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2024 Mock Draft 2.0: Post-CWS Edition

*This is the second mock draft I’ve written this season. Read my first mock draft here.*

The last time I took a hard look at the college baseball world was early April, when I wrote my first mock draft. In the approximately three-ish months since then, it’s safe to say that a lot has changed throughout the baseball landscape.

In the pros, we’re starting to figure out who the real contenders are, and who’s going to be looking to retool in the near future. But more importantly, teams are also getting a better idea of what their own needs are, both at the major league level and within their own farm systems. 

And in the amateur world, a much better consensus has developed around who the best prospects are. High schools have finished their seasons by now, with the scholastic year ending weeks ago. The MLB Draft Combine has given teams a much greater insight into potential targets, and the College World Series has given a late boost to many college players’ stock. 

So, using a mix of previously reported links, as well as my personal opinion on some of these prospects, it’s time to take another crack at predicting this upcoming draft. It’s a bit of a crapshoot when you’re looking into it three months out, but now that we’re less than a month away from the draft, the bigger picture is becoming much clearer. 

*Statistics provided are from Baseball Reference and MaxPreps.*

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

Photo Credit: @BeaverBaseball on X.

2024 Stats: 287 PAs, 28 HRs, 66 RBIs, .416 BA, .575 OBP, .937 SLG, 1.512 OPS

Although a lot has changed since I last took a deep dive into this class, some things just never change, and Travis Bazzana’s placement is one of them. I’ve deliberated back and forth between him and Charlie Condon here, but he’s the best prospect in the Draft, and a potentially exorbitant slot bonus should not preclude Cleveland from making the right decision here.

He’s a truly complete hitter, every single tool is there for the taking with him. Contact hitting? It’s elite, and that’s evidenced by more than his exorbitantly high batting average. He’s been making contact at truly incredible rates this season.

What about power hitting? Bazzana always had it to a certain extent, but now that he’s matured a bit more, he’s finally become one of the hardest hitters in the class. The home run totals are gaudy in their own right, but the exit velocities speak for themselves. Bazzana is legit. 

And what about plate discipline? Also fantastic. He makes great swing decisions and rarely chases at bad pitches. This season, he’s walked over twice as much as he’s struck out. The glove is good enough to stick at second in the majors, and I’d be surprised if he wasn’t a threat on the basepaths in the pros. The Oregon State product should be the first Beaver to go number one since Adley Rutschman, back in 2019.

2. Cincinnati Reds: 3B/OF Charlie Condon, Georgia

Photo Credit: @BaseballUGA on X.

2024 Stats: 294 PAs, 36 HRs, 77 RBIs, .440 BA, .561 OBP, 1.022 SLG, 1.584 OPS

There’s not much to debate here. If Charlie Condon gets past the Guardians, the Reds are absolutely snatching him up at two, and they would be over the moon in that scenario. The Golden Spikes Award winner has taken the college baseball world by storm this season, and his breakout sophomore season has put him on the radar of every single scout in the country.

I had Condon going second in my first iteration of this mock, and my reasons for doing so have remained pretty consistent throughout the season. Condon is a significantly better power hitter than Bazzana, and he’s not a feast-or-famine type hitter either. He makes really hard contact and a lot of it. You could argue that he’s a better pure hitter than Bazzana, and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with that assertion.

However, Condon isn’t as complete of a player as Bazzana is. The plate discipline is definitely solid, but Bazzana’s swing decisions are better. And defensively, Condon doesn’t really have a true home, which is a criticism that I’ve maintained since April. This season, he’s played at first base, third base, and all three outfield spots. And while he’s been playable at all of them, he hasn’t established himself at one single position, something that makes his potential major league value difficult to project. He’ll likely settle into a corner outfield spot for the Reds, but if he works on his third base defense, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him there either, hearkening back to memories of Todd Frazier in Cincinnati.

3. Colorado Rockies: RHP Chase Burns, Wake Forest

Photo Credit: @WakeBaseball on X.

2024 Stats: 100.0 IP, 2.70 ERA, 191 Ks, 0.920 WHIP, 5.6 H/9, 2.7 BB/9, 17.2 K/9

Back in April, I had Burns going 5th to Chicago. Since that moment, he’s only gotten better. He hadn’t established himself as the consensus number-one arm in the class yet, but his early season performances showed glimpses of his potential. With a heater that touches triple digits regularly and two plus offspeed offerings, Burns has a serious chance at becoming an ace in the majors, something the Rockies have desperately been searching for.

