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2024 MLB Mock Draft: April Edition

Baseball season is officially back; doesn’t that sound great to say? After a lengthy, draining offseason, the season is almost a full month underway, giving a beacon of hope for baseball fans everywhere (except maybe White Sox fans). Every single team is in action, ready to reinvent themselves and take a step closer towards their ultimate goals. 

At the same time, college baseball fans have had the opportunity to enjoy a fantastic college baseball season. Every team is nearly 40 games into their season, and the returns have been fantastic. During the early portion of the season, the top amateur prospects have begun to separate themselves from the rest of the pack, giving fans a clearer picture of who their team might target. 

The MLB Draft has never gotten the hype it deserves, largely because most of the selections don’t make an immediate impact in the majors. But the stars of tomorrow are made at the Draft, and fans have plenty of talent to be excited about before we begin to approach the All-Star break. So, with that being said, allow me to play clairvoyant, as I endeavor to predict the first round of this upcoming Draft.

*Note: Provided stats are as of April 17th, 2024.*

1. Cleveland Guardians: 2B Travis Bazzana, Oregon State

Photo Credit: @BeaverBaseball on X

2023 Stats: 306 PAs, 11 HRs, 55 RBIs, .374 BA, .500 OBP, .622 SLG, 1.122 OPS

2024 Stats: 174 PAs, 18 HRs, 45 RBIs, .452 BA, .609 OBP, 1.016 SLG, 1.625 OPS

Going into the season, most would have earmarked West Virginia’s J.J. Wetherholt as the preeminent favorite to be the first overall, and some would argue that he still merits that consideration to this day. But while Wetherholt has been held out of action due to a hamstring injury, Bazzana has taken full advantage of the spotlight, putting up some incredible numbers to earn this spot. He would be the first Beaver to go first overall since Adley Rutschman, and he’s frankly not that far off from the Orioles’ backstop.

At second base, Bazzana’s bat speed allows him to generate power that’s rarely seen at the position, and it should translate to him being able to consistently hit upwards of 20 home runs a season at his peak. His bat-to-ball ability is also impressive, with his only flaw being his ability to hit offspeed pitches, which lags slightly behind some of the other top prospects in this class. Regardless, on a Guardians team that had Jose Ramirez as their only consistent power threat in 2023, Bazzana’s offensive presence will be greatly appreciated in the heart of their lineup. His athleticism makes him a future 30-base stealer as well, and most scouts think he’ll end up being a decent defender at second.

2. Cincinnati Reds: OF Charlie Condon, Georgia

Photo Credit: @BaseballUGA on X

2023 Stats: 254 PAs, 25 HRs, 67 RBIs, .386 BA, .484 OBP, .800 SLG, 1.284 OPS

2024 Stats: 181 PAs, 24 HRs, 52 RBIs, .482 BA, .586 OBP, 1.110 SLG, 1.695 OPS

Heading into the season, Condon was always expected to be a first-round pick, but his 2024 performance has sparked a meteoric rise in his draft stock. As a freshman in 2023, Condon managed to hit 25 homers in the SEC, putting him on many top scouts’ radars. But the Georgia product has taken his game to a whole new level through this season’s early slate. 

Condon has terrorized the SEC this season. Pitchers are making business decisions when they see him at the plate, and it’s really difficult to blame them. As a prospect, Condon projects to be a corner outfielder with prodigious power and excellent bat-to-ball ability, somewhat reminiscent of Rangers top prospect Wyatt Langford, albeit with more power. His bat speed allows him to generate high-end exit velocities with ease, giving him a real shot to hit 40 home runs in a season in the majors. He’s never going to be a serious threat on the basepaths, and he lacks a true defensive home, but the offensive ability is worth justifying that risk, especially in hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park.

