Mock draft: College position players dominate Top 10

May 31st, 2024

Just a few years ago, the scouting industry and, as a result, those of us who cover the Draft, would just about be in “Go” mode. The recently completed conference tournaments used to be the last looks decision-makers would get at the college crop in a class. Perhaps area scouts would hit the Regionals, set to begin this weekend, but scouting directors and GMs wouldn’t get to those because the June Draft typically started right at the end of that first round of postseason play.

When the event was moved to July and the All-Star break, we all had to learn to shift our internal Draft clocks. Teams can, and will, scout Regionals, Super Regionals, even the College World Series, fairly heavily. Plus there’s the mid-June Draft Combine as well.

I bring all this up, more than six weeks before the Draft actually begins, to make it clear just how much longer we have to go here and how much still can change. Teams have yet to zero in on things like medical reports and signability, so this new mock still has a good amount of conjecture involved, albeit with a new Draft Top 200 list and an executive survey that do provide some insights.

The top 10 names still seem to be about the same, but as Jim Callis pointed out in his mid-May mock, it’s rare that the top 10 guys go in the top 10, even if that’s how I’ve drawn it up for this edition (with some changes in order from Jim’s). I’ll point out throughout the projection when there are names who seem to be creeping up the first round in conversations, though it’s still a bit early in my opinion to go into any real detail about permutations in each spot.

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As always, there are some players I wanted to get into the first 30 picks, but couldn’t quite find a home. There is a lot of buzz for Illinois prep right-hander Ryan Sloan and Arkansas high school outfielder Slade Caldwell, with both being mentioned as high as the teens (especially Sloan). California high school righty Braylon Doughty’s name has come up a little bit, so keep an eye on that one, as the prep pitching set is always so difficult to place.

1. Guardians: Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State (No. 1)
Bazzana, our new No. 1, and Charlie Condon continue to get the bulk of the buzz for the top spot, and both continue to put up video-game type numbers.

2. Reds: Charlie Condon, OF/3B, Georgia (No. 2)
In many ways, the Reds are in a good spot and can take whichever college bat the Guardians don’t take. In this case, it’s Condon.

3. Rockies: Chase Burns, RHP, Wake Forest (No. 5)
There’s been talk that at least one of the two top college arms would break into the top of the Draft ahead of a couple of the college bats we’ve had up here. Burns has been on fire of late, with 71 strikeouts over 33 innings in his last five starts.

4. A’s: Braden Montgomery, OF, Texas A&M (No. 8)
With plenty of college power still on the board, the A’s have some options and Montgomery, with his 26 homers and 1.193 OPS, is still very much in the mix.

5. White Sox: Jac Caglianone, 1B/LHP, Florida (No. 3)
Yes, the chase rate concerns some, but the guy just doesn’t swing-and-miss, carrying a .415/.525/.844 line with 29 homers into Regional play.

6. Royals: Nick Kurtz, 1B, Wake Forest (No. 4)
He shook off a slow start and now has 22 homers and a 1.327 OPS for the year. Who wouldn’t want to see him in a lineup with Bobby Witt Jr.?

7. Cardinals: Hagen Smith, LHP, Arkansas (No. 6)
Smith, currently holding an NCAA Division I record 17.5 K/9 rate, is the other college arm who could break into the group of top 5 college bats, so it shouldn’t shock anyone if he goes earlier than this.

8. Angels: JJ Wetherholt, SS/2B, West Virginia (No. 7)
After missing time earlier this year with a hamstring issue, Wetherholt has gotten back to punishing baseballs, with an OPS of 1.132 and almost twice as many walks as he has strikeouts (29/15) this season.

9. Pirates: Bryce Rainer, SS, Harvard-Westlake, Calif. (No. 10)
He’s a big, left-handed-hitting shortstop, so of course he gives off Corey Seager vibes. Many scouts have more conviction in his hit tool compared to the next prep bat to come off the board ...

10. Nationals: Konnor Griffin, SS/OF, Jackson Prep, Miss. (No. 9)
Griffin has the best all-around toolset of perhaps anyone in the entire class, and even if Rainer gets the edge in the hit tool, there’s enough belief that Griffin can hit for him to land in the top 10.

11. Tigers: Cam Caminiti, LHP, Saguaro HS, Ariz. (No. 17)
As of right now, this seems to be the ceiling for the young lefty in Arizona who got the most votes in our executive survey as best prep pitcher in the class.

