Image credit: Mike Sirota (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)
For the fourth straight year we asked MLB scouting departments to grade the quality of the draft on a 20-80 scale.
As part of our preseason All-America balloting, we ask scouting directors how they view the strength of each year’s draft class in an attempt to quantify the expert opinions of the group and create a more quantitative way to compare the perception of each draft class’s strengths and weaknesses ahead of the amateur season.
That’s the goal.
There’s plenty that will change between now and July when the draft takes place but this is how 13 scouting directors view the 2024 draft class:
Average Grade: 47
This is our most generic and vague category which should best capture the general view of a given draft class. It’s a reasonable start for the 2024 class, as eight scouting directors gave it an average grade. Three teams put the class at below-average, one team put the class at plus and one team put a well below-average 30-grade mark on the class.
Average Grade: 44
The industry seems less excited about the impact talent at the top of the class compared to the overall talent, with a slight majority of seven teams putting a below-average grade on the group. A recurring trait of the 2024 class has been a muddled top-end and no consensus 1-1 sort of talent leading the way. The lack of up-the-middle prospects and high school hitters inside the top 10 also contributes to this grade.
Average Grade: 48
We’re now four years out from the 2020 covid draft, and with that the lingering effects of the five-round draft should have matriculated through and out of college baseball. Scouting directors seem to think so. Each of the last three draft classes featured 60-grade tools with depth, while the 2024 class is viewed as average with just a pair of plus grades and twice as many below-average grades.
Average Grade: 48
The industry seems to have the most consensus on the college pitching demographic, with nine different scouting directors putting the group as exactly average. One scout is more optimistic and gives the group a plus grade, while three others bring the average score down to just under 50 with a pair of 40s and a 30.
Average Grade: 55
The lone strength of the 2024 class seems to be the college hitting demographic, which earned seven different plus grades and is the lone subcategory to grade out as above-average this year. That makes sense when you look at the top 10 prospects currently ranked on our draft list.
As one scouting director put it: “(The) top end college bats will have to carry the class. (There are) lots of questions about all other player categories.”
High School Pitching
Average Grade: 41
The high school pitching class currently lacks the standout frontline arm that previous classes have had, like Noble Meyer, Dylan Lesko or Andrew Painter. There’s enough pure arm talent for this grade to look better later in the spring with some ascending performances ala Jackson Jobe in 2021, but the industry views prep arms as a clear below-average category in aggregate, though there are more split-opinions here than any other category.
High School Hitting
Average Grade: 41
The high school hitting class is the weakest of the group without question. Ten of 13 scouting directors view the high school bats as below-average or worse with just three giving the class an average grade. It’s the only category that didn’t receive a single plus vote by any scouting director. As it stands today there is no comparable talent to the tier of players that includes Walker Jenkins, Max Clark, Druw Jones, Termarr Johnson, Elijah Green, Jordan Lawlar or Marcelo Mayer.
How does the 2024 class stack up when we put all the grades together? Below is every category rounded to the nearest half-grade:
Overall: 45 (fringe-average)
Impact: 45 (fringe-average)
Depth: 50 (average)
College Pitching: 50 (average)
College Hitting: 55 (above-average)
High School Pitching: 40 (below-average)
High School Hitting: 40 (below-average)
In contrast to recent years, the 2024 class is viewed with some skepticism. The 2024 class has the lowest overall, impact talent, depth and high school pitching and hitting grades we have received in the four-year exercise. There’s not a single category that earned a plus grade.
This is also the first year where multiple positional demographics have graded out as 40s. Previously the only 40 that scouting directors put on a position group was the 2022 class of college pitching. That class was plagued by injuries and a lack of innings thanks in part to the shortened 2020 season.
The college ranks are doing the heavy lifting at the moment to give the class even a fringe-average overall grade:
“(2024) doesn’t have the star power of 2023, but there are a lot of high probability major league 45-50s with a core group of quick movers,” said one scouting director. “The problem with the class is the best position players, in both college and high school, are all fighting history as corner guys.”
You can compare and contrast the 2024 class with previous draft classes below: