College bats abound in latest Mock Draft. But who do we have No. 1?

June 28th, 2024

Seventeen days before the Guardians will exercise the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 Draft, they've let little slip out regarding their intentions. Their top four candidates appear to be, coincidentally, the top four players on MLB Pipeline's new Draft Top 250 list.

Cleveland not only is mulling over the ability of Oregon State second baseman Travis Bazzana, Georgia outfielder/third baseman Charlie Condon, Florida first baseman/left-hander Jac Caglianone and West Virginia middle infielder JJ Wetherholt, but also calculating their signability. The Guardians have a record bonus pool ($18,334,000) that includes an unprecedented allotment for the No. 1 choice ($10,570,600), and they want to balance talent and cost with that selection to maximize their chances of doing damage with the rest of their Draft picks.

If Bazzana doesn't go No. 1, he might fall to the Athletics at No. 4, which comes with a pick value of $8,370,800. Condon is not looking to take any kind of discount, and he and Caglianone figure to go to the Reds at No. 2 ($9,785,000) and Rockies at No. 3 ($9,070,800) in either order. Thus Bazzana theoretically should be more amenable to accepting a bonus in the $8.5 million-to-8.75 million range from Cleveland.

MLB Pipeline's top-rated prospect entering the year, Wetherholt missed half the season with a recurring hamstring injury. He also rivals Bazzana as the best pure hitter available and is more athletic, though he does offer less power. After the Guardians, his next landing spot is possibly the White Sox at No. 5 ($7,763,700) and he might fall into the back half of the top 10, so he would come with the largest discount of the four.

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For now -- and much can change in the next two weeks -- I think Cleveland's choice comes down to Bazzana vs. Wetherholt. Caglianone is more in play with the Guardians than has been realized, while Condon is fourth in the pecking order if he wants full slot.

As always, detailed reports, scouting grades and video for all the players below are included on the Draft Top 250 list.

1. Guardians: Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State (No. 1)
On the Pipeline Podcast earlier this week, we assigned percentage chances for the candidates for this pick. I'd revise mine like this: Bazzana 35 percent, Wetherholt 30 percent, Caglianone 20 percent, Condon 10 percent, the field (Wake Forest right-hander Chase Burns, Mississippi high school shortstop/outfielder Konnor Griffin, maybe Arkansas left-hander Hagen Smith) 5 percent.

2. Reds: Jac Caglianone, 1B/LHP, Florida (No. 3)
The Reds likely are focusing on the players mentioned above, minus Griffin. Caglianone appears to be ahead of Condon, with Burns the choice if they want a pitcher.

3. Rockies: Charlie Condon, OF/3B, Georgia (No. 2)
Though there has been talk of the Rockies targeting a pitcher (likely Burns over Smith), they wouldn't pass on Condon and probably not on Caglianone.

4. Athletics: Braden Montgomery, OF, Texas A&M (No. 8)
If the Guardians don't take Bazzana, he probably becomes an Athletic. Condon and Caglianone also would be easy choices if available. If not, Oakland would peruse the rest of the top tier of college bats: Montgomery (who broke his right ankle in the NCAA Super Regionals), Wetherholt and Wake Forest first baseman Nick Kurtz.

5. White Sox: Konnor Griffin, SS/OF, Jackson Prep (Flowood, Miss.) (No. 9)
The White Sox are looking hitters here, and the decision looks like it will come down to Griffin vs. Wetherholt. Though Griffin has the highest ceiling in the Draft, this might be his only realistic landing spot in the top eight because of questions about his swing, so he could come with a discount.

6. Royals: Hagen Smith, LHP, Arkansas (No. 5)
Though the college bats could be tempting, new Royals scouting director Brian Bridges has an affinity for left-handers and Smith just set the NCAA Division I strikeout rate record with 17.3 per nine innings. Rainer and Griffin could be in play as well.

7. Cardinals: Chase Burns, RHP, Wake Forest (No. 6)
The Cardinals don't usually pick this high and would have a hard time passing on a potential frontline starter like Smith or Burns. Montgomery, Rainer and Wetherholt are position-player possibilities. East Carolina right-hander Trey Yesavage could fit as well if St. Louis' board blows up.