3. Colorado Rockies: 1B/LHP Jac Caglianone, Florida

Photo Credit: @GatorsBB on X

2023 Stats (Hitting): 319 PAs, 33 HRs, 90 RBIs, .323 BA, .389 OBP, .738 SLG, 1.126 OPS

2023 Stats (Pitching): 74.2 IP, 4.34 ERA, 87 Ks, 55 BBs, 1.420 WHIP, 6.1 H/9, 10.5 K/9

2024 Stats (Hitting): 172 PAs, 21 HRs, 43 RBIs, .400 BA, .494 OBP, .848 SLG, 1.343 OPS

2024 Stats (Pitching): 39.1 IP, 3.89 ERA, 49 Ks, 29 BBs, 1.398 WHIP, 5.9 H/9, 11.2 K/9

Let me set the scene real quick. Imagine hopping on your PlayStation and opening MLB The Show. At the moment, you’re feeling a strong urge to live your baseball dreams vicariously through a video game. Obviously, your eye is instantly drawn to Road To The Show. Back in your heyday, you used to pitch and hit, so you have to make yourself a two-way player. Remember that home run you hit in Little League? Yeah, you used to crush the ball, didn’t you? So, obviously, you have to max out your power. And when it comes to pitching, let’s just max out the heater velocity. You used to grip it and rip it on the mound, didn’t you?

Now imagine if your created player existed, and his name wasn’t Shohei Ohtani, and he was a college baseball player at the University of Florida. Then, we would be talking about Jac Caglianone, of course. Caglianone is the definition of boom or bust, in every single way imaginable. As a pitcher, his velocity is an incredible asset, but his command issues make his viability as a starter questionable. And as a hitter, while he had the most home runs of any collegiate hitter in 2023, he also struck out over three times as much as he walked, largely due to a concerningly high chase rate. Caglianone may be a tale of two players, but Colorado should be overjoyed to land an athlete with his potential.

4. Oakland Athletics: SS J.J. Wetherholt, West Virginia

Photo Credit: @WVUBaseball on X

2023 Stats: 268 PAs, 16 HRs, 60 RBIs, .449 BA, .517 OBP, .787 SLG, 1.304 OPS

2024 Stats: 56 PAs, 2 HRs, 8 RBIs, .342 BA, .482 OBP, .561 SLG, 1.043 OPS

This is a really tough break for the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year. Originally, I strongly considered mocking Wetherholt to Cincinnati, but a combination of poor injury luck for Wetherholt, an infield surplus for the Reds, and the emergences of Condon and Caglianone all pushed the potential first overall pick down to four. Drafting for need in the MLB Draft is a ludicrous proposition, one that I would never suggest to any organization, but the Reds could not possibly need an infielder less. Between Noelvi Marte, Elly De La Cruz, and Matt McLain, their infield might be set for the next decade.

However, despite all the factors that contributed to Wetherholt dropping to four, Oakland should be ecstatic with this selection. Wetherholt is a truly marvelous prospect, one who some think is the best pure hitter in the class. He’s a better contact hitter than Bazzana, and he pairs that trait with above-average power as well. His speed is also fantastic, and it could make him a perennial 20/20 hitter in the big leagues. Wetherholt’s only flaw is the fact that he lacks a true defensive position, as he’s played all across the infield during his time at Morgantown. Wherever he ends up, he has the athleticism to be a solid defender in the majors. There’s a reason why he was the consensus number-one pick going into the season. Any time you can add a potential five-tool player to your farm system, you have to do it.

5. Chicago White Sox: RHP Chase Burns, Wake Forest

Photo Credit: @WakeBaseball on X

2023 Stats (Tennessee): 72.0 IP, 4.25 ERA, 114 Ks, 22 BBs, 1.139 WHIP, 7.5 H/9, 14.3 K/9

2024 Stats (Wake): 57.0 IP, 3.00 ERA, 105 Ks, 17 BBs, 0.877 WHIP, 5.2 H/9, 16.6 K/9

Unlike 2023, the 2024 Draft lacks a first-overall caliber top pitching prospect. But if we’re looking for a pitcher who has a chance to make a Skenes-esque rise, Chase Burns isn’t too far off. Through his first two years at Tennessee, his electric stuff had placed him on the periphery of this draft’s elite. But his tendencies to give up elevated hard contact made some scouts wary of his profile, and his lackluster 2023 performance didn’t do much to alleviate those concerns.

