Everything you need to know about 2024 Draft prospects

April 19th, 2024

Both Jim Callis and I are neck deep in getting our new Draft Top 150 rankings out and I’ll admit it: I have full-on Draft fever!

After getting face time with plenty of scouts at the National High School Invitational, not to mention talking to countless evaluators for the rankings, it’s all I want to talk about right now. Luckily, you all sent in more than enough Draft-related questions to allow me to present a 100-percent Draft-focused MLB Pipeline Inbox this week!

Seems like the 2024 Draft is wide open for anyone to go 1.1. What are some reasons for or against Charlie Condon/Travis Bazzana? Nick Kurtz/Jac Caglianone/Braden Montgomery outside shot? -- @JamieRenner17

I’m not sure how wide open it is, though I’ll admit that it is too early to tell and I haven’t done any real digging about what might happen when it’s time for the Guardians to make the pick. I still think Condon and Bazzana are the favorites. Neither necessarily fits the “perfect” profile of a No. 1 pick, but it’s that kind of year. On the plus side, Condon has a tremendous hit and power combination, and he’s shown more athleticism by moving around the field this spring. For Bazzana, he can really, really hit, has more than enough pop and he can run; he also has the positive of playing up the middle.

On the con side, Condon doesn’t have one true position (though I don’t think that’s as concerning as it seemed to be heading into the year). For Bazzana, yes, he stays on the dirt, but he’s a second baseman only. Again, that’s not exactly the profile teams look for at the top, but his bat is pretty special.

As for the other guys you mention, could one of them sneak into the conversation? I think it’s possible, especially if a deal comes into play. But Kurtz and Caglianone are first basemen only, albeit left-handed and adept defensively. Kurtz got off to a very slow start before hitting homers seemingly every day. Caglianone has cut down on his chase and swing-and-miss, but I don’t think he surpasses the other two. Montgomery has had an absolutely terrific season as well, but I'm not sure a corner outfielder goes at the top.

Still a long way to go, though.

What Draft prospect has increased their stock most in 2024? -- @prospects_1

We answered this question on this week’s episode of the MLB Pipeline Podcast (where we also talked with Montgomery), so be sure to check that out.

There are two players who come to mind. The first is someone who was on our Top 100 back in December but has come out like gangbusters this spring to race to the top half of the first round: Bryce Rainer. I just saw him at the National High School Invitational, and the Harvard-Westlake HS (Los Angeles, Calif.) shortstop was the best prospect there. He’s gone from intriguing two-way guy some scouts wanted to see more from on the mound to a no-doubt left-handed-hitting infielder who can really rake and has every chance to stick at shortstop. He and Konnor Griffin may battle it out for top prep position player in the class.

The other player with a ridiculous amount of helium is Florida high school shortstop Kellon Lindsey. A former two-sport standout (having also served as his school’s quarterback), Lindsey is a premium athlete who missed the summer showcase events because of injury. He’s one of the fastest players in the class, and those who believe he’ll grow into impact at the plate think he could be a first-rounder.

Since EVERYONE is hitting, why isn't Hagen Smith creeping up lists? -- @ballsandgutters

Who says he isn’t? Sure, the top of the Draft list (our new Top 150 is coming out soon, we promise) is college bat heavy -- the updated list will feature hitters at the top. But there are also college arms who will likely be sneaking up into that Top 10.

Chase Burns has been getting lots of buzz because his stuff is so electric. But Smith, the lefty at Arkansas, has been as consistently dominant week in and week out. He has a 1.53 ERA and 17 K/9 rate (and 4.2 hits per nine) over his first nine starts. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he’s the first college arm drafted. He was in the teens back in December when we put out our Top 100. I think he could be single digits when our Top 150 comes out.

Who’s your favorite Draft prospect who you don’t foresee going in the first round? -- @Blahbla92342524

Thanks for letting me dig a little deeper! Since I was just at the NHSI and saw some of the top high school talent for the class, I’m going to pick a pair of prep lefties who pitched very well at the event. The first is Ethan Schiefelbein, whose complete game shutout helped Corona (Calif.) HS advance on their way to winning the tournament. There’s some effort there and he’s not the biggest guy in the world, but man does he love to compete (and he was also the best pitcher for the 18U U.S. National Team last fall). And he knows how to pitch. Getting to talk with him made that stand out even more, as he discussed his ability to add and subtract from his breaking stuff to give it different shape and provide different looks to hitters.

The other lefty was Mason Russell from Casteel HS in Arizona. He tossed a no-hitter the day before Schiefelbein’s masterpiece … on the same mound. He hasn’t always had the sharpest command, but he was on from the outset in that start. And scouts like his breaking ball better than Schiefelbein’s. Russell is athletic and there’s less effort there. I like guys who know how to pitch and both of these guys do.

It remains to be seen how it might translate to the pro game, but they are both intriguing arms who could go in the third round or up.