8. Angels: JJ Wetherholt, SS/2B, West Virginia (No. 4)
Despite persistent buzz that the Angels will look to save money with this choice, could they pass on Wetherholt, Smith, Burns, Kurtz or Montgomery when at least two of them should get here? Though they're known to like fast-moving collegians, Rainer could tempt them. If Los Angeles takes the discount route, it could turn to Yesavage, Tennessee second baseman Christian Moore, Kentucky outfielder Ryan Waldschmidt or Sam Houston catcher Walker Janek.

9. Pirates: James Tibbs, OF, Florida State (No. 12)
If one of the eight players projected above gets to No. 9, the Pirates could pounce. They're probably the second team, after the White Sox, that would pop Griffin. Barring one of those guys remaining on the board, Pittsburgh could pivot to a below-slot deal with someone like Tibbs or Moore. Don't rule out Kurtz.

10. Nationals: Bryce Rainer, SS, Harvard-Westlake HS (Studio City, Calif.) (No. 10)
The Nationals will shop among whichever of the consensus top 10 prospects (Bazzana, Condon, Caglianone, Wetherholt, Smith, Burns, Kurtz, Montgomery, Griffin, Rainer) is available. This is probably Rainer's floor and Kurtz is the most likely of that group to last this long. There's chatter that California catcher Caleb Lomavita could go this early, though the 20-35 range is more realistic.

11. Tigers: Nick Kurtz, 1B, Wake Forest (No. 7)
Once tied strongly to the Athletics, Kurtz has no obvious home in the top 10 selections and could be a steal here, the scary recent track record of college first baseman in the upper half of the first round nothwithstanding. The Tigers could take anyone else from the consensus top 10 who slips. They're strongly connected to Cam Caminiti, the best prep pitching prospect, though there's some recent intel that suggests that's overblown. Yesavage and Tibbs are other alternatives.

12. Red Sox: Christian Moore, 2B, Tennessee (No. 13)
Barring a surprise fall -- perhaps Griffin or Rainer? -- the Red Sox figure to dip into the second tier of college bats that begins with Tibbs and Moore, though Yesavage is also enticing. This is the ceiling for other members of that group, including Florida State third baseman Cam Smith, Wake Forest third baseman/outfielder Seaver King, Oklahoma State outfielder Carson Benge, Louisiana State third baseman Tommy White, North Carolina outfielder Vance Honeycutt and Kentucky outfielder Ryan Waldschmidt.

13. Giants: Cam Caminiti, LHP, Saguaro HS (Scottsdale, Ariz.) (No. 15)
The Giants are the floor for Kurtz, Rainer, Griffin and Caminiti and have a good chance to snag one of them. Plan B would be Yesavage or one of the college bats.

14. Cubs: Trey Yesavage, RHP, East Carolina (No. 11)
Yesavage would be a nice addition to what has become a hitter-heavy Cubs system. Tibbs, Moore and Smith would be leading hitting contenders, with King, Waldschmidt and Stanford catcher Malcolm Moore also getting looks.

15. Mariners: Jurrangelo Cijntje, RHP/LHP, Mississippi State (No. 25)
The Mariners would like to restock their pitching supply and Yesavage is the dream here. Caminiti and the switch-pitching Cijntje are next in line, followed by Illinois prep right-hander Ryan Sloan. King and Arkansas high school outfielder Slade Caldwell could lead Seattle's list of available bats.

16. Marlins: Cam Smith, 3B, Florida State (No. 14)
After the Marlins spent $8.6 million and their first two 2023 choices on a pair of high school arms, they're trolling for bats. Tibbs and Christian Moore probably won't find their way out of the upper half of the first round, leaving Miami to look at Smith, King and Benge. If they opt for a pitcher, it would be Cijntje.

17. Brewers: Seaver King, 3B/OF, Wake Forest (No. 17)
The college bat run starts to pick up with a group that includes King, Benge, White, Honeycutt and Malcolm Moore...

18. Rays: Ryan Waldschmidt, OF, Kentucky (No. 23)
The Rays could keep the college hitter train going with candidates such as Smith, King, Waldschmidt and Malcolm Moore. They wouldn't let Caminiti get past them, could consider other pitchers such as Cijntje and Sloan or pursue prep shortstops such as Theo Gillen and Kellon Lindsey.

19. Mets: Carson Benge, OF, Oklahoma State (No. 18)
More college bats: Benge, Honeycutt, Kansas State shortstop Kaelen Culpepper, Mississippi State outfielder Dakota Jordan...

