Image credit: Cam Cannarella (Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
1. Cam Cannarella, OF, Clemson
Cannarella enjoyed a sensational freshman season, in which he hit .388/.462/.560 with 16 doubles, seven home runs, 47 RBIs and 24 stolen bases. He was named the ACC Freshman of the Year and earned an invitation to Team USA.
Cannarella has a wiry and athletic frame at 6’, 175-pounds. He has an open stance in the box with a semi-high handset. While there are some moving parts in his swing, he is consistently on time and in a good hitter’s position. Bottom line, he makes it work. Cannarella has above-average bat speed and uses all fields, but his ability to generate quality contact to the opposite field is especially impressive. He has excellent bat-to-ball skills, as in 2023 he had a 93% IZ contact rate, including a video game–like 97% IZ contact rate against fastballs. Simply put, you are not going to beat him with the heater.
Cannarella is an outstanding defender in center field and has a quick first step with great instincts. Both his speed and raw athleticism shine. He is able to cover a ton of ground in all directions and makes big-time plays on a regular basis. While his arm is average, his speed, athleticism and baseball sense will allow him to stick at the position. Cannarella is ultra-competitive and plays the game with his hair on fire.
2. Jace LaViolette, OF, Texas A&M
A 6-foot-6 adonis, LaViolette had an outstanding 2023 season to the tune of a .287/.414/.632 slash line with a team-leading 21 home runs and 63 RBIs. Perhaps most underrated, Laviolette also led the Aggies with 18 stolen bases. He was named a second team Freshman All-American and spent his summer split between the Cape Cod Baseball League and with Team USA. In his week on the Cape, Laviolette went 8-for-21 (.381) and walked (5) nearly as much as he struck out (6). He enjoyed similar success with Team USA, as between training camp and international series he worked a .292 average with a pair of home runs.
LaViolette stands almost completely upright in the box with a slightly open front side. He has a minimal load and stride and lets his natural strength and bat speed do most of the work. LaViolette does a nice job of creating loft in his swing and is able to do damage to all fields. With a 90th percentile exit velocity and max exit velocity of 109 and 113 respectively, the impact LaViolette is able to generate is impressive. He has plus raw power to all fields, and double-plus raw power to the pull side.
LaViolette has a sound approach, though his bat-to-ball skills will need to improve given his 78% in-zone contact rate. He moves well for his size, but his actions and arm strength are likely best suited for left field. Even if he shifts over to left field or first base, LaViolette’s offensive prowess will be hard to pass up.
3. Caden Bodine, C, Coastal Carolina
When it comes to pure hitters in this class, Bodine is among the best. In 2023, he slashed an impressive .367/.456/.609 with 11 doubles, 17 home runs, 47 RBIs and a walk-to-strikeout ratio of 34-to-21. Bodine carried his hot hitting over to the Cape Cod League, and in 26 games with the Bourne Braves he hit .384/.491/.454 with four-extra base hits, 19 RBIs and more walks (18) than strikeouts (13). Bodine was named the Sun Belt Conference’s Freshman of the Year and was also a first team All-Sun Belt Conference selection and second team Freshman All-American.
A switch-hitter, Bodine had similar success from both the left and right side, where he hit .360 and .345, respectively. He has a relaxed setup in the box with a moderately high leg kick and noticeable barrel tip. From the right side, his barrel tip is a bit less pronounced, his leg kick is not as high and there is some quickness in his hands. Bodine has an advanced feel for the barrel, and his bat-to-ball skills are double-plus.
Last season, he boasted an overall contact rate of 89% (93% against fastballs) and an astounding overall in-zone contact rate of 93% (97% against fastballs). Bodine’s pitch recognition skills are also advanced, and he does well picking up spin out of the hand. A hit-over-power offensive profile, Bodine’s hit tool is a strong 60, maybe even a 70, and his power is a tick above average.
At 5-foot-10 and 200-pounds, Bodine has the prototypical build for a catcher. He is a well-rounded plus defender who receives well with soft hands, does a great job corralling balls in the dirt (just five passed balls in 2023) and has a strong, accurate throwing arm. Bodine’s arm is comfortably a 55, and in 2023 he threw out one-third of potential base stealers. His defensive success also carried over to the Cape, where he threw out 31% of potential base stealers. A remarkably consistent player in all facets of the game, Bodine could play his way into being selected first overall.
4. Ethan Petry, OF, South Carolina
As a true freshman, Petry was the centerpiece of a talented South Carolina lineup and a big reason for its run to a Super Regional. He hit .376/.471/.733 with 10 doubles, 23 home runs and 75 RBIs. On top of being named a second team All-American and first team Freshman All-American, Petry was invited to Team USA’s training camp.
