Here's how the first 10 Draft picks could play out

March 27th, 2024

The end of March marks more than a month into the college baseball season, and much has changed in the Draft evaluation process. In December, MLB Pipeline made its first stab at the top 10 picks in the 2024 Draft and released its initial mock draft. Three months later, it's time to team up for an unofficial version of that same exercise.

On the latest episode of the MLB Pipeline Podcast, Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo took turns making selections for the first 10 teams. While this is not a true mock draft -- picks are based on who the Draft expert would take rather than who we project the teams will take -- it's a look into how things have changed over the past three months.

College players are still heavily represented at the top, but early-season performances have made this list differ slightly from the Top 100 Draft rankings.

1. Guardians -- Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State (No. 3)
Callis: I know the mock drafts have me taking Charlie Condon of my beloved Georgia Bulldogs, [and] not because of the podcast interview, I'm going to take Travis Bazzana at 1-1. I think they're neck-and-neck. We talked about what a crazy year Travis Bazzana was having, he's hitting .467/.581/1.054. Charlie Condon leads the nation in all three categories at .517/.637/[1.214] and also with 17 homers. The two advantages where I will take Travis Bazzana -- I'm blowing up everyone's mock draft -- is Bazzana is a left-handed hitter and Charlie Condon is a right-handed hitter. Bazzana is a second baseman and I do think Charlie Condon has more defensive value than people thought coming into the year. ... [He] may have a chance to play third -- probably a corner outfielder, [but] I think he is more of a first baseman. I'm taking the lefty bat. I'm taking the little-bit-more defensive value. I know I've shocked everybody with that pick.

2. Reds -- Charlie Condon, 1B/OF, Georgia (No. 4)
Mayo: Those two guys, in terms of the college hitters who are generally perceived to be at the top of the class heading in, have really separated themselves with how they performed. You could go either way. I think I will probably take him and send him out as a third baseman and see if that works because it does enhance his value. I think the bat is special enough that he could go play left field or even first base and it's going to play. His ability to hit and his power, with that approach, I'm quite happy to suddenly get Charlie Condon.

3. Rockies -- JJ Wetherholt, INF, West Virginia (No. 1)
Callis: We had JJ ranked as the top prospect in the country coming in. He injured his hamstring, and he has not played since the first week of the season. It's not a long-term injury. The guy hit .449 last year. We know he can hit. We know what he is. The one question we haven't gotten an answer to yet is: "Can he play shortstop?" I'm torn because there's another guy I almost took with this pick, but I will take JJ Wetherholt here. I thought he was the best pure hitter heading into the year. Bazzana and Condon's huge years aside, this guy had a 1.300 OPS last year. He had a huge year last year, and he's just been hurt, but I'm not worried about the injury.

4. Athletics -- Chase Burns, RHP, Wake Forest (No. 16)
Mayo: Heading into this year, we knew about all the college bats, and we wanted to see some of these arms who had unbelievable stuff and whether they would figure it out. I believe that Chase Burns has truly figured it out. That is who I'm going to take with the No. 4 pick here. The transfer to Wake Forest, we all sort of wanted to see with his stuff and that pitching lab, and he has been as good as you could possibly imagine. ERA under 2.00. He's striking out almost 16.5 per nine. What is most encouraging -- he's always been a strike-thrower, but he didn't always have good command and he got hit more than he should given how many bats he missed. The fastball always seemed straight. I looked before his most recent start, but he had like a 42 percent miss rate on his fastball, which is insane, especially considering that was one of the major concerns. I think it's for real. I'm breaking up the string of bats to take what I think is now the best arm in the class.

5. White Sox -- Konnor Griffin, OF, Jackson Prep (MS) (No. 8)
Callis: I'm going to take Konnor Griffin, who I think has the best tools in the Draft. He has something like 40 steals in 13 games. He's destroying Mississippi high school competition. Those numbers don't really matter, but I think he has the best all-around tools in the Draft. He had a little bit of a shoulder injury last year, so he wasn't fully at his best -- his swing wasn't at its best during the showcase circuit last year. He's looked really, really good this spring.

6. Royals -- Jac Caglianone, 1B/LHP, Florida (No. 5)
Mayo: I'm announcing him as a two-way guy. I'm taking Jac Caglianone. I think he's going to end up hitting, but we've talked about him before. Very intriguing skills in both directions. He was more likely to hit, and he's off to a really good start. He's got an OPS north of 1.200. He's got [12] homers. The power is real. He's walked more than he's struck out. The approach is better. He's actually pitched really well. [Throwing] strikes [is] still an issue, but he's not really been hit at all. He's got an ERA of 1.65 and he's striking out 12.8 per nine. He's been very, very good on the mound. I would talk to the young man after taking him and we'll create a development plan together. I think he ends up hitting, but the pitching has been enough where I don't mind talking about it.

7. Cardinals -- Hagen Smith, LHP, Arkansas (No. 15)
Callis: If you can strike out Travis Bazzana three times, you can pitch. Hagen Smith, much like you were talking about with Chase Burns, coming into the year, people loved the stuff. They wanted to see it play better. They wanted to see more strikes. They wanted to see more consistency. And he has delivered. Even though I'm torn between four guys here, I will take Hagen Smith with this pick.

8. Angels -- Braden Montgomery, OF/RHP, Texas A&M (No. 10)
Mayo: I'm going to go back to the once-upon-a-time two-way guy, but he's not a two-way guy [anymore]. I'm taking Braden Montgomery. He spent his first two years at Stanford, hit 35 homers in two years there while also pitching in relief, not too effectively. He's only pitched twice [at Texas A&M], and it hasn't been good, but he's got an OPS of 1.384. He's got 12 homers in 24 games. He has more walks than strikeouts. That .375/.509/.875 line looks really, really good to me. There's so many good college bats that I think he's going to have a good chance to fit well in an outfield corner and let that power bat carry him to the big leagues.

9. Pirates -- Nick Kurtz, 1B, Wake Forest (No. 2)
Callis: I'm going to take Nick Kurtz. I thought coming into the year, Nick Kurtz made the most sense for the Guardians with the No. 1 overall pick just because of his power and all-around hitting ability. He's been banged up this year, hasn't had a great spring. I think he's better than he's played. He'll rank in our Top 10 somewhere, I'm sure, but where exactly we put Nick Kurtz will be interesting because I almost took another Wake Forest guy over him. ... If you had told us when we did this exercise in December, I would not have expected to get Nick Kurtz with the ninth pick when we were doing this exercise at the end of March.

10. Nationals -- Vance Honeycutt, OF, North Carolina (No. 6)
Mayo: There are two college bats that I'm considering, both of whom are interesting and both of whom I'm a little worried about the swing-and-miss. I'm going to take Vance Honeycutt, No. 6 on our list. He's done Vance Honeycutt kind of things. Slugging .645, he's got eight homers, he's got 14 steals. The strikeout rate is hovering close to 25 percent, which, for a college player -- and he's not even in ACC play [yet] -- worries me. But the tools are so good that I decided that I cannot pass them up.