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College Hitters Have A Chance To Make History In 2024 MLB Draft


Image credit: Charlie Condon (Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

Collegians dominate the top of this year’s draft ranking, especially position players. 

Georgia’s Charlie Condon and Oregon State’s Travis Bazzana have the most promising bats and rank as the top two prospects. West Virginia’s JJ Wetherholt and Texas A&M’s Braden Montgomery rank Nos. 4 and 5, while Florida’s Jac Caglianone and Wake Forest’s Nick Kurtz check in at Nos. 7 and 8.

This surplus of college hitting talent will be a theme in the first round, especially in the top 10 picks. In fact, this year’s draft class has a chance to tie the record for the most college position players selected with top 10 overall picks.

BA 500 Draft Rankings

Ranking the top 500 prospects in the 2024 draft class with scouting reports for every player.

Most College Hitters Drafted Among Top 10 Picks

The aforementioned record for six college hitters drafted among the top 10 is six. It happened three times previously in 1985, 2018 and 2019. 

1985 Draft
Overall PickPlayerSchoolCareer bWAR
1stB.J. Surhoff (C)North Carolina34.4
2ndWill Clark (1B)Mississippi State56.5
4thBarry Larkin (SS)Michigan70.5
6thBarry Bonds (OF)Arizona State162.8
8thPete Incaviglia (OF)Oklahoma State10.3
10thChris Gwynn (OF)San Diego State-1.4
2018 Draft
Overall PickPlayerSchoolCareer bWAR
2ndJoey Bart (C)Georgia Tech1.4
3rdAlec Bohm (3B)Wichita State2.3
4thNick Madrigal (SS)Oregon State3.0
5thJonathan India (3B)Florida6.0
9thKyler Murray (OF)OklahomaN/A
10thTravis Swaggerty (OF)South Alabama-0.2
2019 Draft
Overall PickPlayerSchoolCareer bWAR
1stAdley Rutschman (C)Oregon State12.3
3rdAndrew Vaughn (1B)California0.6
4thJJ Bleday (OF)Vanderbilt1.1
8thJosh Jung (3B)Texas Tech3.0
9thShea Langeliers (C)Baylor2.5
10thHunter Bishop (OF)Arizona StateN/A

Most College Hitters Taken To Lead Off A Draft

College hitters are often popular in the first round. Most of them have proven their mettle in a high-pressure college environment and have authenticated their hitting chops with wood bats while playing for Team USA or in the Cape Cod League. 

Despite this, no draft in history has begun with more than two consecutive college hitters being selected, which has has happened just three times in the previous 59 drafts.

1985 Draft
1. Milwaukee Brewers B.J. Surhoff (C)North Carolina
2. San Francisco GiantsWill Clark (1B)Mississippi State
2015 Draft
1. Arizona DiamondbacksDansby Swanson (SS)Vanderbilt
2. Houston AstrosAlex Bregman (SS)LSU
2020 Draft
1. Detroit TigersSpencer Torkelson (3B)Arizona State
2. Baltimore OriolesHeston Kjerstad (OF)Arkansas

The 1985 draft class is arguably the best ever, highlighted by Barry Bonds, Randy Johnson, Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Larkin and John Smoltz.

Even though BJ Surhoff and Will Clark were not the best players in their draft class, they were longtime big leaguers and all-stars. Clark in particular stood out. He was a six-time all-star who finished top 10 in National League MVP voting four times, including a runner-up in 1989

The 2015 top two of Dansby Swanson and Alex Bregman, both stud SEC shortstops, are shaping up as two of the top overall talents in their draft class. At this juncture, only high schoolers Kyle Tucker and Austin Riley are mounting serious challenges to the claim.

The 2020 draft selections and results should be taken with a grain of salt. The amateur baseball season ended in March because of the Covid pandemic, so MLB organizations were working with incomplete pictures on draft day.  

Spencer Torkelson looked like a safe bet to become an impact hitter based on his prodigious power display at Arizona State and standout summer with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team in 2019. He has shown flashes of impact in Detroit but has not yet met expectations.

The Orioles opted for SEC star and Team USA standout Heston Kjerstad with the second overall pick. He has performed in the minor leagues, but a series of early-career injuries and Baltimore’s deep big league outfield corps have limited his MLB opportunities.

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