Who will go No. 1 overall in the 2024 MLB Draft? (Mallory Bielecki/Yahoo Sports)

2024 MLB Draft: Top 50 player rankings

Here are the top 50 high school and college prospects most likely to hear their names called in Forth Worth, Texas.

The 2024 MLB Draft began Sunday with the Cleveland Guardians making the first overall selection at the Cowtown Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas, as part of this year’s All-Star festivities. Day 1 of the Draft featured the first 74 picks: the first two rounds, as well as two rounds of competitive balance picks, plus two picks awarded to teams that lost qualifying free agents. Most notably, that included pick No. 74, the compensation pick awarded to the Angels for losing Shohei Ohtani in free agency.

Day 2 on Monday featured Rounds 3-10. Rounds 11-20 will complete the Draft beginning at 2 p.m. ET Tuesday. In total, 615 selections will be made as each MLB organization seeks to add a new wave of talent that will hopefully impact their big-league club in a meaningful way in the future.

Evaluating a draft class that features players of vastly different ages competing at a wide range of competition levels across North America and Puerto Rico is a daunting task, to say the least. To simplify things, I prefer to think about each draft class in four demographics: high school hitters, high school pitchers, college hitters and college pitchers. In an effort to minimize, or at least compartmentalize, the amount of apples-to-oranges comparisons, I find it more instructive to group players within those buckets and analyze their strengths and weaknesses in relation to one another. This is also common practice among MLB teams in their efforts to organize their draft boards. In an effort to convey how the industry is collectively comparing these players, this ranking is roughly organized with those subsets of players in mind and thus broken into a collection of tiers within the list.

With all that in mind, here are my top 50 prospects for the 2024 MLB Draft, based on my evaluations, as well as conversations with scouts and front-office officials around the league.

The vast majority of Australians who have reached the major leagues signed as international free agents, rather than coming stateside to play in the college ranks en route to eventual draft eligibility. While Bazzana was somewhat known in international scouting circles as a young player growing up just north of Sydney, he was not considered an elite prospect by any stretch. So rather than signing for a modest bonus and turning pro as a teenager, Bazzana took his burgeoning talents to Corvallis in hopes of raising his stock against Division I competition.

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And boy, did he ever. Before he even played a game for the Beavers, Bazzana was named MVP of the West Coast League, a wood-bat summer league consisting primarily of college players. That was a good sign of what was to come, as Bazzana immediately starred as a freshman (.899 OPS) and then got substantially better each season (1.122 OPS as a sophomore, 1.479 OPS as a junior). He broke numerous school records and cemented his legend status in a program littered with current and former big-league stars throughout its illustrious history.

As a hitter, Bazzana stands out for his electric bat speed and fantastic understanding of what pitches he can and should do damage on. That aptitude in the box expands to his ability to make subtle swing changes and his offseason training, in which he has exhibited the drive to maximize his offensive potential within the confines of his relatively small stature. And the results have been sensational: Bazzana launched 28 home runs as a junior after hitting a combined 17 over his first two seasons with the Beavers, all while walking roughly twice as often as he struck out.

He’s the complete package at the plate and the kind of hitter who will eagerly tackle the challenge of facing better pitching as he climbs the ranks, making whatever adjustments necessary to succeed.

Defensively, Bazzana’s below-average arm limits him to second base, but he’s rangy enough to stick at the keystone long-term. Perhaps a future in the outfield is in store eventually, but I’m eager to see how his speed plays in pro ball, as his stolen base totals fluctuated from 14 to 36 to 16 over his three college seasons; the high watermark suggests there could be untapped potential on the basepaths if Bazzana makes it a focus again. Regardless of his secondary skills, Bazzana’s bat and singular presence both on and off the field give him all the makings of a future star. While it’s uncommon for second basemen to hear their names called at the very top of the draft, much about Bazzana’s ascent to the top of draft boards is uncommon. He’s a special player who has an opportunity to make an impact not only on the team that drafts him but on the next generation of Australian ballplayers with big dreams as well.

There’s a healthy contingent within the industry that believes Condon is the slam-dunk obvious top prospect in this class, a no-doubt star with tremendous offensive potential. After redshirting as a freshman in Athens in 2022, Condon put himself on the radar as a likely first-round draft pick in 2023, when he hit .386 with 25 home runs — a breakout season that turned out to be an appetizer of what was to come.

