8 high risers who could land in the first round of the Draft

May 1st, 2024

Whenever a Draft list is updated for the first time since December, there are bound to be a lot of changes up and down the rankings. This year's new Draft Top 150 takes that to an extreme, speaking to the volatility and uncertainty of the class outside of the top 11 or so players. There are first-round selections for the taking and several players have stepped up their games to try and snag them.

While there are always new names floating to the top of the rankings this time of year, the 2024 list is unprecedented. There are eight players in the current top 50 who weren’t on the Top 100 at all back in December. The previous high for newcomers was the five who jumped up in 2021. Last year, there were only three.

Those aren’t the only players with serious upward mobility. A pair of players have leapt from the 50-100 range into the top 25 and first-round consideration. One of them is in the top 20, a jump that has only happened once in the past five years. That player was MLB's current No. 1 overall prospect Jackson Holliday in 2022.

Below is a look at the biggest risers in the class and how much they’ve improved their Draft stock. This week's MLB Pipeline Podcast provided a complete breakdown on them.

Risers from original Top 100
James Tibbs, OF, Florida State
Current ranking: 22
Previous ranking: 81
Mayo: “Tibbs is first and foremost a bat, and I think guys who can hit in big college programs who perform are going to float up. What he's done this year, though, has taken it to an entirely different level. He hit .300 with 10 homers in his freshman year at Florida State. Then he upped that, he had an 1.100 OPS as a sophomore. He hit on the Cape with some power, and then this year, he's got a 1.300 OPS, he's got 18 homers.

“I think, to me, the thing that stands out the most is he has twice as many walks as strikeouts so far and tends to be a plus hitter with at least average power. He's likely, I think, at this point to go probably somewhere in the middle of the first round.”

Billy Amick, 3B, Tennessee
Current ranking: 15
Previous ranking: 50
Callis: “He barely played as a freshman at Clemson, and he barely played in the first month last season at Clemson. He was not getting at-bats. And then, it’s crazy how he got started.

“So, Caden Grice, who was a Draft pick last year, I think got ejected for challenging balls and strikes. It was like a Saturday game, so automatic one-game suspension, they needed to replace him in the lineup. Billy Amick is in the lineup on Sunday, and I think he had something like four hits and then he hit .413 the whole rest of the season and continued to rake in the Cape Cod League.

“He transferred to Tennessee. Guys thought he had a chance to be one of the best bats in this class, they just wanted to see more of it, and they've seen it this spring. He's hitting .350, his numbers have actually gone down a little bit since he had appendicitis and had to have surgery and miss some time. But he still has an OPS over 1.200, he’s hit 16 homers."

Bryce Rainer, SS, Harvard-Westlake (CA)
Current ranking: 10
Previous ranking: 39
Mayo: “Guys who perform well at [the National High School Invitational] tend to do well in the Draft, and he was already moving up and he was the best player there. He can really hit.

“When looking at his report in December, there were some intriguing things with the bat, some power potential and some questions about the hit tool. He's a two-way guy who pitches in relief at Harvard-Westlake, but there were some people who were thinking, ‘Oh, if he gets a chance to start maybe I'd like him and his athleticism on the mound more.’

“He showed up in the spring and he was like a man amongst the boys at NHSI. He looks the part, kind of big, physical, athletic, left-handed-hitting shortstop. I think he has every chance to play short. So he's going to get the Corey Seager, Colson Montgomery kind of comps and he's living up to them."

Trey Yesavage, RHP, East Carolina
Current ranking: 11
Previous ranking: 36
Callis: “I think [the rise in ranking] is a testament to both the season he's having and the fact that other guys have faltered, and he's just jumped a bunch of college pitchers. Reliever as a freshman, starter at East Carolina last year, was second-team All-American, pitched well with the U.S. collegiate national team and he's just been better this spring.

“He's got four pitches that are all solid or better. His mid-80s slider-cutter is probably his best pitch. He's got a 93-98 mph fastball that doesn't have a ton of life. But he has really good carry from a high-arm slot. He's got a spike curveball. He's got a splitter. He misses bats with all four pitches and improved his fastball command this year. Because his heater doesn't have a lot of life, in the past it would get hit at times if he didn't locate it well. He's doing a better job of that."

Newcomers to the Top 150
Theo Gillen, SS/2B, Westlake (TX)
Ranking: 26
Callis: “When he was a freshman, scouts were saying this guy is going to be one of the top high school players in Texas in 2024 for the Draft, and then he tore a labrum in his shoulder, had surgery as a sophomore, had a knee injury as a junior.

“He’s looked healthier this spring and what’s interesting is you have some scouts like directors, national cross-checkers, who think he might have the best high school bat in this Draft. It's a good approach, quick hands, nice swing. I don't think he's going to be a big slugger, but he's one of those guys where he has plus raw power and his hitting ability is so good that he's going to get the most of it.

“I don't think he throws well enough to play shortstop. Could be an offensive second baseman, could be a center fielder, worst case is if you wind up in left field, because let's say he doesn't have the instincts to play center and he doesn't have the arm to play in the infield, I think he's still going to hit enough."

Kash Mayfield, LHP, Elk City (OK)
Ranking: 27
Callis: “He was Gatorade’s Oklahoma high school player of the year last year as a junior, but he was worked very hard in the state playoffs. His team, Elk City, went to the Oklahoma 4A state semifinals, and so he took the summer off because he was just kind of worn out.

“He went to the Super 60 Pro Showcase in February, looked really good there, touched 96 mph in his first game and he just never let up. He's been 92-95 mph, touched 97, with good life all spring. Last time people saw him he already had an advanced changeup that tumbles at the plate. He's got kind of a slurvy breaking ball that needs better shape, but he locates it well. He’s got a really nice delivery, great extension, stuff plays up."

Kellon Lindsey, SS, Hardee (FL)
Ranking: 30
Mayo: “He is a premium athlete, almost a top-of-the-scale runner. They think he's got a chance to play short, but probably could move to second or center field if you wanted him to. It's all going to be a question of how much impact he's going to have. I don't think he has to be a pure power guy because of the other tools, especially the speed. But he can't just hit ground balls to short and beat them out, which a lot of guys against bad competition in high school can do. Some scouts have seen it, other scouts have not, but his name is floating up. And it wouldn't surprise me if he goes a touch higher than where we have him currently ranked.”

Jurrangelo Cijntje, RHP/LHP, Mississippi State
Ranking: 41
Callis: “He's a legitimate switch-pitching prospect rather than just kind of like a sideshow or a curiosity. But it's interesting, he is better right-handed. He's 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, as a right-hander, he gets some Marcus Stroman comps. He's 94-96 up to 98 with carry. He's got a mid-80s slider and hits 91 with really nice depth, and he's got an upper 80s changeup with fade and all those pitches work.

“As a lefty, he uses a lower slot, he has a low-90s fastball that doesn't miss a ton of bats. His money pitch from the left side is a sweepier low-80s breaking ball that's got more horizontal than the vertical action. It's interesting he's not just going right on right and left on left. Many scouts would like to see him become a full-time right-handed pitcher. But he will pitch right-handed to some lefties if the lefties don't have a pronounced split."