At 6-foot-4 and 235-pounds, Petry is as physical as they come. He has a quiet setup in the box with an open front side and high handset. Petry uses a modified toe tap that leads into a normal stride. He has thunderous bat speed and does an excellent job of rotating and finishing his swing. Petry’s back hip explodes through the baseball, and he hammers the baseball to all fields. While he’s a finished product physically, Petry’s raw power still grades out as a 70.
His hit tool is solid-average, and he has the tendency to expand the strike zone especially against spin. Petry has an above-average arm in right field, but long term he seems destined for first base. Even so, Petry’s bat makes him a likely top half of the first round draft choice.
5. Devin Taylor, OF, Indiana
Although he received plenty of draft interest coming out of high school, Taylor ultimately opted to take his talents to Bloomington. He burst onto the scene in 2023 and hit .315/.430/.650 with 13 doubles, 18 home runs and an Indiana freshman record 59 RBIs. Taylor had a similarly successful summer season with the Keene Swamp Bats of the New England Collegiate League and posted a .314/.368/.554 slash line with five doubles, eight home runs and 30 RBIs in 33 games.
On top of being a first team All-Big 10 selection, Taylor became just the third player in program history to be named Big 10 Freshman of The Year. The only other Hoosiers to take home the award were Alex Dickerson and Sam Travis, both of whom are former big leaguers.
Taylor has a strong, physical build at 6-feet and 190-pounds with a thick lower half. In the box, he has a strong base with a slightly open front side. Taylor pre-swing wiggles the bat slightly above his back shoulder, a timing mechanism that leads into a slight barrel tip and normal stride. He takes a direct path to contact and there is no shortage of bat speed. Taylor has an advanced feel for the barrel and rotates well in his swing.
He has plus power, and most importantly he is able to get to it in games. Taylor generates serious impact, and his 90th percentile exit velocity of 107.5 is on par with fourth overall pick Wyatt Langford (107.6). His pitch recognition skills are above average, but he sometimes will get trigger happy against fastballs.
Taylor this spring will hold down right field for the Hoosiers, where he has an average arm, though his actions and arm could profile best in left field. As one of the premier bats in college baseball, Taylor over the next two seasons could very well establish himself as a top-half of the first round pick.
6. Chase Shores, RHP, Louisiana State
Shores began the 2023 season as LSU’s midweek starter before making the transition into the bullpen. While his season was cut short due an arm injury, he showed flashes of his premium arm talent and pitched his way to a 1.96 ERA with 15 strikeouts across 18.1 innings. Shores is expected to be out for most of the 2024 season, though he should be back in the Tigers bullpen down the stretch before logging meaningful innings this summer.
Shores is an imposing figure on the mound and stands at a towering 6-foot-8, 245-pounds. He is high-waisted with some thickness in his lower half and attacks from a low-three quarter slot with above-average arm speed. There isn’t a whole lot of effort in Shores’ delivery, and he is an incredibly tough at-bat for opposing hitters.
His calling card is his thunderous high-90s fastball that topped out at 102 last fall. It explodes out of the hand and flashes plenty of run to the arm side. Shores relies heavily on his heater, but he also features a high-80s power changeup that has heavy tumbling life and a low-80s slider that has some depth to it. Both have plus potential, though he will need to display more advanced feel for each pitch.
On top of his secondary offerings taking a step forward, in order to establish himself as a starter, Shores’s command and control will need to take a similar step. He falls off a bit towards the first base side, so improving his direction could be beneficial.
Even though Shores will be out for most of the season and again pitch out of the bullpen, he projects to be a weekend starter in 2025 and will have the chance to pitch himself into a potential top 20 overall pick.
7. Wehiwa Aloy, SS, Arkansas
Last year at Sacramento State, Aloy had one of the best seasons of any true freshman in the country to the tune of a .376/.427/.662 slash line with 15 doubles, five triples, 14 home runs and 46 RBIs across 56 games. He was named the WAC Freshman of the Year and was a second team Freshman All-American. Following the conclusion of the season, Aloy entered the transfer portal and eventually committed to Arkansas.
Aloy has a physical build at 6-foot-1 and 195-pounds, and he possesses plenty of natural strength. He has an interesting setup at the plate and stands slightly hunched over with a low handset. Aloy uses a toe tap as a timing mechanism and has above-average bat speed. He is able to generate quality contact and can drive the baseball into either gap with authority. Aloy has above average raw power, especially to the pull side, and in 2023 posted a max exit velocity of 111.1.
While Aloy’s aggressive approach last spring warranted positive results, it also led to high chase rates across the board. One bugaboo seems to be picking up spin, as he has the tendency to swing-and-miss as well as expand the strike zone.
