Prep Baseball Report

VA/DC 2023 MLB Draft Preview

PBR Staff
VA/DC Coverage

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Sunday marks the beginning of the 2023 MLB Rule 4 Draft, better known as the First-Year Player Draft or Amateur Draft. After a quieter 2022 MLB Draft in Virginia/DC, which saw Hanover corner the prep market in the Draft as Seth Keller (6th Round-Braves) and Levi Huesman (17th Round-Rays) topped the board, 2023 is poised to be a banner year for Prep players from VA/DC in the draft, which makes July 9-11 a potentially very exciting time in the region.

It is possible that the 2023 MLB Draft will see a VA/DC player drafted the highest we have seen since the 2021 (Preview/Recap) or 2016 (Recap) drafts, and its possible that we will see Virginia/DC produce its first Prep First Round pick since 2005, when Justin Upton (Great Bridge HS, Diamondbacks) and Brandon Snyder (Westfield HS, Orioles) both went in the top 13 picks overall, with Upton being the first selection.

Here are the prep players that we think are in the mix to be selected in the first 10 rounds of the draft:


High School Players

Bryce Eldridge RHP / James Madison, VA / 2023

Eldridge is an Alabama commit and has monster 6-7+ frame. He has some strength present, but is mostly just very long and loose. Let's start with offense, he hits from the left side and has a ton of raw power that plays to all fields. He has a smooth swing from the left side, is short to contact with an uphill path, he relies on his size and long levers to generate power, so it looks like an easier swing for hitting the ball as far as he routinely does. Showed an all-fields approach this year instead of just trying to pull balls very far, trusting that he had plenty of power if he hit a ball hard. He doesn't need to pull balls to hit home runs, as he showed routinely last summer for Team USA. The present power is already there and believe it or not there is more he can access as he adds more strength to his core and lower half.

On the mound, Eldridge can also be pretty good, which has led to a discussion all year as to whether he is a pitcher, hitter, or both in the MLB Draft. Its a shorter arm action on the back side but he gets long and loose during arm stroke. Throws from a higher three-quarters arm slot, effort is easier, uses his long levers to drive the baseball to the target. Pretty simple repeatable delivery, creates a bit of deception with the closed off shoulders as he strides out. Fastball throughout the spring was routinely 91-93, topping at 95 occasionally. In a late April outing, he held 93 pretty consistently into the fifth inning. Fastball has a bit of late armside run and some ride to it when thrown in at the belt. Uses his slider a lot, pitch was 81-84 with good armspeed and late sharp 10/4 break to it. Its a true slider that gets swing and misses. Occasionally shows a straight changes in the 86 range. The biggest knock on him on the mound is he doesn't get many swing and misses with his fastball. 


Burton's Thoughts: "XL framed 2-way prospect that is a bat first. The value is the raw power and in game power production, but what does not get as much love as it should is the bat to ball and ability to use the whole field. Advanced feel for the barrel with adjustability in the swing that is rare for a hitter of his size. First base/corner outfield long term projection. Middle to back end of the first round bat and the arm would project more in the third-fourth round. A no doubt day one guy."





Jonny Farmelo OF / SS / Westfield, VA / 2023

Farmelo is a Virginia commit and has an athletic 6-3 frame with strength present. His frame is a prototypical pro frame. In the outfield, arm is average to slightly above, but he is quick and gets good jumps and can cover a ton of ground. Centerfield/leftfield profile in the future for him. At the plate, hits from the left side, short quick slightly uphill swing. More of a line drive hitter with gap power to all fields, can drive the ball if his line drives carry, showed the ability later in the season to turn on some balls. His strongest tool is probably his contact skill followed closely by his speed and athleticism. In three at-bats against Eldridge early in the season, went 3-3, was in an 0-2 count in all three at-bats, and didn't swing and miss once. He is very comfortable in a two strike count and does a good job of spoiling pitches before finding something he can put in play with authority. He is a quick accelerator as a runner with some serious bounce and glides once he is moving. He will eventually need to start accessing a bit more power to profile as an everyday outfielder, but the contact tool and his hand-eye coordination are special, add that to his speed and you have two very good tools to pro teams, and probably a third if you count his defensive range. 


Burton's Thoughts: "Potentially the highest ceiling of any draft prospect in the state this year, Farmelo is an extremely tooled out centerfielder that has the ability to stick. Strong athletic frame with an elite run tool to go along with his high end bat to ball ability. The UVA commit showcased his ability to get bat and barrel on the ball all spring long and did it versus some of the best arms in the region. The swing was a little stiff at times, but he is athletic enough to make those adjustments at the next level. His hand eye coordination is through the roof and with the game changing speed, he can impact the top end of a lineup in a big way. Had a chance to see the arm later in the spring and one in game throw is all that I needed to see to know the defensive upside is pretty high end. Multi-sport athlete that still has ceiling left."






