Mock draft: College prospects stack up Top 10

May 3rd, 2024

You know it’s really Draft season when the first mock draft is out.

Between now and July 14, when the 2024 Draft begins, Jim Callis and I will be providing prognostications of the first round on a fairly regular basis with the hope that our final mocks the night before the Guardians get things going with the No. 1 pick are as close to accurate as we can get them.

It’s way too early now to project with any certainty who is going where. But I did connect with scouts from nearly every team in the first round to get a sense of where things stand as of this moment. Providing each team with a scenario of who I have going in front of them, I tried to make sure that each selection was someone the team would consider.

What does seem fairly certain as of right now is that there is some consensus that the top 11 names in our Top 150 have separated themselves. That’s not to say a team in the top 11 won’t take someone not in that list, allowing one (or more) of that 11 to drop down some. But this edition, I have those names going in the top 11, all but two of them college players, albeit not in the exact order of ranking.

The two areas I had trouble placing were the college catchers and, as is often the case, the high school pitching. Consider this a snapshot of where we are right now, with much, much more to come.

1. Guardians: Charlie Condon, OF/3B, Georgia (No. 1)
There does seem to be consensus in the scouting industry that Condon, who brings his ridiculous .456/.563/1.088 line with 30 homers into this weekend’s series against Vanderbilt, is the best player in the class. Add in that the Guardians could use some right-handed power in the organization and this seems a natural fit.

2. Reds: Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State (No. 2)
If Condon is No. 1, Bazzana isn’t exactly a distant No. 2, with his 1.517 OPS, 21 homers and 10 steals. The left-handed-hitting second baseman does seem like a prototypical Reds college hitter type, one who should make it to the big leagues in a hurry.

3. Rockies: Jac Caglianone, 1B/LHP, Florida (No. 3)
Caglianone took big steps forward at the plate and on the mound, but his future seems to be as a left-handed slugger, one who has made terrific adjustments in terms of his approach and chase rate, allowing him to post a .402/.505/.862 line with 26 homers to date.

4. A’s: Braden Montgomery, OF, Texas A&M (No. 5)
The move from Standord to Texas A&M has been a good one for Montgomery, who is hitting .365/.502/.859 with 23 homers so far this spring. Teams in this 3-to-5 range might be considering Caglianone, Montgomery and the guy I have going next.

5. White Sox: Nick Kurtz, 1B, Wake Forest (No. 4)
Kurtz has shaken off a slow start to the 2024 season and seems to homer in just about every game. He’s now up 18 long balls to go along with a .305/.524/.805 line. He has a 1.409 OPS in ACC play.

6. Royals: Konnor Griffin, SS/OF, Jackson Prep, Miss. (No. 9)
This seems like the first spot a high schooler could go, and new scouting director Brian Bridges does like prep bats. Griffin has perhaps the best all-around tools in the class and if there weren’t some small questions about his hit tool, he might be in the 1-1 conversation.

7. Cardinals: Hagen Smith, LHP, Arkansas (No. 6)
The Cards did take college pitching in the first round in 2021 and 2022, though they weren’t picking this high. Smith has vaulted to the top of the pitching crop as the most consistent college starter, using two easily plus pitches to post a 1.35 ERA and an absurd 16.7 K/9 rate.

8. Angels: JJ Wetherholt, SS/2B, West Virginia (No. 8)
Hamstring issues kept Wetherholt off the field for a chunk of this spring and it’s concerned some because it’s a recurring injury. He spent last weekend at shortstop and assuming he hits like he always does once he gets going, he could sneak back up into top-five talk easily.

9. Pirates: Bryce Rainer, SS, Harvard-Westlake, Calif. (No. 10)
There are those who prefer Rainer over Griffin because of certainty surrounding the hit tool. He’s made a huge leap forward into top 10 consideration as someone who can really hit -- with pop -- from the left side, while sticking at shortstop in a Corey Seager kind of way.

10. Nationals: Chase Burns, RHP, Wake Forest (No. 7)
No one has ever questioned Burns’ pure stuff; it was always a matter of command (especially in the zone). Heading to Wake Forest’s pitching lab has been a good move because the right-hander has walked just 2.7 per nine and given up just 5.7 hits per nine (vs. 7.5 at Tennessee in 2023) while not sacrificing anything in terms of missing bats (16.6 K/9).

11. Tigers: Trey Yesavage, RHP, East Carolina (No. 11)
Thus ends the run of “the 11.” Yesavage has been extremely consistent, with a 1.73 ERA to go along with 15.0 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 rates, a reason why he vaulted from No. 36 on our Top 100 in December up to No. 11 overall.

12. Red Sox: Seaver King, 3B/OF, Wake Forest (No. 13)
As of right now, it seems like the Red Sox and Giants are in on the next wave of college bats, and it’s possible they both have the same two hitters atop that list. One is King, who hit .424 on the Cape last summer and has an OPS north of 1.000 this year in his first year at Wake. The other is …

13. Giants: Vance Honeycutt, OF, North Carolina (No. 23)
Honeycutt has very loud tools, with a very intriguing power-speed combination to go along with potential Gold Glove defense in center field. He went 20-20 as a freshman and he’s on his way this year, with 18 homers and 26 steals, but teams worry about his swing-and-miss (27.3 percent K rate in 2024).

