2023 MLB Draft grades: Paul Skenes goes No. 1 to Pirates; Nationals, Rangers, Red Sox, Braves nail their picks

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Major League Baseball's 2023 amateur draft got underway Sunday night, with the Pittsburgh Pirates selecting LSU right-hander Paul Skenes with the No. 1 pick. LSU outfielder Dylan Crews, widely regarded as the best player in the class, went No. 2 to the Washington Nationals. With those picks, Skenes and Crews became the first teammates ever selected with the top two picks in an MLB draft.

The draft continues on Monday with Rounds 3-10 and wraps up Tuesday with Rounds 11-20. You can view all 70 picks from the first night of the draft here. But we here at CBS Sports are nothing if not the judgemental type, and we want to focus on the first round. That means, in keeping with tradition, we've decided to hand out grades for every first-round pick. We fully concede that this is largely a foolhardy effort; MLB's draft is, arguably, the one among major men's professional leagues that offers itself least to instant analysis. A lot of what we write and grade here could age poorly -- and perhaps quickly, at that.

Still, if you take these grades for what they are -- a snapshot in time of how we viewed these selections -- then we think this is a more worthwhile way of passing the time than, say, thinking about what's going on with the bee population.

Below is how every team was graded for their first-round picks. The Mets and Dodgers did not pick in the first round after they had their first selections moved back 10 spots for going over competitive-balance tax thresholds last year.

First-round picks, grades

No. 1. Pirates: Paul Skenes, P, LSU -- Skenes was regarded as the best pitcher in the class thanks to his power arsenal and impressive year at LSU (he punched out 48% of the batters he faced in SEC play). We're giving this pick a "B" instead of an "A" for one main reason: it's incredibly risky to take any pitcher No. 1 overall. That the opportunity cost here means not taking a high-quality position player adds to the potential downside. Still, you can understand why the Pirates were enamored enough with Skenes to make him the pick. Grade: B

No. 2. Nationals: Dylan Crews, OF, LSU -- Crews was considered to be the best overall player in the draft. The Nationals should be thrilled to get him at No. 2. He's a known quantity, a former potential first-round pick as a high schooler, who performed well across multiple seasons in the SEC. Crews' biggest fans see him boasting 70-grade hit and power tools. Those projections will almost certainly prove to be overzealous, but he has a chance to be a plus bat and soon. Grade: A

No. 3 Tigers: Max Clark, CF, Franklin Community HS (IN) -- Clark, who was rumored to be in consideration for the No. 1 pick throughout the summer, often elicits comparisons to Cubs prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong. He's a surefire center fielder with a strong arm. He also has legit offensive upside thanks to above-average bat speed from the left side. Clark was perceived to have wider error bars on his bat than the other three outfielders at the top of the board, though he's also the most certain of the bunch to offer secondary value. Grade: B

No. 4 Rangers: Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida -- Langford would have been a good get at No. 1 most years, so landing him at No. 4 is a great value. He's a potential middle-of-the-order hitter who torched SEC pitching (.350/.484/.720 with one fewer walk than strikeout). He boasts sneaky athleticism and a veteran scout estimated he had a coin flip's chance of remaining in center into his big-league days, so don't be surprised if the Rangers give him a long look there. Grade: A

No. 5 Twins: Walker Jenkins, OF, South Brunswick HS (NC) -- Jenkins showed he was fully recovered from the broken hamate bone he suffered the previous summer. He's a sturdy left-handed hitter who'll have to move to a corner as a professional. That's OK because there's a chance he ends up with well-above-average raw power when all is said and done. Jenkins was regarded as a safer bet to hit than Clark by scouts, though the latter is certain to offer more defensive and baserunning value. Grade: B

No. 6 Athletics: Jacob Wilson, SS, Grand Canyon -- Wilson had been connected to the A's throughout the summer, so this comes as little surprise. His dad, Jack, was a longtime big-league shortstop with a very good glove. The concern with this Wilson -- and the reason we ranked him 22nd -- is his bat. He was the toughest collegiate player to strike out this season, but his exit velocities were well below what you would expect or want from a top-10 pick. That doesn't mean he can't develop into a quality player; it just significantly reduces his margin of error. Grade: D

No. 7 Reds: Rhett Lowder, P, Wake Forest -- Lowder is a polished right-hander with four solid to good pitches as well as plus control. Some evaluators who spoke to CBS Sports ahead of the draft preferred Chase Dollander and Hurston Waldrep, two righties with higher ceilings. Still, Lowder arguably has the sturdiest floor of the three. His arsenal has already been optimized at Wake Forest and he should move quickly through the system provided he stays healthy. Grade: B

