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2024 MLB Mock Draft 3.0: Updated First Round Ahead Of NCAA Tournament


Regionals for the NCAA tournament get going today. We released the first version of the BA 500 yesterday. The 2024 draft is just 44 days away. It’s time for Mock Draft V 3.0.

There’s still a clear-cut top tier of players in this year’s draft class, which ranges from 8-11 players depending on how much of a stickler you want to be on the cutoff. 

I’m more confident in the players who will be off the board among the top 10 picks than the specific order and with so many of these players participating in the NCAA tournament late performances could make all the difference. This top tier of players is clustered incredibly tightly and difficult to separate.

After that it’s still anyone’s guess, with the rest of the industry lamenting the relative weakness of the 2024 draft class. The perception of this class’s talent is the weakest of any I’ve covered going back to the 2018 class. As one scout reinforced to me this week: there are 30 first-round picks, but there aren’t necessarily 30 first-round players.

Let’s get into it.

See previous mock drafts here:

1. Guardians — Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State

Bazzana ranks as the No. 2 prospect on our updated draft board, but the difference between him and top-ranked Charlie Condon is negligible. The gap between the two seems to have tightened in recent weeks. Both players finished the season with top-three marks among D-I hitters in each triple slash category.

Teams behind the Guardians are trying to suss out who they prefer in order to get a better sense of who they might have a chance at, but I doubt Cleveland has decided this far out. I’d also guess they don’t lock in their decision until late in the process. For now both Condon and Bazzana seem like the most likely options, but I wouldn’t discount JJ Wetherholt who has been tracking back up the board and might have the best swing of the three plus a chance for the best defensive profile. 

2. Reds — Charlie Condon, OF, Georgia

I’m thinking the Reds are more likely to go for a bat here than a pitcher. Condon feels like the obvious choice with Bazzana going off the board in front of them. He’s big and athletic with lots of power and upside potential and that seems to fit this scouting department’s preferences. Condon is a unique top-of-the-class profile considering his handedness and height. There aren’t too many comparisons in recent drafts—Kris Bryant and Alec Bohm are the two most obvious.

If Condon is the No. 1 pick I wonder if the Reds just take Bazzana, who would be the best available player per our draft board, or take a shot on more physicality with someone like Florida two-way star Jac Caglianone. In the 30-team draft era (1996-now), no team has drafted more first rounders from Florida than the Reds. Caglianone could be a chance for them to add to that total. 

3. Rockies — Chase Burns, RHP, Wake Forest

Colorado invested heavily in pitching in the 2023 draft. The team selected pitchers with nine of their first 13 picks including four of the first five. I keep hearing buzz about the Rockies targeting an arm with this pick as well. With Bazzana and Condon going off the board in front of them, they would have their choice of the arms in the class. 

That’s very much a Chase Burns vs. Hagen Smith debate at the moment. While Burns ranks No. 6 compared to Smith’s No. 3, Burns is coming off an electric 15-strikeout gem against North Carolina in the ACC tournament while Smith had his worst outing since week one against Kentucky in the SEC tournament. Is that enough to be decisive? Potentially. The two have been neck and neck the entire year. Both have elite pure stuff but Burns is the pitcher who leads the country with 184 strikeouts—30 more than Smith. 

4. A’s — Jac Caglianone, 1B/LHP, Florida

Caglianone is consistently talked about as a top-five pick in the class. He should be a potential fit with each of the two teams picking in front of Oakland. He’s coming off a career-year offensively with a .415/.525/.844 slash line, 29 home runs and tremendously improved walk and strikeout rates. Caglianone has the biggest raw power in the class with some of the most impressive top-end exit velocities you’ll see. His chase rates remain overly aggressive and could hinder his in-game power production in pro ball but he has made some improvements in this area as well.

One fascinating piece of Caglianone’s statistical profile that I keep checking is his relative lack of extra-base production. He has just four doubles and no triples. No other D-I hitter with at least 20 home runs this season has less than six doubles. I’m not sure that means much of anything, but it’s a weird statistical quirk.

5. White Sox — JJ Wetherholt, SS, West Virginia

A lack of playing time thanks to a hamstring injury hurt Wetherholt’s draft stock. Since he’s been back in West Virginia’s lineup he’s been the exact player he was expected to be entering the season. Wetherholt is a career .376/.500/.663 hitter with West Virginia and his underlying batted ball data is remarkably similar to Travis Bazzana’s. Bazzana has done a better job pulling the ball in the air to capitalize on his power, but I’m not sure there’s a significant raw power difference between the two. 

The biggest separator for Wetherholt is the fact that he’s actively playing shortstop. That gives him a chance for the best defensive value of any of the top six college hitters in the class and if there’s a thought that his hit/power combo is as good as Bazzana’s, why couldn’t he fit at the very top of the class? 

