When Dylan Crews, one of the top high school draft prospects in his class, opted out of the 2020 MLB Draft to attend LSU. He was slated to be a late first round pick that year. He bet on himself, and as things stand today, that bet seems to have worked out.
After the 18 year old product out of Lake Mary made his commitment to Louisiana State, Crews was set to join a powerhouse baseball school which has already infused the Major Leagues with countless impact players. Alex Bregman, Kevin Gausman, Aaron Nola, and DJ LeMahieu are just a handful.
Tasked with carrying on the legacy of past LSU superstars in his first season with the squad, he surpassed all expectations. As a 19 year-old freshman in 63 games in 2021, nearly 2 years younger than the average age of all Division 1 baseball players, Crews slugged his way to a .362/.453/.663 slashline, with 89 hits, 42 RBI, 12 stolen bases, and 18 HRs.
Those 18 homers by the LSU right fielder surpassed the freshman home run record for the school, set by Mike Fontenot (17) in 2000, making him an All American, and the Perfect Game Freshman of the year in 2021.
In 2022, Crews didn’t fail to provide an encore to his stellar freshman season. After moving to centerfield full-time for 62 games, he produced a .349/.463/.691 slashline, very similar to the year prior, with 87 hits, a staggering 72 RBI, 5 stolen bases, and an improved 22 HRs. He was recognized as a Co-SEC Baseball Player of the Year, generating early buzz for him to be an early favorite in hearing his name called first in the 2023 amateur draft, before the 2022 draft had even passed.
Entering his junior season in 2023, the hype around Dylan Crews was greater than almost every other player in college baseball, and for good reason. He entered the season as the #1 ranked draft prospect on MLB Pipeline’s annual list, with an entire season of college baseball left for him to play. And somehow, he has blown these expectations out of the water again.
Through 28 games, Crews is first in Division I baseball in AVG (.543), first in OBP (.664), third in SLG (.947), first in runs (49), and fourth in hits (51). Total video game numbers. On a rate-by-rate basis, Dylan Crews is the best college baseball hitter, backed up by his astronomical 256 wRC+ according to Koki Riley of the Lafayette Daily Advertiser; 156% better than the average Division I baseball player. Additionally, he has displayed elite exit velocities for his age, backed up by his average exit velocity mark on his home runs this year of 106.5 MPH as of March 29.
In searching for the catalyst of this jump in offensive production so far this season for Crews, you can look no further than his plate approach. At the dish in 2022, Crews finished the season with a 13.7 BB%, and an 18.2 K%. This is definitely not a bad mark for either of these numbers as a college player more than a year younger than the average player in Division I, but these figures have been greatly improved for Crews so far in 2023.
As of April 4th, Crews is hovering at a 22.7 BB% and a 10.2 K%, which is absolutely incredible. To put these numbers into perspective, no qualified MLB hitter last season recorded a higher BB%, and only 2 MLB hitters recorded a lower K%, none other than elite contact hitters Luis Arraez and Steven Kwan. This ability to make adjustments through a much more mature plate approach is extremely encouraging long-term for the outfielder, and it has allowed him to force pitchers to throw him quality pitches to drive with authority for base hits, because he will otherwise take his base.
When Crews steps into the batter’s box, he sets up in his wide stance, generating a large portion of his power in his legs. Crews’ swing is smooth enough to hit the ball to all fields depending on how each pitcher attacks him, but quick enough to adjust to mistakes, leading to the ball ending up in the bleachers more often than not. He has had difficulties in the past hitting offspeed and breaking pitches, but this issue has clearly hardly affected him this season, if at all.
In the field, Crews projects to be a corner outfielder in his professional career. He was able to play center field for the Tigers the past two seasons due to his borderline plus speed, but at times has had trouble making the optimal route to fly balls. Given he has an average arm, I would predict him to be a left fielder in the major leagues long term, unless a team has a glaring hole in centerfield on their depth chart.
The most accurate player comp I can give for Dylan Crews would be Left Fielder Tyler O’Neill of the St. Louis Cardinals. Like Dylan Crews, O’Neill has tree trunks for legs which helps him exhibit plus power to all fields with a wide setup at the plate. They are both slightly below the MLB average height at 6 ‘0’’ (Crews) and 5 ’11’’ (O’Neill).
Additionally, both players are reasonably faster than one would expect. O’Neill has swiped at least 14 bags in the two seasons, a mark that Crews should be able to match throughout the duration of his prime. While both players have similar speed and power tools, Crews may have a more talented hit tool.
It should be interesting to see how this pair’s careers parallel each other given Crews may end up at the same position as O’Neil, with a similar offensive profile.
This upcoming draft, it’s almost certain we hear Dylan Crews’ name called within the first few minutes. In fact, I would be very surprised to see both Pittsburgh and Washington pass on him, due to his considerable floor as an everyday left fielder at the Major – League level, and his upside to be an annual all-star when healthy. If I was in command of the Pittsburgh draft room Dylan Crews would be my pick, but it’s anyone’s guess as to what they will do with the first selection this year.
Categories: 2023 Prospects, Articles, MLB Draft
Leave a Reply