No. 8 Royals: Blake Mitchell, C, Sinton HS (TX) -- Mitchell has a strong arm (he also pitched) and above-average power potential from the left side. We're docking this pick not because of his ability (or lack thereof), but because history has not been kind to first-round prep catchers. There hasn't been one who 1) remained at the position and 2) accrued 10 or more WAR since Joe Mauer -- the No. 1 pick in the 2001 draft. Grade: C

No. 9 Rockies: Chase Dollander, P, Tennessee -- Dollander entered the spring regarded as the best pitching prospect in the class. That evaluation didn't hold up, as he struggled with his fastball command and a modified slider that featured half as much sweep. Scouts were still high on Dollander heading into the draft, however, thanks in part to a strong finish to his season. Whether or not the Rockies are the right organization to help maximize Dollander's considerable arm talent is to be determined. Grade: B

No. 10 Marlins: Noble Meyer, P, Jesuit HS (OR) -- Meyer is an intriguing talent who checks all the boxes of a potential big-league starting pitcher. He has the frame; the loose delivery; the velocity; and a pair of promising secondary offerings. The reward here is quite enticing, but we'd be remiss if we didn't note that there is considerable risk to this selection due to the fact that he's a prep right-hander. Many teams have shied away from taking that player type this early. It's to be seen if the Marlins' gamble pays off. Grade: B

No. 11 Angels: Nolan Schanuel, 1B, Florida Atlantic University -- Don't let the unusual batting stance cloud your perception: Schanuel can hit. He has an excellent feel for the strike zone and for making contact. He routinely hit the ball hard as a collegiate, even if his top-end exit velocities aren't in line with what you'd expect from a corner-only defender. This might be earlier than most people expected him to go -- we had him at No. 19 -- and the combination of players still on the board and a skill set that isn't for everyone makes us dock this pick just a touch. Grade: B-

No. 12 Diamondbacks: Tommy Troy, INF, Stanford -- Troy showed a good deal of growth at the plate this spring, posting career-best walk and strikeout rates while continuing to barrel the ball. (He also stole 17 bases after taking just eight in his first two seasons combined.) Most evaluators who spoke to CBS Sports believe he'll end up at second base, but he has experience at both shortstop and third base. Some of Troy's most ardent boosters will view this as a great value pick for the Diamondbacks. Grade: B

No. 13 Cubs: Matt Shaw, INF, Maryland -- Shaw is a well-rounded infielder who walked more than he struck out this season while setting new personal-highs in home runs and stolen bases. He has a substandard arm for the left side, but some scouts believe he should at least be allowed to begin his professional career at shortstop. Wherever he plays on the dirt, he has a chance to otherwise boast average or better tools at maturation. Grade: B

No. 14 Red Sox: Kyle Teel, C, Virginia -- Teel is a high-caliber athlete with a good arm who projects to stay behind the plate. He successfully course-corrected after a brief but tough cameo in last summer's Cape Cod League, and profiles as a contact-over-power hitter at the game's highest level. He easily could've been selected in the top 10, making this a good value for the Red Sox. Grade: A

No. 15 White Sox: Jacob Gonzalez, SS, Ole Miss -- Gonzalez looked like a potential top-five pick entering the spring thanks to his track record against good competition. He's been a steady performer, but he never quite took the step forward that scouts wanted, causing him to slip on upside concerns. Still, left-handed-hitting shortstops with the chance for average or better offensive production are hard to find, making Gonzalez a defensible selection at this point. Grade: B

No. 16 Giants: Bryce Eldridge, 1B, Madison HS (VA) -- Eldridge is a tantalizing two-way prospect. He's listed at 6-foot-7 and has shown both a fastball that can get into the mid-90s and budding secondaries. As a hitter, he has big-time power potential from the left side. The Giants are one of the few teams who seem likely to give Eldridge a fair chance at doing both given how they've handled last year's first-round pick Reggie Crawford. Grade: B

No. 17 Orioles: Enrique Bradfield, CF, Vanderbilt -- Bradfield was the most polarizing position player in the class. He's an elite-level defender and baserunner, but scouts have major reservations about his bat -- specifically his power. The fear is that his contact and on-base chops won't play against big-league pitching unless he's able to burn their mistakes. Bradfield elicited comparisons to current Guardians center fielder Myles Straw as a result. It was thought that he could go within the top 10 picks; fetching him at No. 17 seems like an OK time to take the gamble. Grade: B