His slider is a truly elite pitch, and it’s arguably his best weapon. College hitters barely ever make contact with it, and I’d be surprised if professional hitters had better luck. It’s just absolutely gross, and combining it with his fastball makes an arsenal that’s reminiscent of pitchers such as Paul Skenes and Spencer Strider. Add in a low-80s curveball with a plus shape, and you’ve got yourself one of the safest bets in this year’s draft.

The past two years, Colorado has taken a pitcher in the top ten, with Gonzaga’s Gabriel Hughes going 10th in 2022 and Tennessee’s Chase Dollander going 9th in 2023. The organization is keenly aware of their need for pitching, and they’ve shown that they’re willing to invest serious draft capital to address that fact. Even though Hughes hasn’t panned out yet, that’s not going to deter Colorado from taking another crack at a college arm here, and Burns is as good as they get.

4. Oakland Athletics: 1B/LHP Jac Caglianone, Florida

Photo Credit: @GatorsBB on X.

2024 Stats (Hitting): 316 PAs, 35 HRs, 72 RBIs, .419 BA, .544 OBP, .875 SLG, 1.419 OPS

2024 Stats (Pitching): 73.2 IP, 4.76 ERA, 83 Ks, 1.520 WHIP, 7.6 H/9, 6.1 BB/9, 10.1 K/9

There’s smoke behind Wake Forest first baseman Nick Kurtz at this spot, so much so that Kiley McDaniel even mentioned it in ESPN’s latest mock. But if the Athletics are willing to pay a premium for him, Caglianone is really the best option they can get here. I already view him as the third-best prospect, and if the Rockies weren’t looking at pitchers, I’d mock him there again. He’s really just that good.

In my April mock, I half-jokingly compared Caglianone to Shohei Ohtani, stating that his playstyle was similar to that of an MLB The Show created player. And while that may be a bit of a stretch at the major league level, Caglianone has serious two-way talent, the likes of which we haven’t seen at the top of the draft since Louisville’s Brendan McKay back in 2017. He’s got strikeout stuff, with a fastball that lives in the triple digits. But his poor control, combined with a lack of plus offspeed weapons, leaves him prone to conceding an excessive amount of free passes.

Because of that, he’s most likely a full-time first baseman going forward, but the power upside is far too tantalizing for the Athletics to resist here. As the Gators progressed through the College World Series, Caglianone struck fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers. Managers intentionally walked him nearly every time he stepped up to the plate. And on the rare occasions he wasn’t given a free pass? He sent the ball flying, usually very far and fast. Unfortunately, Caglianone has a really bad tendency to chase pitches out of the zone, giving him one of the most volatile offensive profiles in the class.

5. Chicago White Sox: OF/SS Konnor Griffin, Jackson Prep (MS)

Photo Credit: @KonnorGriffin22 on X.

2024 Stats: 171 PAs, 9 HRs, 39 RBIs, .559 BA, .690 OBP, .966 SLG, 1.656 OPS

Back in April, I had Griffin going seventh to the Cardinals. He’s the number one high school player in the class, and there are several reasons for that. He’s an elite athlete, and the talent is there in spades. The range of outcomes for Griffin is wider than the Grand Canyon, and that’s exactly why he’s such a tantalizing prospect.

If it all works out for Chicago, Griffin is a five-tool player. He’s added more power as he’s physically matured through high school, and he’ll likely continue to grow into his 6’4″ frame as he works through the minors. His ability to make contact has popped throughout his career at Jackson Prep. His baserunning is fantastic at his size, and his athleticism is incredible. Because of that, he has great defensive potential as well, although he likely projects best as an outfielder going forward. The tools are there for him to become a future superstar in center.

But if it doesn’t work out, Griffin might flame out of the majors entirely – or worse. There’s a real chance he might not even make it there in the first place. The high school production pops off the page, but there remain serious questions about his swing. The swing is long, looping, and has holes that could be exploited as he advances through higher levels of professional baseball. He’s the ultimate gamble, but with Chicago being several years away from respectable baseball, they can afford to take a swing on the highest-upside talent in this draft.

6. Kansas City Royals: LHP Hagen Smith, Arkansas

Photo Credit: @RazorbackBSB on X.

