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How The Top 2024 MLB Draft Prospects Can Get Even Better


Image credit: Nick Kurtz (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

Welcome to our eighth annual first-round MLB Draft to-do list feature. 

Since 2018, we’ve taken a look at the first-round talent at the beginning of the year and attempted to identify areas for growth for prospects to either solidify or enhance their draft stock throughout the spring season. 

Our draft list in January generally does a solid job identifying which players will be in the mix for first-round selections later in the summer, but each draft season features plenty of up-and-down movement on draft boards as players perform, struggle, get injured, pop up and develop as prospects are known to do.

MLB Mock Draft

Here’s how we projected the first round of the 2024 MLB Draft following the draft lottery.

Two notable movers from our 2023 exercise were LSU righthander Paul Skenes and Tennessee shortstop Maui Ahuna. Skenes ranked No. 10 on our draft board in early Jan. 2023, and most of our to-do list capsule for him focused on potential improvements he could make as a hitter. Instead, Skenes dropped hitting entirely, added three ticks to his fastball and more bend to his slider and quickly jumped Rhett Lowder and Chase Dollander to become the top pitching prospect in the class and one of the best in recent years. That led to a No. 1 selection and record draft bonus with the Pirates. 

Ahuna moved in the opposite direction. He ranked No. 14 on the strength of his defensive ability, shortstop profile and standout offensive numbers with Kansas. After transferring to Tennessee, he had an opportunity to add to his offensive resume with his performance against SEC pitching, but instead his strikeout rate jumped 10 points from 20.8% to 31.2% and his swing-and-miss questions led to a fourth-round selection by the Giants.

Each draft class features notable risers and fallers, but the 2024 class could be more interesting than normal in this regard since the top of the class is relatively wide open with no Dylan Crews or Adley Rutschman-caliber prospects leading the group. There’s a large group of prospects who could ultimately push for 1-1 consideration, though most of those players come from the college demographic.

Let’s dig in.

30. Carter Johnson, SS, Oxford (Ala.) HS

Areas to improve: Add confidence to SS profile

Johnson has similar traits to Colt Emerson from the 2023 class as a lefthanded-hitting middle infielder who is viewed as one of the best pure hitters in the class but has some defensive questions. A shortstop now, most scouts will give Johnson a chance to stick at the position, but there are evaluators who think he’s more of an offensive second baseman or better fit for third. Enhancing his reputation as a defender at shortstop will only make his overall profile and hitting chops stand out more. 

29. Anthony Silva, SS, TCU

Areas to improve: Contact vs. secondaries

Silva’s reputation as one of the best defensive shortstops in the country creates a solid floor for him in the draft, and he also had a strong year with the bat for a defense-first player: his .330/.416/.471 slash line and 12.5% strikeout rate showed he can handle his own with the bat at the college level. Scouts are skeptical about his impact potential and overall hitting chops at the next level, however, and part of that is the disparity in his production against fastballs and secondaries. 

  • Against fastballs: .949 OPS, 13% miss, 23% chase
  • Against all secondaries: .814, 32% miss, 29% chase

Adding a bit more pop would be great, but as a high-probability shortstop it’s not as much of a necessity as upping that contact rate against secondaries might be. 

28. Thatcher Hurd, RHP, LSU

Areas to improve: Strikes consistency, improve changeup

Hurd’s college career has been inconsistent so far and the biggest question might simply be the quality of his strikes. He walked hitters at a 7.8% clip at UCLA in 34 innings, and then with LSU in 2023 that number jumped to 13.8%. Hurd has the stuff and build to profile as a starter, but he needs to more effectively establish his fastball for strikes to set up his impressive slider and curveball.

Hurd could also add to his profile by flashing an improved changeup. He overwhelmingly relies on his fastball/slider/curveball trio (98%) and his upper-80s changeup hasn’t been particularly helpful when he has thrown it (1.417 OPS against), so that’s a clear area for improvement as well.

