With the 16th pick in the 2023 MLB Draft, our favorite team, the San Francisco Giants selected 18-year old, 6’7” 1B/RHP Bryce Eldridge from Madison High School in Vienna, VA. That’s right. First base and a right-handed pitcher. He’s a two-way player. Shohei Ohtani has been so great that it’s forced teams to reconsider their stance that they can’t “have it all” with one player. Eldridge joins Reggie Crawford as recent two-way draftees.
I think the important thing to know about him is that, despite being a projected two-way player and just 18 years old, he is very tall. Very, very tall.
Just a big person. Not quite Sean Hjelle, but massive. A man. And, look, I think we’re all mature enough to admit that he’s got the looks of a real heartbreaker. But he wants people to know that he’s nicer than he looks. He told MLB.com:
“I guess I’m kind of a scary-looking dude,” Eldridge says. “I’m very tall, and I’m 18 years old with a beard. But you can come up to me. I’m a nice kid, and I’ll be very respectful.”
Here’s their video on him as well.
EASY VELOCITY UP TO 95 MPH WITH BIG SINKING LIFE; HIGH CEILING PHYSICAL PROJECTION, REPEATS DELIVERY WELL AND FILLS THE ZONE, ALSO BIG LEFT-HANDED POWER.
Keith Law commented on The Athletic’s draft live blog (subscription required):
he’s much more likely to go out as a hitter than as a pitcher.
Falling From Great Heights (bWAR from age 31 on, hitters 6’6” and up)
Dave Winfield 26.2
Frank Howard 17.8
Giancarlo Stanton 3.8
Dave Kingman 2.8
Adam Wainwright 2.2
As I always point out, that’s Adam Wainwright’s production as a hitter and defender — it doesn’t include his pitching. He’s among the top five tall hitters after age 30.
Okay, so, Law doesn’t like Eldridge, a left-handed batter, but this is an 18-year old prospect, so, rather than use 110% accurate statistical modeling to judge the rest of his life, let’s take a little more time — while we still have it — to look at what the Giants see in him.
Just this June, he was named the Gatorade Virginia Player of the Year and became . From their press release:
The 6-foot-7, 225-pound senior right-handed pitcher and first baseman has compiled a 9-0 record on the mound with a 1.06 ERA and 66 strikeouts against just eight walks in 39.2 innings pitched, leading the Warhawks to a 21-4 record entering the VHSL Class 6 Region D championship game. Eldridge also batted .422 with eight home runs and 23 RBI, producing an on-base percentage of .649 and an OPS of 1.716. Ranked as the nation’s No. 8 prospect in the Class of 2023 by Perfect Game, and as the No. 23 overall prospect in this July’s Major League Baseball Draft by Baseball America, he was named Tournament MVP playing for Team USA last summer at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup, culminating with the gold medal.
So, he’s a winner; and, in the long writeup of him on MLB Pipeline, his community talks about how he’s been a friend to shy kids and a real positive to people around him. Good people who win seem to be players the Giants seek.
He committed to play for the Alabama Crimson Tide in April 2020 and so it might take the full bonus slot to convince him to back out of that commitment to sign with the Giants. I saw a headline that called him the “American Ohtani,” which sounds offensive for a couple of reasons:
- Shohei Ohtani is unique
- Shohei Ohtani’s notoriety is based on the miracles he performs on a baseball field and not because he’s Japanese-born
He might have the raw physical tools to make it easy for team to “dream on” even though it’s not really a dream it’s more like a copycat situation, but that’s usually what historic success does: inspire imitation.
For now, it’s enough that Eldridge chooses his own path and becomes the best version of himself. I’m sure the Giants will be happy with that, too.