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2023 MLB Draft Rounds 2-20 Primer: The Commits

Yesterday, I profiled the least likely commits to make it to campus. Today, I look at the ones we hope to get through the draft.

2022 MLB Draft
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

*The 2023 MLB Draft takes place on Sunday July 9th through Tuesday July 11th. In the coming days, I will give you Vanderbilt centric primers of the current players and prospects, and my best guesses at where they are likely to be drafted. With the commits, I will also hazard my best guess at the probability they will eschew the MLB Bonus money and suit up in gangster pajamas in 2023. Today, we look at the commits who, while a threat to be drafted and signed, will most likely play at The Hawk. Click here for more on the possible first round current players and commits.

Corbs has put together yet another impressive class of commits. Though the work to build this class started years ago, the stress over keeping it together starts this weekend. While the previous four commits discussed—our top 4 of Clark, White, Lombard, and Clemmey—are unlikely to don the Gangster Pajamas, if we get the rest of our commits to campus, this will be one of the best, if not the best, classes in the country. If we lose one of these guys, that will still be the case. If we lose two, that will basically still be the case (though I will be kind of pissed). More than two of these guys profiled below? Well, go ahead and hit the panic button.

Profiled below is not everyone in this ‘23 class, but rather the ones who find themselves in at least one of the following three categories: 1) the Top 250 Prospects list, 2) Kylie McDaniel’s ESPN+ Top 300 Prospects list, and 3) are in the Top 100 according to Perfect Game. Generally speaking, if a prospect is none of those things, it’s extremely unlikely they will be signed away from a Vanderbilt commitment, so go ahead and put them in the “100% likely to get to campus” pile.

*For the bulk of our ‘23 commit list, click here for the Perfect Game list.

**Note also that the Perfect Game Commit List is not 100% accurate at the moment, as we have received some late flips, like how we flipped LHP Miller Green from the Ramblin’ Wreck just yesterday. I very much want him to succeed, as we could then all sing “We are the Miller Green Preservation Society” when he jogs to the mound.

Okay... onto the top commits we hope to get through the draft.

Vanderbilt Commits Who Might Hear Their Name Called on Day Two (Rounds 2-10) or Day Three (Rounds 11-20):

SS/3B Braden Holcomb

Though he has no profile, here’s what ESPN has to say about him:

106. Braden Holcomb (18.7), SS, Foundation Academy HS (FL), Vanderbilt commit

The 6-foot-4 hoops and football standout is now a full-time baseball player and may need to slide to third base but has above-average hit/power potential, high price tag.

...and here’s his Perfect Game report:

Braden Holcomb is a 2023 SS/3B, OF with a 6-4 215 lb. frame from Ocoee, FL who attends Foundation Academy. Recorded a 6.68 second 60-yard dash time. Extra large frame with immense physicality with a good blend of twitch athleticism. Primary shortstop who bends at the waist and rounds it well. Good arm strength across up to 91 mph. Solid range and first step quickness for long term left side projection. Right-handed hitter with excellent bat speed and a simple leg lift trigger. Huge strength and can turn the barrel over to the pull side with authority. Contact quality is excellent when he stays connected through contact. Power upside is significant and among the best in the class. Great student. Verbal commitment to Vanderbilt. Named to the 2022 PG All-American Classic.

Range: Rounds 2-10. Top 250 Ranking: N/A

ESPN Top 300 Ranking: 106.

Perfect Game Rating: 10. National Ranking: #32 overall; 13 SS.

Prediction: If he’s taken on Day 2 (rounds 2-10), consider him gone. If not, it’s unlikely they have met his signing bonus. Holcomb is likely the biggest power bat in the ‘23 class, and that’s something our lineup needs direly. Hope to get him through the draft, as he will have a strong chance at immediate playing time, whether pushed to be a corner OF due to the makeup of this roster, in the IF competition, or as a DH (depending on where Chris Maldonado lines up).

Chance He Signs With an MLB Team: 50%.

LHP Ethan McElvain scouting report:

Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45

The younger brother of Chris McElvain, who pitched at Vanderbilt before signing with the Reds as an eighth-rounder last July, Ethan also has committed to the Commodores. But he may not make it to college because he has the best stuff and physicality among a deep crop of Tennessee high school left-handers. Matthew Dallas (Briarcrest Christian HS, Eads) entered the year with more acclaim, but McElvain passed him this spring.

McElvain’s fastball velocity has ticked up a bit during his senior season, and he’s now operating at 91-93 mph and reaching 96. He can throw his heater with riding action at the letters or with downhill plane lower in the strike zone. His slider sits around 80 mph with two-plane break, and it can be a solid pitch when he doesn’t overthrow it.

