New Draft Top 150 list: BIG changes at the top

April 25th, 2024

Three years ago, Charlie Condon attracted zero interest from pro scouts or NCAA Division I baseball programs. He wound up at Georgia as a preferred walk-on and redshirted during his first season in Athens.

Now he's the best prospect in the 2024 Draft and sits atop MLB Pipeline's updated and expanded Draft Top 150.

Top 10:
1. Charlie Condon, OF/3B, Georgia
2. Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State
3. Jac Caglianone, 1B/LHP, Florida
4. Nick Kurtz, 1B, Wake Forest
5. Braden Montgomery, OF, Texas A&M
6. Hagen Smith, LHP, Arkansas
7. Chase Burns, RHP, Wake Forest
8. JJ Wetherholt, SS/2B, West Virginia
9. Konnor Griffin, SS/OF, Jackson Prep (MS)
10. Bryce Rainer, SS, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA)
Complete list »

After earning national freshman of the year accolades in 2023, when Condon hit .386/.484/.800 and set a Southeastern Conference frosh record with 25 homers, he ranked No. 4 on our preseason Top 100. He has gotten better this spring, leading the nation in batting (.477), slugging (1.097), OPS (1.680), homers (26 in 40 games) and extra-base hits (43) while ranking a mere third in on-base percentage (.583).

Condon has top-of-the-scale raw power that overshadows his advanced hitting ability. He also has showed more defensive versatility after playing primarily first base a year ago. He has made some highlight plays at third base and in center field and looked good on the outfield corners, his likely destination as a pro.

"I think two-thirds of the teams would say Condon is the best player in this Draft, maybe more," a scouting official with a National League team said. "If you were including the guys at the top of last year's Draft, I think Wyatt Langford would still be the best guy. Langford might be a generational player and he's more explosive than Condon. But Condon is still a good athlete and they're pretty similar as hitters."

Led by Condon, the new Top 150 begins with five college hitters having monster seasons. Oregon State second baseman Travis Bazzana tops D-I in on-base percentage and ranks second to Condon in OPS while raking at a .432/.591/.964 clip with more homers (19) than strikeouts (17). Florida first baseman/left-handed pitcher Jac Caglianone, who led D-I with 33 homers in 2023 and tied the college record by homering in nine straight contests this season, is right behind Condon with 25 while slashing .410/.503/.888 and reducing his strikeout rate from 18 percent last year to 7 percent.

Wake Forest first baseman Nick Kurtz slumped to start the season and battled a shoulder injury, then went on a home run rampage that included 14 in nine games and six in seven at-bats. Texas A&M outfielder Braden Montgomery has led the Aggies to a No. 1 ranking by batting .370/.510/.890 with 22 homers and a D-I leading 68 RBIs.

The consensus among clubs is that Condon, Bazzana and Caglianone are the three players worthy of the No. 1 overall selection. That pick belongs to the Guardians for the first time in 60 Drafts and comes with a record assigned pick value of $10,570,600.

"The college hitters are the strength of the Draft and they were going back to last summer," an American League team executive said. "I do wonder how much of these college hitters doing really well is because college pitching is down. The bats are strong but there's a dearth of up-the-middle guys."

Of the first 30 spots -- correlating to the number of first-round picks -- on the Top 150, 16 belong to college hitters yet only North Carolina center fielder Vance Honeycutt among that group is a quality defender at a premium position. Scouts were eager to see how West Virginia's JJ Wetherholt transitioned from second base to shortstop, but MLB Pipeline's preseason No. 1 prospect has been waylaid by a hamstring injury for much of the season.

Arkansas left-hander Hagen Smith (who paces D-I with 17 strikeouts per nine innings and a .136 average against) and Wake Forest right-hander Chase Burns (the strikeout leader with 113 in 62 innings) are clearly the top two pitchers available. The high school class is down this year, though Jackson Prep (Flowood, Miss.) shortstop/outfielder Konnor Griffin has the best tools in the Draft and Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.) shortstop Bryce Rainer is a gifted all-around player.

The talent level drops off quickly after the best college hitters plus Smith, Burns, Griffin and Rainer, which is creating a lot of uncertainty about how picks 11-30 will play out on July 14 in Fort Worth, Texas. There are some quality prep arms led by Catholic (Baton Rouge, La.) right-hander William Schmidt, Saguaro (Scottsdale, Ariz.) left-hander Cam Caminiti, York (Elmhurst, Ill.) righty Ryan Sloan and Elk City (Okla.) southpaw Kash Mayfield. But teams usually are less comfortable taking them in the first round as opposed to paying them above-slot bonuses with later selections.

"I can't remember a Draft with this much uncertainty after the first 10 or so picks. Not one," an NL scouting director said. "It feels like people often say that and I'm usually the 'No, it always feels like this' guy. This one feels genuinely different."