Zyhir Hope OF / LHP / Colonial Forge, VA / 2023

Hope is a North Carolina commit and is one of the most intriguing talents in the Commonwealth. A two-way player now who probably looks more like an outfielder at the next level, but he very much could remain a two-way guy. He has a strong athletic frame, he is a physical kid who still has a ton of twitchiness and can fly in the outfield or on the bases. Will be a very strong-armed centerfielder at the next level. On the mound, Hope has a crossfire, drop and drive delivery. Its a short very quick arm action from a three-quarters arm slot, he hides the ball well. Fastball is consistently 88-92, he touched 93 once. He gets some tilt on the ball and a bit of late run. He gets swing and misses up in the zone where the ball rides a bit. Curveball was 76-77 with late sharp hard 1/7 break. Also shows a straight change that is 82-85. Can be erratic in and around the zone and runs a lot of deep counts, so he runs his pitch count up in a hurry.

At the plate, he hits from the left side from an open balanced athletic stance. He has an absurdly quick bat and super fast hands. Short to contact with a plenty of raw power, slightly uphill swing path, has the ability to drive the ball to all fields. The base hit in the video is an elevated fastball off the plate from Matthew Westley, who was 88-90 in this game, he still gets his hands on top and gets the barrel around to catch it in front and drive it rightfield for a hit. Hope has some swing and miss in him, but the pure batspeed and raw power from the left side combined with a strong arm and 6.5 speed make him a very intriguing prospect in the Draft.


Burton's Thoughts: "One of my favorites in the state and a really great story for any recruit that feels kind of stuck in the process. Uncommitted and unrecruited heading into the spring fifteen months ago, to being recruited by multiple Power 5/big baseball schools on the East Coast, to committed to the University of North Carolina, and now a potential top five round pick. Toolsy outfielder with plenty of arm and some juice in the bat. The swing plays, but out of all the prospects in the state, he has the shortest track record versus higher end arms. An All-State year for Hope has propelled him into top five round conversations with a handful of teams and while he has the tools to predict some potential future success at the next level, it is more of a projection pick at this point."





Blake Dickerson LHP / Ocean Lakes, VA / 2023

Dickerson is a 6-6 LHP with a lanky frame and a lot of projection and a Virginia Tech commit. In the two outings that we saw him in this spring, he was inconsistent, but was better in the second outing. When the fastball was in the zone, it missed more bats/barrels and seemed to be a bit more crisp in the first two innings. The velo was mostly 89-90 in the first two innings and touched 92 one time. He was able to get swings and misses in to left handers, got in on a few right handers, as well as getting to the arm side third and extended to right handers. The slider had more depth in the 79-83 range early on and used it to hitters from both sides. Had a third pitch that he used sparingly, a low 80's changeup. Once he got into the third inning he began to struggle finishing counts and started searching for the zone. The pitch count got up there pretty quickly. As he tires, he starts to get scattered. The command will need to continue to progress, as well as the fastball velo maintaining that 90 mph mark and flashing a few more 91-92's. Plenty of projection left to this left hander that make him very intriguing for teams willing to take the time to allow his frame to fill out and develop him.


Burton's Thoughts: "Dickerson had a ton of helium coming into the spring after some strong performances late last summer and on the national circuit this fall. This spring the velo was down a tick, hanging mostly in the 87-90 range and flashing an occasional 91-92. I had a chance to see him twice. The second start he seemed to be much sharper early on, especially when it came to the shape of the secondary. While things were not at the level that they were in the fall, Dickerson still offers plenty of intrigue. There are not too many 6-foot-6 left handers floating around that are upper 80's-low 90's and that have solid control of their body and delivery like he does. This is a projection pick with plenty of ceiling left and potential starter profile as the secondary takes shape."





College Players 

There will inevitably be more players from these classes drafted than the ones listed below, but these are few players we think are likely to wind up being selected at some point in the Draft. There will be other players selected from Virginia and DC Colleges, we keep our focus to ones who are graduates of Virginia and DC High Schools.



Jake Berry LHP / Bishop O'Connell, VA / 2020

Berry is at Virginia and is coming off of a season for the Cavaliers that saw him make 24 appearances, primarily as a late-inning reliever. He struck out 60 while walking 21 and allowing just 42 hits in 50.1 innings of work. He has a 6-10 frame and routinely worked in the 88-90 range with his fastball. His left-handedness and size as well as the relative lack of mileage on his arm are factors here as well.




Drue Hackenberg RHP / Miller School, VA / 2021

Hackenberg is a Draft-eligible sophomore at Virginia Tech who spent most of the season in the Hokies weekend rotation. He compiled 85.1 innings and struck out 99 batters against 26 walks. His fastball was consistently in the low to mid-90s, touching as high as 95 this spring. His slider is his out pitch, and it ran in the 82-86 range during the spring. 




Ben Williamson 3B / SS / Freedom (South Riding), VA / 2019

Williamson is a senior at William & Mary and is coming off of a monster season for the Tribe, building on a good showing last summer in the Cape Cod League for Hyannis. He was named CAA Player of the Year this spring, hitting .390 with 12 home runs. He took 40 walks and only struck out 22 times in 210 at-bats while also showing some speed by swiping 14 bases in 15 attempts. He is also a high-level defender at third, which will boost his value.