May 25, 2024

MLB Mock Draft 2024: Why Guardians could go Travis Bazzana over Charlie Condon

I’ve said a few times that this MLB draft class is one of the weakest I’ve ever seen, but I think this first mock draft really makes the case even better than some of the rankings I’ve published so far. There’s a top tier of 11 players — nine in college and two from high school — who will probably all come off the board in the first 12 picks (there’s a good chance some team strikes an under-slot deal later in that range). After that, you might as well pick a random name generator, as we may see a historically low number of high schoolers taken in the first round, with position players lacking and the industry trending away from taking high school arms in the top 30.



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I always base my mock drafts on information from industry sources on which teams are interested in which players or in which categories of players. This year, I have way more of that for the top 10 picks than I do for the remainder of the round, relative to the amount of information I’d typically have in mid-May. I’ve had national cross-checkers, scouting directors, and even a GM comment to me on what a mess the draft is after the first echelon of players is off the board. So this projected first round has a bit more of my speculation and opinions in it than what I typically like to include in a mock.

Now on to the picks:

Cleveland tends to be very guarded with their intentions, but teams behind them expect them to choose between Bazzana and Charlie Condon, with a slight chance they do a well under-slot deal with prep shortstop/outfielder Konnor Griffin. Whoever they take, expect them to try to shave a substantial amount from the slot value for the 1-1 pick.

2. Cincinnati Reds: Charlie Condon, OF, Georgia

I believe the Reds are just sitting here with open arms, waiting to see if it’s Condon or Bazzana, although they have scouted all of the top 10 pretty heavily this spring.



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Assuming the top two are gone, this selection seems likely to be one of the two top college pitchers (Smith or Wake Forest’s Chase Burns) or possibly Florida two-way player Jac Caglianone. A few years ago, I would have just assumed they’d take Griffin, but I haven’t heard them linked to the prep hitter much at all.

Kurtz has a .539 OBP with 66 walks on the year, and, well, Oakland likes those guys, as you may have heard.

Caglianone is a two-way player but is much more likely to be a position player as a pro. (Phelan M. Ebenhack via Associated Press)

5. Chicago White Sox: Jac Caglianone, 1B/LHP, Florida

I’ve heard them heavily with Caglianone and Griffin; I don’t know if they’d let Cags continue to pitch, but I doubt it given the risk he’ll tear his UCL again and the fact that he’s almost a dead-certain reliever as a pitcher.

New scouting director Brian Bridges strongly favors pitching with early picks, and they’re probably taking Smith or Burns, although there’s been a little Griffin smoke here too.



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The Cardinals may just take whichever of the top college guys slides to them — other than Caglianone — which in this scenario would be Wetherholt. If healthy, Wetherhold wouldn’t even be a possibility this far down. Another possibility is Texas A&M’s Braden Montgomery, but I believe they’d take Wetherholt of the two.

8. Los Angeles Angels: Trey Yesavage, RHP, East Carolina

The rumor is the Angels will take Yesavage and bring him right to the big leagues — or would do the same with Smith or Burns if here, although Yesavage is also likely to sign at this pick for a discount while the other two would not. I’ve also heard they might do the same with a college hitter like James Tibbs.

9. Pittsburgh Pirates: Braden Montgomery, OF, Texas A&M

I know individual scouts who see Montgomery as a top-five talent in the draft, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see him go higher than this, although the strong returns of Kurtz and Wetherholt off of their injuries probably push him into the 6-10 range. The Pirates are likely the ceiling for prep shortstop Bryce Rainer and would be fits for Griffin or Tibbs.

10. Washington Nationals: Konnor Griffin, SS/OF, Jackson Prep (Flowood, Miss.)

Griffin is playing the role of the super-toolsy high school position player this year, a group with which the Nats have had some success (James Wood, acquired in trade) and some not-success (Elijah Green, No. 5 pick in 2022). That said, they’ve got a new amateur scouting group led by Danny Haas and we could see a new approach in the draft this year.

