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2024 MLB Draft Prospects: 20 Second-Half Risers To Know


Image credit: Jurrangelo Cijntje (Photo by Eddie Kelly / ProLook Photos)

With the draft just a few weeks away, we’re taking a look at 20 players who have had significant up-arrow feedback in the second half of the season and might find themselves selected in the first two days of picks. 

Players below are listed in order of their expected rankings on Baseball America’s upcoming final draft board. They include the most notable upward movers inside the top 200 range, which aligns with top six round talents.

Jurrangelo Cijntje, BHP, Mississippi State

Cijntje jumped from an early-day-two-sort-of-arm into a likely first rounder, and many scouts now view as the No. 4 college arm in the class behind Hagen Smith, Chase Burns and Trey Yesavage. Cijntje posted a 3.67 ERA in 16 starts this spring after an 8.10 mark in 2023, and averages 95 mph from the right side. He can get the pitch up to 99 mph, which, along with hard slider, gives him a pair of above-average or better offerings.

Ryan Sloan, RHP, York HS, Elmhurst, Ill.

Sloan showed a powerful three-pitch mix last summer on the 2023 showcase circuit. He has only continued to amplify that velocity this spring and continue to take steps forward. While it’s always risky to consider a high school righthander a no-doubt first rounder, he certainly has first round caliber talent. With a fastball up to 100 mph, a high-spin slider and advanced changeup, it’s no surprise why. 

Ryan Waldschmidt, OF, Kentucky

During the middle of the season we had Waldschmidt ranked as a day two prospect. He continued mashing with Kentucky and boasts a well-rounded batted ball profile that many teams and analysts love. His career-best 2024 season resulted in a .333/.469.610 slash line with 14 home runs, 17 doubles, 25 stolen bases and strong strikeout (16.5%) and walk rates (15%). He could easily fit in the 20-30 range on draft day.

We discussed Waldschmidt on our latest Hot Sheet show as well.

Tyson Lewis, SS, Millard West HS, Omaha, Neb.

It’s an unusually strong draft year for Nebraska preps, thanks mostly to Lewis and his state counterpart Kale Fountain, both of whom have top-three round potential. Lewis figures to be the first off the board thanks to standout athleticism and a well-rounded toolset. A lefty hitting shortstop with plus speed, he has a chance for average or better tools across the board.

Dax Whitney, RHP, Blackfoot (Idaho) HS

It’s also rare to see a highly-touted Idaho prospect in the draft, and Whitney has a chance to be the highest-drafted prep from the state this century. He’s got a body and profile scouts dream about thanks to a 6-foot-5, 195-pound frame. His four-pitch mix of average or better offerings is led by a fastball that has been up to 96 and two breaking balls that he can spin with conviction.

Cole Mathis, 1B/RHP, College of Charleston

Mathis is perhaps an odd choice for this list since he started the year in a strong position, but he had a bit of a rollercoaster season that saw him struggle in the first half and slide on draft boards. A loud second-half pushed him back up into the second round range in which he started the year. He hit a career-best 14 home runs and slashed .335/.472/.650 and on the mound he throws a fastball up to 96 with three secondaries. 

Cole Messina, C, South Carolina

Messina was unranked to start the year on our preseason top 200 list, which was probably a reflection of underrating both his defensive chops and athleticism. Messina has standout athletic testing scores and is viewed as one of the better receivers in the college class. He also put together his best offensive season with a .326/.465/.701 slash line, 21 home runs and a career-best 17.5% walk rate.

Luke Dickerson, SS, Morris Knolls HS, Rockaway, N.J.

There are shades of Jackson Merrill and Sammy Stafura with Dickerson as a northeast/mid-atlantic prep shortstop who has received a lot of late helium this spring. He’s an offense-oriented righthanded hitter with a background as a talented hockey player. He might fit better at second base or center field, but teams like his hit/power combination enough to take him inside the first two rounds. He had a solid showing at the draft combine last week, as well. 

Chris Cortez, RHP, Texas A&M

Cortez has had big-time stuff dating back to his prep days, but putting everything together in a career-year did a lot to push him up draft boards this spring. He set career bests with a 36.7% strikeout rate and 13.3% walk rate, and while he profiles best as a reliever, a 98 mph fastball that touches 101 with great sinking life and hard upper-80s slider should place him around the third round where the first college relievers typically begin to get selected.

