5 Favorites For 2024 College Baseball Player Of The Year


Image credit: Charlie Condon (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

With just five days left in the regular season, it is reasonable to say that the race for national player of the year has been narrowed down to just five players. Of those five, four play in the SEC: Georgia’s Charlie Condon, Florida’s Jac Caglianone, Texas A&M’s Braden Montgomery, and Arkansas’ Hagen Smith. The lone non-SEC player? Oregon State star second baseman Travis Bazzana. All five candidates have valid arguments as to why they should take home national player of the year honors, though one seems to be separating himself from the pack with each passing game.

Charlie Condon, Georgia

Georgia slugger Charlie Condon is currently in the midst of an historic season. His nation-leading 34 home runs are the most in a single season since the turn of the century, but he also leads the country with a .454 batting average. At 6-foot-6, Condon’s operation in the box is uniquely compact and explosive for someone of his stature. He does a nice job of keeping his long levers in sync, and consistently pulverizes the baseball to all fields. Condon boasts double-plus power, but he also has an advanced feel for the barrel. With two-thirds of the triple crown all but locked up, it is hard to imagine Condon not taking home the award at this point.

Travis Bazzana, Oregon State

Speaking of historic seasons, Travis Bazzana this year has broken a plethora of long-standing Oregon State program records. The Australia native is in the midst of a career season in which he is hitting .424/.589/.972 with a career-high 60 RBIs and a video game–like strikeout-to-walk ratio of 66-to-28. His 26 long balls are a new Oregon State single-season record, but perhaps most impressively his 239 career hits are a new program record. Bazzana is a high-level athlete who boasts an explosive operation in the box with elite bat speed that he pairs with an equally impressive feel for the barrel. 

His pitch recognition skills and swing decisions are outstanding, and he seemingly punishes anything that is thrown within the vicinity of the strike zone. While it might be hard for Bazzana—or anyone—to overtake Condon at this point, the potential No. 1 overall pick has had one of the best careers in Oregon State history.

Jac Caglianone, Florida

Jac Caglianone is arguably the most recognizable name in college baseball. The 6-foot-6 Adonis has had another fantastic season on both sides of the baseball, but particularly at the plate. Caglianone last year set a new 21st century home run record with 33—a mark that stood for less than a calendar year thanks to Charlie Condon—and while he might not overtake Condon in the home run race, Caglianone currently boasts a .418/.529/.862 with 28 home runs. He is a great athlete in the batter’s box with top-of-the-scale bat speed to go along with comfortably double-plus raw power. 

On the bump, Caglianone has pitched his way to a 5-1 record with a 4.39 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 53.1 innings. He features a fastball that has been up to 101 to go along with a plus changeup, and while he will get the chance to do both professionally—at least to start—he profiles long term as a hitter.

Braden Montgomery, Texas A&M

Braden Montgomery has thrived during his time in College Station. He has emerged as the best hitter within a loaded lineup to the tune of a .333/.476/.778 slash line with 14 doubles, a career-high 24 home runs and 77 RBIs. The 6-foot-2 switch-hitter has an athletic operation in the box with plus bat speed from both sides. However, Montgomery is noticeably better from the left side as he has a .348/.465/.830 slash line compared to just .283/.466/.604 from the right. 

On top of his plus power, Montgomery’s hit tool has shown consistent improvement each year and he has the best arm of any position player in this year’s draft class. Even though he is on the outside looking in when it comes to being the national player of the year, Montgomery has positioned himself as a likely top-10 overall pick this July.

Hagen Smith, Arkansas

While Arkansas ace Hagen Smith might not be the national player of the year, he certainly is the frontrunner to take home national pitcher of the year honors. Smith was a first-team all-SEC selection in 2023 after posting a 3.64 ERA with 109 strikeouts across 71.2 innings, though this season he has taken his game to a different stratosphere. Smith’s minuscule 1.65 ERA leads the country, while his 136 strikeouts lead the SEC by a wide margin and rank third nationally. He has collected double-digit strikeouts in 10 of his 13 starts, headlined by a 17-strikeout performance in February against Oregon State. 

Smith’s thunderous fastball sits in the mid-to-upper 90s, but has topped out at 100. It has plenty of life through the zone, though it is most effective when located in the top half of it and on the arm side. His go-to secondary offering is a hellacious mid-80s slider that flashes long, sharp sweeping life with some depth. Smith has an advanced feel for the pitch, and so far this season it has a 55% miss rate. He throws it less than 10% of the time, but Smith rounds out his arsenal with a budding split-changeup. Expect Smith to earn plenty of accolades over the next month, culminating with a likely top-10 overall draft selection this July.

No matter who wins the award, all five of the players mentioned above have made an immeasurable impact on college baseball and their careers will be remembered for years to come.

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