No. 18 Brewers: Brock Wilken, 3B, Wake Forest -- Wilken has massive raw power and had a fantastic season at Wake Forest. He was a divisive player among the evaluators who spoke to CBS Sports all the same because his performance noticeably declined when he faced ACC-caliber pitching. (Teams like to use that split with power conference players to determine who feasted on weaker competition.) Wilken, then, will have to prove that he can access his ability to impact the baseball against pro-level pitching. For now, we're knocking the pick just a hair. Grade: C

No. 19 Rays: Braden Taylor, 3B, TCU -- Taylor was considered to be one of the safer second-tier collegiate bats entering the spring. He then had an uneven season, launching 22 home runs (a new personal-high) while also striking out more frequently and hitting line drives less frequently than he had before. It's to be seen if the Rays will encourage him to go back to his line-drive hitting ways, or if they'll embrace his mission to slug. EIther way, this seems like a perfectly defensible pick. Grade: B

No. 20 Blue Jays: Arjun Nimmala, SS, Strawberry Crest HS (FL) -- Nimmala is an extremely young shortstop prospect who'll require a good deal of developmental time before he's ready to make his big-league debut. That said, if everything breaks right he has the chance to develop into a high-quality player thanks to his athleticism and budding skill set. We were very high on him (evidently too high) entering the spring. To us, then, this looks like a great value pick. It's reasonable to disagree with that assessment. Grade: A

No. 21 Cardinals: Chase Davis, OF, Arizona -- Davis was arguably the most improved player year-to-year in our top 30 rankings. He greatly reduced his strikeout rate and his in-zone whiff tendencies, all the while continuing to show off good strength from the left side and a willingness to walk. Again, perhaps we were too high on Davis entering the draft cycle (we had him 10th), but we think this is a worthwhile gamble at this point in the first. Grade: A

No. 22 Mariners: Colt Emerson, SS, John Glenn HS (OH) -- Emerson was one of the final cuts on our top 30 list. He has an enviable combination of polish and youth, and could grow into above-average hit and power grades in due time. Where he ends up on the infield is more of an open question. Again, at this stage of the first round, this is a solid enough pick. Grade: B

No. 23 Guardians: Ralphy Velasquez, 1B/C, Huntington Beach HS (CA) -- Velasquez combines excellent feel for the strike zone with well-above-average power potential from the left side. The Guardians drafted him as a catcher, but it's to be seen if he'll be able to stick there. If not, he'll likely have to slide all the way down the defensive spectrum to first base. Grade: B

No. 24 Braves: Hurston Waldrep, P, Florida -- Some scouts and analysts who spoke to CBS Sports in the lead up to the draft considered Waldrep worthy of a top-10 selection. That's because he has some of the nastiest stuff in the class, including an elite splitter that very well could be this year's best individual offering. Waldrep slipped because of his command: he walked more than 14% of SEC foes he faced, giving him more relief risk than some of his peers. The Braves can afford to swing for the fences this late in the first. Grade: A

No. 25 Padres: Dillon Head, CF, Homewood-Flossmoor HS (IL) -- Head might be the fastest player in the draft. Take that and add in a good arm, and he has the chance to be a high-grade defender in center field. Head's offensive projection is less certain, with questions about his hit tool abound. If everything clicks, this could become a big-time steal by the Padres. Grade: B

No. 26 Yankees: George Lombard Jr., SS, Gulliver Prep (FL) -- Lombard just missed the cut for the top 30. He has big-league bloodlines (his father is the Tigers bench coach) as well as a projectable frame and swing that bode well for his power potential. It's possible that Lombard will have to move to third base, but the Yankees won't mind if he fulfills his offensive promise. Grade: B

No. 27 Phillies: Aidan Miller, 3B, Mitchell HS (FL) -- We considered Miller to be the best prep corner-infield bat in the class because he's all but certain to end up at third base. He has at least above-average power potential, and he hasn't yet been hampered by a hitch in his swing. Grade: B

No. 28 Astros: Brice Matthews, SS, Nebraska -- Matthews authored a 20-20 season for the Cornhuskers and has a chance to stick at shortstop all the way up to The Show. He didn't make our top-30 player cut despite that performance because of concerns about his approach. This a little higher than we expected him to go, but Dana Brown's draft history suggests he knows what he's doing. Grade: C

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Giants take Walker Martin at No. 52. High school shortstop led the country in homers this season and he only did it in only 30-ish games in Colorado. He played football too and the hope is he'll blossom as a player once he focuses on baseball full-time.