27. Owen Paino, SS, Ketcham HS, Wappingers Falls, N.Y.

Areas to improve: Foot speed, mash New York competition

Paino is an instinctual and fluid defender at shortstop who makes all the plays thanks to excellent positioning, body control, reliable hands and above-average arm strength. However, he is not the quickest defender at the position and because of that, and his larger 6-foot-3 frame, there are scouts who think he might move off the position and become a great defender at third at the next level. Adding to his quickness and range this spring could create more confidence in his shortstop projection moving forward—where he would have some similarities to Red Sox shortstop Marcelo Mayer as a defender. 

Paino didn’t light the world on fire as a hitter last summer and fall, so anything other than dominating his New York competition this spring would only increase the concerns about what his offensive profile might be. 

26. Cam Smith, 3B, Florida State

Areas to improve: Contact and approach

Smith has plenty of physical tools, including plus raw power and plus arm strength, packed into a major league frame, but contact questions and an overly aggressive approach have so far held him back at FSU. In 2023, Smith hit .258/.326/.517 with 12 home runs, a 28.7% strikeout rate, a 9.1% walk rate and more concerningly, a 35%+ chase rate against all pitch types.

Smith did show some improvements with his contact ability and approach in a 44-game summer in the Cape Cod League—including a notable improvement with his chase rate against sliders—but he will need to carry that over to ACC competition for scouts to fully buy in. Smith has the impact ability to place himself among the nation’s leaders in home runs, and if he does so it’s hard to see him lasting until No. 26 on draft day. 

25. Caleb Lomavita, C, California

Areas to improve: Handle the inner third, continue defensive progress

Lomavita has already developed a solid reputation as an offensive-oriented catcher. After a decent freshman debut with California in 2022, he took a big step forward in 2023 by slashing .316/.367/.612 with 16 home runs and just an 11.1% strikeout rate. He also has an impressive wood bat track record and has a combined .323/.364/.460 line in 49 games with Cotuit in the Cape Cod League between two summers.

While Lomavita is more of a pull hitter, he also does better when he’s able to get his hands extended on the outer third of the zone and has struggled with pitches in on his hands. 

  • Outer third: 1.020 OPS
  • Middle third: 1.229 OPS
  • Inner third: .451 OPS

Pro pitchers will be able to exploit that hole in his game more consistently. Lomavita is a strong athlete with above-average arm strength, but he could still continue the improvement he’s already shown in his college career as a receiver and overall defender behind the plate. 

24. Noah Franco, OF/1B/LHP, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.

Areas to improve: Rake against good prep competition, keep misses in check

Franco has legitimate two-way potential at the collegiate level, and if he was only a pitcher he’d still be a pro prospect, but his standout performance as a hitter last summer and fall likely has more MLB teams excited about his upside as a position player. Franco hits for average and impact with aggressive hacks from the left side, and since he’s playing at IMG Academy in Florida, he will have more opportunities to perform against top-end prep pitching this spring. 

With his aggressive swings come a bit of swing-and-miss, so if he can manage his strikeouts and keep the misses in check, it will only add more confidence to his pure hitting chops—particularly since the offensive expectations will be high as a corner profile. 

23. Griff O’Ferrall, SS, Virginia

Areas to improve: Amplify toolset, show better arm strength and pop

O’Ferrall has a steady Eddy, high-performing profile that makes him one of the most reliable players in the country, but does raise questions about his potential impact ability in pro ball. Some teams might like his impressive pure hitting ability and solid glove work in the middle infield, while others will wonder about his raw power and whether he’s a better fit for second base at the next level. 

O’Ferrall has homered just three times in his 123 college games and all three of those have gone to the pull side. Turning a few of the 20 doubles he hit in 2023 into homers in 2024 could help his cause, as could showing more velocity on his throws from his arm side at the shortstop position.

22. Jonathan Santucci, LHP, Duke

Areas to improve: Stay healthy, post all season

Santucci has a well-rounded arsenal from the left side as well as solid starting traits, but he has never started more than seven games in a single season with Duke. In 2022, he split time as a reliever and in 2023, he dealt with an injury that limited him to just 29.1 innings. His 92-94 mph fastball, low-80s slider and mid-80s changeup each have above-average or better potential—all he needs to do this spring is keep showing that same quality stuff over a full season as a starter. 

