Who's the best Draft prospect at each position? Our experts make picks

April 24th, 2024

The 2024 MLB Draft is still months away but the college baseball season is in full swing, and MLB Pipeline will expand our Draft prospect rankings to the Top 150 on Wednesday night.

In the latest installment of the Pipeline Podcast, Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo break down the 2024 Draft position by position and select the best players at every spot. Who would our experts take if they could draft the best player at every position? Here's how they see it at this juncture.

Catcher: Caleb Lomavita, Cal
Mayo: “It’s not a great year [for catchers]. I think, coming into the year, it probably would’ve been between Caleb Lomavita from Cal and Malcolm Moore from Stanford. Malcolm Moore has had a bad year … he’s hitting like .200. At some point in time, that matters, right? I’ll say Caleb Lomavita from Cal. He’s a bit of a free swinger, but he has been performing, so that would be my pick.”

First base: Jac Caglianone, Florida
Callis: “It’s two of probably the five best players in the Draft. I think it’s a pretty easy decision. I’m going to pick ... Jac Caglianone over Nick Kurtz. The big concern going into the year was that he chases a ton and he strikes out a lot. But his strikeout rate is [7] percent. He’s really cut it. I’m really, really impressed at the adjustments he made, when he would’ve been a high pick even if he was the guy he was last year.”

Second base: Travis Bazzana, Oregon State
Mayo: "There are some options, and I think heading into the year this probably would’ve been closer. But given JJ Wetherholt’s issues with his hamstring, Travis Bazzana is the obvious choice. He’s having an absolutely bonkers year. The numbers don’t even make sense when you look at them. He’s hitting for average. He’s driving the ball for power. He’s running. There’s a reason why -- even though he’s a slightly undersized second baseman -- he’s very much in the conversation for No. 1 overall pick."

Third base: Seaver King, Wake Forest
Callis: "I think this is one where you can talk to three different teams and get three different answers. You might get Cam Smith from Florida State thrown in there as well, or Kaelen Culpepper, who is playing short right now but will end up at third at K-State. I will pick Seaver King. I don’t think third base is Seaver King’s best position as a pro, but that’s where he’s playing now. I backed myself into a corner. But I’ll pick Seaver King and kind of shrug."

Shortstop: Bryce Rainier, Harvard Westlake (Calif.)
Mayo: “We finally can talk about high schoolers! I think this one is interesting, because I think there are two choices now. There's Konnor Griffin, in [Callis'] neck of the Draft. Probably the most exciting tool set of anyone, period, in terms of ceiling. Obviously, a little more raw. Then there's Bryce Rainer from Harvard Westlake in California, who we talked about after the NHSI as the guy who's moved way up into the top of the first-round stratosphere with how he's performing this spring. I'm going to take Rainier only because there is a better chance we're going to see him play shortstop. I know that Konnor Griffin can play shortstop. I just think you put him in center field and let the tools and the athleticism play. Rainier has kind of transformed who he is. He looks like a man amongst boys sort of in a Corey Seager kind of way. Big, strong left-handed hitter. He’s got power. He can really play shortstop and he’s gonna stay there a long time. Maybe it's familiarity bias because he’s in my neck of the Draft and I just saw him as the best prospect at NHSI, but that's who I would take.”

Callis: “I would probably take Konnor Griffin. He could get sent out as a center fielder. He’s got a chance to be a plus shortstop. He’s got a chance to be a Gold Glove center fielder. So I would take Griffin, although acknowledging that I might be cheating, because I’m not sure he’s definitely getting sent out as a shortstop.”

Outfield: Charlie Condon, Georgia
Callis: “I think one thing that’s helped his Draft profile even more this year is he came into the year playing mostly first. He’s played center. He’s played the corners. He’s played third base. I think he has an outside chance of being a big league third baseman, although he’s so big. I think you’re gonna put this guy in the outfield. He’s leading the nation in slugging. He’s slugging 1.119, which would be a good OPS. He’s leading the nation in homers. He’s second to Travis Bazzana in on-base percentage. I’ll take Condon, and also I will tip my proverbial cap to Braden Montgomery. He’s having an unbelievable year. He’s getting overshadowed a bit, but he’s probably going to be a top-five pick in the Draft."

Mayo: “It is an embarrassment of riches in terms of who to pick there.”

Pitcher: Hagen Smith, LHP, Arkansas
Mayo: “I think it comes down to two players: Hagen Smith from Arkansas and Chase Burns from Wake Forest. We've talked about both of them. Burns, from a pure stuff standpoint, that's the end of the discussion. Not that Hagen Smith’s stuff is bad, but Burns is electric. And he's done a much better job of throwing strikes this year with the move to Wake Forest. But Hagen Smith has posted every week and has been absolutely, ridiculously dominant. He’s left-handed. So I think if I am only picking one, I would take Hagen Smith, but I might try to pull a Jim Callis, say we need one lefty and one righty and take both of them."

Callis: “No, you can’t do that. But I will concur with you. I think they’re neck and neck. It feels like a lot of the media lists have Burns ahead of Smith. Most of the teams I talk to have Smith ahead of Burns. You have to nitpick to separate them.”