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Dodgers 2023 draft overview: High school picks, high risk, DJ Uiagalelei & more

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The Dodgers drafted Brady Smith in the third round of the 2023 MLB Draft out of Grainger High School in Tennessee.
The Dodgers drafted Brady Smith in the third round of the 2023 MLB Draft out of Grainger High School in Tennessee.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

We’re a few days removed now from the MLB Draft, which gives us time to look back at the Dodgers’ full slate of 22 picks in 20 rounds.

They drafted six high school players, most by the Dodgers since the draft was shortened to 20 rounds in 2021. The last time Los Angeles drafted six high school players in the first 20 rounds was in 2015.

Two of the Dodgers’ first three picks were high school players. Kendall George was the team’s first pick at No. 36 overall, considered to be one of the fastest players in the draft, and one who said he will 100-percent sign with the Dodgers. In the third round, the Dodgers took pitcher Brady Smith out of Grainger High School in Texas. Both George and Grainger gave interviews this week with local television stations, expressing their desire to turn pro.

As for why the Dodgers were so aggressive on taking high school players and more willing to take risks in general, vice president of amateur scouting Billy Gasparino offered an explanation during a conference call on Wednesday. Per Fabian Ardaya at The Athletic:

Gasparino lamented the incoming limits that will shrink organizational minor-league rosters from 180 to 165 players in 2024, as negotiated in the first-ever minor-league collective bargaining agreement. That, Gasparino said, “squeezed” on a Dodgers farm system that has been lauded for its depth and propelled the organization to take more chances in the later rounds of the draft even if there are signability concerns.

The riskiest of the Dodgers draft picks was their last, in the 20th round taking DJ Uiagalelei, who was Clemson’s quarterback the last two years and transferred to Oregon State. The Dodgers are willing to wait out his football fate in hopes he might return to pitching, as he did only briefly in high school.

Dodgers area scout Jonah Rosenthal told Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times:

“I still hope that he goes out and performs [at Oregon State] and does what he wants to do,” Rosenthal said. “But if football doesn’t pan out the way he wants it to, I think this guy will be in spring training next year, and he will be full-blown into what we want him to do.”


“I am flabbergasted by the Dodgers’ 2023 draft,” wrote Keith Law at The Athletic. “This year’s draft I did not get.”

Third baseman Jake Gelof, the Dodgers’ second-rounder out of Virginia, was listed by Jim Callis at as his favorite Dodgers selection this year. “He has well above-average raw power and should stick at the hot corner, where he displays solid arm strength,” Callis wrote.

Third-rounder Smith was described by Kiley McDaniel at ESPN as “a pick-to-click prep righty who isn’t that big at 6-foot-1 but checks most of the boxes with three solid pitches he throws for strikes, athleticism and easy operation.”

At Dodgers Digest, Josh Thomas broke down Day 3 of the draft, first with picks from the 11th through 15th round, followed by Rounds 16-20. Of 12th-round pitcher Noah Ruen, a funky sidearmer out of Tyler Junior College in Texas, Thomas wrote, “I’m always down for adding more filth to the system, and the weirder, the better.”

Sixth-round shortstop Bryan González, out of the Carlos Beltran Academy in Puerto Rico, has reportedly signed for $400,000, per Carlos Rosa of El Nuevo Dia. The Dodgers’ sixth-round pick, No. 190 overall, has a recommended slot value of $290,100.