JJ Wetherholt’s Star Turn

The West Virginia star will likely become the first top-10 pick in program history.

6. Royals — Bryce Rainer, SS, Harvard-Westlake HS, Studio City, Calif.

The Royals have had the most smoke about a prep player of any of the other teams picking inside the top 10. Earlier in the spring Konnor Griffin was the name frequently mentioned with them, though over the last week or so I’ve heard that Rainer might be both the preferred target for Kansas City and more likely to be the first high school hitter off the board.

There are cases for both Griffin and Rainer as the top high school player in the class—the two are ranked back-to-back on the BA board—but model-heavy teams might prefer Griffin due to the fact that he’s nearly a full year younger than Rainer. Rainer does have the lefthanded hitting shortstop profile from Southern California, however, and you probably wouldn’t have to fight too hard to convince scouts that demographic has a better success rate than a prep hitter from Mississippi. 

I’ve not heard this specifically, but would anyone be shocked if new scouting director Brian Bridges went after a prep pitcher he really liked in this spot? Given his track record with that demographic I’m not sure I would be—though it could simply be too early for that here at six given the talent available. 

7. Cardinals — Nick Kurtz, 1B, Wake Forest

I realize that I’ve now had Kurtz mocked to the Cardinals in each of the three in-season mock drafts I’ve done this year. Please don’t confuse that with some extreme confidence that I know Kurtz is their guy if he’s available. I don’t. But I do think they’d be excited about his fantastic lefthanded swing, raw power, batting eye and consistent top-end college production. He’s a career .313/.512/.732 hitter with Wake Forest with 61 home runs, a 16.4% strikeout rate and an absurd 24.1% walk rate. 

It feels like Kurtz’ hitting chops are simply too good to fall this far in the draft, but someone has to. Unlike all the players in front of this pick—sans Cags—he is likely limited to first base. The track record for college first baseman in the first round isn’t great. Perhaps that and his injury history are enough to push him down into this range. 

8. Angels — Hagen Smith, LHP, Arkansas

Smith could easily be off the board five picks higher than this. In this scenario, I have him being the second pitcher off the board and sliding to No. 8 with the Angels. If Los Angeles remains intent on drafting a player who can move quickly I think Smith has that potential given his elite pure stuff and the command/delivery improvements he’s shown this spring.

His season has been remarkable. A 1.48 ERA through 15 starts and 79 innings with a 50% strikeout rate, 9.7% walk rate and a fastball that’s averaged 95.7 mph from the left side. Yes it’s a college schedule and yes he’s only pitched a complete seven innings once, but here’s the complete list of lefthanded MLB starters with at least 70 innings from 2023 who matched or surpassed that velo:

  • Shane McClanahan, 96.8
  • Cole Ragans, 96.8
  • Jesus Luzardo, 96.8
  • Tarik Skubal, 95.8
  • Blake Snell, 95.6

Not a bad group. 

9. Pirates — Braden Montgomery, OF, Texas A&M

For whatever reason, Montgomery’s name seems to show up toward the back of this top tier of college bats, so I have him “sliding” to the Pirates at No. 9. In terms of tools, performance, athleticism and defensive profile I think he has one of the most appealing packages in the class. But he also might have the worst pure contact skills of the group and that could be enough to push him into this range. 

He’s a career .315/.426/.646 hitter with 61 home runs, a 22.4% strikeout rate and a 13.9% walk rate, a great frame at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds with a 70 arm and classic right field profile and toolset. He’s also been one of the best hitters (hello Jace Laviolette) on one of the best offensive teams in the country while playing in the toughest conference. No matter which college player from this elite top eight tier falls to the back of the pack, I imagine the team that winds up with him will be pretty happy with it. In this mock, that’s the Pirates. 

10. Nationals — Konnor Griffin, OF/SS, Jackson Prep, Flowood, Miss.

Griffin probably has more 70-grade tools on his scouting card than any player in this class. That should be enough for him to get popped inside the top 10. For months I had scouts saying that’s where they expected him to go, though recently there’s been some chatter about him potentially sliding. I’m not sure why because his spring performance was phenomenal, he’s young for the class and profiles at multiple premium defensive profiles.

Perhaps the pro struggles of other electric athletes and tooled up righthanded hitters from the high school ranks in recent years—Benny Montgomery and Elijah Green come to mind—are creating some doubt about this profile? There are safer profiles available here, like ECU righthander Trey Yesavage or FSU lefthanded hitter James Tibbs III… but will Washington pass up Griffin’s immense upside? I’m not convinced just yet. 