McElvain has yet to show much feel for a changeup and almost never uses it. He has a strong 6-foot-4 frame but throws with some effort and can struggle to find a consistent release point, costing him control and command. He’ll need time to add polish but could turn into a mid-rotation starter.

Range: Rounds 2-10. Top 250 Ranking: 106

ESPN Top 300 Ranking: 173.

Perfect Game Rating: 10. National Ranking: #46 overall; 5 LHP.

Prediction: If he’s taken on Day 2 (rounds 2-10), consider him gone. Regardless, I think Lil’ McBain will feel the draw of continuing his older brother’s legacy at Vanderbilt much like Lil’ Maldo did last year. This McBain has a power left arm that could be in our weekend rotation in a year, and he could electric. *Note: Lil’ McBain is the #1 player in the state of Tennessee.

Chance He Signs With an MLB Team: 50%.

SS Camden Kozeal scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 45 | Run: 45 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45

Scouts rave about Kozeal’s hitting ability and high baseball IQ. He rarely swung and missed on the showcase circuit and didn’t strike out in four starts while helping Team USA win the 18-and-under World Cup in September. None of his other tools grade as better than average, but his bat and makeup may make him the first Nebraska prepster to land in the first three rounds since Cole Stobbe in 2016.

Gatorade’s Nebraska player of the year as both a junior and senior, Kozeal consistently puts together quality at-bats and has an extremely advanced approach for a high schooler. He has a compact left-handed swing, controls the strike zone and uses the entire field. While he’s a bit undersized, he has the strength and bat speed for 15-20-homer power and can drive the ball to the opposite field, as evidenced by a home run to left field when he stayed back on a changeup from Illinois right-hander Zander Mueth at the PDP League.

Kozeal has some twitchy athleticism that helped him account for 26 touchdowns in eight games as Millard South’s (Omaha) quarterback in the fall. The Vanderbilt recruit has fringy speed and average arm strength, yet he finds a way to make plays at shortstop. He’ll move across the bag at the next level and profiles well as an offensive second baseman.

Here’s his ESPN write-up:

102. Camden Kozeal (18.7), SS, Millard South HS (NE), Vanderbilt commit

One of many tough-to-sign Vandy commits is the type (hit first, sure-handed defender) that goes higher out of college.

Range: Rounds 2-10. Top 250 Ranking: 143

ESPN Top 300 Ranking: 102.

Perfect Game Rating: N/A. National Ranking: #109 overall; 29 IF.

Prediction: If he’s taken on Day 2 (rounds 2-10), consider him gone. If not, it’s unlikely they have met his signing bonus. Seeing as I have both Holcomb and Kozeal in the 50/50 range, this may be a “one or the other” situation. Of course, we want both at The Hawk. Playing time in the Vanderbilt infield will be tough to crack in ‘24, but this kid has a hit tool we’ve not seen since Austin Martin. Get him in the fold and expect RJ Austin to move to CF pretty quickly. Conversely, Kozeal could also begin his career as a corner OF and then move to the IF as a sophomore, when at least one of Diaz and Vastine gets drafted and signs.

Chance He Signs With an MLB Team: 50%.

C Colin Barczi Scouting Report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 40

Illinois hasn’t had a high school catcher selected in the first five rounds since Chad Johnson in 2012 and while Barczi could end that streak, he probably won’t. He missed time with mononucleosis this spring and will be difficult to sign away from Vanderbilt. If he does go to college, he’ll be Draft-eligible again as a 21-year-old sophomore in 2025.

Barczi generates well-above-average raw power with a combination of a quick right-handed stroke, loft and strength. He has a track record of producing against top competition on the showcase circuit, including a home run off talented left-hander Cam Johnson at the Area Code Games last August and a strong showing at the World Wood Bat Association World Championship in October. There are some concerns about his hitting ability because his swing can get stiff and too uphill.

Barczi should be able to remain behind the plate, though his receiving and blocking will need more polish. He does have plus arm strength and has registered sub-1.9-second pop times at his best. He moves well for a 6-foot-2, 210-pound catcher but still has below-average speed.

Range: Rounds 10-20 (though equally likely to go undrafted). Top 250 Ranking: 217

ESPN Top 300 Ranking: N/A

Perfect Game Rating: N/A. National Ranking: #371 overall; 36 IF.

Prediction: I was not expecting Barczi’s name to pop up on this list (see Perfect Game rankings above), but he made the MLB Top 250, which means at least some scouts have been looking his way. I think it’s much more likely he dons the tools of ignorance for Corbs and the Diamond Dores, as he will have a clear shot at starting as a sophomore, or perhaps even a freshman if either of Bulger or Espinal are drafted this year.

Chance He Signs With an MLB Team: 25%.