Louisville shortstop Christian Knapczyk selected by Guardians in 2023 MLB Draft
John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Louisville Cardinals baseball program had some serious talent in their clubhouse this season. And one of those talented players is now off to the pros.

Cardinals’ shortstop Christian Knapczyk has just heard his name called in the 2023 MLB Draft. The Cleveland Guardians selected him with the No. 161 overall pick in the fifth round.

Knapczyk has proven himself to be a consistent hitter during his time at Louisville. Last season the Cardinals shortstop recorded a batting average of .331 on a total of 169 at-bats. The five-foot-nine Illinois native finished line 23 with a total of 56 hits, 40 runs, and 24 RBIs and was just one stolen base shy of 20 on the season.

What experts are saying about Knapczyk

MLB.com has Payton ranked as the 157 prospect ahead of the 2023 MLB Draft. According to their scouting report, the Cardinals’ shortstop is a high-level hitter, and that could help someone’s clubhouse at the next level.

“An elite contact hitter, Knapczyk swung and missed at just 10 percent of the pitches he saw as a sophomore, including just 6 percent of the fastballs, and has posted similar rates this spring. He has a quick left-handed stroke and uses the entire field, though his relatively flat bat path produces a lot of groundball contact. He controls the strike zone, draws walks, and concentrates on getting on base and taking advantage of his well above-average speed.  

“Knapczyk’s size and approach produce minimal power, including just three homers in his first two-and-a-half college seasons, and that severely limits his offensive ceiling. He also faces a move from shortstop to second base in pro ball. His average arm fits better at the keystone and he has been an erratic defender at short, especially when he’s not on artificial turf,” per the team at MLB.com. 

More on the 2023 MLB Draft

The 2023 Major League Baseball Draft will begin during All-Star week, with the first two rounds getting underway at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 9. Rounds 3-10 will then begin at 2 p.m. ET on Monday, July 10, with rounds 11-20 starting at 2 p.m. ET on Tuesday, July 11.

This year’s MLB Draft is a historic one, as a draft lottery was used to determine the order for the first time. The Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Oakland Athletics each had a 16.5% chance to receive the No. 1 overall pick. Ultimately, Pittsburgh won the right to have the first selection, with Washington finishing right behind them at No. 2. Oakland, however, fell all the way down to No. 6 overall.

While the MLB Draft is always unpredictable, the consensus is that this year’s top prospects both hail from LSU, who won the 2023 College World Series. Pitcher Paul Skenes and outfielder Dylan Crews headline this year’s class, which is considered a deep one.

Within the first ten rounds of the draft, each slot is assigned a certain value. Each team has a bonus pool that they are able to spend on these picks, and players will sign at, above or below their assigned slot value.

In rounds 11-20, there is no assigned slot value and MLB teams are free to spend up to $150,000 to sign their picks from the second half of the draft. If they exceed the $150,000 mark, that added amount will be deducted from their bonus pool.

Following the final day of the 2023 MLB Draft, selected players will have until August 1 to sign a contract.

This article first appeared on Outsider and was syndicated with permission.

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