2023 MLB Draft: Dodgers sign 19 of 22 selections in a surprisingly fascinating class

The 2023 MLB Draft came and went in the whirlwind that All-Star Week has become, and the Dodgers signed 19 of their 22 selections (all picks and bonuses can be found here), with 14th rounder Jaxon Jelkin and 16th rounder Javen Coleman opting to continue their college baseball careers, and a third selection, 20th rounder DJ Uiagalelei, who will be setting up behind center for the Oregon State Beavers football squad this Fall.

As for the actual signing class, the Dodgers have received mixed reviews, with Keith Law of The Athletic going so far as to call top selection, human blur Kendall George, a “mystifying pick“. Was there, in fact, a method to the madness? Let’s have a look.


If, while observing the Day One and Two proceedings of the three-day affair, you got the sense that the plan seemed to change on the fly, you’re not far off. Via Eric Longenhagen at FanGraphs, the Dodgers were sniped on their first selection by the Miami Marlins, who drafted Thomas White, the consensus #2 prep arm in the draft, just one pick prior. That led to a dramatic shift in focus for the Dodgers, and to illustrate the degree to which things were upended, White signed with Miami for $4.1M, which is nearly a million ($920K) more than the Dodgers’ eventual top two picks combined.

The Dodgers ultimately selected the aforementioned George, whom they previously agreed to nab with the 60th pick. The 36th overall pick carried a slot value of $2.36M, and George signed for $1.85M, giving the club a little over $500K to spread around, and spread it they did, as they went overslot a whopping 9 times, their most in the Friedman era, besting the 8 overslot signees back in that epic 2016 draft class. The club also punted the strategy of drafting seniors who signed for the $2.5K minimum, which they’ve done in varying amounts in Rounds 8-10 in the past (they drafted two such players in both 2022 and 2021), instead opting for an overslot 8th rounder in OF Jaron Elkins, a basically slot value 9th rounder in RHP Ryan Brown, and a 10th rounder who signed for $47.5K in SS Sam Mongelli.

Which brings up another interesting point about this class — Mongelli is the only college senior the Dodgers drafted, and the former Sacred Heart Pioneer still had the option of returning to school for another year. The 22-year-old forwent a commitment to playing short in the SEC, for Auburn University, opting instead to start chasing the dream, posthaste. The lack of seniors combined with the number of prep players make this a rather young draft class for the club — with the savings up front, the Dodgers were able to ink six high schoolers, which is the largest number of previously college-bound kids they have selected in the first 20 rounds of the draft since 2016 (via Eric Stephen at True Blue LA).

And lastly, it wouldn’t be a Dodger draft these days without a Tommy John recoveree. The club obviously feels comfortable taking on the responsibility of guiding players through the rehabilitation process, and have successfully done so with Michael Grove, Andre Jackson, and, more recently, Justin Wrobleski. (Walker Buehler had his first TJ surgery just after the draft, he only sort of applies). At any rate, this year, the Dodgers selected three winged birds currently on the mend, with the aforementioned Ryan Brown being one, left-handed pitcher Wyatt Crowell, whom they popped in the 4th round, being the second and fellow lefty and 17th rounder Luke Fox being the third.


Recapping the signing class as whole, there are:

  • 4 position players from Power 5 conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC)
  • 2 pitchers from Power 5 conferences
  • 1 position player from a mid-major D1 school
  • 5 pitchers from mid-major schools
  • 1 junior college pitcher
  • 3 high school position players (an Enrique Bradfield starter kit, two overslot sleepers)
  • 3 high school pitchers (one very highly regarded, one overslot sleeper, one slot sleeper)

Between their draft bonus pool of $7,247,600, plus the 5.0% overage of $362,380 — which comes with a 75% tax, as anything beyond 5.0% results in a 100% overage tax and the loss of both a 1st rounder and a 2nd rounder in the following year — the Dodgers had a total of $7,609,980 to spend, and they ended up using all but approximately $100K of the space.


In thinking about how to sum up this class, the one word I continually arrive at is confidence.

Once upon a time, long before the era of showcases and such, scouts typically operated on word of mouth, donning a fedora (or whatever the chapeau du jour may have been) and logging miles in their cars like they were vacuum salesmen, with equal amounts of bleakness in between the odd sale/signing.

For both parties, a lot of it probably sucked.

Confidence for these scouts from days of yore was borne out of having seen it before, and knowing when they’re seeing it again, in the moment. This, of course, can be plenty problematic, as these dead wrong scouting reports aptly display, but there were ample enough successes that the practice continued, with varying amounts of success.

In more modern times, confidence is usually borne out of competition. Iron sharpens iron, and everyone under the amateur evaluation umbrella, be they a scout, a crosschecker, or scouting director, all will feel more confident giving a young ballplayer six or seven figures if they’ve seen top-flight performance in Power 5 NCAA conferences, in elite wood bat leagues, and in high school-age national showcase events.

As noted above in the class summary, the group added to the fold this year mostly eschews that.

A little over three years ago, Baseball America ran an article about the Dodgers, with a portion of the title reading, “They’re The Model.” The Dodgers employ a ton of scouts and a ton of player development people, all of whom are on the same page with a very large front office, and all of whom are state of the art. Three plus years later, the farm is still one of the very best in the game. For the guys wearing the blue logo polos, confidence is achieved through preparation, collaboration, and results. The farm remains incredible, the plan is working, and because everything old is new again, the club continues to lean on scouts to identify the right kinds of talents and on the windbreaker brigade to coach ’em up.

That said, confidence is also a knife edge. Balancing upon it can be akin to being in the zone; while in that heightened state, batters can see every stitch on the baseball, and when they connect they feel nothing, as the swing is effortless, the bat manages the energy transference, the ball just goes, and they even hear nothing as they trot around the bases. Pitchers go a few hours without thinking, calmly accepting the proffered sign, executing the pitch as one does, and eventually returning to the land of the mortals to find they just had the performance of their lifetime. And, for evaluators, the honed razor is as broad as a sidewalk. It can also be as precarious a foothold as one can find, as all it takes is one slip for a humbling crash into what lies left or right; a disgusting Chuck E. Cheese ball pit that reeks of children and hubris.


Finding novelty in something that is, on the surface, simplistic, and getting a whiff of a bygone era, makes this one of my favorite draft classes in a while. Once the ground shifted enough to put the club onto Plan B, sink or swim, they stuck with it for all 20 rounds. This class lacks the big name headliners that sends post-draft reactives into a tizzy, but the entire thing took some brass ones, and it is my favorite kind of bet — a bet on one’s self.

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