In a crowded field of draft-eligible 2023 MLB Draft prospects, two standouts from the University of Florida have done their best to solidify their chances of being taken early this coming July. OF Wyatt Langford and 2B/SS Josh Rivera have been among the NCAA’s best in 2023, and both should be grabbed pretty quickly in the summer.
A Look at Langford and Rivera
Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford was expected to power the Gators offense in 2023, and he’s done his part thus far. The #3 prospect in the 2023 MLB Draft according to MLB.com, Langford skyrocketed up draft boards last year after he smacked 26 home runs for Florida en route to earning All-American status. Those 26 bombs tied former Gators start and former first-round pick Matt LaPorta for the most home runs in a single season by a Florida hitter.
A terrific hitter with plus power and agility, Langford has continued where he left off in 2023. Through 30 games, Langford has nine home runs and 22 extra base hits, along with a .377 batting average and a 1.320 OPS. While he might not be the best draft-eligible power hitter in the 2023 MLB Draft — or in the SEC, for that matter — Langford’s power stroke and strength should ensure that the young outfielder comes off the board early.
Infielder Josh Rivera, meanwhile, has become a revelation for the Gators in 2023. A product of the IMG Academy, Rivera was drafted in 2019 but opted to go to Florida. While he showed a penchant for getting on base in each of his first two full seasons at Florida. Rivera didn’t hit for much pop and his batting average capped out in the .250s from 2021-22.
This year, Rivera already has a career-high in home runs (14) and is currently leading the Gators in batting average (.399). The Florida infielder has shown a lot more power, and a natural ability to recognize and jump on mistakes.
Rivera’s strong performance has put him on a path to receive a lot of attention from MLB scouts over the coming weeks.
What to Make of Florida
It’s been an interesting 2023 campaign for the Florida Gators. Florida is 30-7 on the season, and 11-4 in conference play thus far. UF’s pitching includes a dangerous trio of Hurston Waldrep, Brandon Sproat, and two-way sensation Jac Caglianone. The trio of pitchers boast power stuff, but all three have been erratic at times.
Caglianone walked 29 over his first 38 innings, while Waldrep — a top pitching prospect in the 2023 Draft who transferred from Southern Mississippi — has seen his BB/9 jump in his first season with the Gators. Sproat, meanwhile, has struggled at times but posted a very strong performance on April 6 against rival Tennessee. Despite the inconsistencies, this group possesses plenty of talent and should still be formidable heading into the later stages of the season.
The offense, on the other hand, has been astounding for the Gators. Besides Langford and Rivera, Caglianone is doing his best to earn the 2023 Golden Spikes award. The sophomore phenom has slugged 21 home runs over 37 games, and should be among the most valuable bats in the 2024 MLB Draft. Freshman infielder Cade Kerland has ten home runs in first season in Gainesville, in what’s become a breakout campaign for the youngster.
With a lot of depth and firepower in both the rotation and the lineup, it’s not a surprise that Florida sits at #3 in the NCAA rankings (as of April 16).
Waldrep, Sproat, Langford, and Rivera will be among the draft-eligible players for Florida in 2023. Expect each to go off the board within the top five rounds, with Waldrep and Langford among the names that should be taken in the first round. Rivera, a former 22nd round pick by the Padres in 2019, is a bit tougher to project given his past production at Florida. However, the middle infielder should garner plenty of attention come July.