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This season, Condon led the nation in batting average (.433) and set a single-season record for home runs in the BBCOR era, with 37 in 60 games, en route to winning the Golden Spikes Award, the first in program history. For Condon (1.565 OPS) to finish more than 100 points ahead of the second-highest OPS in the country (Bazzana at 1.479) while playing in the SEC is a remarkable achievement, and it underscores how much he separated himself from the rest of the pack over the course of the season. By the end of March, it was clear that Condon was not just in strong position to go in the first round but also a legitimate candidate to go No. 1.

While you couldn’t have asked for much more from Condon at the plate, the primary doubts surrounding his draft stock involve his eventual defensive home. That he appeared at all three outfield spots and both infield corners for the Bulldogs this season is encouraging on its face as a sign of versatility and athleticism. But one could also interpret his jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none approach to defense as a red flag regarding the likelihood that he sticks long-term at a spot with higher defensive value. In other words: If he could play reliably third base every day, he probably would’ve been doing so by now.

Any team drafting Condon is going to be excited about the bat first and foremost. But his defensive projection is likely the key to determining whether he exists among the elite players or in a tier of his own at the very top. Ultimately, a future as a right-handed-hitting first baseman — a dangerous demographic at the top of recent drafts — is within the realistic range of outcomes for Condon spooks me enough to knock him down all the way to … No. 2 on my board.

This is still a bat to believe in, and I expect that whichever team scoops him up in the first few picks will be ecstatic to do so.

Wetherholt was one of the leading candidates to go first overall going into his junior season, after he won the Division I batting title as a sophomore in 2023, but his spring was interrupted by a hamstring injury that put him on the shelf for six weeks. It was an ominous development, considering that he dealt with a similar hamstring issue last summer. Wetherholt returned and hit some big homers for the Mountaineers on their run to the Super Regional. Still, the time he lost cost Wetherholt the chance to build up the star-level stats that all the other top-tier college bats produced over the course of this spring.

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Granted, few within the industry had any doubts about Wetherholt’s ability to hit, and they didn’t necessarily need another 10-15 home runs to feel good about that part of his game. More important to his draft stock upon his return were the final few weeks he spent playing shortstop, a position he had occupied sparingly his first two seasons, having primarily bounced between second and third base. As hitters, Wetherholt and Bazzana are fairly comparable, with Wetherholt’s pure contact ability a tick stronger and Bazzana’s power projection a bit louder. Wetherholt has been adamant about his ability to play the premium position at the next level, and he showed promising signs of that down the stretch. That could tip the scales in Wetherholt’s favor over another left-handed-hitting second baseman, and it seems likely that whichever team drafts him will announce him as a shortstop.

While injury history is hardly the most enjoyable element of a player’s draft stock to analyze, it’s also foolish to push it aside and call it irrelevant or overblown. It’s possible that Wetherholt’s recurring hamstring issues will steer some teams away from him. At some point, though, the value of adding Wetherholt will vastly outweigh the risks associated with his injury track record. And beyond those risks, Wetherholt checks every box of the kind of player and person you’d want to invest in at the top of the draft.

Let’s get the “/LHP” aspect out of the way: While I am listing Caglianone as such out of respect for his résumé as one of the most prolific two-way talents the college game has ever seen — he struck out 170 in 148 1/3 innings across two seasons in which he also hit 68 home runs — I do not believe Cags’ future in pro ball will involve pitching in any meaningful capacity. I’ll happily be proven wrong if some team in the top 10 wants to let him try, but for now, let’s focus on Cags the hitter.

He remains near the very top of these rankings with the two-way ambitions fully pushed aside. That speaks volumes about his overwhelming prospect status as a slugger. Cags’ home run power is breathtaking and unrivaled in this class. Over the past two seasons, he amassed a legendary collection of jaw-dropping, tape-measure shots to previously undiscovered regions of ballparks across America, fortifying his reputation as the most fearsome hitter in college baseball.

And while Cags’ juice has never been in question, it’s the extraordinary gains he made in the plate discipline department this spring that make his offensive profile so unique. After striking out roughly 18% of the time in his first two seasons in Gainesville, Caglianone slashed that number to 8.2% as a junior while more than tripling (!) his walk rate to more than 18%. This was due not to some Juan Soto-like ability to discern balls and strikes but, rather, to an unbelievable ability to make contact with roughly any pitch regardless of location.