July 10, 2023, 3:01 AM
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Red Sox with another nice pick here at No. 50: Nazzan Zanetello, a high school shortstop. I know a few teams had him on their radar in the first round. Boston gets Teel in the first round and Zanetello here in the second. Really nice draft for them.

July 10, 2023, 2:55 AM
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The Reds took Ty Floyd with the No. 38 pick. He struck out 17 in eight innings in his College World Series start. Third LSU player taken so far, along with Crews and Skenes. Floyd has elite fastball metrics (velocity, spin, etc.). The secondary stuff is a little iffy, but the fastball is top notch. He's similar to Spencer Strider when Strider was drafted in 2020.

July 10, 2023, 2:24 AM
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So I guess Kevin McGonigle is signing and not going to Auburn. The Tigers wouldn't have taken him with the No. 37 pick if they weren't sure he'd sign.

July 10, 2023, 2:18 AM
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No. 36 pick: Dodgers take Kendall George

Every team has now made a pick. Los Angeles had their first rounder pushed back 10 spots because they exceeded the $270 million third luxury tax threshold last year. George is arguably the fastest player in the draft class, though it's not clear how much he'll hit. That said, the Dodgers are excellent at developing hitters and impact. They deserve the benefit of the doubt.

July 10, 2023, 2:14 AM
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No. 32 pick: Mets take Colin Houck

New York's first rounder was pushed back 10 spots because they exceeded the $270 million third luxury tax tier last season. They still get a stud in Houck, who was our No. 13 ranked draft prospect. Houck played baseball and football in high school and the thinking is he'll really take off on the diamond once he focuses on baseball full-time.

July 10, 2023, 1:54 AM
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No. 29 pick: Mariners take Jonny Farmelo

This pick is notable because it's the first ever Prospect Promotion Incentive pick. Those are draft picks given to teams that put top prospects on their Opening Day roster, and they finish high in awards voting. This pick is for Julio Rodríguez winning Rookie of the Year. Farmelo didn't make our top 30 but he's been on the rise the last few weeks. He's a tooled up lefty hitting high school outfielder. Lots of upside.

July 10, 2023, 1:42 AM
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Best available players

Six of our top 30 draft prospects are still on the board:

13. SS Colin Houck (GA HS)
17. SS Kevin McGonigle (PA HS)
18. SS Walker Martin (CO HS)
25. RHP Charlee Soto (FL HS)
27. SS Sammy Stafura (NY HS)
29. OF Colton Ledbetter (Mississippi State)

McGonigle is reportedly may not sign and head to Auburn. If true, he won't be picked at all.

July 10, 2023, 1:38 AM
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First round is over

There are still a few more rounds and 42 more picks to go tonight though. Rounds 3-10 are Monday and rounds 11-20 are Tuesday.

July 10, 2023, 1:35 AM
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No. 28 pick: Astros take Brice Matthews

Matthews is another model guy with big exit velocities. Bit of a surprise pick -- he wasn't particularly close to our top 30 -- but Astros GM Dana Brown ran drafts for the Braves a long time and look at that team. He gets the benefit of the doubt.

July 10, 2023, 1:34 AM
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Errr, my bad, Aiden Miller was 20th on our top 30. Ctrl + f led me wrong.

July 10, 2023, 1:31 AM
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No. 27 pick: Phillies take Aiden Miller

The Phillies have done well with high upside high schoolers in recent years. Miller was a possible top 10 pick this year, but he broke his hamate and didn't play much. The kid has tremendous power and hitting know-how. Phillies get a potential steal even though Miller wasn't among our top 30 draft prospects.

July 10, 2023, 1:29 AM
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No. 26 pick: Yankees take George Lombard Jr.

Lombard's father, George Sr., is the Tigers bench coach. George Jr. is said to be a very smart kid with a high baseball IQ, as you'd expect from the son of a longtime coach. He's got a lot of power too. Lombard was not among our top 30 draft prospects.

July 10, 2023, 1:23 AM
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No. 25 pick: Padres take Dillon Head

Padres GM A.J. Preller always goes for upside in the first round and Head has as much upside as anyone in the draft class. He's made some major strides with his approach this spring, and he's an electric athlete. He was our No. 26 prospect.

July 10, 2023, 1:19 AM
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No. 24 pick: Braves take Hurston Waldrep

Big arm, had a chance to go as high as No. 8-12 somewhere. The Braves love guys with power stuff (see: Strider, Spencer) and Waldrep's splitter might be the single best pitch in the draft. It's devastating. Waldrep is our No. 14 draft prospect.

