With the 41st overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft, the Oakland Athletics selected Ryan Lasko, a 21-year-old outfielder out of Rutgers University. MLB Pipeline had him 89th in their pre-draft rankings, while Keith Law at The Athletic had him ranked 72nd.
Lasko is known for having a quick bat that allows him to drive the ball, though there may be more raw power to tap into. There are some concerns about his contact ability but his strikeout rate was below league average last year, so he at least has a chance to be a solid all-around hitter.
He’s also a pretty fast runner, which aids him both on the basepaths and in center field. He should be able to stick at the position, especially with his strong throwing arm. If for whatever reason, he gets moved to a corner, he should be a strong defender there as well.
Here’s MLB Pipeline’s report on Lasko:
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 55 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
Rutgers University in New Jersey has developed some good hitters — albeit sporadically — over the years, with Todd Frazier and David DeJesus the most recent and most successful. Lasko, a starter from the get-go for the Scarlet Knights in 2021, had a big sophomore season, and while his overall numbers over the summer at Team USA trials and in the Cape Cod League were modest, he finished strongly on the Cape and showed off some of the offensive traits that make him an intriguing college bat to follow.
A right-handed hitter, Lasko is strong and gives off a blue collar toughness vibe, while also showing off above-average athleticism. He has the chance to hit, and with plenty of raw power to tap into. His overall solid approach helped him get to that power last spring, as he hit 16 homers and slugged .643 for Rutgers. He struggled a bit more with making contact and recognizing pitches — particularly spin — over the summer, leaving some to worry about future swing-and-miss issues.
With above-average speed, Lasko runs well enough to steal a base and has a good chance to stick in center field. He also has a plus arm, which would fit in well with his power profile in an outfield corner if needed.
The A’s rounded out their Day 1 draft portfolio pretty well. They got an elite contact college bat in shortstop Jacob Wilson, a raw-power upside guy with high school infielder Myles Naylor, and now an all-around college outfielder in Lasko. Unsurprisingly, the front office eschewed pitchers in the first two rounds, a strategy they’ve mostly stuck to in recent years.
With the system getting stacked with infielders, Lasko balances out the A’s position player mix well as strong outfielder. Like Naylor, Oakland took him a few dozen spots higher than he was ranked by prospect evaluators but that shouldn’t be much of a ding as things get pretty murky after the first 20 or so picks. He’ll likely slot in around the late teens of the A’s farm system rankings.
We’ll be back tomorrow to analyze rounds 3-10 of the 2023 MLB Draft.