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Can Cags keep swinging wildly at stuff out of the zone in pro ball and continue to succeed? There is some precedent for such a skill set functioning in MLB, though it is rare. Then again, rare is a good word to describe Caglianone, so perhaps he can continue to defy expectations.

I assumed it would be a long time before we saw a college pitcher dominate to the degree Paul Skenes did in his epic junior campaign in 2023, but we didn’t need to wait long at all. Skenes threw more strikes and made three more starts due to LSU’s run to the national championship, but on a rate basis, Smith and Burns were stunningly comparable to the now-Pirates ace:

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  • 2023 Skenes: 19 GS, 122.2 IP, 1.69 ERA, 45.1% strikeout rate, 4.3% walk rate, opponents hit .165/.206/.243

  • 2024 Smith: 16 GS, 84 IP, 2.04 ERA, 48.6% strikeout rate, 10.3% walk rate, opponents hit .144/.247/.215

  • 2024 Burns: 16 GS, 100 IP, 2.70 ERA, 48.8% strikeout rate, 7.7% walk rate, opponents hit .175/.246/.333

While neither Smith nor Burns is considered a generational-type prospect a la Skenes — the relief risk associated with their inferior command and relatively unorthodox deliveries keeps them a notch below Skenes’ rare level of promise — these are two very special arms, and scouts have spent all spring debating who is more worthy of being the first pitcher selected next week. Burns, who regularly held triple-digit velocity into starts that reached triple-digit pitch counts, seems to have the slight edge as the superior strike-thrower with more secondary weapons to garner swing-and-miss outside the zone. Smith’s fastball isn’t quite as hot from a velo standpoint, but he gets more whiffs with it in the strike zone, and his vicious slider is just as nasty as Burns’ two breaking balls.

I’ve gone back and forth along with the rest of the industry and lean Burns slightly for now, but I understand those who view Smith’s status as a southpaw as the tie-breaker. I wouldn’t pick either of them to win Rookie of the Year in 2025 like Skenes might this year, but I wouldn’t be shocked if one or both of these two are in the big leagues at this time next season.

His junior season ended on a sour note — a fractured ankle during the Super Regional round robbed Montgomery of the opportunity to help the Aggies in the College World Series — but let’s not lose sight of how much better this guy got during his one year in College Station. Revered for his two-way potential dating to his high school days and during his first two college seasons at Stanford, Montgomery stopped pitching after transferring to A&M and saw a huge uptick in power production in turn.

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The switch-hitting outfielder’s SLG% jumped to .733 after hovering around .600 the previous two seasons, and he showed marked improvements with his right-handed swing to help balance out what was already a thunderous left-handed cut. Also, the rocket arm that had scouts eager to see more on the mound now plays as the headlining feature of a classic right-field profile. Assuming Montgomery’s injury is expected to heal completely with no trouble, some team should be happy to scoop this guy up somewhere in the top 10 picks.

In a draft loaded at the top with college players with outstanding offensive ability and questions about their secondary skills, Griffin is a fascinating alternative as an athletic supernova with nearly every physical tool imaginable except a surefire ability to hit at the next level. Some of this is natural for any high school hitter who has yet to be tested by older arms, but Griffin comes with the added baggage of having made inconsistent contact on the showcase circuit before predictably dominating subpar competition all spring in his home state of Mississippi.

Still, we’re talking about a player who could develop into an elite defender at shortstop or center field, not to mention plus power and plus-plus speed that has scouts dreaming on 30 HR/30 SB potential if the aptitude to hit coalesces around the rest of his star-level tools. There’s substantial risk here, but if it clicks, Griffin could end up being the best player in this draft.

Rainer, meanwhile, is no stranger to quality opponents. Hailing from the Los Angeles-area school that has become well-known over the past decade for producing high-end talent, he has long stood out even within one of the country’s most competitive regions for high school baseball in Southern California. His loud showing in front of a massive scouting contingent at the National High School Invitational tournament in April launched him into Griffin’s tier atop the prep class and put him in serious consideration to be selected in the top 10.

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Rainer is a prototypical, lefty-slugging shortstop prospect, the kind who naturally elicits Corey Seager comparisons (an unfairly high bar for a teenager who would be a great first-round pick if he can become even 80% of what Seager has). His tools might not leap off the field the way Griffin’s do, but Rainer has been a damn good player for a while now and seems to keep getting better.