Since transferring to Wake Forest from Tennessee, Burns has fully established himself as the premier pitching prospect in this class. Although MLB Pipeline has Burns as the 16th best draft prospect, below his fellow Demon Deacon Josh Hartle, the potential is there to justify his spot as a top-five selection. His wipeout slider misses bats at an incredible rate, and his triple-digit fastball has been able to overpower college hitters with ease in 2024. Some scouts have concerns about Burns’ fastball shape, which they view as the reason for his tendency to allow more hard contact than he should. But the pitch is still good enough for Chicago to take this risk.

6. Kansas City Royals: OF/RHP Braden Montgomery, Texas A&M

Photo Credit: @AggieBaseball on X

2023 Stats (Stanford): 310 PAs, 17 HRs, 61 RBIs, .336 BA, .461 OBP, .611 SLG, 1.072 OPS

2024 Stats (Texas A&M): 179 PAs, 20 HRs, 60 RBIs, .379 BA, .514 OBP, .900 SLG, 1.414 OPS

Montgomery wasn’t originally in my top ten, as I mocked Wake Forest’s Seaver King in this region in my first iteration of this article. However, in the weeks since I wrote that first draft, he has just continued to mash baseballs. I can’t deny it anymore, he’s a truly elite hitter. The Stanford transfer was always projected to be a first-round pick going into the season, largely on the strength of his past two seasons, but Montgomery has stepped up his game to a whole new level since arriving at College Station.

In less than 200 plate appearances, Montgomery is already threatening to eclipse his 2023 home run total, as he stands level with over thirty games left to play. His power isn’t as great as players such as Condon or Bazzana, but it’s still very impressive, and it’s his standout trait as a prospect. His contact skills are average, and his plate discipline numbers aren’t incredible, although he has improved his pitch selection with maturity. While he does come out of the bullpen on occasion, his viability as a two-way player will most likely end after college. If it all works out, the Royals might have a true outfield cornerstone, something they’ve lacked since Alex Gordon retired in 2020.

7. St. Louis Cardinals: 1B Nick Kurtz, Wake Forest

Photo Credit: @WakeBaseball on X

2023 Stats: 265 PAs, 24 HRs, 69 RBIs, .353 BA, .527 OBP, .784 SLG, 1.311 OPS

2024 Stats: 146 PAs, 17 HRs, 40 RBIs, .340 BA, .527 OBP, .903 SLG, 1.430 OPS

When discussing J.J. Wetherholt, I previously said that drafting based on positional need is dumb in the MLB Draft. I stand by that statement, but I’m also a bit wary of taking first base profiles this early in the draft. Usually, athletic outfielders and infielders are more athletic and versatile, which gives them a safer defensive floor and more value than the average first baseman. Kurtz is good enough for me to disregard that line of thinking though.

Kurtz has great power, which isn’t a particularly exceptional trait for top first base prospects. But the value in his offensive profile isn’t solely reliant on his power, which sets him apart from others. While his ability to hit the ball out of the yard is his standout trait, Kurtz is not just a three-true outcomes hitter. Kurtz displays remarkable contact skills on all types of pitches, and his plate discipline is also excellent, partially evidenced by the fact that he’s walked nearly twice as much as he’s struck out this year. Although he’s most likely limited to first base in the future, Kurtz also has Gold Glove potential at the position. The Cardinals’ future Goldschmidt replacement might reside in Winston-Salem.

8. Los Angeles Angels: OF Vance Honeycutt, North Carolina

Photo Credit: @DiamondHeels on X

2023 Stats: 250 PAs, 12 HRs, 43 RBIs, .257 BA, .418 OBP, .492 SLG, .910 OPS

2024 Stats: 176 PAs, 14 HRs, 37 RBIs, .303 BA, .417 OBP, .655 SLG, 1.072 OPS

Two years ago, if you had asked most top scouts to predict the first overall pick of the 2024 MLB Draft, I’d guarantee that the vast majority of respondents would have earmarked Vance Honeycutt as the overwhelming favorite. Coming off a freshman 2022 season where he hit 25 home runs in the ACC, the college baseball world was captivated by the centerfielder’s tantalizing mix of power and speed. Times change quickly though, and narratives change even faster. 