20. Blue Jays: Walker Janek, C, Sam Houston (No. 24)
And more college bats: the top three catchers (Janek, Moore, Lomavita, who could get drafted in any order) and also White, Honeycutt, Culpepper and Tennessee third baseman Billy Amick...

21. Twins: Vance Honeycutt, OF, North Carolina (No. 22)
And more college bats: Honeycutt, Amick and Culpepper, with White and Lomavita more plausible for the Twins at No. 33.

22. Orioles: Brody Brecht, RHP, Iowa (No. 21)
The Orioles also could opt for college hitters such as White, Honeycutt, Culpepper, Amick or one of the catchers, but Brecht's premium stuff and strong finish to the season will be hard to resist.

23. Dodgers: William Schmidt, RHP, Catholic HS (Baton Rouge, La.) (No. 16)
Just one of the first 97 picks belongs to the Dodgers, so they need to make this count. High-ceiling options include prep pitchers Schmidt and Mayfield, as well as college arms Brecht and Cijntje if they're around and prep speedsters Caldwell and Lindsey.

24. Braves: Braylon Doughty, RHP, Chaparral HS (Temecula, Calif.) (No. 36)
Doughty can reach 97 mph with his fastball and 3,000 rpm with his curveball, and he has as much helium as any potential first-rounder right now. The Braves wouldn't mind a shot at Benge, Brecht, Waldschmidt or Cijntje.

25. Padres: Kash Mayfield, LHP, Elk City (Okla.) HS (No. 30)
The Padres have spent their last eight first-rounders and three supplemental first-rounders on high schoolers. Bet on them making it nine in a row with Schmidt, Mayfield, Sloan, Caldwell, Gillen, Lindsey or Doughty.

26. Yankees: Tommy White, 3B, Louisiana State (No. 20)
The Yankees would prefer a pitcher but outside of Sloan, both the college and high school groups will be pretty picked over by this point. They probably wouldn't pass on Cijntje or Doughty but may have to turn to hitters such as White, Amick or Virginia shortstop Griff O'Ferrall.

27. Phillies: Ryan Sloan, RHP, York HS (Elmhurst, Ill.) (No. 19)
Like the Padres, the Phillies have used their recent first-round selections on high-upside prepsters. Unless the right college bat falls, they could extend their streak to five straight with Sloan, Caldwell, Gillen, Mayfield or Doughty.

28. Astros: Theo Gillen, SS/2B, Westlake HS (Austin, Texas) (No. 28)
After Griffin and Rainer, there are five high school shortstops who could go in the first round and all could come off the board earlier than listed here. Gillen and Lindsey are first-rounders in this projection, Carter Johnson fits in the sandwich round and Wyatt Sanford and Tyson Lewis couldn't quite find homes in the top 39 choices. The two demographics mentioned most for the Astros are prep shortstops and college catchers.

29. Diamondbacks: Malcolm Moore, C, Stanford (No. 26)
With three of the next seven selections, the D-backs can move money around as they see fit and are associated with a wide array of players, including Sloan, White, the college catchers, Caldwell, Gillen, Lindsey, Mayfield, Culpepper, Amick and Jordan.

30. Rangers: Kellon Lindsey, SS, Hardee HS (Wauchula, Fla.) (No. 29)
As with the Astros and D-backs, the Rangers are linked to the high school shortstops and college catchers. Sloan, White and Caldwell are other considerations.

Supplemental first-round picks
31. Diamondbacks: Kaelen Culpepper, SS, Kansas State (No. 31)
32. Orioles: Caleb Lomavita, C, California (No. 33)
33. Twins: Billy Amick, 3B, Tennessee (No. 32)
34. Brewers: Griff O'Ferrall, SS, Virginia (No. 38)
35. Diamondbacks: Dakota Jordan, OF, Mississippi State (No. 34)
36. Guardians: Slade Caldwell, OF, Valley View HS (Jonesboro, Ark.) (No. 27)
37. Pirates: Carter Johnson, SS, Oxford (Ala.) HS (No. 40)
38. Rockies: Jonathan Santucci, LHP, Duke (No. 37)
39. Royals: David Shields, LHP, Mt. Lebanon (Pa.) HS (No. 41)