2024 Stats: 84.0 IP, 2.04 ERA, 161 Ks, 0.893 WHIP, 4.4 H/9, 3.6 BB/9, 17.3 K/9

In all likelihood, Kansas City is zeroing in on a pitcher at this spot. The Royals haven’t selected a pitcher in the first since Frank Mozzicato went 7th in 2021, after taking Asa Lacy 4th in 2020. Mozzicato’s begun to come into his own this season in High-A, but Lacy’s injuries have since tanked his stock. The once-touted prospect hasn’t pitched since 2022. And since getting drafted, he hasn’t been able to progress past Double-A. All this to say, the Royals farm could use some pitching talent, and Hagen Smith is about as good as they get.

Many scouts have the Arkansas product as the best arm in the class, and while I disagree with that assertion, it’s not hard to see a world where he ends up having the best career out of the pitchers in the class. His fastball isn’t as robust as Burns’, but it still averages around 95 miles per hour, and it can occasionally touch triple digits when he’s dialed in. His slider is ridiculous, as it sits around 85 miles per hour and misses bats with regularity. And although Smith doesn’t have a third elite pitch, his splitter can be a decent offering if he continues to work on it.

Smith set the NCAA record for strikeouts per nine this season, with his 17.3 mark barely edging out Chase Burns. The comparisons will likely follow each other until the end of their careers, with the two inextricably linked to each other in a deep class. But even if Burns ends up better than Smith, the Royals should be ecstatic to see him fall to this selection. The strikeout artist is one of the safest bets in the class, with a serious chance of being their best pitcher since Zack Greinke.

7. St. Louis Cardinals: OF Braden Montgomery, Texas A&M

Photo Credit: @AggieBaseball on X.

2024 Stats: 295 PAs, 27 HRs, 85 RBIs, .322 BA, .454 OBP, .733 SLG, 1.187 OPS

After a couple of standout years with the Stanford Cardinal, Montgomery decided to head south for a change, transferring to Texas A&M for his junior year. Since his arrival on campus, Stanford had finished first in the Pac-12, hosted their own regionals, and won their super regionals in two consecutive years. They were arguably a top-five team in the country, so many fans were confused by Montgomery’s choice to leave the Cardinal for a mediocre Aggie team. A&M was only 38-27 the year prior, and they failed to make the College World Series.

But as it turns out, the Aggies were an unfinished puzzle waiting to be solved, and Braden Montgomery was the missing piece. For everyone involved, it’s safe to say it was a win-win decision. Led by Montgomery’s strong performances in the preceding stages, Texas A&M made a surprising run to the College World Series final, although his injury loomed large as they lost to Tennessee. And for Montgomery? While he was generally viewed as a top 20 prospect before the season, his incredible junior year boosted him into being a top ten lock.

Montgomery has serious impact power, something that St. Louis could use. His ability to make contact is also impressive, and his plate discipline has steadily improved across his three years in college, although the swing decisions will likely never be perfect. His arm is more than serviceable in a corner outfield spot, as he used to be a two-way player before he arrived in College Station. If he manages to fall to this spot, he’ll be a cornerstone for St. Louis for years to come. They’ve had plenty of elite athletes come through their farm in recent years, and Montgomery will keep that trend alive.

8. Los Angeles Angels: SS/3B JJ Wetherholt, West Virginia

Photo Credit: @WVUBaseball on X.

2024 Stats: 164 PAs, 8 HRs, 30 RBIs, .331 BA, .472 OBP, .589 SLG, 1.061 OPS

At the start of the season, Wetherholt was a shoo-in for the number one pick, following a sophomore season where he hit well over .400 and was the Big 12 Player of the Year. But after an early hamstring injury, Wetherholt was kept out of action for nearly half of the season, and his stock tumbled as a result. Regardless, he’s still an elite prospect, and the Angels would be overjoyed to see him fall to this spot. I feel like I’ve said this a lot when discussing players in this class, but this is a potential five-tool player if the chips fall in his favor.

There’s buzz behind the idea that the Angels might look to go under slot here to save money, and I’d imagine that East Carolina’s Trey Yesavage is a serious contender to go here if that’s the case. But despite that, I don’t think they’d pass on the opportunity to take one of the draft’s premier college bats, especially at a position of serious need. The Angels need everything, but the infield is especially barren right now. While Zach Neto is a solid piece at short, the Angels could stand to move him to second to pair him with Wetherholt, giving them a nice middle infield tandem.