Honeycutt’s sophomore season was still productive, as he slashed .257/.418/.492 across 50 games. But he didn’t have the breakout year that everyone was expecting, causing him to fall off the radar a bit. Honeycutt’s bat-to-ball ability doesn’t stack up well with the top prospects in the class, and his issues with offspeed pitches make him a highly volatile prospect. However, the power is still there, the elite defensive ability is also there, and so is the athleticism that makes him a threat on the basepaths. The Angels love taking chances on college bats, and the upside with Honeycutt is as high as any. If it all works out, the Angels might have a Mike Trout replacement waiting in the wings.

9. Pittsburgh Pirates: OF Konnor Griffin, Jackson Prep (MS)

Photo Credit: @KonnorGriffin22 on X

2023 Stats: 107 PAs, 8 HRs, 30 RBIs, .537 BA, .636 OBP, .951 SLG, 1.587 OPS

2024 Stats: 123 PAs, 7 HRs, 24 RBIs, .543 BA, .691 OBP, .975 SLG, 1.666 OPS

After years of horrifyingly disappointing baseball in Pittsburgh, the Pirates seem to have tangible reasons for optimism for the first time in years. Ke’Bryan Hayes has started to establish himself as an offensive cornerstone, Jared Jones looks like an ace, and everyone’s familiar with their incumbent first-overall pick, Paul Skenes. Now, equipped with another top-ten pick after a mediocre 2023, the Pirates are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Ben Cherington is looking to put the finishing touches on this rebuild, and Konnor Griffin is the perfect piece to do so.

The Pirates have some decent outfield pieces, but they’ll be ecstatic to land Griffin, the best prep bat in the class. Coming out of Jackson Prep High School, the 6’4” outfielder is a wonderful addition to the farm, even if he’s farther away from the majors than they would’ve liked. Griffin has significantly advanced power and arm strength at his age, as well as fantastic speed that gives him enough range to stick in center going forward. His contact skills are also excellent, something that isn’t solely evidenced by his batting average. In the future, Griffin and Bryan Reynolds could hearken back to the heydays of Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte.

10. Washington Nationals: RHP Hagen Smith, Arkansas

Photo Credit: @RazorbackBSB on X

2023 Stats: 71.2 IP, 3.64 ERA, 109 Ks, 42 BBs, 1.367 WHIP, 7.0 H/9, 13.7 K/9

2024 Stats: 47.0 IP, 1.53 ERA, 89 Ks, 17 BBs, 0.830 WHIP, 4.2 H/9, 17.0 K/9

Since the draft lottery, the Nationals have been routinely getting mocked Tommy White at ten. It’s a puzzling selection and one that I think is due to writers choosing to run with the LSU connection White has with Dylan Crews. White is a fantastic slugger, but nothing about his offensive profile is exceptional enough to suggest taking the first-base prototype in the top ten.

In a farm system that hasn’t drafted a top 100 pitching prospect since Cade Cavalli in 2020, the Nationals are perpetually in desperate need of arms, and Hagen Smith is easily the second-best pitcher in this class. With a 95-mile-per-hour fastball that carries serious riding action, and a wipeout slider that’s drawn comparisons to Skenes, Smith’s stuff is worth betting on in the top ten. He lacks an elite third pitch, as his splitter is decent at best, but an innovative player development system should be able to maximize Smith’s potential.

For brevity’s sake, picks outside of the lottery will get a sentence or two of analysis, instead of extensive paragraph-long write-ups.

11. Detroit Tigers: SS/RHP Bryce Rainer, Harvard-Westlake

Rainer’s got an outside shot at being the first high schooler off the board, but Detroit will take advantage here by adding his two-way upside to a strong farm.