14. Cubs: Cam Smith, 3B, Florida State (No. 21)
After scuffling as a freshman, Smith turned it around and posted a .981 OPS on the Cape last summer. He’s more than kept it going this spring, with a .399/.478/.640 line while looking athletic at third in his sophomore-eligible season.

15. Mariners: Billy Amick, 3B, Tennessee (No. 15)
Tennessee has several members of its lineup who could go early on in the Draft and Amick could very well lead that group. He transferred from Clemson and has a .360/.438/.799 line while proving to many skeptics that he can stick at third.

16. Marlins: James Tibbs, OF, Florida State (No. 22)
College performers at big programs often make huge leaps and that’s exactly what Tibbs has done. Scouts get a good 2-for-1 deal when they check out the Seminoles with Cam Smith and Tibbs, who has a 1.321 OPS, 18 homers and twice as many walks as strikeouts this spring.

17. Brewers: Kaelen Culpepper, SS, Kansas State (No. 31)
The Brewers have taken a college hitter with their first pick in four straight Drafts, so why not make it five? There are several to choose from still and I’ll give Culpepper the nod because he might have a chance to stick up the middle (or be a plus defender at third) with solid all-around tools that have led to a .961 OPS so far this year.

18. Rays: Cam Caminiti, LHP, Saguaro HS, Ariz. (No. 17)
A high school arm! Caminiti reclassified to be eligible for this year, so he’s young and he’s super-athletic. And left-handed. He answered some small questions about his secondary stuff on Wednesday by striking out 17, walking none, and landing his slider for strikes while mixing in a distinct curve, leading some to think he’ll go higher than this.

19. Mets: Dakota Jordan, OF, Mississippi State (No. 24)
Jordan originally headed to Mississippi State to play football and baseball, but giving up the gridiron looks like a good move. He has a ton of bat speed and power and has a 1.214 OPS this year, though some are worried about the sophomore’s strikeouts (28.7 percent K rate).

20. Blue Jays: Tommy White, 3B, Louisiana State (No. 16)
Tommy Tanks hit 27 homers as a freshman at North Carolina State and 24 more last year in his first season with LSU. He’s up to 18 so far this year, with a 1.073 OPS, and his power to all fields will entice many teams in this 18-25 range.

21. Twins: Carson Benge, OF, Oklahoma State (No. 20)
We’ll make it three college bats in a row here with Benge, who is a two-way guy at Oklahoma State. While he works out of the bullpen on the mound, his future is in the outfield as a performer who has a .324/.442/.654 line, with 12 homers and more walks than strikeouts.

22. Orioles: Theo Gillen, SS/2B, Westlake HS, Texas (No. 26)
Injuries slowed Gillen early in his high school career, but he’s taken off as a senior. He’s one of two prep middle infielders who went from not being in the Top 100 in December into first-round consideration this spring. A left-handed hitter, he is proving to be one of the best pure prep hitters in the class.

23. Dodgers: Brody Brecht, RHP, Iowa (No. 28)
When he’s on, Brecht’s fastball and slider are Skenes-esque. His command has always been an issue, with a 7.2 BB/9 rate in his Iowa career. His last two starts have been encouraging (14 2/3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 6 BB, 23 K) and the Dodgers do have a reputation for helping high-octane arms figure things out.

24. Braves: Caleb Lomavita, C, California (No. 14)
One of the college catchers I mentioned in the intro, Lomavita could very well go higher than this. He’s an athletic backstop with plus arm strength and some pop at the plate who has an OPS of 1.027 this spring, but teams have expressed concern over his overly aggressive approach at the plate and 38-percent chase rate.

25. Padres: Kellon Lindsey, SS, Hardee Senior HS, Fla. (No. 30)
Here’s the second high school middle infielder to jump from off the Top 100 last winter into potentially being a first-round pick. Lindsey is a former QB who missed the summer showcase circuit, so he wasn’t seen a ton, but he’s been rocketing up boards thanks to his premium speed and athleticism.

26. Yankees: Jonathan Santucci, LHP, Duke (No. 29)
The Yankees haven’t taken a pitcher with their first pick since 2017, but right now it seems like the bats they’d be interested in are already off the board in this first mock. This could point them to a college arm like Santucci, who is athletic and misses bats, though he’s struggled with his command this year.

27. Phillies: Malcolm Moore, C, Stanford (No. 32)
This is the other college backstop I referred to at the top. Moore’s surface numbers don’t stand out (.245 batting average), but he does have 13 homers and has a .967 OPS. He’s still hitting the ball hard, but running into bad luck on balls in play and that, along with improvements behind the dish, means the sophomore could be gone before this pick.

28. Astros: Walker Janek, C, Sam Houston (No. 25)
Janek has the chance to be a solid catch-and-throw guy with a plus arm that can neutralize a running game. His approach at the plate has improved this spring, leading to a .366/.467/.686 line with 12 homers.

29. D-backs: Jurrangelo Cijntje, SWP, Mississippi State (No. 41)
That’s not a typo, Cijntje can pitch with both hands, though scouts see a starter in a Marcus Stroman mold right-handed and more of a reliever from the left side. There were a ton of scouts who saw his last start on Sunday, when he was consistently 97-99 mph from the right side for five innings.

30. Rangers: William Schmidt, RHP, Catholic HS, La. (No. 12)
This is the high school arm I had trouble placing. Talent-wise, he could go much higher with one of the best breaking balls of any pitcher in the class. Prep right-handers do often slip a bit, but the Rangers aren’t afraid to take chances.