JJ Wetherholt honestly might have the widest range of draft outcomes for any prospect in the top ten. There’s a real possibility that he goes first overall to Cleveland, fourth overall to Oakland, fifth overall to Chicago, and at this spot as well. I’d like to imagine that this is his absolute floor though, and Perry Minasian would be giggling to himself if the board shook out like this. Going under slot is certainly tempting, but if he’s on the board, you have to take him, no questions asked.

9. Pittsburgh Pirates: 1B Nick Kurtz, Wake Forest

Photo Credit: @WakeBaseball on X.

2024 Stats: 260 PAs, 22 HRs, 57 RBIs, .306 BA, .531 OBP, .763 SLG, 1.294 OPS

At the start of the year, Nick Kurtz saw his stock crater, as he worked through a serious slump in his first dozen games or so. But as the year progressed, he began to mash home runs, showcasing the power that everyone had touted since he was a freshman. He was once viewed as a consensus top-three pick, but his early season slump, along with the emergence of better prospects, has placed his top-ten status into question.

Similar to the Angels, there’s been talk about the Pirates going under slot here, with Florida State’s James Tibbs likely to be the target if that’s the case. But if Kurtz is on the board, the Pirates aren’t going to be able to resist the temptation of adding one of the draft’s premier power bats, especially in a position of dire need. There are no viable first-base prospects within the organization, and Rowdy Tellez is simply not going to cut it at the major league level. Holding a young and talented roster, Pittsburgh needs to fill that hole before they return to contention.

When it comes to first baseman in the class, Kurtz is as safe a bet as it gets. Caglianone is the higher upside play, and a better prospect overall, but there are very few scenarios where Kurtz doesn’t make the majors. The contact ability is solid, the power is there, and the plate discipline has been fantastic since he was a freshman. Kurtz makes great decisions at the plate, which is the primary trait that he has over Caglianone. His first base defense is also more than solid, and I’d be surprised if he wasn’t a Gold Glove contender at some point in the majors.

10. Washington Nationals: SS Bryce Rainer, Harvard-Westlake (CA)

Photo Credit: @hwbaseball on X.

2024 Stats: N/A

Technically speaking, Rainer is still a two-way player, and he has talent both as a pitcher and as a shortstop. But throughout his high school career, a self-imposed innings limit has progressively pushed him towards position playing, to the point where most scouts view him as a shortstop going forward. Harvard-Westlake is one of the toughest high schools to play at in the country, and it has produced top talents such as Max Fried, Lucas Giolito, and Jack Flaherty in recent years. And yet, Bryce Rainer has a real chance at being the school’s highest draftee.

The industry buzz is that the Nationals are taking whichever high school player is still on the board at ten, either Rainer or Griffin. With the White Sox and Pirates expected to deliberate on Griffin in the coming weeks, that leaves Rainer as the presumptive favorite to go off the board here at 10. While shortstop may not be an organizational need for the Nationals at this point, Mike Rizzo and Co. should be primarily focused on acquiring as much talent as possible, and Rainer has it in spades.

His contact hitting is impressive, as he sported an average over .500 in one of the toughest high school regions in the country. The power has steadily improved throughout his time in high school, and many view him as a better pure hitter than Griffin. He’s at least average in every single trait, and his athleticism gives him a chance to stick at shortstop going forward as well. The Nationals might not need him to do that if CJ Abrams is still around, but finding a spot for Rainer’s bat shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

For brevity’s sake, picks outside of the lottery will be given a sentence or two of analysis, just like my previous mock draft.

11. Detroit Tigers: OF James Tibbs, Florida State

Tibbs is at the top of the second tier of college bats, with a real chance at going anywhere after the Cardinals. Detroit could go with a pitcher here, but they’ll take a chance on the power-hitting Seminole, ideally pairing him next to Riley Greene.

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

The Red Sox might look at some of the bats in the class, but their farm desperately needs pitching. They like Yesavage a lot, and he is clearly the third-best option after Smith and Burns.

13. San Francisco Giants: RHP Cam Caminiti, Saguaro (AZ)

The cousin of long-time Astros third baseman Ken, Cam is the best prep arm in the class by a good margin. If he’s on the board here, the Giants are snagging him.

