These two college draft prospects are standing out because of these two absurd numbers they're putting up so far
The Pittsburgh Pirates have the number one draft pick in the 2023 draft. It’s the second time in three years the Pirates will have the first pick. This year’s draft is almost like no other. Some of the most hyped college prospects in the draft’s history will be in this year’s draft. There are two highly talented Louisiana State University draft prospects who are making a case to be the Pirates’ first round pick.
Those two LSU players are Dylan Crews and Paul Skeens. Both are considered maybe the best there is in college ball right now. It’s still early in the college season, and there’s plenty of games left to play, but these two have some impressive statistics that are worth mentioning.
Dyan Crews - 100.2 MPH Exit Velocity
Let’s first start with the guy everyone is more than excited to see play right now, outfielder Dylan Crews. In 60 plate appearances, Crews is batting .465/.616/.814. Crews has six doubles and three home runs. He also has a 14:8 BB:K ratio. If that wasn’t impressive enough, Crews has an average exit velocity of 100.2 MPH.
No other player on LSU is within 5 MPH of the talented outfielder. The next closest is Brayden Jobert at 92.5 MPH. Now granted, he is playing with an aluminum bat in a small sample size. However, according to a study by Penn State University in 2006, an aluminum bat adds about 8 MPH to a batted ball. Even if we are super generous and take away 10 MPH from his exit velocity, that would still be in the top 73rd-ish percentile of MLB batters with a wood bat.
Overall, Crews has simply been an absolute beast in college ball. In total, he is slashing .364/.473/.688 with 43 homers in 654 college plate appearances. He’s walked at a 14.5% rate while only striking out in 16.5% of his trips to the dish. Not only is he an immense power hitter, but he’s also swiped 19 bags in 26 attempts. Defensively, he’s average at worst at fielding center. However, many project him as an above average defensive right fielder.
If you could give a prospect something higher than an 80-grade, then Crews would have found it, at least in the raw power department. Sure, it’s a small sample size and less than 100 plate appearances, but he’s so far ahead of his fellow teammates it’s unreal. Given that he draws a ton of walks, has a more than manageable strikeout rate, and makes a ton of contact, there’s very few draft prospects you’d take over Crews right this instant.
Paul Skenes - 57.1% Strikeout Rate
You’re going to hear arguments over Dyan Crews vs. Chase Dollander for a while. But I think that Paul Skenes vs. Dollander will be more interesting to watch going forward. Skenes already had a ton of draft stock going into 2023, but he’s only further built upon that with his first few outings of the ‘23 campaign.
Skenes has only pitched 18 innings and has faced 63 batters. But he’s allowed just a single earned run on six hits. He also has walked three batters. Those numbers are all outstanding, but they pale in comparison to his strikeout rate. Skenes has struck out 36 batters, leading to a 57.1% K-rate.
The right-hander is no stranger for high strikeout rates. Last year, before he transferred to LSU, Skenes had a 2.73 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 27% strikeout rate for the Air Force Academy. He also allowed only four homers in 85.2 innings of work. Impressively, Skenes worked as a two-way player, slashing .314/.412/.634 with 13 homers in 182 plate appearances. Even more interesting is that he worked as a catcher. LSU doesn’t look as if they’ll utilize him in a similar fashion though, and likely are only looking to utilize him on the mound.
Skenes has one of the best fastballs in the draft. He works in the upper-90s and tops out at 100 MPH. He also pairs that with a wicked slider. His third offering is a power-change that sits 88-91 MPH, but has the potential to be a 55-grade offering. He also locates all three pitches well. His athleticism helps keep his short-arm delivery in check, which bodes well for his future.
Again, it’s a microscopic sample size. We’re talking about less than 20 innings and fewer than 100 batters faced, but a strikeout rate well over 50% is impressive nonetheless. With his current trajectory, he could surpass Dollander.