Mason Russell, LHP, Casteel HS, Queen Creek, Ariz.

Russell established himself as one of the top pitching prospects in the Four Corners region of the country this spring and has a solid lefty starter package with impressive feel to spin the baseball and solid movement on the mound. He’ll pitch in the low 90s at peak now, but should fill out and add more strength. He has above-average potential with both a low-80s slider and mid-70s curveball.

Tyler Bell, SS, Lincoln-Way East HS, Frankfort, Ill.

We had Bell ranked closer to the sixth round than the third round at the halfway point in the season, and there’s a chance he could keep climbing higher than that after an impressive performance at last week’s draft combine. He’s an athletic, switch-hitting shortstop who can impact the game with his glove and bat.

Gage Miller, 3B, Alabama

Miller had two solid seasons with Bishop State (Ala.) JC before he transferred to Alabama, where he continued to rake against SEC pitching. His 1.176 OPS was good for the eighth-best in the conference and he fits the classic scout saying about hitters performing and moving up draft boards. He showed an impressive combination of power (18 home runs) and contact (just a 9% strikeout rate).

Aiden May, RHP, Oregon State

May quietly pitched like one of the better West Coast arms in the country this spring, posting a 3.05 ERA over 73.2 innings and 14 starts. His 27% strikeout rate and 7.4% walk rate were career-best marks, and scouts like his fastball/slider combination enough to take him inside the first four rounds.

Jace Souza, OF, Kamehameha HS, Honolulu, Hawaii

It’ll be difficult to not see comparisons with Souza and 2023 Phillies third rounder Devin Saltiban thanks to similar power/speed tools and both players’ status as the top-ranked Hawaiin in their respective draft classes. Like Saltiban, Souza could find himself drafted in the 3-5 round range after adding good weight and strength this spring.

Peyton Stovall, 2B, Arkansas

Stovall has dealt with injury and mediocre performances throughout his Arkansas career, but he put things together in 2024. slashing .340/.409/.535 with nine home runs and giving scouts a glimpse of the pure-hitting lefty second baseman they saw in high school three years ago. His strong season could have him in early day two consideration. 

Sean Keys, 3B, Bucknell

Keys is a data darling who could create divergent opinions between scouts on the ground and analysts who love his underlying batted ball data. He slashed .405/.535/.798 this spring with 13 home runs and more walks than strikeouts. After not being ranked on our preseason top 200 list, he could easily find himself selected inside the first five rounds. 

LP Langevin, RHP, Louisiana-Lafayette

Even without strong performance, Langevin’s fastball shape and spin characteristics would likely make him a prospect to know for all 30 clubs. He generates a tremendous amount of spin on the pitch, which has huge riding life and arm-side run from a low angle. It’s devastating for hitters to try to barrel and one of the best swing-and-miss fastballs in the country. He posted a 3.73 ERA over 62.2 innings with a 39.1% strikeout rate and 12.2% walk rate.

Robert Hipwell, 3B, Santa Clara

Hipwell didn’t play until April 20th because of a suspension, but has been a strong lefthanded hitter in three seasons for Santa Clara. He’s logged nearly as many walks as strikeouts in his career and has a solid swing and raw power to go with it. He has a chance to stick at third base he should fit somewhere in the middle of day two in the draft. 

Grant Shepardson, RHP, Mountain Vista HS, Highlands Ranch, Colo.

Shepardson took a big step forward with his pure stuff this spring and has been a helium name scouts have been piling in to see in Highlands Ranch, Colo. He’s thrown his fastball in the 90-95 mph range after pitching mostly in the upper 80s a year ago, and has distinct four-seam and two-seam shapes as well as a few decent secondaries. Shepardson was also a standout in his bullpen session at the draft combine a week ago. 

Corey Collins, 1B, Georgia

Collins was a top-150 prospect out of high school thanks to his raw power as a catcher, but a move off the position as well as three years of iffy performance caused him to back up significantly and led to his fourth season at Georgia this spring. Scouts saw a revitalized and looser hitter this spring, and after a 20-homer season where he led D-I hitters with a .574 on-base percentage, Collins is one of the most well-regarded priority senior types in the class and could go anywhere in the 3-6 round range. 

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