BATON ROUGE, La. — The gentleman in the wheelchair doesn’t notice the best college baseball player in the country with his hand outstretched. George Wood, a diehard LSU fan with muscular dystrophy, is mid-conversation and doesn’t spot Dylan Crews standing at the net in front of his front-row seat requesting his customary candy. And Crews can’t hit without his Nerds Gummy Clusters.
The bases are about to be loaded on an SEC Friday night matchup between Alabama and No. 1 LSU. Soon the packed Alex Box Stadium crowd will hear Crews’ walk-up song, “Calabria 2008,” and clap over their heads along with the beat. Soon fans in arguably the most college baseball-obsessed city in America, watching the most dominant team, will focus on the most special player in years, because there’s an understanding they’re watching history.
The LSU center fielder has a routine. In the on-deck circle, the 6-foot, 205-pound athlete with flowing brown hair, a light, scraggly beard and a thin mustache spins the bat in circles above his head. He chops the bat with each arm. He rocks back and forth and times his practice swings with the pitcher. But first, Crews needs his Nerds Gummy Clusters. His hands remain extended until he gets Wood’s attention. Finally, Wood sees him, and Crews tosses the fruity goodness into his mouth.
“My buddy George, he gives those to me before every at-bat,” Crews says. “It’s good luck. It’s been working, so …”
Crews falls into an 0-2 count. Just stay inside yourself, he’s thinking, like his dad constantly reminds him. This is the next step of his evolution. Crews has already shown he can hit a ball 450 feet and glide through the outfield for fly balls, but can he avoid chasing bad pitches? He takes a ball. Then another one just outside the zone. Then another, again just out of the zone. He takes ball four, bringing in a run with a walk, one of his Power 5-leading 49 walks in 41 games.
“Nobody knows the zone better than Dylan,” LSU coach Jay Johnson says. “Period.”
It’s clear what’s happening in Baton Rouge, as this baseball prodigy from central Florida reaches heights potentially never seen before as the potential No. 1 MLB Draft pick on July 9. Crews admittedly is not the most talkative guy. Some might call him boring. People around him offer only hyperbolic statements that he’s the best hitter to ever come through LSU, the phenom flirting with the inconceivable .500 batting average who finished this series hitting .486 with 13 home runs, 53 RBIs, an on-base percentage of .633 and a slugging percentage of .851.
The best way to actually grasp Dylan Crews is to watch him up close — or to take a step back and watch the scene around him, the reverential crowds and the fearful pitchers and the coaches who hardly have a word to say to him. It’s to go to Baton Rouge for a weekend SEC series and witness greatness.
“I really hope everyone understands what they’re watching,” Johnson says. “Because it’s not out there, anywhere. And it may never come along again.”
From a distance, he looks exactly like the “Florida Man” he is, growing up in Lake Mary, 20 miles north of Orlando. He rocked a messy mullet for most of his career until recently cutting it down to just a long curl with a headband. He’s chill, somebody who doesn’t talk too often or provide much animation. Not many things upset him, his father, George, says. He speaks in a slow, dragging tone that sounds like a mix between Californian and Southern.
But it’s a hyper-controlled chill, in a baseball obsessive who has learned how to combine a go-with-the-flow demeanor with an explosive talent. The type who wants to fish but also go over data. He’s smart and thoughtful; he was LSU’s representative on the SEC Baseball Community Service Team for the second consecutive year. He is simultaneously unassuming and completely aware how great he is and what it will take to get better.
“You do it differently with him than your other players because his character is phenomenal,” Johnson says. “His self-discipline is phenomenal. His work ethic is phenomenal. I’ve spent zero time talking to Dylan Crews about individual motivation.”
Take, for instance, a Crews batting practice session. He is not launching bombs but instead hitting eerily similar line drives, one after the other. Few go higher than the outfield fence, each one a sharp line drive into the shallow outfield. Robotic but fluid.
He enters his first at-bat in Game 1 against Alabama, and on a 3-2 count he takes strike three on the outside corner. He walks to the dugout before the umpire even makes a decision. He doesn’t react.
So the next at-bat, he adjusts. He swings at an outside fastball and drives it on a line so fast and steady that it never seems to increase in height. It just continues on that linear route and lands inches above the right field wall for a three-run home run. Just like batting practice. 4-0, Tigers.
“The ability to separate balls from strikes, I haven’t seen too many people do that better,” says Johnson, who coached Kris Bryant at San Diego.
It has been, by all accounts, a borderline perfect season. And it’s hard to avoid the feeling that Crews is a nearly perfect baseball prospect. The Athletic’s Keith Law says Crews’ performance this year may go down as one of the greatest offensive seasons in college baseball history. When Crews withdrew his name from the 2020 draft because of a disappointing final high school season, former LSU recruiting coordinator Nolan Cain made it clear that players like Crews normally don’t come to college. Vanderbilt’s Tim Corbin, who called Crews the best returning player in the country, said his maturity as a hitter was such that he could get into professional baseball and probably elevate himself.