21. Cam Caminiti, LHP/OF, Saguaro HS, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Areas to improve: Sharpen secondaries

Caminiti’s pro upside is greater on the mound than as a hitter, and the former member of the 2025 high school class had no problem overpowering prep batters with his 92-95 mph fastball. The heater is a potential plus pitch out of an athletic delivery and great pitcher’s frame, but Caminiti can improve a pair of breaking balls.

He’s thrown a slurvy, sweepy slider in the upper 70s and a curveball in the low 70s, but both pitches can improve in power, bite and consistency. At times, he babies the curveball and doesn’t fully get on top of it and both breaking balls can blend together sometimes. Once he starts throwing them with more intent, however, they could become solid-average or better secondaries.

20. Bryce Rainer, SS/RHP, Harvard-Westlake HS, Studio City, Calif.

Areas to improve: Offensive performance against SoCal competition, innings on the mound

There are plenty of two-way players in the 2024 class, but Rainer may have the best upside on both sides of the ball of any high school player. He has a chance for above-average power as a lefthanded-hitting shortstop with double-plus arm strength, and there are scouts who think that arm talent could make him one of the better pitching prospects in the class as well. 

Rainer has spent more time as a hitter than a pitcher in his high school career, but after flashing a 95-96 mph fastball with tremendous ease—on top of a hammer breaking ball—last summer at the Area Code Games, many scouts are all-in on his pitching upside. Simply showing more of that stuff throughout the spring will create more confidence in his profile on the mound for scouting departments. 

19. Cade Arrambide, C, Tomball (Texas) HS

Areas to improve: Show bat-to-ball skills, receiving consistency

Arrambide has plenty of raw power and got to that power in games last summer and fall against quality competition, but he also showed some of the swing-and-miss that he has. Prep catchers are amongst the most risky demographic, so if Arrambide can show more contact ability this spring and push his hit tool evaluation up a half-grade or so, that may help alleviate some of the risk.

Arrambide has a well-earned defensive reputation thanks to his monstrous throwing arm and elite in-game pop times, but his consistency as a receiver and blocker last summer was less consistent from event to event. Some national evaluators likely saw only the bad looks of Arrambide as a defender, so being more consistent in that area this spring will help erase any defensive questions. 

18. Jacob Cozart, C, NC State

Areas to improve: Contact vs. spin, production vs. 93+ velocity

Cozart took a big step forward offensively as a sophomore, but between two college seasons he’s a .275/.369/.474 hitter. Another year hitting over .300 will add more conviction to his hit tool, especially since his wood-bat track record outside of a brief stint with USA Baseball’s college trials are less than stellar.

There are some questions about his offensive profile when you dig into the numbers, and addressing those this spring will be crucial. In a 174-pitch sample against 93+ mph velocity with NC State, Cozart has managed just a .599 OPS. He could stand to make more contact against spin, as his 21% overall miss rate jumps to 34% when you isolate breaking balls.

17. Hagen Smith, LHP, Arkansas

Areas to improve: Maintain velocity gains, refine delivery, sharpen command

Smith added power to both his fastball and slider as a sophomore with Arkansas, jumping two ticks on both pitches, and now sits with a 93 mph fastball. If he maintains the power on both pitches, while also adding a bit of ease to his slightly effortful delivery and improves his control and command, he’ll look more like a big league starter profile.

Through two seasons in the SEC, Smith has managed an impressive 30% strikeout rate, but that has come with a 13.4% walk rate, which will definitely lead some scouts to project him in the bullpen at the next level. There’s a bit of head whack and recoil in his delivery now, and if he can make marginal improvements in that area this spring, his loud fastball/slider combination will only look more impressive.

16. Josh Hartle, LHP, Wake Forest

Areas to improve: Add more power

Hartle has one of the best starting profiles in the entire draft class, thanks to plus control of a four-pitch mix, a great pitcher’s frame at 6-foot-5, 200 pounds and a relatively clean and easy operation—though there could be mixed thoughts on an arm stroke that can get a bit long in the back.

