Rarely will a college crop feature three players as talented as the 2023 group did. Louisiana State right-hander Paul Skenes and outfielder Dylan Crews and Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford dominated the Southeastern Conference, met in the College World Series and went 1-2-4 in the Draft. All should arrive in the big leagues at some point next season.
While the 2024 college class can't match that star power, it's deeper than usual and should dominate the first round next July. The position players currently outshine the pitchers, though there are several promising arms.
Wake Forest finished third at the 2023 CWS behind a pair of first-rounders in right-hander Rhett Lowder and third baseman Brock Wilken. The Demon Deacons could be even more formidable next season with five potential first-rounders in first baseman Nick Kurtz (No. 1 on our list below), transfers Chase Burns (the top-rated college pitcher) and shortstop Seaver King, lefty Josh Hartle and righty Michael Massey.
1. Nick Kurtz, 1B, Wake Forest
Spencer Torkelson (2020) is the only college first baseman selected No. 1 overall, but Kurtz could join him because no one in this Draft combines hitting ability and huge power like he does. He batted .353/.527/.784 with 24 homers as a sophomore, walking more than he struck out (24 percent walk rate, 19 percent whiff rate) and providing quality defense at first base. He may move well enough to play the outfield in pro ball.
2. JJ Wetherholt, SS, West Virginia
Perhaps the best pure hitter in the 2024 Draft, Wetherholt won the NCAA Division I batting crown and Big 12 Conference Player of the Year honors after hitting .449/.517/.787 with 16 homers and 36 steals. He makes all-fields contact with ease against all types of pitching, combines average power with plus speed and will attempt to enhance his defensive profile by moving from second base to shortstop.
3. Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State
An Australian, Bazzana has a similar profile to Wetherholt, with a little less in the way of bat-to-ball skills but more raw power and speed. He hit .374/.500/.622 with a school-record 36 steals in the spring, then won the Cape Cod League batting title (.375) and MVP award during the summer.
4. Jac Caglianone, 1B/LHP, Florida
The Shohei Ohtani comparisons are too much, but Caglianone did hit .322/.388/.735 while leading D-I with 33 homers and posting a 4.34 ERA with 87 strikeouts in 74 2/3 innings. He's a 6-foot-5, 245-pound masher with massive lefty power, not to mention a 94-99 mph fastball and a nifty changeup. Clubs prefer him as a slugger, though his propensity to chase pitches out of the strike zone is a concern.
5. Chase Burns, RHP, Wake Forest
The top transfer on our list, Burns moved on from Tennessee, where he compiled a 4.25 ERA with a 114/22 K/BB ratio and ranked third in D-I in strikeout rate (14.3 per nine innings, tops among returning pitchers). He owns a pair of wipeout pitches with a 95-97 mph fastball that reaches 102 and an 85-87 mph slider that generated a crazy 61 percent swing-and-miss rate last spring.
6. Vance Honeycutt, OF, North Carolina
Honeycutt offers the most physical upside among the position players on this list, but he's also coming off a .257/.418/.492 season with 12 homers and 19 steals. Though he cut his strikeout rate from 30 percent as a freshman to 20 percent as a sophomore, he provided less impact last year. If he hits, the Atlantic Coast Conference defensive player of the year will be a five-tool center fielder.
7. Charlie Condon, 1B/OF, Georgia
After redshirting in 2022, Condon was the consensus national freshman of the year in 2023 after hitting .386/.484/.800 with 25 homers, leading the SEC in slugging and later tying for the U.S. collegiate national team lead with three homers in 10 games. He's a gifted hitter with plenty of power, and he's also a decent athlete who may be able to handle left field on pro ball.
8. Tommy White, 3B, Louisiana State
White transferred from North Carolina State a year ago and batted .374/.432/.725 with 24 homers while leading D-I with 105 RBI and LSU to the national championship. Tommy Tanks has some hitting ability to go with his prodigious power, though his limited athleticism probably will dictate a move to first base at the next level.
9. Braden Montgomery, OF/RHP, Texas A&M
A Stanford transfer, Montgomery is more advanced at the plate (.336/.461/.611, 17 homers) than on the mound (12.21 ERA, 19/11 K/BB ratio in 14 innings). He profiles as a right fielder with power from both sides of the plate, average to solid speed and a strong arm that can pop fastballs up to 96 mph.