“It was a dream of mine to come to school,” Crews said. “I felt like I wasn’t going to miss it.”
He was a first-team All-American as a freshman. By midway through his 2022 sophomore season, it was widely understood he’d likely be the first college player chosen in 2023.
If there were a comparison for watching Crews in the sporting world, it might be Lionel Messi. Everything he does between the moments of action is slow and casual. He jogs in an effortless glide. He steps into the batter’s box, relaxed, the bat hanging behind his right shoulder. He practices his breathing techniques. And then it all snaps into action. The swing is violent but swift. It’s instantaneous. His throw is more like a snapping motion, a calm build-up and then a sharp rip of the right arm. Back in Florida, he slammed tires with a sledgehammer and did curls with weights attached to a PVC pipe in warehouses with no air conditioning, the rugged, practical exercises that created these current shocking movements. It’s like Messi conserving energy with the ball and then bursting by an unsuspecting defender.
Before games, with the rest of his teammates, he slowly practices his swing in right field, the full two-handed follow-through as he concentrates. It’s the visualization technique Johnson brought that Crews credits for much of his ability to stay in the moment. Sometimes Johnson will look over to the middle of the dugout and see Crews not talking. He’s concentrating. Visualizing. It reminds Johnson of watching Michael Jordan in “The Last Dance” documentary.
“I’m huge on the mental aspect of the game,” Crews says. “Everybody’s got the talent at the next level. Everybody’s got that ‘it factor’ at the next level. I think the separation is the mentality part and how I can get an advantage on another guy. It has to do with breathing and just slowing the game down.”
He has always been the most talented player on the field. Then, this past offseason, he worked with Johnson on plate discipline. Crews says to imagine seven balls lined up across the plate. Don’t swing at the first and seventh balls. Those are the pitcher’s spots. Focus on the inside five. Make them come to you. Then you add his bat speed, “which allows him to make later decisions,” Johnson says. “You can let balls fall out of the zone and be a little later.”
During Saturday’s game, after yet another Crews walk, third baseman Tommy White drives a single to right field. Crews turns and accelerates. It’s a hard-hit single, so one would imagine the Alabama outfielder could get the ball back in quickly, but by the time the ball reaches the cutoff man, Crews is three strides from third base. Moments later, he rounds third and scores to reduce Alabama’s lead to 7-5 in the sixth inning.
Alex Box Stadium and his LSU teammates erupt. Crews hardly flinches. He just walks back to the dugout.
(John Korduner / Getty Images)
Down by the first-base-side concession stands on the ground level, there’s a table set up with LSU memorabilia. There’s a signed Joe Burrow jersey and a framed photo of fellow Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon. At the center, there are three LSU baseball jerseys on mannequins. One is a Skip Bertman jersey, the Hall of Fame former LSU coach and athletic director who won five College World Series titles at LSU. Next to him is All-Star Houston Astros shortstop Alex Bregman’s signed jersey. Right next to Bregman’s is a gold Dylan Crews jersey.
This is the real estate in which Crews is beginning to live. He is becoming an LSU legend, a once-in-a-generation talent, in the conversation of Burrow, Seimone Augustus or Shaquille O’Neal. Longtime LSU announcer Bill Franques called him the best he’s ever seen. After Crews’ first-ever home run, in February 2021, Bregman called his shot and tweeted that Crews would go first overall in 2023. The next step for Crews is to reach Omaha this year, ending LSU’s rare six-year College World Series drought.
1/1 in 3 years
— Alex Bregman (@ABREG_1) February 21, 2021
For now, though, this No. 1-ranked juggernaut has become appointment viewing. LSU always has the highest attendance numbers in the country, but this year it’s truly packed every night. It’s spring in south Louisiana, which means crawfish boils and festival season. Yet these 11,000 or so LSU fans would rather be here. Shoot, they just make jambalaya in the parking lot and tailgate. Game tickets this March reached $130 for standing room only. “It’s gotten crazy,” Crews jokes. “You can’t really go anywhere. People are always asking for autographs and pictures. I love it, though. It’s the reason I came here.”
This LSU baseball team has been called the most talented collection of players in history, with Crews joined by All-American Air Force transfer pitcher Paul Skenes, ACC Freshman of the Year transfer third baseman Tommy White and star left fielder Tre Morgan. There’s a realistic chance Crews and Skenes go 1-2 in this July’s draft.
And much of what makes this year different is the last chance to see Crews. So Sunday, as Crews launches another solo home run over the right field wall to give LSU a 3-1 lead, he rounds third base, crosses his chest and points to the sky. And the crowd holds its standing ovation a little longer.
