken.

Skenes -- a workhorse right-hander for the champs -- pitched 122.2 innings this past season and absolutely dominated, recording a 1.69 ERA and 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings. He registered 209 punchouts to 20 walks.

MLB.com lists Skenes as the draft's top prospect, but FanGraphs ranks him third.

Skenes is the only pitcher in this four-player group, and pitchers inherently come with more injury risk than hitters do. As such, we haven't seen a pitcher go first overall since 2018, when Casey Mize -- a similarly dominant SEC pitcher -- was the top pick. Mize is currently out injured.

On the flip side, Skenes likely still has some untapped potential as 2023 was his first season focusing solely on pitching. He was a two-way player for Air Force just a year ago before transferring to LSU. After seeing what Skenes did in his first year of only pitching, it's no wonder he's in play to be the first name called.

Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida

Langford has gained steam in recent days. On July 3rd, he was +1900 to be the first pick. He's now listed at +280.

After barely playing as a freshman at Florida, Langford exploded onto the scene with the Gators in 2022, mashing his way to a 1.166 OPS, .719 slugging percentage and 26 homers. He was also excellent this past season, finishing with a 1.282 OPS, .784 slugging percentage and 21 jacks.

Langford could be viewed as having better tools than Crews, according to FanGraphs, but Crews has a clear edge defensively right now.

Something else to consider -- something that is unique to the MLB Draft -- is that the Pirates may feel they can sign Langford for less money than either LSU player, which would give them more money to spend throughout the rest of the draft. That may not wind up being a factor, but it's definitely something to monitor.

FanGraphs has Langford ranked second while MLB.com places him third.

Max Clark, OF, High School

Clark is the only high-school player with a decent chance to go first, per the odds.

The Gatorade National Player of the Year, Clark has top-notch wheels and projects as more of a hit guy than a power guy, per FanGraphs' scouting report.

Being a high-school player makes Clark more volatile, but that could work in his favor if the Pirates want to take a shot at Clark hitting on the high end of his outcomes.

Clark ranks fifth by MLB.com, and FanGraphs has him fourth.

The same thing I said in the Langford section about Pittsburgh possibly looking to cut a bargain deal at No. 1 also applies to Clark, and Pittsburgh might be able to save even more money if they select Clark at the top spot.


The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.