While Hartle’s pure pitching traits are excellent, he does possess one of the slower fastballs in the class among day one pitching prospects. He sat around 90 mph in 2023 and has been up to 94, and has relied more on mixing a cutter, curveball and changeup and dotting around the zone than overpowering hitters to miss bats. If he can add velocity this spring, he’ll raise his upside and appeal to a broader set of teams that might consider him in the first round. 

15. Brody Brecht, RHP, Iowa

Areas to improve: Throw more strikes

More than any pitcher on this list, Brecht needs to do a better job filling up the strike zone in 2024. Only righthander Chase Burns can match him on a pure stuff basis at the moment, and Brecht likely has the edge on Burns in terms of pure athleticism, arm speed and delivery.

Still, his 19.2% walk rate is shockingly high for a college pitcher who has first-round potential, and he may need to improve that to secure his status in this range of the draft. Brecht made marginal improvements year over year and went from a 21.2% walk rate to an 18.4% walk rate, and a new exclusive focus on baseball (Brecht previously played for Iowa’s football team) has scouts excited about the potential strides he can make in 2024. Brecht’s elite arm talent but questionable feel for pitching make him one of the most high-variance names on this list.

14. Charlie Condon, OF, Georgia

Areas to improve: Show defensive versatility

Condon took the college baseball world by storm as a freshman in 2023 when he homered 25 times, led all freshmen with an .800 slugging percentage, averaged nearly 94 mph in exit velocity and was named the freshman of the year. He has a fairly well-rounded offensive profile currently, but did spend most of his time at first base. 

There’s a chance he’ll get more playing time in the outfield this spring with Georgia, and if he shows he can handle a corner outfield role in pro ball, his power-over-hit package becomes all the more appealing. If not, reinforcing his offensive chops as a draft-eligible sophomore in his second season will be as important as anything. 

13. Caleb Bonemer, SS, Okemos (Mich.) HS

Areas to improve: Prove shortstop profile

Bonemer made the most of his summer and fall in 2023 by showing his hitting chops, power potential and speed. He was one of the most significant up-arrow prospects in the class, and now joins both PJ Morlando and Konnor Griffin as the top-end high school options in this year’s class.

With his hitting performance already banked, Bonemer’s biggest area for draft stock improvement probably comes on the defensive side. He has played both shortstop and third base solidly, though most scouts probably think of him as a likely third baseman in the future. If he’s able to improve his fielding, his short-area quickness and range at shortstop this spring, he’ll make a reasonable case as the first high school player off the board.

12. PJ Morlando, OF/1B, Summerville (S.C.) HS

Areas to improve: Put up huge numbers, improve athleticism

Morlando is largely viewed as the most complete offensive player in the prep class. He’s an advanced hitter who led USA Baseball’s 18U team in hitting and has an extensive track record as a high-end performer throughout his high school career. On top of that, he has some of the best raw power in the class.

However, Morlando’s defensive profile is more limited than peers like Caleb Bonemer and Konnor Griffin, and many scouts view him as a future first baseman, despite time spent in both right field and center field. If he can improve his athleticism this spring and show a more realistic chance to be an everyday outfielder in pro ball, then his left-right profile looks incredibly appealing. There have been just four high school first baseman selected in the first round during the bonus pool era (2012-present): 

There’s a strong chance that Morlando is drafted as an outfielder even if teams believe he’ll eventually move to first base, in the same way Red Sox first baseman Triston Casas was selected as a third baseman as the 26th overall pick in 2018. 

11. Konnor Griffin, OF/SS/RHP, Jackson Prep, Flowood, Miss.

Areas to improve: Create confidence in swing and hit tool

There’s no toolsier player in the high school class than Griffin, and so teams who are highly invested in drafting upside and don’t mind a bit of risk will be all over Griffin on draft day. And that’s particularly true if they are outside the range where the elite college bats will be selected. 

While Griffin does have a solid track record as a hitter, he doesn’t have the easiest operation in the box and some scouts wonder what the true quality of his hit tool is. His swing has been disconnected and out of sync at times, so maintaining consistency and fluidity in that department this spring in Mississippi will be important. He should dominate his high school competition, and he’ll need to do so to avoid drawing any sort of skepticism about the much critiqued “Mississippi high school hitter” demographic—even though players like Austin Riley and potentially Colt Keith and Blaze Jordan are quieting that a bit. 