Griffin is likely to be the first high school player off the board. (Mary DeCicco / MLB Photos via Getty Images)

11. Detroit Tigers: Bryce Rainer, SS, Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.)

There’s a dashed line of sorts between the top-11 players in the class and everyone else, not a huge dropoff but enough that I’m assuming the Tigers will just take whichever guy is left in that group rather than doing a deal with someone else.

12. Boston Red Sox: James Tibbs III, OF, Florida State

Tibbs has probably been the biggest riser among college players this year, as he’s had more homers than strikeouts for Florida State and model-heavy teams seem to love him. Also, shame on everyone if we don’t nickname him King Tibbs III.

13. San Francisco Giants: Cam Caminiti, LHP, Saguaro HS (Scottsdale, Ariz.)

Caminiti has settled in as the top-rated pitching prospect in the class, but the Giants, who’ve shown strong interest in Caminiti, might be the only team in the top 20 willing to take a prep arm with their first pick. If they don’t do it he might end up in the 20s because most of the teams before then are at least loosely opposed to going that route.

14. Chicago Cubs: Brody Brecht, RHP, Iowa

Another guy who could slide into the latter third of the round, Brecht has the size and arm strength to be a top-10 pick, but he’s far less polished than most of the college starter prospects in this draft. The team that takes him will have to be one willing and able to stomach a bigger risk. I didn’t just put him with the Cubs because he’s often compared to another wide receiver-turned-pitcher, Jeff Samardzija. I could also see the Cubs in on the next tier of college bats, including Tibbs, Cam Smith, and Carson Benge.

15. Seattle Mariners: Seaver King, OF/SS, Wake Forest

The Mariners would certainly be willing to go big on a high school hitter, as they’ve had a ton of success in the first round with that category, but I don’t see who that hitter would be if Rainer and Griffin are gone. This spot seems too high for Kellon Lindsey or Tyson Lewis or Carter Johnson. That’s why I’m assuming they’ll go with a college bat, like King, Dakota Jordan, or Tibbs.

King has jumped into first-round territory after transferring to Wake from Division II Wingate. (Isaiah Vazquez / Getty Images)

16. Miami Marlins: Kaelen Culpepper, SS, Kansas State

Culpepper’s sliding a bit with some model-heavy teams because of his high chase rate (around 31 percent) and lack of a two-strike approach, so this may end up being high for him. He looks like he’ll stay at shortstop and he’s got a great swing with incipient power that may improve with a little swing adjustment. I’ve heard the Marlins connected with King and would assume they’re on some of the other college bats in this group like Smith, Jordan, and Benge.

The Brewers have gone with a college bat for their first pick in each of the last three drafts. Along with their comp pick in 2021, those selections have yielded two big leaguers already in Sal Frelick and Tyler Black plus a current top-100 prospect in Brock Wilken, who just came back from having his face broken by a 94 mph fastball and homered for Double-A Biloxi the other night. Smith fits their typical profile, as would Tibbs if he gets here.

18. Tampa Bay Rays: Kellon Lindsey, SS, Hardee HS (Wauchula, Fla.)

About the only thing I believe the Rays wouldn’t do is take a high school pitcher here, although even that is just a strong guess rather than a certainty. I know the Rays are trying to get more athleticism into their system, and Lindsey might be the best for that attribute, while they’re also linked to some of the college bats like Benge, Jordan, and Ryan Waldschmidt.

19. New York Mets: Carson Benge, OF/RHP, Oklahoma State

The Mets have been linked to Benge for a little while now, as he’s one of the more intriguing upside plays among the college bats — an outstanding athlete who’ll need some swing help in pro ball to get to power. I believe they’d also be in play for Jordan or Christian Moore, but I don’t know if they’d go high school hitter again as they did last year.

20. Toronto Blue Jays: Walker Janek, C, Sam Houston State

I’ve heard the Jays more on college bats than any other category, which makes sense in this draft class as the best high school hitters and college arms who’ll still be available would probably be reaches at this spot.

