Draft experts make the first 10 picks of 2024

December 5th, 2023

The second annual MLB Draft Lottery took place at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday, with 17 teams having varying odds of landing the first pick in the 2024 Draft. The Guardians came away with the No. 1 overall pick for the first time in franchise history, followed by the Reds and Rockies rounding out the top three.

Which players will these lottery winners be interested in selecting? On a recent episode of the MLB Pipeline Podcast, Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo broke down their top 20 college and top 20 high school player rankings and took their shot at making the first 10 picks of the 2024 Draft. It’s a college-heavy class, and of the players identified as potentially going in the top 10 of next July’s Draft, nine came from that crop.

One note: Callis and Mayo made their picks before the Draft order was determined, meaning these predictions are less about connections to the teams making the selections and more about the general expectations surrounding the players themselves.

1. JJ Wetherholt, INF, West Virginia
Mayo: “Unbelievable hitter. Won the batting title last year. Hit almost .450. Power showed up. Stole a bunch of bases. I think he’s going to go out in the spring and show that he can play shortstop. He’s played mostly second base before. I don’t know if this might be splitting hairs over some of the other guys at the top of the college list, but his ability to show he can handle a premium position is what kind of gave him the very slight edge over the (next) guy.”

2. Nick Kurtz, 1B, Wake Forest
Callis: “The interesting thing, as a whole, is I don’t think there is a clear-cut No. 1 pick in this Draft. If Wetherholt doesn’t stick at short, a lot of the top college guys don’t play premium positions, so it’ll be interesting to see how they shake out. There has only been one college first baseman who went No. 1 overall, and that was Spencer Torkelson. Kurtz could join him. I think he’s got the best combination of hitting ability and power in this Draft. He hit 24 homers as a sophomore while walking more than he struck out. He plays a quality first base. He moves well enough [that] I think you could try him on an outfield corner. Wake was obviously loaded last year. They finished third. They lost a tough extra-inning game in the semifinals to LSU, which went on to win the national championship, and they had two first-rounders last year. They could have five this year. No team has ever had more than three.”

3. Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State
Mayo: “He can really hit. There is power and speed. Stole a bunch of bases. Hit .370 and slugged .622 last year at Oregon State, and then went to the Cape, won the batting title and the MVP award, had an OPS over 1.000. Walked more than he struck out last spring. He just seems to be getting better and better, and I think the power-speed combination will continue to show up at Oregon State this year and put him in right here in this area of the first round.”

4. Chase Burns, RHP, Wake Forest
Callis: “He was third in Division I last year in strikeout rate (14.3 per nine innings). Tennessee [where Burns transferred from] had a weird year after their great year, which fell short in Omaha. They were the best team in the country in 2022. Chase Dollander and Chase Burns had odd years, and they kind of began piggybacking each other. They remade the rotation later in the year and Burns would often come in in relief of Dollander, who rarely went five innings last year in a strange spring. Wake has the pitching labs. But I don’t know if they’re going to make Chase Burns better, because he already has a 95-97 mph fastball that tops out at 102, and a 85-87 mph slider that, according to our friends at Synergy, generated a 61 percent swing-and-miss rate last spring. He already has two of the best pitches in the country.”

5. Jac Caglianone, 1B/LHP, Florida
Mayo: “Two-way player at Florida. He’s really interesting even if we are not sure what he is. Most people like him as a hitter. There are holes on each side. He has a ton of power, but tends to chase a little. Big, huge lefty. On the mound, he’s up in the upper 90s and misses a lot of bats. But, some command issues. We’ll see what he is. 6-foot-5, 245 pounds. He’s a lot of fun. I think it’s great for college baseball to have a legitimate two-way guy at that level, at the very least.”

6. Charlie Condon, 1B/OF, Georgia
Callis: “I still don’t quite understand why he didn’t play at all in 2022. He redshirted, and then came out last year and hits .386 with 25 homers and leads the SEC with an .800 slugging percentage and ties for the lead on the U.S. collegiate national team with three homers in 10 games. I guess I’m getting guys who combine hitting ability with power, kind of similar to Nick Kurtz. I don’t think he’s the defender … not that we’re drafting for first-base defense early in the Draft. Shoot, that means three of our first six picks here are first basemen. But these guys can all rake.”

7. Brody Brecht, RHP, Iowa
Mayo: “I’m going to roll the dice and say Brody Brecht is going to figure things out. In the Draft, if a college arm with that kind of stuff starts figuring out command and feel a little more, they shoot up. He’s extremely athletic. Earned a scholarship as a wide receiver but focused on baseball. Fastball hits triple digits. Really nasty slider. If he had some polish, I think he is going to move up. This is a little bit of a risk pick, but some of the bats on your list also had some question marks on them.”

8. Vance Honeycutt, OF, North Carolina
Callis: “I’m going to roll the dice a little bit, too. I don’t want to take three first basemen … [Honeycutt] is a tough one to figure out. I do think he might have the most physical upside among all the players on this list. He’s a potential five-tool center fielder. You can dream 20-20. You can maybe dream 30-30. He’s the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He’s definitely a center fielder. … He struck out 30 percent of the time as a freshman; he cut that to 20 percent as a sophomore, so that’s good. But he also hit .257 with a .910 OPS. He didn’t do that much damage. He hit 12 homers and had 19 steals. There’s a lot of talent in there. The bat? I think there is a question.”

9. PJ Morlando, Summerville (SC) HS, OF
Mayo: "He can really hit, and has a track record, probably as much if not more than anybody in that class. Hit really well for Team USA in international competition. Left-handed hitter. Bat speed, a lot of power. He’s probably a corner outfielder, but if he shows that he can play center, that helps his profile and might sneak him more into the top 10. But I think he’s really going to hit, and typically, high school hitters with that type of profile tend to do well come Draft time.”

10. Tommy White, 3B, LSU
Callis: “Probably winds up at first base in the long run, so we’ve now drafted four first basemen in our top 10, which shows you how its a little bit of an unusual Draft in that regard. Tommy White is another guy who isn’t just a masher. He can hit, [and] he hits for power. Transferred from NC State to LSU last year and helped win the national championship. Hit the game-winning home run in the semifinal game against Wake Forest. Hit .374 with 24 homers. Led Division I with 105 RBIs. I just think he’s going to hit.”