The SEC saw an impressive 13 players taken in the first two rounds (and some compensatory/other additional picks) of the 2023 MLB Draft on Sunday night. The talent who could be selected from the SEC does not stop there however. With day two of the draft (rounds 3-10) set to resume this afternoon at 2:00 pm Eastern, I decided to take a look at my top 7 best available players from the SEC headed into the third round. While there will be many more than these players selected today, I believe that these are some names to watch early.
Who are the best available SEC players entering day two of the 2023 MLB Draft?
Maui Ahuna (Shortstop/Tennessee)
While Ahuna spent just a year in Knoxville (after transferring in from Kansas), the Hawaii native was one of the best players in the Vol lineup in 2023 (even though he wasn’t as productive as he was pre-transfer). Ahuna hit .312 on the year with a .962 OPS (.312/.425/.537 slash line) with 8 HR, 20 doubles, 42 RBI, and 43 runs scored. Ahuna is a plus defender at short and also has good speed (even though he only stole four bags this past season). Scouts were mixed on Ahuna, as MLB.com ranked him as the #48 prospect in the draft, but ProspectsLive slotted him at #132. It’s also possible that Ahuna could return to Tennessee to try and re-grab his 1st round hype he once had at Kansas.
Hunter Owen (Left-handed Pitcher/Vanderbilt)
Owen is one of the most unique players in the draft. He had a lot of HS draft hype, but elected to attend Vandy instead. He spent his first two years as a reliever (combined 6.44 ERA in 43 1/3 IP), before transitioning to the rotation this year where he had a strong start to the season (4-0 record, 3.52 ERA, and 76/17 K/BB ratio across 64 innings (12 appearances (all starts)). However, Owen then missed much of the end of the season with the reasons shrouded in some mystery. Owen is a big-bodied pitcher with four quality pitches who could end up being one of the better pitchers out of this draft. MLB.com ranked Owen as the #56 player in the draft, while ProspectsLive ranks him #106.
Josh Rivera (Shortstop/Florida)
Not many players did more to help their draft cases than Rivera did in his breakout 2023 season. Rivera helped lead the Gators to a CWS Finals appearance as he put up a .348/.447/.617 slash line (1.064 OPS). He also put up 19 HR, 72 RBI, and scored 70 runs. While picking someone with only one season of true collegiate production is a risk, Rivera was on of the best players this past season in the best conference in the country. It’ll also be interesting to see if he sticks at short long-term or is forced to move positions. MLB.com ranked Rivera as the #87 prospect in the draft, while ProspectsLive ranked him 103rd.
Jace Bohrofen (Outfielder/Arkansas)
Another former transfer who also had a bit of a breakout 2023 season, Bohrofen was arguably the top hitter for the #3 national seed Razorbacks this past year. He hit .318 on the year (1.048 OPS) with 16 HR, 15 doubles, 52 RBI, and 54 runs scored. Bohrofen is also another guy (as with most SEC players) who had a lot of HS hype and potential. While he didn’t really put it together his first two years in college (one at Oklahoma and then one at Arkansas), if 2023 is anything like what he’ll look like in the future then he could be a fantastic value on Day two. Bohrofen was ranked as the #66 and #72 prospect according to MLB.com and ProspectsLive respectively.
Cole Foster (Shortstop/Auburn)
Foster worked his way up the ladder on the plains. He only got 24 at-bats as a Freshman, started at second base (with a .267/.395/.488 slash line) as a Sophomore, and then became one of the team’s best hitters while starting at shortstop this past season in 2023. Foster hit .336 on the year with a .999 OPS (.429 OBP and 570 SLG) with 13 HR, 49 RBI, and 57 runs. Foster is a solid defender who could feasibly land at either middle infield spot. Foster is ranked 95th by MLB.com and 102nd by ProspectsLive.
Tre’ Morgan (first baseman or outfield/LSU)
While the star-power of the top two picks in this draft (Paul Skenes and Dylan Crews) and a potential top five pick next year (Tommy White) stole the show at LSU, Morgan was a very important hitter and defender for the Tigers. Morgan put up a .316/.418/.502 slash line with 9 HR, 15 doubles, 53 RBI, and 66 runs scored while helping lead LSU to a national title. While you would like to see more power, Morgan is still a quality hitter. While he doesn’t necessarily play a premium defensive position, you can’t understate the impact Morgan can have on a game defensively (as seen in the College World Series with one of the best bunt defense plays I’ve ever seen) as a very strong defensive first baseman. Morgan ranked as MLB.com’s #137 prospect, while he was #69 according to ProspectsLive.
Grayson Hitt (Left-handed Pitcher/Alabama)
Hitt is another very intriguing player in this draft. He was a strong prospect out of High School, but was hurt by the Covid-draft. Then at Alabama, Hitt struggled through his first two seasons (6.61 ERA across 79 innings). He looked ready for a breakout 2023 season, but only threw 38 2/3 innings (in what was on pace to be his by-far best collegiate season) before being shut down and eventually having to have Tommy John surgery. Overall for his Alabama career, Hitt had a 9-7 record, 5.81 ERA, and a 133-70 K/BB ratio across 117 2/3 IP. There’s a lot of concern obviously about the injury and the stats, but he has a lot of talent and pitchability. The injury and production concerns caused ProspectsLive to rank Hitt all the way down at 213, but the potential pushed him up to 88th on MLB.com’s board.