12. Boston Red Sox: RHP Trey Yesavage, East Carolina

Recent graduations of prospects such as Brayan Bello and Tanner Houck have left Boston’s farm depleted of high-end pitching talent, and Yesavage has established himself as the third-best arm.

13. San Francisco Giants: 2B/OF Seaver King, Wake Forest

King is a jack-of-all-trades utility player, with solid game power and contact skills that will make him a perfect fit in Detroit’s future lineup.

14. Chicago Cubs: RHP Brody Brecht, Iowa

Brecht’s had his fair share of struggles this year, but the stuff upside is there to justify a top-15 selection. He’s either a future closer or a potential ace, depending on his control issues.

15. Seattle Mariners: LHP Cam Caminiti, Saguaro (AZ)

Similar to the Red Sox, recent graduates have stripped the Rays’ farm of high-end pitching talent. Caminiti is the best prep arm in the class, and the Rays should be able to make him an ace.

16. Miami Marlins: C Caleb Lomavita, California

Since the Realmuto trade, the Marlins have lacked a slugging backstop. They’re hoping that Lomavita can resolve that issue.

17. Milwaukee Brewers: 3B Tommy White, LSU

The Brewers’ lineup desperately needs impact power bats, and the LSU slugger could be a mainstay at first in the heart of their lineup.

18. Tampa Bay Rays: OF P.J. Morlando, Summerville (SC)

The Rays can afford to bet on the upside here, and the South Carolina prep bat has the best power of any high schooler in the class.

19. New York Mets: LHP Jonathan Santucci, Duke

The Mets could use polished pitchers after the Verlander/Scherzer experiments blew up in their face, and Santucci’s shown steady progression since he became a full-time pitcher.

20. Toronto Blue Jays: OF/RHP Carson Benge, Oklahoma State

Although Benge pitches out of the bullpen on occasion, he projects best as an elite contact-hitting right fielder for Toronto.

21. Minnesota Twins: OF Slade Caldwell, Valley View (AR)

For the second consecutive year, the Twins take a high school outfielder. Caldwell is an elite athlete, an advanced contact hitter, and a fantastic defender in center.

22. Baltimore Orioles: SS/RHP Theo Gillen, Westlake

A productive 2024 season has caused Gillen to shoot up draft boards rapidly, and the Texas commit likely has the biggest upside of any prospect left.

23. Los Angeles Dodgers: 3B Cam Smith, Florida State

The Dodgers’ farm system desperately needs impact bats, and the Seminole slugger has a good chance to be a solid defender as well.

24. Atlanta Braves: SS/3B Caleb Bonemer, Okemos (MI)

The Virginia commit has been the best high school player in the state of Michigan since 2023, and his power upside is very enticing.

25. San Diego Padres: RHP Ben Hess, Alabama

The counting stats are a bit ugly for Hess, but looking past the ERA reveals an intriguing arm with serious ace upside for the Padres.

26. New York Yankees: C Malcolm Moore, Stanford

Moore has been projected to go much higher than this, but his lackluster 2024 performance and defensive concerns saw him drop to 26.

27. Philadelphia Phillies: OF Dakota Jordan, Mississippi State

Dakota Jordan has incredible power upside, a trait that will allow him to fit in perfectly alongside Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos in the outfield.

28. Houston Astros: SS Kaelen Culpepper, Kansas State

If the Astros can get Culpepper to start making more elevated contact, they could have a serious logjam soon.

29. Arizona Diamondbacks: OF Mike Sirota, Northeastern

Sirota’s a well-rounded contact-hitting center fielder, but his disappointing 2024 performance has hurt his stock going into the draft.

30. Texas Rangers: SS Carter Johnson, Oxford (AL)

At 6’2″, Johnson has a projectable frame for the position. As he develops, he should be able to become a plus power hitter at short.

Follow us @Diamond_Digest for more throughout the season!

Mauricio Palmar

Aspiring journalist, occasional Nationals fan. Tweets can be found at @sixmileshow or @RoblesTruther.

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