2023 College Baseball Hitters To Watch Include A Pair Of LSU Sluggers
2023 College Baseball Hitters To Watch Include A Pair Of LSU Sluggers
LSU baseball stars Tommy White, Dylan Crews among the best college baseball hitters in 2023.
Choose your pitching and defensive strategies carefully against the men listed below, because they’re bound to cause plenty of damage if pitchers give them opportunities.
Many base hitters, long bombers and plate powerhouses made their names throughout the 2022 college baseball season, and while many of those same names have gone on to the big leagues, some stuck around to improve their stock and prey on more pitching rotations.
There are more players beyond those named on this list, but these players in particular made eyes pop—fans and scouts alike—while also having more to prove at the college ranks before hearing their names called at the 2023 MLB Draft.
Here’s a look at five of the best hitters to watch in 2023, with games throughout the year featuring many of the teams and players listed below being streamed throughout the season on FloBaseball.
NOTE: This list is in no particular order.
Tommy White, Soph., 3B, LSU Baseball
Exploding onto the scene as a 6-foot, 240-pound tower of power out of pro athlete factory IMG Academy, White put up arguably the greatest hitting campaign by a freshman in college baseball history during his lone year at NC State.
White smashed three home runs with six RBI in his collegiate debut and didn’t stop the pace from there. He eventually broke a 32-year-old NCAA record for most home runs by a freshman season. He hit an NC State-record 27 homers in all, making him an easy choice for the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Freshman of the Year award and a Dick Howser Trophy semifinalist.
He was that same award’s national hitter of the month for February after putting up a ridiculous nine home runs, 29 RBI and a 1.412 slugging percentage over just eight games, instantly solidifying himself as a power hitter to be feared across the nation.
But after the Wolfpack failed to earn a berth to the 2022 NCAA Tournament just a year after making a run to the College World Series, White entered the transfer portal and found a home at a perennial powerhouse in LSU, a six-time national champion that enters Year 2 of the Jay Johnson era.
Already expected to be a stacked lineup in Baton Rouge, White adds yet another lethal piece that could help the Tigers get back to Omaha for the first time since 2017.
Jake Gelof, Jr., 3B, Virginia Baseball
After a late-blooming freshman season, Gelof broke out into an All-American-caliber talent right away in 2022, substantially improving in every major offensive category.
How substantial, exactly?
Well, his four-homer, 15-RBI season in 2021 jumped up dramatically to a 21-homer, 81-RBI campaign the next season. The former was the most by a Cavalier in more than 20 years and the latter made him the first Virginia player to break the 80-RBI mark in a single season.
Gelof has been best-known for shining, however, in the postseason. All four of Gelof’s home runs during his freshman year came after the regular season had finished (an important distinction considering he played a major role in getting Virginia to that year’s CWS). In his sophomore year, he nearly pulled the Cavaliers to the Greenville Regional final singlehandedly by blasting two home runs with five RBI in a narrow 7-6 loss to Coastal Carolina.
He also possesses plenty of big-league quality in his genes after older brother, and former Virginia teammate Zack Gelof, was a second-round pick of the Oakland Athletics in the 2021 MLB Draft. As long as the younger Gelof keeps driving in runners and making opposing pitching coaches pull their hair out, expect his own pro stock to rise in kind.
Wyatt Langford, Jr., OF, Florida Baseball
Only seeing the field four times as a pinch-hitter as a freshman, Langford threw his name into Gator baseball lore with one of the greatest hitting seasons in the program’s history.
The First/Second Team All-American (depending on the outlet) tied Florida’s single-season homer mark with 26 long bombs, starting all 66 games in left field and leading the Gators in just about every offensive category you could shake a bat at—batting average, slugging percentage, RBI among others. His slash line of .355 average/.477 on-base percentage/.719 slugging percentage was the stuff of legends last year in Gainesville, not to mention that he had a perfect fielding percentage across 125 defensive chances.
Rocketing up draft leaderboards in the process (he’s considered MLB.com’s No. 3 overall prospect for the 2023 MLB Draft), Langford has more pressure to perform in 2023. Langford will be essential to Florida with the departure of outfielder Jud Fabian, who had back-to-back 20-homer seasons for the Gators before being a second-round pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 2022.
But the five-tool prospect should be poised for yet another standout campaign with the pressure of expectations on him. The Gators are likely to need him if they want to get back to the CWS after a five-year absence since their four straight appearances from 2015-18.
Dylan Crews, Jr., OF, LSU Baseball
The Floridian is MLB.com’s No. 1 overall 2023 prospect for a reason.
The SEC’s Co-Player of the Year in 2022—along with former Auburn slugger and future Los Angeles Angels draft pick Sonny DiChiara—Crews is in the rare position of defending his title as the league’s best player (not to mention becoming the SEC’s first two-time winner of the honor since former Florida first baseman Matt LaPorta did in 2005 and 2007).
He has the extra pressure of the potential first overall pick in the next MLB Draft. But when looking at Crews’ credentials and his accomplishments, it’s easy to see why MLB teams are salivating at his game and capacity to grow.
Crews batted .349 with 22 home runs, 72 RBI and 73 runs scored (the latter of which led the SEC). However, an early postseason exit at the hands of Southern Miss in the Hattiesburg Regional marked a sour end to what was a 40-win campaign for LSU.
Crews made the All-Tournament team in that regional and parlayed it into a summer run with the U.S. Collegiate National Team, where he helped the Americans claim a bronze medal at Haarlem Baseball Week in The Netherlands.
With 40 home runs and 114 RBI in just 125 career games with the Tigers, it’s foolish to think Crews’ massive outputs will stop now—especially with many eyes watching carefully.
Michael Carico, Jr., C, Davidson Baseball
What were you doing at 19 years old?
When Carico was that age, only a year ago, he was the national leader in on-base percentage (.559) and he picked up the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year award in the process. Davidson won its first regular-season conference championship in program history thanks to Carico's super sophomore season.
A .406 hitter with raw power (21 home runs, 57 RBI) while also possessing the plate discipline worthy of an All-America selection (46 walks to 35 strikeouts), Davidson’s starting backstop got significant attention for his performances last season. He became the program's single-season record holder in a variety of offensive stats, including on-base plus slugging (which he also led the country in at 1.402) and extra-base hits (43).
He was a finalist for the Buster Posey Award for best collegiate catcher and looks bound to be one of the favorites this time around. While Davidson’s small-school stature limits Carico’s exposure to a national audience, he could change that if he helps take Davidson to just its second NCAA Tournament in 2023.
Still, whether that occurs or not, the right people are noticing his skillset. Carico got an invite to try out for the U.S. Collegiate National Team this past summer and he has serious potential in several months to be the highest-drafted Wildcat since second-rounder Robert Eenhoorn in 1990.
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