12. Red Sox: James Tibbs, OF, Florida State (No. 16)
Tibbs’ name is coming up a lot among top 10 teams because his bat could move quickly through a system, though his lack of a defensive profile could limit him a little.

13. Giants: Seaver King, 3B/OF, Wake Forest (No. 13)
If things play out like this, the Giants might want to look at college bats and King would certainly be in the mix.

14. Cubs: Cam Smith, 3B, Florida State (No. 14)
He’s sophomore-eligible and has put his freshman troubles behind, cutting down his swing-and-miss considerably this spring. Plus, he put up good numbers with a wood bat in the Cape Cod League last summer.

15. Mariners: Trey Yesavage, RHP, East Carolina (No. 11)
Yesavage is clearly the third best college arm in the class but his recent punctured lung creates some question marks. If he gets back on the mound healthy, he could very likely go higher than this.

16. Marlins: Walker Janek, C, Sam Houston State (No. 23)
Placing the top college catchers isn’t easy this year, but Janek’s name has been floating up closer to the top half of the first round thanks to an improved approach at the plate to go along with his plus arm strength.

17. Brewers: Vance Honeycutt, OF, North Carolina (No. 20)
The power-speed combination (22 homers, 28 steals) brings in a ton of interest; the K rate (26.9 pct) makes many pause.

18. Rays: Christian Moore, 2B, Tennessee (No. 25)
A college bat with some helium, he’s performed his way (.382/.447/.789 with 28 homers) to the top of the group of talented Volunteers bats. Putting him here is more of a reflection of overall rising interest in Moore than conviction the Rays are super-interested.

19. Mets: Carson Benge, OF, Oklahoma State (No. 19)
Benge could find his way anywhere in this run of college hitters, with some even thinking he deserves top 10 consideration.

20. Blue Jays: Billy Amick, 3B, Tennessee (No. 26)
Amick has been knocked down a bit through no fault of his own (appendectomy) and it wouldn’t be surprising that strong performances in postseason play could put an up arrow back next to his name.

21. Twins: Tommy White, 3B, Louisiana State (No. 15)
There are those who prefer White over someone like, say, Tibbs, because he has the chance to stick on the dirt at third. A total of 75 homers in three collegiate seasons is nothing to sneeze at.

22. Orioles: Theo Gillen, SS/2B, Westlake HS, Texas (No. 27)
He can hit and he can run, though there are some questions about where he’ll play defensively.

23. Dodgers: Brody Brecht, RHP, Iowa (No. 21)
Brecht has been a much better strike-thrower down the stretch, with just over 4 BB/9 over his last six appearances, bringing his season rate down to 5.6 per nine.

24. Braves: Caleb Lomavita, C, California (No. 33)
His chase rate is scaring some teams off, but he has power and some speed as a backstop who can catch and throw. A bit enigmatic, it’s tough to find a home for him yet received the most votes for best catcher in the class in the executive poll.

25. Padres: Kash Mayfield, LHP, Elk City HS, Okla. (No. 28)
One of many high school arms in the first-round mix, and one of many who could go higher than this.

26. Yankees: Jurrangelo Cjintje, SWP, Mississippi State (No. 31)
This isn’t just a novelty because of the switch-pitching. Cjintje will most likely be a right-hander only at the next level and the stuff is electric; don’t be shocked to hear his name higher than this.

27. Phillies: Malcolm Moore, C, Stanford (No. 24)
Teams still like the underlying data, and he’s improved his defense. But it’s hard to figure out where to put a guy who is a sophomore-eligible Stanford product (will signability be an issue?), let alone one who is hitting just .255.

28. Astros: Kaelen Culpepper, SS, Kansas State (No. 32)
He makes a ton of contact and has put up a .939 OPS for Kansas State; a move to third base is likely.

29. D-backs: Ryan Waldschmidt, OF, Kentucky (No. 39)
Big helium alert here! Waldschmidt has been an impressive performer with a 1.141 OPS, 13 homers and 23 steals. A strong SEC showing has him moving up boards in a hurry.

30. Rangers: William Schmidt, RHP, Catholic HS, La. (No. 12)
He’s still our top-ranked high school arm, but he is another prep pitcher that’s hard to place.