Aloy’s defense at shortstop last spring was a little inconsistent, and he made 17 errors. However, from April 29th on, he committed just one. Aloy has average arm strength, and his overall defensive skill set might be best suited for second base. This spring, he projects to be Coach Dave Van Horn’s everyday shortstop, and facing SEC pitching will be a new challenge. Aloy has performed well this fall, and with another strong spring he could establish himself as a slam dunk first-round pick.
8. Gavin Turley, OF, Oregon State
Turley received top two–round interest out of high school, but at the end of the day he decided to honor his commitment to Oregon State. His college career could not have gotten off to a better start, as in his first career game he blasted a solo home run and through March 7th was hitting .362. But just like any freshman, Turley experienced his fair share of growing pains and his average on May 5th was sitting at just .227. However, he finished the season as one of the hottest hitters in the country and wound up with a .309/.438/.664 slash line with nine doubles, 14 home runs and 46 RBIs in 44 games. Turley spent his summer with the Falmouth Commodores of the Cape Cod League, where he flashed his loud toolset.
Turley boasts an athletic frame at 6-foot-1 and 185-pounds. He has an explosive operation in the box with double-plus bat speed and an active lower-half. Turley creates leverage to the pull side, and he has plus power that he has no issue getting to in-game. The biggest key for Turley to maximize his immense upside is for his hit tool to take a sizable step forward. Last year, he ran an overall contact rate of just 60% and especially struggled to pick up secondary offerings.
In the field, Turley has a plus arm and his athleticism translates well to the outfield. Don’t be surprised if in the future he slides from left field to right where his arm will certainly play, but this spring he will again hold down left with both Micah McDowell (.342/.428/.509) and Brady Kasper (.304/.400/.558) both back. Should it all click at the dish, Turley has top 10 overall upside. He is perhaps the toolsiest player in the entire class.
9. Ike Irish, C, Auburn
Irish is a lot similar to Bodine in that he is a bat-first catcher with an incredibly advanced offensive skill set. In 2023, he hit .361/.429/.546 with 24 doubles, six home runs and 50 RBIs. Irish was named to the SEC’s All-Freshman team and proceeded to enjoy an all-star summer on the Cape, in which he hit .283/.383/.348 with five extra-base hits.
Irish has a wide base with an open front side and medium-high handset. With two strikes, he gets deeper into his base and eliminates his stride. Irish has a short, direct swing with plus bat speed, and he does a nice job of hitting against a firm front side. He sprays the baseball all over the yard with a gap-to-gap approach and has present power to the pull side.
His hit tool grades out as plus, and he has double-plus bat-to-ball skills and a great feel for the barrel. Irish in 2023 boasted an in-zone contact rate of 95% and against fastballs 92+, he hit .346 with seven extra-base hits.
This past spring, Irish caught some, but was mainly used at DH. This summer, he split time between first base and behind the dish. His defense is a bit of a work in progress, and his catching skills will need to gain polish. Irish has a plus arm, but his transfers are sometimes on the slower side and his footwork needs work. However, he is on track to be Auburn’s everyday backstop this spring, and getting consistent reps will go a long way in maximizing his defensive ability.
Although there is a chance he moves to first base, Irish’s bat and offensive profile are enough to warrant an eventual first-round selection.
10. Tyler Bremner, RHP, UC Santa Barbara
To round out the top 10, I’m rolling with who I believe to be the best arm that not many people have heard of to this point. As a freshman, Bremner split time between the bullpen and the rotation and pitched his way to a modest 5.37 ERA with an impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio of 80-to-17 across 55.1 innings.
Bremner has a lean, athletic build at 6-foot-2 and 180-pounds. He has room to fill out physically and as he does, his already-electric stuff will only tick up. Bremner has an easy, under control operation with present arm speed. He attacks hitters from a high-three quarter slot and his fastball sits in the 93-96 range, while topping out at 98. It has big-time run and ride and is most effective when located in the top half of the zone. Between its velocity and shape, it is currently a plus pitch.
He boasts two quality secondary offerings in a mid-80s changeup and low-80s slider. Bremner’s changeup is the more polished of the two, but his slider has tons of potential. In 2023, Bremner’s changeup generated an impressive 48% miss rate. He has advanced feel for the offering, and he will throw it to both left and righthanded hitters. It plays well off his mid-90s fastball and flashes late tumbling life.
Bremner threw his slider just 12% of the time in 2023, but it has true out-pitch potential. It features ample late sweeping life as well as some depth and is a real weapon against righthanded hitters. It has reportedly taken a step forward this fall and could be a lethal offering in 2024.
Between his plus control, low effort delivery, and the chance to have three plus pitches, Bremner profiles as a starter professionally. He has a chance to become a household name this spring, and with two strong seasons pitching in the rotation, Bremner will be in contention to be the first college arm off the board.