MLB teams will learn on Tuesday in what order they will be making their picks in the 2024 MLB Draft. Who they take with those picks, however, they won’t know for some time.
Unlike last year, there is no clear-cut top guy from the start of the draft process till the end. LSU’s Dylan Crews was widely expected to be the top pick in the 2023 draft the moment the 2022 draft ended, and though he wound up going second behind college teammate Paul Skenes, many still believed him to be the best player available.
There isn’t that clear and obvious No. 1 choice early, in part because much of the 2024 MLB Draft class is loaded with players expected to play at non-premium positions moving forward. In particular, there is a wave of slugging first basemen that all have a chance to go in the top 10 picks. And, at least before the 2024 high-school and college baseball seasons have begun, the class seems college-heavy at the top.
Last year, Wake Forest was the best team in college baseball during the regular season, all the way up to a thrilling College World Series semifinal matchup against LSU that wound up ending the Demon Deacons’ season. If college baseball fans thought Wake Forest was going away, one look at the top 10 draft picks will show this team is still loaded.
Heading into the draft lottery, Sporting News is taking a look at the top 10 MLB draft prospects in the 2024 class. Here’s a look at the names you need to know.
MLB Draft prospects 2024
1. Nick Kurtz, 1B, Wake Forest
Wake third baseman Brock Wilken went 18th overall in 2023. His slugging corner infield companion should go significantly higher. In his sophomore campaign, Nick Kurtz put on an impressive display of patience and discipline at the plate (63 walks to 50 strikeouts) with exemplary power (24 home runs, .784 slugging percentage). The 6-6, 230-pound first baseman is a standout defender, and there is a belief he might be athletic enough to play in the outfield if a team wants to try him there. As things stand, he’s the most well-rounded, polished bat in the 2024 class. Spencer Torkelson is the only college first baseman in draft history to go first overall (in 2020 to the Tigers), but Kurtz has what it takes to join him at the top.
2. J.J. Wetherholt, SS, West Virginia
Kurtz might be the better all-around hitter, but J.J. Wetherholt is the better pure hitter. The West Virginia shortstop hit an impressive .449 in 2023 and walked 26 times to just 22 strikeouts, reaching base at an incredible .517 clip. When on base, he was a force, swiping a team-leading 36 bags in 44 attempts. He’s not without power either as he led the Mountaineers with 16 homers. The offensive tools are all there. The question is the defensive home. If teams believe he can stick at short, he’s likely to be the first overall pick in the draft. If he’s forced to move to second, he might go a bit lower, though he is still likely to top Alek Manoah and Chris Enochs (both 11th overall) as the highest-drafted WVU player.
3. Chase Burns, RHP, Wake Forest
Chase Burns is a similar prospect to Iowa’s Brody Brecht. The stuff — an upper-90s, low-100s fastball and a filthy slider — ranks among the best in college. But the stuff didn’t always translate to outs at Tennessee as he posted a 4.25 ERA and a 1.139 WHIP in 72 innings, often coming into games in relief as he lost his rotation job after a stellar freshman year. He opted to transfer to Wake Forest, where he’ll get a chance to work in one of the more advanced pitching labs in college baseball. Burns, at present, is likely not the No. 3 prospect in the draft class. But this is a bet that Wake Forest will work its magic with him and vault him to the top of the class.
4. Jac Caglianone, 1B/LHP, Florida
There’s not going to be a more famous player in the 2024 draft class than Jac Caglianone. His exploits in his sophomore season with Florida were legendary, and earned comparisons to Shohei Ohtani. The left-handed hitter slashed .323/.389/.738 with 33 home runs and pitched to a 4.34 ERA with 87 strikeouts in 74.2 innings with a fastball that could reach 99 mph from the left side. Much like Wetherholt, his draft value will come in what teams decide to do with him. Caglianone lacks polish as both a hitter (17 walks, 58 strikeouts) and a pitcher (55 walks, 14 HBP), but offers light-tower power at the dish and plus stuff on the mound. If a team has him drop one (most likely pitching) and focus on honing his skills in the other, the 6-5, 217-pound standout could reach his sky-high potential.
5. Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State
In 2018, the White Sox selected a 5-8, contact-oriented second baseman from Oregon State fourth overall in Nick Madrigal. Six years later, a player with a similar profile (batting from the left side rather than the right) is again among the top prospects in the class. Travis Bazzana posted an impressive .374/.500/.622 line in 2023 with 59 walks to 47 strikeouts. Bazzana has more pop and speed than Madrigal, having launched 11 homers and stolen 36 bases, giving him an enticing profile. The 5-9, 170-pound second baseman impressed in the Cape Cod League, earning the summer league’s MVP, helping to back up his prowess against top-tier arms with a wooden bat. Even if he’s limited to second, his bat should be enough for him to go near the top of the draft.
6. Brody Brecht, RHP, Iowa
If teams are looking for an arm with upside, few have more of it than Brody Brecht. The stuff is outrageous, with a fastball that can reach triple digits and a slider in the upper-80s with high swing-and-miss rates. And at 6-4, 205 pounds with an easy delivery, he looks the part of a potential ace. The question will be whether he can hone his command. Though he fanned 109 batters in 77 innings and held batters to just a .143 average, he also walked 61 batters. The upside is enough for him to be the top pick in the draft. Another year of command issues could drop him outside the top 10.
7. Vance Honeycutt, OF, North Carolina
After the 2022 season, it appeared Vance Honeycutt was on the Crews trajectory. That he would have three years in college, after which he’d be the clear top draft prospect in the 2024 class. As a freshman, he slashed .296/.409/.672 with 25 homers and 29 steals. But he regressed as a sophomore, hitting .257/.418/.492 with 12 home runs and 19 steals. He did cut down on the strikeouts, going down from 90 strikeouts to 51 and increased his walks total from 41 to 49. If Honeycutt can put it together in 2024, it could look something like the power-speed upside with the improved approach, which makes him a top-tier prospect. If his junior year looks more like his sophomore season, he could drop out of first-round consideration.
8. Tommy White, 3B, LSU
Tommy White shined at NC State in 2022 with a 27-homer season and an impressive 1.182 OPS in the ACC. He wanted to take on the challenge of an SEC schedule, and he shined once again after transferring to Baton Rouge, posting a 1.158 OPS with 24 homers, including one that powered LSU past Wake Forest in the College World Series. White is the rare slugger who makes a ton of contact, though he still didn’t walk much. It’s likely he gets moved to first base at the next level, but that bat should play even at the less desirable defensive position.
9. Charlie Condon, 1B, Georgia
The Bulldogs redshirted Charlie Condon in 2022, meaning 2023 was his first taste of college baseball. He didn’t show any signs of rust. Condon blasted SEC pitching to a .386/.484/.800 slash with 25 home runs and 33 walks to 45 strikeouts. The power didn’t show up as much in the Cape Cod League, and there are some swing-and-miss issues, but few doubt his ability to hit for power at the next level. Like with several players on this list, the defensive home will be a question. The 6-6, 211-pound slugger could patrol the outfield, but it’s more likely he’ll go to first, where he’ll have more pressure on the bat.
10. Seaver King, SS, Wake Forest
Seaver King put together a standout .411/.457/.699 slash line with 11 home runs and 13 stolen bases at Wingate as a sophomore, then tore up the summer leagues. His dynamic athleticism and ability to make contact made him one of the top transfer names of the summer, and he wound up being one of two huge transfers to land at Wake Forest along with Burns. King will be tested again in the ACC, but he’s shown he’s ready for the challenges. His combination of defense at shortstop with his promising bat should make him one of the top shortstops in the class, which usually leads players to the top of the draft.
Source : ESPN.com