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Oakland A’s MLB draft selections get mixed reviews from experts | Las Vegas Review-Journal
Oakland A’s MLB draft selections get mixed reviews from experts | Las Vegas Review-Journal

Jacob Wilson walks to the stage to shake hands with Commissioner Rob Manfred, as the pick by the Oakland Athletics in Major League Baseball’s amateur draft, Sunday, July 9, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
Jacob Wilson walks to the stage as the pick by the Oakland Athletics in baseball’s amateur draft, Sunday, July 9, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

The last time the Oakland A’s had a top-10 pick in the first round of the MLB draft, they selected Kyler Murray at No. 9 overall in 2018.

Murray said he would report to spring training in 2019, but after a Heisman Trophy-winning 2018 season at Oklahoma, he elected to stick with football.

The A’s are hoping their top-10 selection this week will make more of an impact on the field this time around. The A’s selected Grand Canyon shortstop Jacob Wilson with the No. 6 overall pick at this year’s MLB draft Sunday in Seattle.

Wilson, one of 21 selections by the A’s, headlines a draft class that could be the next generation of stars leading the franchise if it completes its proposed relocation to Las Vegas and opens a new ballpark on the Strip in 2028.

Those in the A’s front office see Wilson as one of those stars.

“We absolutely see (Wilson) as a shortstop,” A’s general manager David Forst said to MLB.com. “We saw him play the position really well throughout his college career. I’m not sure there was anybody we saw more this spring. … He can really play the position.”

Wilson led Grand Canyon in hitting as a junior last season (.411) and was tied for the team lead in RBIs (61). Wilson, the son of 2004 All-Star and Silver Slugger award winner Jack Wilson, had just five strikeouts in 192 at-bats and 12 total strikeouts in his last two seasons at Grand Canyon.

Wilson was the No. 10 overall draft prospect by MLB.com and the No. 24 prospect by Keith Law of The Athletic.

‘A reach’

Law wrote that Wilson is a “solid defender at shortstop with great instincts and the best contact hitter in this draft or in many drafts.” But he called the selection “a reach,” citing low exit velocities and launch angles at or below zero degrees.

Law said that while Wilson is a “plus defender” at shortstop, his narrow frame (6 feet, 3 inches, 190 pounds) and short swing also play into his worries about Wilson offensively.

Jesse Rogers from ESPN wrote that Wilson was his favorite pick in the first round — besides pitcher Paul Skenes to Pittsburgh at No. 1 overall — saying that Wilson comes into the big leagues “ready-made,” and his big league bloodlines with his father, who was his coach at Grand Canyon, will be helpful.

ESPN’s Dave Schoenfield said it was a “mild surprise” to see Wilson taken at No. 6 overall, but said his strength as an “elite contact” hitter is a plus.

“The A’s will have to hope the power will develop (with Wilson). … While teams rarely draft for need, there is no doubt the A’s need a shortstop, as Nick Allen has struggled at the plate,” Schoenfield wrote.

The A’s selected another infielder with the No. 39 overall pick, in the Competitive Balance Round A, with Myles Naylor, a third baseman from St. Joan of Arc Catholic School in Maple, Ontario.

Naylor, whose brothers Josh and Bo play with the Cleveland Guardians, is committed to play college baseball at Texas Tech. Forst said he likes Naylor’s raw power that was on display last summer.

“This kid hits the ball as hard as any high school player in this draft,” Forst told MLB.com. “He’s strong. He’s physical. The swing is there. We loved Myles’ bat, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s got two big brothers already in the big leagues to learn from.”

Naylor was the No. 64 overall prospect by MLB.com, but he was not ranked by Law in his top 100. Law also called the pick a “reach.”

“Myles is a right-handed hitter with power but less feel to hit than either of his brothers, and he’s moving to third base where he’ll have to hit to profile as a regular,” Law wrote.

The A’s selected Rutgers center fielder Ryan Lasko in the second round. An All-Big Ten first-team outfielder in 2022 and 2023, he led Rutgers last season with a .330 average, 32 extra-base hits, 75 hits and 60 runs scored while adding 11 home runs and 54 RBIs.

Teen has upside

Law wrote that Lasko would need “some mechanical adjustments to get to more game power,” but said he has the potential to be an “above-average or better regular.”

The A’s took a trio of right-handed pitchers in the next three rounds — Steven Echavarria in the third round, Cole Miller in the fourth and Nathan Dettmer in the fifth.

Echavarria, out of Millburn High School in New Jersey, averages 90 to 95 MPH on his fastball. He also throws a slider, curveball and changeup. Law said Echavarria has a “solid-average curveball” and was most optimistic about his development of any of the A’s first six draft picks.

“He’s still projectable and offers a starter’s delivery already, plus he won’t turn 18 until August, so there’s real upside here, offering more than any other Oakland pick this year,” Law wrote.

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on Twitter.

A’s 2023 draft selections

Round (overall), player, position, school

1. (6) Jacob Wilson, SS, Grand Canyon

CBA* (39) Myles Naylor, 3B, St. Joan of Arc HS, Maple, Ontario

2. (41) Ryan Lasko, OF, Rutgers

3. (72) Steven Echavarria, RHP, Millburn HS, N.J.

4. (103) Cole Miller, RHP, Newbury Park HS, Calif.

5. (139) Nathan Dettmer, RHP, Texas A&M

6. (166) Jonah Cox, OF, Oral Roberts

7. (196) Nate Nankil, OF, Cal State Fullerton

8. (226) Jackson Finley, RHP, Georgia Tech

9. (256) Corey Avant, RHP, Wingate

10. (286) Tom Reisinger, RHP, East Stroudsburg

11. (316) Drew Conover, RHP, Rutgers

12. (346) Cole Conn, C, Illinois

13. (376) Will Johnston, LHP, Texas A&M

14. (406) Luke Mann, 3B, Missouri

15. (436) Will Simpson, OF, Washington

16. (466) Ryan Brown, RHP, Oregon State

17. (496) Colby Halter, 2B, Florida

18. (526) Derrick Tarpley Jr., OF, Brownsville Area HS, Pa.

19. (556) Derek Salata, RHP, Illinois State

20. (586) Diego Barrera, LHP, Loyola Marymount

*Competitive Balance Round A pick

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