July 10, 2023, 1:14 AM
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No. 23 pick: Guardians take Ralphy Velazquez

Velazquez is one of those guys who might not catch, but he's gonna hit no matter where you put him defensively. He grades out exceptionally well with model teams because of his exit velocity, etc., so Cleveland fits. He was our No. 29 draft prospect.

July 10, 2023, 1:09 AM
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No. 22 pick: Mariners take Colt Emerson

Emerson is one of the youngest players in the draft class and he can really hit. Seattle also holds the No. 29 pick (Prospect Promotion Incentive pick for Julio Rodríguez winning Rookie of the Year) and No. 30 pick (competitive balance pick). They're poised to have a huge night. Emerson was not among our top 30 draft prospects.

July 10, 2023, 1:04 AM
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No. 21 pick: Cardinals take Chase Davis

There's the man. They're not having a great season, but the Cardinals develop players as well as any organization in the game. Davis has huge power and a really pretty swing. He lands with a good organization to refine his approach. Davis was our No. 10 draft prospect.

July 10, 2023, 12:56 AM
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No. 20 pick: Blue Jays take Arjun Nimmala

As noted earlier, Nimmala swung and missed a lot this spring, create some questions about his bat, but he has incredible bat speed and athleticism. Enormous upside, but also very risky. Boom or bust pick. Nimmala was our No. 6 draft prospect thanks to that upside.

July 10, 2023, 12:51 AM
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Arizona outfielder Chase Davis is still available. He played very well down the stretch and, if nothing else, he has the coolest bat drop in the draft class.

July 10, 2023, 12:48 AM
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No. 19 pick: Rays take Brayden Taylor

There were times this spring that Taylor looked like a potential top 10 pick. He stumbled out of the gate with TCU, but finished well and has a ton of power. Taylor scores well in analytical models, so no surprise he landed in Tampa. We ranked him as the No. 30 draft prospect.

July 10, 2023, 12:46 AM
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No. 18 pick: Brewers take Brock Wilken

The best hitter on "Rake" Forest, the No. 1 team in the country entering the postseason. Wilken set all sorts of power records in is career and he's considered to have the best game power in the draft class, meaning he's not just a BP superstar. The Brewers have a thing for college guys who can really hit, and Wilken fits.

July 10, 2023, 12:41 AM
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No. 17 pick: Orioles take Bradfield

There you go. The O's get the best leadoff hitter in the draft class. Bradfield was our No. 9 draft prospect.

July 10, 2023, 12:35 AM
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Vandy speedster Enrique Bradfield Jr. is still available. He's the best leadoff hitter in the draft class and was connected to teams as early as the No. 11-12 range. Someone will get a steal with him.

July 10, 2023, 12:32 AM
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No. 16 pick: Giants take Bryce Eldridge

They announced him as a two-way player too. Neat. Eldridge is considered a better prospect as a hitter (he has massive lefty power) but he's legit on the mound too. He's said he wants to pitch and hit as long as possible too, and it seems like the Giants will let him. Eldridge was our No. 24 draft prospect.

July 10, 2023, 12:30 AM
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At risk of jinxing it, we're making good time here. Last year they were still announcing picks at midnight ET. I guess the pitch clock has been such a big success that they decided to speed up the draft too. I approve.

July 10, 2023, 12:28 AM
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No. 15 pick: White Sox take Jacob Gonzalez

Lot of split opinions about the Jacobs (Wilson and Gonzalez). Some thought they were top 10 talents and others thought they should go in the back half of the first round. Wilson went to the A's at No. 6. Gonzalez goes to the White Sox in the middle of the round. He was our No. 21 draft prospect.

July 10, 2023, 12:24 AM
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No. 14 pick: Red Sox take Kyle Teel

I don't think Boston expected Teel to be on the board here. He's the best catcher in the draft class and he's a lefty bat who can bang. That's rare behind the plate. Teel is our No. 7 draft prospect. Really great pick for the Red Sox. I'm surprised Teel lasted that long.

July 10, 2023, 12:21 AM
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No. 13 pick: Cubs take Matt Shaw

Shaw is one of many high end college hitters in this draft. When the 2020 draft was shortened to five rounds during the pandemic, an awful lot of talented high schoolers got squeezed out of the draft. Now they're coming out of college. It's a great draft for college bats and Shaw's one of the best. He could've gone top 10 and no one would've thought it was a bad pick. Shaw was our No. 11 draft prospect.

July 10, 2023, 12:15 AM
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