Image: Instagram @maxxclark
For a 2023 Profile of a current Vanderbilt outfielder, check out Ryan’s profile of Enrique Bradfield Jr. here.
When Max Clark committed to Vanderbilt University during his freshman year, everyone knew he would be a special player. Fast forward four years, and Clark is now a senior at Franklin Community High School in Franklin, Indiana, ranked as the #6 overall 2023 MLB Draft Prospect and #1 High School Prospect by MLB.com.
Max stands at just over six feet and weighs around 190 pounds. He bats left-handed and throws left-handed, and is a primary center-fielder. What pops off the page when you read Max Clark’s scouting report are the words “true five tool potential”. It is not every day that you hear a top prospect with potential to excel in all five major aspects of the game.
When looking at today’s MLB, there are just so few guys who can really do it all. The obvious players that come to mind are Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, Byron Buxton (when healthy), and Julio Rodríguez, all of whom are incredible players. Besides these five guys, though, no other MLB players truly fit that five tool description.
Big league scouts are already putting Clark on the path to potentially join this exclusive club of elite players, which truly speaks to his remarkable talent and certainly makes him a prospect to look out for.
His scouting grades from MLB.com are:
Hit: 60 | Power: 50 | Run: 70 | Arm: 65 | Field: 60 | Overall: 55
These grades are given on a scale from 20 to 80, 20 being the worst, and 80 being the best. These grades reflect his five tool potential, as he has a “plus” grade for hitting and fielding and “plus-plus” grades for fielding and running. The only question that surrounds his game is his power, which has an average grade.
Max Clark’s ability to essentially do it all on the diamond makes him exciting to watch. Clark has a sweet and mesmerizing lefty swing that just finds the barrel and absolutely destroys the baseball, with his exit velocity topping at 103 MPH. Though his power is graded as “average”, Clark can efficiently find the gaps and drive his teammates in to score runs.
With his speed, he can turn base hits into doubles, and doubles into triples. According to Perfect Game, Clark ran a 6.33 second 60-yard dash, which is in the 99.77% percentile of all 2023 high school prospects. He often uses his great speed to cover lots of ground in the outfield. His arm is also incredibly strong, topping at 92 MPH in throws from the outfield.
When taking all of this into account, Clark is built in the mold of the perfect prospect. To add onto his incredible play, Max also plays the game with great confidence, swagger, and flair. Every time you watch his clips or highlights online, they just keep getting better.
Current Prospect Comparison: Druw Jones
Druw Jones was selected second overall (out of Wesleyan High School in Georgia) in the 2022 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Today, Jones is ranked the #15 Overall MLB Prospect on the MLB website. Both of them are primary outfielders who committed to Vanderbilt University. Their scouting grades are also very similar in terms of hitting, arm, and run.
Clark has the higher hit grade by 5 points on the 20-80 scale. The only main differences are that Jones has a higher field, has a higher power grade, and Jones is 3 inches taller than Clark. Druw is a more polished hitter, and many scouts project his power to only get better. Overall, they are very similar prospects, thus making Max Clark a very attractive draft choice.
Grades for Druw Jones: Hit: 55 | Power: 60 | Run: 70 | Arm: 65 | Field: 70 | Overall: 60
MLB Comparison: Kevin Kiermaier
Career stats: 0.248 AVG, 0.308 OBP, 0.407 SLG, 97 wRC+, 23.3 fWAR, 82 HRs
The main question that surrounds Max Clark, as I mentioned before, is his power. In today’s MLB, the most important part of the game is Home Runs. Big league teams expect their players, especially outfielders, to be able to produce lots of power to drive in runs for the offense.
If Clark does struggle with his power throughout his career, I project him to have a career similar to Kevin Kiermaier. Similar to Kiermaier, the main aspects of Clark’s game are contact, fielding, and speed. Clark definitely has the potential to develop great fielding and a strong arm, use his amazing speed, and hit for good contact in order to become a solid MLB center-fielder.
In Kiermaier’s best year (2015), he had a 0.263 AVG, 18 SB, 10 HRs, and won a Gold Glove Award. With Clark’s star potential, I think that a statline like this is very probable once Clark reaches the big leagues. Without the power, Clark will not reach that All-Star or MVP caliber of play, but is definitely capable of being a solid piece in the outfield for any organization. Clark definitely has five tool potential, but his power is not comparable to his other incredible abilities and skills.
Ceiling: Mookie Betts
Career Stats: 0.293 AVG, 0.368 OBP, 0.520 SLG, 136 wRC+, 50.1 WAR, 213 HR
If Clark lives up to the five tool potential with which scouts describe him, the sky is truly the limit for Max Clark. Without great power, Clark will have a career similar to Kiermaier as I mentioned before, hitting for a solid average and being an elite defender in the outfield.
However, if Clark develops his power and excels at hitting the ball out of the park or excels at getting extra base hits, then Clark will be one of the best players in the league.
If everything goes right, I project Clark’s ceiling to produce at a statline similar to Mookie Betts. At peak development, Clark can be a guy who hits for 0.270 or better AVG, with 20-30 HRs, 15-20 SBs, and provide great defensive stability for the team. At his ceiling, Clark will be compared to those like Betts and Trout, and will definitely be an All-Star, even MVP, caliber player.
Clark has the elite speed, arm, defense, contact, and has average power as of now. If Clark is coached and developed the right way and works diligently to improve his power, he could easily be one of the top players in the MLB.
When considering his potential to be one of the most talented Major Leaguers, his great size and frame, and the fact that he is only 18 years old, it is an easy choice for me to rank Max Clark as the #1 Draft Prospect for the 2023 MLB Draft.
These college players ranked ahead of him on MLB.com are also incredibly talented, but they lack that five tool potential and they are already around 3 years older than Clark, so they don’t have his ceiling. Max Clark is an incredible prospect, who can truly help lead teams to victory or be a valuable trade asset in the future.
When July comes around, do not be surprised if Max Clark is passed up by the Pittsburgh Pirates because of bonus pool issues, so he ends up with a serious team.
Categories: Articles, MLB Draft, Player Profiles, Prospect Profiles
Leave a Reply