10. Tommy White, 3B, LSU

Areas to improve: Chase less, improve defensive reputation

White is one of the most prolific home run hitters in college baseball, but he has two obvious areas of concern for scouts projecting him at the next level: swing decisions and defensive profile. 

White is one of the most aggressive, free-swinging hitters in the class with a 41% chase rate between his two seasons with NC State and LSU. That hasn’t hampered his production in the slightest at the college level, but there are some questions about whether he can reign in that aggression or continue to excel in spite of it against pro pitchers. Showing a bit more swing discipline could be encouraging.

Additionally, he’s been a fine college third baseman, but scouts view him as a first baseman in pro ball. If he can improve his footwork, glovework and all-around defensive game at the hot corner to give himself a better chance to stick there long term, his right-right profile becomes more appealing. 

9. Braden Montgomery, OF/RHP, Texas A&M

Areas to improve: Righthanded swing, contact

Montgomery made huge improvements with his strike zone discipline year over year and boosted his on-base percentage 100 points because of it. After striking out at a 26.6% rate and walking at a 6.6% rate in 2022, Montgomery struck out 20.6% of the time and walked 16.5% of the time in 2024—which jumped his OBP from .361 to .461. 

Next on his to-do list could be his production as a righthanded hitter. Montgomery has been much better from the left side—which is the strong side of the platoon—in his college career. He has a .331/.432/.641 slash line as a lefthanded hitter and a .265/.333/.434 slash line as a righthanded hitter with significantly more swing-and-miss from the right side and more home run production from the left side.

He could also stand to make more contact from both sides of the plate to help secure a top-10 selection.

8. Seaver King, SS/OF, Wake Forest

Areas to improve: ACC performance, defensive clarity

King’s offensive track record is exceptional. He was one point shy of being a .400 hitter in two seasons with Division II Wingate (N.C.) and slashed .399/.454/.676 with 15 home runs, 38 doubles and 20 stolen bases in 89 games with the program. He’s also added plenty of wood-bat track record between his summers in the Northwoods League, Cape Cod League and with Team USA. 

Now, he needs to continue that performance in his first attempt against ACC pitching this spring, where he should face more velocity, but will also be much less of a focal point for opposing game plans thanks to the presence of slugger Nick Kurtz. If he doesn’t miss a beat in the ACC, it’s hard to see him not being selected among the first 15 picks. 

King is a standout athlete who has solid potential at a number of defensive positions, but if he looks like an above-average regular in center field—or another spot—this spring that might help codify his likely role in pro ball as well. 

7. Chase Burns, RHP, Wake Forest

Areas to improve: Flash third pitch, dominate as a starter

As mentioned previously, Burns has some of the best pure stuff in the class with an elite fastball/slider combination that rivals Brody Brecht’s. He was a lights-out starter as a freshman with Tennessee in 2022, but took a step back in 2023, where he transitioned to a long-relieving, piggy-back role. 

Burns has thrown a solid rate of strikes in his college career, but showcasing his stuff in a season-long starting role with Wake Forest as part of one of the best pitching staffs in the country should add confidence to his profile this spring. Part of that could come from expanding his repertoire. His fastball and slider accounted for around 93% of his pitch usage in his first two seasons, and while that makes sense given the quality of those pitches, flashing a solid third pitch more frequently wouldn’t hurt. 

6. Vance Honeycutt, OF, North Carolina

Areas to improve: Make more contact

In terms of tools, athleticism, defensive profile and college production, Honeycutt has perhaps the best case for the first overall pick in the draft. The players in front of him have simply done a better job showcasing an impact hit tool. Honeycutt has only hit .279 across two seasons with UNC, and he has done that while striking out at a 25.5% clip—though he did improve from 29.7% to 20.4% from his freshman to sophomore seasons.

His swing, contact ability and overall hit-tool quality are the only real questions for Honeycutt. He needs to show improvements in this area and should face enough quality competition to reasonably move the needle with a standout season. That means showing better pitch recognition against secondaries, showing an ability to use the entire field and hitting for average against 92+ mph velocity. 