11. Tigers — Trey Yesavage, RHP, ECU

Injury was about the only thing that could slow Yesavage down this season. He dealt with a punctured lung that kept him off the mound in the ACC tournament and caused a bit of a scare, though it sounds like he should be able to pitch in this weekend’s Greenville regional, where a matchup with Chase Burns is possible. Yesavage has pitched his way into the consensus No. 3 pitcher slot in this class. I’ve yet to hear anyone say that this injury has removed that status. This is about the range where high school pitchers could seem like real options. 

12. Red Sox — Seaver King, SS/OF, Wake Forest

King is a 6-foot dynamo with eye-popping physical tools via his twitchy hands, pure speed and shockingly good exit velocity data. His top-end exit velocity metrics place him with some of the better sluggers in the nation but he brings 70-grade speed and a chance for solid shortstop or center field defense. Yes, the approach probably needs some refinement but he slashed .316/.385/.594 with 16 home runs, 14 doubles and 11 steals in 58 games.

13. Giants — Cam Caminiti, LHP, Saguaro HS, Scottsdale, Ariz.

It sounds like the Giants were in early and often to see Caminiti this spring, but the top-ranked prep lefty in the class seems to have a large range of outcomes. There were also teams picking in the lower 20s scouting him fairly heavily which reinforces the idea that after the first 10 picks or so teams are all over the place. Caminit has a chance for an elite fastball, he’s exceptionally young for the class and will be 17 on draft day and has advanced feel to land his mix in the zone. 

14. Cubs — James Tibbs III, 1B/OF, Florida State

Tibbs is the best pure hitter available on the board at this stage. In a down draft class, I think that player has to go in a pretty good spot regardless of the athlete/profile questions. He might be a below-average defender in a corner outfield spot or at first base, but all he’s done is hit throughout his college career. He has hit over .300 each season with FSU, he added more home run power each season—10 then 17 then 25 so far in 2024—and he also has a solid 40-game sample in the Cape Cod League with a wood bat. 

15. Mariners — Carson Benge, OF, Oklahoma State

Benge is a strong athlete who scouts can dream on. He’s already shown a pretty strong approach at the plate with a lot of contact skills in two seasons with Oklahoma State. He hit .342/.451/.680 with 17 home runs and as many walks as strikeouts in 57 games. Benge is also one of just three D-I hitters with 15+ homers, 20+ doubles and 10+ stolen bases this season. I wonder if the Mariners would be a team intrigued by Iowa righthander Brody Brecht’s upside here.

16. Marlins — Cam Smith, 3B, Florida State

Smith should give Florida State a second first round hitter this year. He has less pure hitting chops than James Tibbs III, but more power upside and a better athletic foundation. The big key for him was cutting his strikeout rate from 28.7% as a freshman in 2023 to 16% this spring. Smith runs well underway even if he’s not a burner and has a chance to stick at third base with a strong arm.

17. Brewers — Walker Janek, C, Sam Houston State

Janek started the year at No. 86 on our preseason draft board and has steadily since then. He has now has put himself in a position to be the first catcher off the board. He’s the best catch-and-throw defender in the college class and a surefire bet to stick at the position and be an impact defender there. Plus, Janek hit .368/.480/.714 with 17 home runs, a 16.6% strikeout rate and 14.8% walk rate. There might be less offensive upside with Janek than others in the first round, but there are also few or no obvious red flags in his profile.

18. Rays — Brody Brecht, RHP, Iowa

I initially had Brecht further up the board but received some pushback that that was toward the higher end of his expected outcomes. Like a few other players I’ll mention throughout the rest of this mock draft, Brecht is difficult to place with lots of varying opinions on him. His pure stuff and athleticism is obvious, and who better to reign in his control and command than the Rays? This is a bit of a dart throw and some wishful thinking on my part with a pitcher/org connection I’d be curious to see, but we’re in conjecture territory by this point. 

19. Mets — Christian Moore, 2B, Tennessee

Moore’s offensive consistency in his three years with Tennessee is impressive. He’s posted a 1.000 OPS or better in each season, has hit over .300 in each season and has managed double-digit homers in each season—with a career-best 28 homers in 2024. He did that while cutting his strikeout rate from 24-25% to 14.5%. There are real questions with how much he’ll be able to pick it at second base. Still, he has one of the more proven bats in the class and is getting tons of top-20 buzz.

20. Blue Jays — Slade Caldwell, OF, Valley View HS, Jonesboro, Ark.

Caldwell and Texas shortstop Theo Gillen are probably the favorites to be the first high school position player selected after the Bryce Rainer/Konnor Griffin duo are off the board. Caldwell is the smallest of the four players, but he has the best pure bat-to-ball skills and profiles nicely as a top-of-the-order spark plug and center field defender with plus speed. I’ve not run this by any scout but he reminds me of D-backs outfielder Alek Thomas, another short but strong left-left center fielder, plus runner and multi-sport athlete who stood out in high school for his contact skills.