21. Minnesota Twins: Jurrangelo Cijntje, BHP, Mississippi State

I’ve listed Cijntje as a both-handed pitcher, but he’s much better from the right side and I wouldn’t be shocked if whoever drafts him makes him exclusively a right-hander or limits how much he can switch-pitch. Anyway, it’s not just a parlor trick — his stuff and metrics are pushing him into first-round consideration and scouts love the athleticism. He could even end up the fourth college pitcher taken after the Burns-Smith-Yesavage trio is gone.

Cijntje is a switch-pitcher for Mississippi State. (Vasha Hunt / Associated Press)

The Orioles aren’t afraid to take a hard-hitting college bat even with some swing-and-miss concerns, doing so with Heston Kjerstad and Colton Cowser in previous years. White has hit 20-plus homers in all three years in college but tends to chase stuff out of the zone too often to be a top-10 pick, even in this class. I think the Orioles would be a floor for either Florida State hitter or Benge if any got here.

23. Los Angeles Dodgers: Dakota Jordan, OF, Mississippi State

The Dodgers have tended to swing for the fences with their first picks under Billy Gasparino, going for big ceilings and/or players with grade-80 tools even if they’re relatively unpolished. Jordan is an explosive athlete who has big power but strikes out more than any of his peers in this second tier of college hitters. I could also see the Dodgers on Lindsey, Carter Johnson, and the small group of high school pitchers who might show up in the first round (Caminiti, William Schmidt, Kash Mayfield, Braylon Doughty and Ryan Sloan).

24. Atlanta: William Schmidt, RHP, Catholic HS (Baton Rouge, La.)

Atlanta hasn’t been afraid to go into the high school pitching end of the pool, and if they do so again, look for them to take a couple of these players as they did in 2022.

25. San Diego Padres: Kash Mayfield, LHP, Elk City (Okla.) HS

The Padres will probably go back into the high school crop once again, either taking a high-ceiling arm like Mayfield or Schmidt or going for a similarly high-upside high school bat like Theo Gillen or Lindsey.

26. New York Yankees: Christian Moore, 2B, Tennessee

Moore has probably performed his way into the first round, even though the underlying tools and instincts don’t support it. He’s hit 23 homers and has a .380/.446/.774 line (through Monday) as part of the Vols’ loaded lineup, where five hitters already have 15 or more homers. I could also see them on Ryan Waldschmidt or Jordan.

Moore has hit his way into a likely first-round selection this year. (Danny Parker / Four Seam Images via Associated Press)

27. Philadelphia Phillies: Theo Gillen, SS, Westlake HS (Austin, Texas)

Gillen has zoomed up draft boards in the latter half of this spring as scouts love his swing and some even see a future 60 hit tool here. The Phillies have been all about high school talent since Brian Barber took over as scouting director and I don’t see any reason to expect that to change with the early success his first-round picks have had in the minors.

28. Houston Astros: Malcolm Moore, C, Stanford

The Astros have been all over the place this spring; GM Dana Brown was in Michigan to try to see the matchup between high school hitters Caleb Bonemer and Dante Nori this weekend, but it was rained out. They need help in their system sooner than a high schooler can provide, and I expect them to go for a college player in the first round as they did last year.

29. Arizona Diamondbacks: Slade Caldwell, OF, Jonesboro (Ark.) HS

Sounds like the Diamondbacks are the floor for Caldwell, who would be a top-shelf prospect if he could reach it. (I’m his height, so I’m allowed to make that joke.) They’ve had success with smaller position players before, and Caldwell would be a top-10 pick if he were 6 feet tall rather than 5-foot-5 1/2.

30. Texas Rangers: Tyson Lewis, SS, Millard West HS (Omaha, Neb.)

The Rangers are playing with house money after winning the World Series last year and getting their 2023 first-rounder Wyatt Langford to the majors already. I’ve heard they’re the floor for Gillen and it sounds like they’re leaning a little more high school than college, with Lewis another high-upside athlete who fits their general mold, although he’s not as advanced a hitter as Gillen is.

(Top photo illustration by John Bradford / The Athletic; Photos from left to right: Travis Bazzana — Zac BonDurant / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images; Charlie Condon — Jeff Moreland / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images; Hagen Smith — Kate Woolson / Texas Rangers)