10. Brody Brecht, RHP, Iowa
Brecht originally went to Iowa with a football scholarship as a wide receiver but decided to concentrate on baseball last spring. He has Skenes-like stuff (fastball to 101 mph, devastating upper-80s slider) without nearly the same control, and his ability to add polish will determine how early he gets picked next July. He compiled a 3.74 ERA with 109 strikeouts in 77 innings, pacing D-I with a .143 opponent average but also finishing third with 61 walks.
11. Malcolm Moore, C, Stanford
The best sophomore-eligible prospect, Moore batted .311/.386/.584 with 15 homers in his college debut. His power and arm strength are ahead of his hitting ability and receiving skills, but he'll be able to stay behind the plate and looks like the best catcher in the 2024 Draft.
12. Mike Sirota, OF, Northeastern
The grand-nephew of Hall of Famer Whitey Ford, Sirota is Northeastern's best prospect since 1998 first-rounder Carlos Peña. After slashing .344/.470/.674 with 18 homers and 19 steals, he could be a center fielder with a plus power/speed combination.
13. Hagen Smith, LHP, Arkansas
Smith has bounced back from Tommy John surgery in high school to become the consensus top left-hander in the 2024 Draft. Working primarily with a 92-94 mph fastball that peaks at 98 and a swing-and-miss 82-85 mph slider, he recorded a 3.64 ERA with 109 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings.
14. Seaver King, SS, Wake Forest
King had a 47-game hitting streak over two seasons at NCAA Division II Wingate (N.C) and batted .411/.457/.699 with 11 homers and 13 steals as a sophomore. He also has performed well with wood bats during the summer, winning MVP honors in the Valley League in 2022 before starring with USA Baseball and in the Cape Cod League this year. Now at Wake Forest, he's a twitchy athlete who can help a team win with his bat, speed and defense at shortstop, though he may not have more than fringy power.
15. Josh Hartle, LHP, Wake Forest
MLB Pipeline's highest-ranked pitcher (No. 48 on our Top 250) who went unselected in 2021, Hartle stands out more for his polish than his pure stuff. Pounding the zone with five pitches, highlighted by a low-80s curveball and an upper-80s slider that he sets up with a low-90s fastball, he posted a 2.81 ERA with a 140/24 K/BB ratio in 102 1/3 innings, topping all returning D-I pitchers in whiffs.
16. Thatcher Hurd, RHP, Louisiana State
Hurd initially struggled after transferring from UCLA before starring in the postseason, winning the clinchers in the CWS semifinals against Wake Forest and finals against Florida. Armed with a 94-96 mph fastball that tops out at 98 and a mid-80s slider that flashes plus, he logged a 5.68 ERA with 84 strikeouts in 63 1/3 innings and could rise up this list if he can recapture the magic he had in June.
17. Dakota Jordan, OF, Mississippi State
Perhaps the best athlete on this list, Jordan was a three-star wide receiver recruit in high school and possesses well above-average speed, similar raw power and electric bat speed. Draft-eligible as a sophomore, he's still raw and batted .307/.397/.575 with 10 homers in his first taste of college.
18. Cam Smith, 3B, Florida State
Another Draft-eligible sophomore, Smith batted just .258/.326/.517 with 12 homers for the Seminoles before starring in the Cape Cod League, where scouts voted him the top prospect. A much-improved approach helped him cut down on his strikeouts and tap into his plus power more frequently. He has a big league body at 6-foot-3 and 224 pounds, and his strong arm adds to his third-base profile.
19. Jacob Cozart, C, North Carolina State
Cozart is a better receiver than Moore and has similar arm strength, but he's less proven with the bat. He improved offensively last year to .301/.392/.546 with 10 homers and could factor higher in the Draft if he can produce more consistently and show average power.
20. Will Taylor, OF, Clemson
If Taylor hadn't been set on playing wide receiver for Clemson's football team, he would have been a first-round pick as a South Carolina high schooler in 2021. Now focused on baseball, he offers a package of tools and upside similar to Sirota's and batted .362/.489/.523 with 11 steals last spring.