5. Mike Sirota, OF, Northeastern

Areas to improve: Hit the ball harder, continue CAA domination

Like Honeycutt, Sirota has an extremely well-rounded tools profile and he also has the better pure hit tool of the duo, though that has been displayed against CAA competition instead of ACC. Like all small-school hitters, Sirota will need to continue dominating his competition like he did in his first two seasons when he slashed .338/.449//.611 with an excellent 14.2% walk rate.

He also added to his resume by hitting well during multiple summers in the Cape Cod League, where he was a .312/.465/.477 hitter in 37 games. His lack of power with a wood bat will raise eyebrows, so adding more impact this spring will be another area for potential improvement for Sirota.

4. Jac Caglianone, 1B/LHP, Florida

Areas to improve: Strikes on the mound, swing decisions at the plate

Caglianone is likely the most talented overall prospect in the draft class thanks to an upper-90s fastball from the left side and easy double-plus raw power that led to a nation-leading 33 home runs in 2023. While Caglianone’s talent is obvious, so are his areas for improvement. 

He needs to become more of a pitcher and less of a thrower on the mound, and he needs to become more of a pure hitter and less of a free swinger in the batter’s box. His 44% chase rate is one of the worst marks among hitting prospects in the class—which is a testament to his raw power that he managed to homer 33 times in spite of it—and will create questions about how his hitting ability and power translate to pro pitching. He’s struck out at about an 18% clip and walked at a 5% clip for two seasons—the former is not an issue but the latter could be improved.

On the mound, Caglianone has significant reliever questions thanks to the 16.1% walk rate he posted in 2023 and the general inconsistency with his release point and strikes. If he puts the ball over the plate more frequently, he has the pure stuff to dominate even in the deepest hitting conference in the country. 

3. Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State

Areas to improve: Opposite-field pop, throwing

Bazzana has established himself as one of the best pure hitters in the class thanks to nonstop performance in wood-bat summer leagues and with Oregon State during the spring. He makes strong swing decisions, a ton of contact and uses the entire field with scorched line drives. 

At 6-foot, 199 pounds, Bazzana won’t be confused for a slugger, but he could up his stock by showcasing more all-fields power after most of his 17 homers with Oregon State have gone to the pull side. Hitting for a bit more impact overall couldn’t hurt either. One minor note is that Bazzana has thrown from an odd, low slot on routine plays at second base, and that could be a concern for scouts when projecting his defense to pro ball. He’s more than athletic enough to be an above-average defender, but removing any questions about his throwing motion and arm strength would be nice.

2. JJ Wetherholt, 2B, West Virginia

Areas to improve: Show he can play shortstop

Along with Travis Bazzana and Nick Kurtz, Wetherholt is one of the most well-rounded hitters in the class and is coming off a 2023 season where he led all DI hitters with a .449 average. There’s not much more he can do to enhance his offensive reputation, so he needs to simply keep performing around his career average to maintain top-of-the-board stock.

He will get an opportunity to change his defensive profile this spring, however. He’s moving from second base to shortstop, and if he shows he can play the position every day at pro ball, it’s hard to find a real question mark in his profile. That could be enough to establish him as the obvious 1-1 talent this class currently lacks.

1. Nick Kurtz, 1B, Wake Forest

Areas to improve: Maintain offensive profile, show defensive versatility

Kurtz may have less opportunity to improve his reputation as a defender than Wetherholt, since he’s expected to continue playing first base for Wake, where he is perhaps one of the best defenders in the nation. Elite first base defense doesn’t move the needle as much as elite defense further up the defensive spectrum, so the biggest thing for Kurtz will be to simply continue mashing. 

He should be the central offensive figure at Wake Forest this spring now that Brock Wilken has moved to pro ball, and if he performs around his career average—.345/.499/.708 with 20 or more homers—he should have a good chance to become the highest drafted hitter in program history. The track record of top-of-the-draft college first basemen is dicey, so any chance to showcase defensive versatility and athleticism in the outfield will only embolden teams that are afraid to miss at the position.

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