Who will go No. 1 in the Draft? Our experts weigh the odds

May 23rd, 2024

College baseball conference tournaments are upon us, and the MLB Draft is just under two months away.

While we still have plenty of baseball to watch between now and July 14, it’s never too early to hypothesize, or perhaps even fantasize, about who the Cleveland Guardians will select No. 1 overall.

The general consensus is that a college hitter – most likely named Charlie Condon or Travis Bazzana – will hear his name called ahead of the rest on Draft night, but as we’ve seen dozens of times before, nothing is a guarantee.

Just look at last year’s board. Dylan Crews and Paul Skenes dominated conversations all the way up until the actual event, and even then, there was no guarantee who was going to go first. As we know, the Pirates ultimately selected Skenes and that’s working out pretty well.

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So this year, while Georgia’s Condon and Oregon State’s Bazzana are favorites for the No. 1 spot, anything can happen as the NCAA season winds down.

On this week’s edition of the MLB Pipeline Podcast, our Draft experts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo mulled over the options and made their predictions. They broke down Condon and Bazzana’s odds to go first overall and even threw in a couple dark horse candidates who could swoop in.

Mayo and Callis divvied up 100 percentage points among their candidates to go No. 1 overall, thus setting odds for the pick.

Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State (No. 2)
Callis 40% | Mayo 40%

Callis: "I think Bazzana fits the Guardians' model a little bit more than Condon in terms of prioritizing contact and swing decisions.

“It's way too early, nothing is set in stone, the Guardians have not made a decision, but the other teams picking near the top of the Draft believe if the Draft were today that the Guardians are taking Travis Bazzana.”

Charlie Condon, OF/3B, Georgia (No. 1)
Callis 38% | Mayo 40%

Callis: “I would take Charlie Condon because I think he has tremendous power and he's a very good hitter who makes very good swing decisions and makes a lot of contact.”

Mayo: “I still think it's pretty up in the air. Even if the industry thinks that Bazzana is the guy I'm not ready to jump off the Condon bandwagon just yet.

“I think Condon’s the best player in the Draft.”

Jac Caglianone, 1B/LHP, Florida (No. 3)
Callis 10% | Mayo 8%

Callis: “The Guardians’ system is not as deep in pitching as it used to be. Caglianone has a huge chase rate, makes a lot of contact, but a huge chase rate. I feel like Hagen Smith might be a little bit more of a Guardians guy than Caglianone.”

Hagen Smith, LHP, Arkansas (No. 6)
Callis 11% | Mayo 6%

Mayo: “We have a sneaky suspicion that Hagen Smith goes in the top six picks.

“Hagen Smith is almost part of the 'field,' and if they're not going to go with one of those top three hitters, it's probably more likely to be Hagen Smith than anybody else it could be.”

Field: JJ Wetherholt, 2B, West Virginia (No. 8), Konnor Griffin, OF/SS, Jackson Prep (Flowood, Miss.) (No. 9)
Callis 1% | Mayo 6%

Mayo: “There are the rumors that Cleveland is going to be creative. The rumors that we always hear ... that the team picking first is going to try to be more creative with their bonus pool money and maybe go a little further down and save more and use it and spread it around more.

“I think that's where Konnor Griffin comes into play. I think I was leaving a little more room for a player like that, a player like JJ Wetherholt, if they wanted to do that.”

Callis: “You could do a lot worse than say ‘Hey, we're going to take a discount on JJ Wetherholt.’”

“Maybe he'd sign for eight million and I don't know what you do with all that money, but you save a bunch. ... If I had to pick my top candidate from the field, outside of those four guys, I think it might be JJ Wetherholt.”