(Illustration: John Bradford / The Athletic; photos: Courtesy of LSU Athletics)
The San Antonio Spurs won the 2023 N.B.A. draft lottery on Tuesday, giving them the No. 1 pick in June's draft and the right to select the most anticipated prospect since LeBron James: the 19-year-old French star Victor Wembanyama.How does the number 1 draft pick work? ›
The order is determined by the standings at the end of the regular season: The club with the worst record will pick first, and the one with the best record will pick 20th. Teams that did qualify for the playoffs are assigned draft slots 21-32.Who is the best draft prospect since LeBron? ›
4 things to know about Victor Wembanyama, the top NBA prospect since LeBron. Victor Wembanyama has played far above his competition in France. At 19, he's now heading to the NBA. This year's NBA draft lottery was the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes.What team has the #1 pick in 2023 NBA Draft? ›
The 2023 NBA Draft lottery took place on Tuesday, May 16, 2023, at 8 p.m. ET. The San Antonio Spurs won the No. 1 overall pick.Who was the last WR #1 pick? ›
Who Was the Last Receiver Drafted First Overall? The New York Jets made Keyshawn Johnson the last WR drafted first overall in the 1996 NFL Draft. Johnson's selection was just as unprecedented as his escape from the streets of Los Angeles, California.What team has the most number 1 picks? ›
The Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Rams have each made the most first overall selections in history with seven. Of the first overall draft picks, 43 have been selected to a Pro Bowl and of those 43, fourteen have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.How much do 7th round picks make? ›
Payscales for the fifth round vary from $669,444 to $698,619. The wages for players chosen in the sixth round range from $642,353 to $662,972. Last but not least, seventh-round selections earn a paycheck between $628,873 and $638,424.How much does a number 1 draft pick make? ›
What will the salary be for the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft? The projected contract for the No. 1 pick in 2023 is roughly $41,217,000 in total value, with an estimated signing bonus of $26,976,000 and a 2023 cap of $7,494,000, according to Spotrac.How successful are first round draft picks? ›
For example, among first-round draft picks selected between 2010-2017, only 31% signed a second contract with the team that drafted them. Now that doesn't mean that 69% of first-round draft picks during that period were total busts, but in most cases it meant the team didn't value them enough to extend them.Who is the most hype prospect since LeBron? ›
2023 NBA Draft Lottery: Meet Victor Wembanyama, the best prospect since LeBron James, projected to go No. 1.
The 1991 NBA draft took place on June 26, 1991, in New York City, New York. Larry Johnson was selected first overall; he won the 1992 NBA Rookie of the Year award and as a two-time All-Star, was the first player to represent the Charlotte Hornets franchise at an All-Star game.Who was number 1 in the NBA draft 22? ›
Paolo Banchero was selected 1st overall by the Orlando Magic and voted the Rookie of the Year. Chet Holmgren was selected 2nd overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Jabari Smith Jr. was selected 3rd overall by the Houston Rockets. Keegan Murray was selected 4th overall by the Sacramento Kings.Who is the #1 MLB draft prospect 2023? ›
About the 2023 NFL Draft
The annual NFL Draft was held from Thursday, April 27, 2023 to Saturday, April 29, 2023. It was the 88th edition and was held near Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri. The Carolina Panthers selected QB Bryce Young as the first pick in the draft after trading with the Chicago Bears .
The 2023 NBA Draft will go down as one of the most anticipated in league history. It's a deep class rich with talent at multiple positions, but there will be no suspense over the No. 1 overall pick.Has a WR ever gone 1st overall? ›
Fryar went No. 1, becoming the first wide receiver ever to be taken in that spot. Fryar was a member of the Patriots when the team advanced to Super Bowl XX, and was a five-time Pro Bowl pick (four of those five came with teams other than the Patriots).Has a RB ever been drafted #1? ›
Lowdown: Carter suffered a serious knee injury in his first exhibition game with the Bengals. He scored 15 rushing TDs from 1996-97 with the Bengals before bouncing after seven NFL seasons. He's the last running back to be selected No. 1 in the NFL Draft.Who has the best WR stats in one game? ›
That record belongs to Josh Gordon's 498-yard total with the Cleveland Browns in 2013. But here's where the conversation-starting tinge of controversy comes in. Johnson had 329 yards in a four-quarter football game. Fourteen years prior, Flipper Anderson's record came in overtime…Who has the most first round picks 2023? ›
Alabama, Ohio State and Georgia led all teams with three first-round selections each. Iowa and Clemson had two picks each.What teams have never had the 1st pick? ›
Which NFL Teams Have Never Had the First Pick? Only three teams have never held the first pick in the draft: the Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens, and Seattle Seahawks.
