The Dodgers with their first pick in the 2023 draft selected Kendall George, an 18-year-old high school outfielder who was originally committed to the University of Arkansas. George signed with the Dodgers for $1,847,500, well below the recommended slot value of $2,362,700 for the 36th pick. With George being ranked by most in the 60s or later as a prospect, and that they planned to draft him with their second-round pick, 60th overall, before shifting gears, it is safe to deduce that George’s selection allowed the Dodgers to overspend elsewhere.
Wherever he was picked, George carries an MLB ceiling because of multiple plus tools. His speed is far and away his best one as it is graded as an 80 on some publications which is the best grade a prospect can get when using the 20-80 scale. To put his speed into perspective, the MLB’s fastest average home to first sprint speed is 4.05 seconds which is held by Ji Hwan Bae. Elly De La Cruz and Shohei Ohtani who are publicly perceived as the two best players in that department are at 4.14 and 4.15 seconds respectively. George reportedly is able to get from home to first in less than four seconds at a consistent rate.
‘23 CF Kendall George (TX) is a ++ runner who has turned in some great ABs so far. Simple setup w/ relaxed approach that allows quick hands to work.— Shooter Hunt (@ShooterHunt) August 13, 2021
Turning in great times down the line including this 3️⃣.8️⃣7️⃣ on a full swing 2-strike tapper.@RazorbackBSB recruit@PBR_Texas pic.twitter.com/GZsUalzdsz
Besides his speed, George does have an above-average glove which is going to allow him to roam centerfield throughout the minors and in the big leagues.
The real question for George will be whether or not he will be able to impact the ball enough at the upper levels of the minor leagues and in the Majors. At just 5 ‘10, 170 pounds, power is not something that is not natural to his game, and he is more of a ground ball player presently. Traditionally, players who struggle to impact the ball do not pan out as MLB players because of poor offensive production.
Nick Madrigal, who faced similar question marks and was selected fourth overall in 2018 is one of the few exceptions to that. There is of course always the chance Geroge further matures into his body and adds more muscle, but the risk with that is he then loses some of his athleticism which is his calling card as a prospect.
Kendall George (23 TX) stays hot with two more singles in the 8AM game, this a liner the other way. 80 runner with lots of contact this weekend. #Arkansas commit. #UBC @TwelveBaseball pic.twitter.com/2CGnItpz4r— Perfect Game Scout (@PG_Scouting) June 23, 2022
Overall, George has a really quiet swing with little movement in his hands and front side and is generally straight to the ball. A swing of that nature is going to prevent prolonged slumps and he should have zero problem with velocity (strictly based on his swing) because of a lack of movement. However, the downside of that is, a swing like George’s also results in little power being produced as it is one tailored for contact over power.
George certainly was a bit of a reach for the Dodgers at 36, but allowing the team to save draft slot money makes the pick far more sensible. I am concerned about his long-term outlook because of his bat, but overall, his elite elite speed and plus glove does give him a higher floor than most 18-year-old prospects have.