21. Twins — Vance Honeycutt, OF, North Carolina

Yes, Honeycutt has a career strikeout rate of 26% in his three seasons at North Carolina, which is on the higher end for first-round college bats. At the same time, how many players in this class can boast 59 career home runs, 76 career stolen bases, easy plus center field defense and this sort of athleticism. That should be more than enough to solidify first-round capital. It wouldn’t shock me if he was off the board well before this pick. 

22. Orioles — Theo Gillen, SS, Westlake HS, Austin, Tex.

There’s some thought that Gillen doesn’t make it much further than this pick. That’s not to say the Orioles are definitely taking him if he gets here, but scouts think too many teams have interest in this range of the board for him to keep sliding. Gillen has a strong hit/power combination, projectable frame and plus speed.

23. Dodgers — William Schmidt, RHP, Catholic HS, Baton Rouge, La.

Given the way the board has fallen I’m thinking a prep pitcher could make some sense for the Dodgers here. Schmidt is the top-ranked high school arm on the board with elite feel for spin and feels like solid value. I wonder, though, if they would kick the tires on lefthander Kash Mayfield, who has been a huge spring riser.

24. Braves — Ryan Waldschmidt, OF, Kentucky

The late-rising data darling of the class, Waldschmidt is a polarizing player but one who is getting first-round chatter. He’s a powerfully built, muscular left fielder who slashed .357/.487/.654 with 13 home runs, 16 doubles, a 15.7% strikeout rate and 14% walk rate. Waldschmidt is one of six D-I hitters to meet the following batted ball data thresholds this season: 

  • Contact rate above 80%
  • Chase rate below 20%
  • 90th-percentile EV above 108 mph
25. Padres — Jurrangelo Cijntje, BHP, Mississippi State

Cijnjte has tons of steam right now. If teams in the back of the first round are looking for college arms he could be one of the best options available. He has averaged 95 mph from the right side and touches 99, with a deep mix of secondaries that have gotten plenty of whiffs in the SEC this spring and helped him pitch to a 3.55 ERA in 83.2 innings with a 30.9% strikeout rate. From the left side he sits in the low 90s and spots a sweepy slider consistently. 

26. Yankees — Billy Amick, 3B, Tennessee

If Amick and Christian Moore both go in the first round that would make Tennessee the third team in this draft with multiple first-round players—along with Wake Forest and Florida State. Amick is not the pure hitter that Moore is but he has a vicious righthanded swing with tons of strength and raw power, has performed at two high-profile schools in the best two conferences in college baseball and also improved defensively this spring.

27. Phillies — Kash Mayfield, LHP, Elk City (Okla.) HS

I’m not sure you can find a prettier delivery in the draft class than the one Mayfield employs. The prep lefty wasn’t a huge showcase name last summer but he has long been an advanced strike-thrower and this spring his stuff took a huge step forward with a fastball that has been up to 97 and two quality secondaries. He’s getting plenty of first-round buzz.

28. Astros — Jonathan Santucci, LHP, Duke

Santucci could easily wind up outside of the first round because of control questions and the fact that he missed time late with a rib injury. At the same time, he also has loud pure stuff from the left side. He doesn’t command his fastball consistently, but it has velocity (93.8 mph average) and riding life to miss bats with a slider that could be plus. A team that can develop arms might be excited about the arm talent. 

29. D-backs — Tommy White, 3B, LSU

White is difficult to place. Some scouts thought he should be off the board higher than 29. Others think he will slide out of the first round entirely. I’m hedging between both ends of the spectrum here with Arizona. He’s homered 24 or more times in each season and is a career .359/.424/.720 hitter. There could be even more game power in the tank if he pulls the ball in the air with more frequency at the next level. 

30. Rangers — Caleb Lomavita, C, California

The Rangers could have some interest with Lomavita if he manages to fall this far down the board. He feels like a legitimate option to go anywhere in the 10-30 range, though there’s some recent thought that he’ll be the second catcher picked after Janek. Lomavita is a great athlete who slashed .322/.395/.586 with 15 home runs and 12 stolen bases this spring. 

Others who were considered:
  • Kaelen Culpepper, SS, Kansas State
  • Ben Hess, RHP, Alabama
  • Luke Holman, RHP, LSU
  • Dakota Jordan, OF, Mississippi State
  • Kellon Lindsey, SS, Hardee HS, Wauchula, Fla.
  • Malcolm Moore, C, Stanford
  • Ryan Sloan, RHP, York HS, Elmhurst, Ill.
  • Dax Whitney, RHP, Blackfoot (Idaho) HS

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