14. Chicago Cubs: 2B Christian Moore, Tennessee

Moore was a fringe first-round prospect for most of the year, but his otherworldly College World Series performances vaulted him into the top half of the round. The Cubs’ farm is already bat-heavy, but none of the remaining pitchers are good enough to justify passing on him.

15. Seattle Mariners: RHP/LHP Jurrangelo Cijntje, Mississippi State

The emergence of young arms such as George Kirby, Bryan Woo, and Bryce Miller has depleted Seattle’s farm. Cijntje’s future is brightest as a righty, but he’s talented enough to be a legitimate switch pitcher going forward.

16. Miami Marlins: 3B Cam Smith, Florida State

I mocked a catcher to Miami back in April, but the system needs impact bats badly. Cam Smith’s got some nice juice in his bat, and he’s a better prospect than Jacob Berry was in 2022.

17. Milwaukee Brewers: 3B/OF Seaver King, Wake Forest

Once a consensus top-ten pick, King’s stock has fallen a bit since the start of the year. He’s primarily a contact-hitting utility player, but he started to showcase some more pop as the year went on.

18. Tampa Bay Rays: RHP Ryan Sloan, York (IL)

At 6’4″, 220 pounds, the Wake Forest recruit has a projectable build and high upside stuff. The Rays could go in many different directions here, but a high-upside prep arm like Sloan makes perfect sense.

19. New York Mets: OF Carson Benge, Oklahoma State

Benge has been consistently mocked in this range, and he’s shown more pop this year than in previous seasons. He’s also an elite outfield defender, with an arm that’s popped in the mid 90’s as a reliever.

20. Toronto Blue Jays: OF Vance Honeycutt, North Carolina

I had Honeycutt near the top ten range at the start of the year, but his swing decisions are too poor to take him that high. He’s still a first-round talent though, and the athleticism is worth a gamble for the Blue Jays.

21. Minnesota Twins: C Walker Janek, Sam Houston State

Janek wasn’t viewed as a first-round talent entering the year, but a strong junior season at Sam Houston has put him in that category. He’s probably the first college catcher off the board.

22. Baltimore Orioles: RHP Brody Brecht, Iowa

Back in April, I had Brecht near the top ten before he got lit up in his following starts. He got the walks under control as the year went on, and the stuff is loud enough for Baltimore to bet on him.

23. Los Angeles Dodgers: RHP William Schmidt, Catholic (LA)

The Dodgers are always looking for high-upside prospects, and the sky’s the limit for William Schmidt. With a couple of years in the Dodgers’ system, his stuff could make him a future ace.

24. Atlanta Braves: OF Ryan Waldschmidt, Kentucky

Waldschmidt could go anywhere from 14 to the late 20s, as his College World Series performance boosted him into the first round. He’s a decent runner with solid pop, but his mediocre arm limits his defensive potential in the outfield.

25. San Diego Padres: RHP Kash Mayfield, Elk City (OK)

The Padres are almost certainly looking at a high school prospect here, as they have in the past several drafts. Mayfield is the best prep arm left of the crop.

26. New York Yankees: RHP Braylon Doughty, Chaparral (CA)

The Yankees could look at a college bat here, but Doughty’s upside might be too great for them to pass on. Their farm has lacked pitching since the Soto trade, and Doughty would give them some much-needed juice.

27. Philadelphia Phillies: OF Slade Caldwell, Valley View (AR)

The Phillies have developed an affinity for prep bats late in the draft, taking Justin Crawford and Aidan Miller in consecutive years. Caldwell will likely continue that trend for them.

28. Houston Astros: SS Theo Gillen, Westlake (TX)

Gillen was a late riser, but a strong senior year at Westlake placed him solidly in the first round. Indications are that it’s either a college catcher or a prep shortstop here for Houston, so they’ll bet on Gillen’s upside.

29. Arizona Diamondbacks: 3B Tommy White, LSU

White’s buzz was much higher a year ago, but a stagnant junior year didn’t do much to quell concerns about his upside. A mediocre athlete who most likely ends up at first, White’s power is good enough for the Diamondbacks to take a shot here.

30. Texas Rangers: SS Kellon Lindsey, Hardee (FL)

In all likelihood, it’s probably a prep shortstop for the Rangers as well. They’re looking at a wide range of players here, but Lindsey’s upside and athleticism are too enticing for them to pass on.

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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