The 1992 Colts are the only team among the four major American professional sports leagues to ever have the first two picks in the same draft.Who is the lowest paid player in the NFL? ›
While Tyrone Swoopes won the title of the lowest-paid NFL player in 2021, looking at the low end of league earners isn't as simple. NFL players face different minimum values that depend on their contract and designation as active or inactive players.What percentage of first round picks make it to the MLB? ›
1st Round. The first round of MLB's first-year player draft represents the cream of the crop, the top talent within the United States. Still, by no means does that guarantee that those players will reach The Show, as only 66 percent of first-round picks play in the major leagues.What is the minimum salary for a first round NFL pick? ›
The first-year cap number or rookie pool number consists of the player's prorated amount of signing bonus and the rookie minimum base salary, which is $750,000 in 2023.What percentage of 7th round picks make the team? ›
The players taken in the first and second rounds will definitely be on the opening day roster, barring some unforeseen injury or something. But the players taken in the sixth and seventh rounds may have only a 10% or 15% chance, at least in the first year or two.How much do 6th round picks make? ›
The numbers might move a little, but this provides a solid framework to work from for determining how much each pick will make from 2023 through 2026. The first pick of the sixth round will sign a contract worth approximately $4.070 million and receive a signing bonus of approximately $229,940.How much will Mr irrelevant make? ›
In fact, after his playing time has dropped in recent weeks, Crowder publicly complained about his playing time. In the third year of his rookie deal, Crowder is making $913,872 for the Giants. He will be a free agent in 2024, as well.How many first round picks bust? ›
More Than 50% Of First Round Picks Are Busts And Other Terrifying Draft Statistics.Who has the longest streak of first round draft picks? ›
Alabama also had at least one first-round pick for the 15th straight season, which is the longest streak for any school in draft history.What state had the most first round draft picks? ›
Since the first NFL Draft in 1936, Texas has had the most overall No. 1 draft picks.
Since the event debuted in 1985, a total of nine franchises have never won the draft lottery: the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz.Who was the number 1 pick this year? ›
|2021||Trevor Lawrence||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|2020||Joe Burrow||Cincinnati Bengals|
|2019||Kyler Murray||Arizona Cardinals|
|2018||Baker Mayfield||Cleveland Browns|
In his second season in charge, Tottenham won their first ever top-tier league championship title when they finished top of the First Division for the 1950–51 season.Who did Spurs draft 2023? ›
The wait is over: The San Antonio Spurs secured the No. 1 pick — and the right to draft French phenom Victor Wembanyama — in the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday. The Charlotte Hornets, Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and Detroit Pistons round out the top five.How many times has the number 1 pick been traded? ›
Since the NFL merged with the AFL, there have been 13 trades involving the number one pick. The most recent of these trades occurred in March of this year when the Carolina Panthers acquired the pick from the Chicago Bears.Has an NBA team ever had back to back number 1 picks? ›
1 - Orlando Magic (1993) A year after taking Shaquille O'Neal with the top pick in the 1992 NBA Draft, the Magic defied all odds and landed back-to-back No. 1 picks despite only a 1.52% odds of doing so.What is the most unused number in the NBA? ›
Aside from 55, there aren't many numbers in the 51-99 range that an individual player wore for more than a season or two. In fact, the following numbers have never been worn: 58, 59, 64, 69, 74, 75, 78, 79, 80, 82, 87 and 97. This is the biggest reason we decided to implement a "minimum five years" requirement.Has a WR ever went 1st overall? ›
Fryar went No. 1, becoming the first wide receiver ever to be taken in that spot. Fryar was a member of the Patriots when the team advanced to Super Bowl XX, and was a five-time Pro Bowl pick (four of those five came with teams other than the Patriots).Who is the 2023 potential number one pick? ›
West Ham United F.C.
|Full name||West Ham United Football Club|
|2021–22||Premier League, 7th of 20|
In total, seven clubs have won the Premier League title: Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Blackburn Rovers, Leicester City and Liverpool. Among the traditional 'Big Six', only Tottenham have failed to win a single league title during the Premier League era.What team has the most FA Cups? ›
In the 1984 draft, the Portland Trailblazers drafted Sam Bowie, a 7'1 center/power forward from Kentucky with the second overall pick. The first pick was center Hakeem Olajuwon [then known as Akeem]. The third pick was Michael Jordan, a 6'6 swing player from North Carolina.Are the Spurs in the draft lottery? ›
CHICAGO — The San Antonio Spurs are the victors of the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes after a dramatic reveal at the 2023 Draft Lottery on Tuesday saw them convert their 14% odds -- tied for the best with Houston and Detroit -- into the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.Who won the NBA Lottery 2023? ›
Watch the full replay of the actual drawing of ping-pong balls for the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery presented by State Farm. CHICAGO – The San Antonio Spurs won NBA Draft Lottery 2023 presented by State Farm, which was conducted at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago.