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MLB Draft 2023: Cleveland selects C Ralphy Velazquez with No. 23 pick

A power-hitting high school catcher is on his way to Cleveland.

2023 MLB Draft presented by Nike Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The Cleveland Guardians have selected catcher Ralphy Velazquez out of Huntington Beach High School in California. Velasquez is one of the most powerful hitters of the 2023 draft, something Cleveland needs desperately.

Here’s what MLB Pipeline had to say about him:

Huntington Beach High School in California has produced its fair share of Draft talent, headlined by former first-rounders Nick Pratto in 2017 and Hank Conger in 2006. Velazquez has the chance to be next in that line of potential bats, and after a modest summer, he had a big up arrow next to his name with strong performances this spring, especially in front of a lot of evaluators at both the National High School Invitational and Boras Classic.

Velazquez is a strong and physical left-handed hitter who has the chance to be an impact bat in the middle of a big league lineup one day. He’s been as consistent a hitter as any prepster in Southern California this year and showed an ability to make hard contact and drive the ball when facing excellent competition. There’s a feel to hit, with a ton of raw power for him to continue to tap into. Even though he tinkers with his setup, using a wider base now than he used to, he still routinely finds the barrel.

While speed isn’t a real part of his game, Velazquez is a better athlete and runs better underway than he gets credit for. The big question is whether he can stick behind the plate, where his strong arm and leadership traits play well, and if he could be given the opportunity to at least start his pro career there. He plays a capable first base if a move is necessary, but it’s clearly the Arizona State recruit’s bat that has him popping up in first-round conversations.

Here’s another evaluation I found on Twitter that comes with some video: