Scouting directors on potential 2024 first-round picks

May 21st, 2024

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To date, we’ve put out a pair of first-round projections for the 2024 Draft. My first one came out in the beginning of May, with Georgia’s Charlie Condon in the top spot. Last week, my esteemed colleague Jim Callis took his first shot at the top 30.

We used 32 names combined across our two mock drafts. Some of that is because it’s too early to have much solid info, leading to less deviation. The fact that the top 11-ish names feel fairly set (in varying orders) adds to it.

But we are not so cocky to think we have all the names nailed down. The first-round landscape will start changing as seasons wrap up and teams learn more about medical reports and signability. That’s why we’ll start providing weekly mocks in June up until the Draft commences on Sunday, July 14, in Arlington. And it’s also why I started looking at players we haven’t put in the first round, at least not yet, who might belong.

I did an informal survey of some scouting directors with a simple question:

Who is a player who will not go in the first round, or isn’t expected to, who you think has first-round abilities?

Below is a list culled from the responses. I’ve broken them into a few different categories, with their current rank in our Top 150, where applicable:

Multiple mentions

One college and one high school player who were brought up by more than one scouting executive:

Christian Moore, 2B, Tennessee (No. 52): The Volunteers have five hitters in the Top 150 currently, and while Billy Amick is the highest ranked, Moore is arguably having a better season than any of them (.388/.454/.808). His name has come up quite a bit in our early mock conversations, so don’t be shocked to see him land in a projection soon.

Carter Johnson, SS, Oxford (Ala.) HS (No. 40): He gets comps to fellow Alabama prep shortstop Gunnar Henderson, who was a second-round pick in 2019 and obviously has first-round ability. He has the chance to hit, with some pop, and if you think he can stick at short, he could easily land in the top 30 picks.

Top tools guys

This pair landed in both of our mocks, but some wonder if the rawness in their profile, namely the swing-and-miss, will force them out of the round when decision time comes.

Vance Honeycutt, OF, North Carolina (No. 23): On the plus side, he has an OPS of 1.118, 22 homers and 28 steals. On the down side, he’s struck out in 26.9 percent of his plate appearances (and his OPS drops to .971 in conference play).

Dakota Jordan, OF, Mississippi State (No. 24): On the plus side, he has an OPS of 1.169 and 17 homers. On the down side, he’s struck out in 28 percent of his plate appearances (and his OPS drops to .909 in conference play).

Ranked high school arms

The prep pitchers are especially hard to rank because of the risk factor. They tend to slide down on Draft day, but there have been some pretty good high school arms taken in Round 2, for example (See Maddux, Greg and Glavine, Tom or, if you want to be more timely: Jones, Jared).

Ryan Sloan, RHP, York Community HS, Elmhurst, Ill. (No. 18): He’s ranked high enough to be considered a first-round talent, obviously, with three at least above-average pitches and an innings-eater kind of build. The only thing holding him back is that prep arm reluctance and perhaps his commitment to Wake Forest.

Chris Levonas, RHP, Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, NJ (No. 90): Another Wake Forest recruit, Levonas has a four-pitch mix, with feel to spin two different breaking balls. His control has improved this spring, leading to better results, and he gives off a Walker Buehler kind of vibe.

Unranked guys sneaking up

Luke Dickerson, SS, Morris Knolls HS, Rockaway, NJ: Many scouts feel he’s surpassed Owen Paino as the best prep shortstop in the Northeast, and perhaps the best high school bat overall in the area. He has, as they like to say, a ton of helium, recently hitting a pair of homers in front of several scouting directors.

Ryan Waldschmidt, OF, Kentucky: College performers, especially those in the SEC, tend to float up boards as the Draft approaches, and that’s what’s happening with Waldschmidt. He’s posted a .370/.500/.653 line with 11 homers and 23 steals for the Wildcats, and the fact that he’s hit .405/.510/.702 in conference play hasn’t hurt.