With two seasons of elite performance in the bank, Kurtz entered this spring as strong a candidate to go in the top five picks. A rough first month dampened the buzz before he got scorching hot in April, including an outrageous stretch in which he hit 14 home runs in a 10-game span. He cooled off down the stretch but finished with 22 home runs and a Division I leading 78 (!) walks, cementing one of the most productive three-year runs in ACC history. He’s an Anthony Rizzo starter kit in the best way possible.

While Kurtz’s stock held serve or slightly dipped over the course of the season, Tibbs’ soared spectacularly. His bat kept leveling up during his three years in Tallahassee, culminating in a huge 2024 (1.264 OPS, 28 HR) en route to winning ACC Player of the Year — which Kurtz was the heavy preseason favorite to win. As with Kurtz, Tibbs’ defensive value is limited as he’s tethered to first base or a corner outfield spot. But for a guy projected as more of a second- or third-round talent coming into his junior year, the fact that Tibbs could go just a few picks after Kurtz — or even ahead of him — is an astounding achievement.

A right-hander with plus command of a deep arsenal, Yesavage made huge strides each year in college, to the point that he is widely considered to be SP3 in this draft, with some believing he belongs in the same tier as Burns and Smith. Although he faced weaker competition on the whole than what Burns and Smith dealt with in the ACC and SEC, the dominance was emphatic: Yesavage ranked first among Div. I starting pitchers in ERA (2.02) and OPS allowed (.456). He also outdueled Burns in an epic regional game to finish his career as a Pirate. Yesavage doesn’t have the prettiest delivery, but he has consistently thrown strikes as a starter and has more than enough weapons — a mid-90s four-seamer, a sharp slider, a gnarly splitter — to navigate a lineup multiple times. He’ll land somewhere in the 8-15 range.

It was quickly apparent once Smith arrived in Tallahassee that the buzz he built among scouts during his senior year of high school, ahead of the 2022 MLB Draft, was entirely warranted. After a strong freshman year with the Seminoles, Smith was one of the most productive hitters in the prestigious Cape Cod summer league, and he carried that momentum into a monster second year with the Seminoles, cutting his strikeout rate in half and hitting .387 with 38 extra-base hits. His muscular, 6-foot-3 frame already resembles that of a big leaguer, and the rate at which he has improved the past two seasons has teams very excited about his potential.

No one finished the college season stronger than Moore, the leadoff dynamo for the national champion Volunteers. He hit for the cycle in the opening game in Omaha before adding another homer a couple of days later to bring his season total to an astonishing 34, third in the country behind Condon and Caglianone. While he has made the occasional cameo at shortstop, Moore’s modest arm and inconsistent defensive actions likely limit him to second base, but his exceptional bat speed and strong contact skills ensure a substantial overall ceiling regardless of position.

King is one of the more unlikely come-ups of any prospect on this list. He spent the first two years of his collegiate career at Division II Wingate in North Carolina before transferring to Wake Forest, where he could prove his skills against ACC competition. He appeared regularly at shortstop, third base and center field for the Demon Deacons, leaving his future defensive home something of a mystery — but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it’s indicative of the athleticism and speed that enable such flexibility. He’s an aggressive swinger with good bat-to-ball ability, which resulted in few walks but also few strikeouts this spring. He might need to modify his approach in pro ball to ensure more consistent production, especially with just average power at best.

Tommy Tanks is one of the more recognizable stars in this generation of college baseball, and that’s no accident: The dude hit 75 home runs across three years, including a walk-off blast in Omaha that helped propel the Tigers to the national championship in 2023. If there’s such a thing as “prospect fatigue,” White might be the rare example, as he has been picked apart by scouts for nearly a half-decade, despite an overwhelming track record of high-end offensive production. For teams that don’t believe he can stick at third base — he’s not awful there, but it isn’t always pretty — he probably belongs closer to the end of Round 1. I think he’ll be just fine, and I trust his ability to hit as much as just about anyone outside the top 10, so he stays in this tier.

Don’t be fooled by Moore’s paltry .255 batting average anchored by a preposterously low .229 BABIP. His OPS as a sophomore (.967) surpassed what he did as a freshman All-American in 2023 (.950), thanks in large part to his more than doubling his walk rate while continuing to impact the ball in the air with consistency (.298 ISO). Moore’s power/patience combo from the left side is plenty appealing on its own; that it comes in the form of a catcher is what makes him such an exciting prospect.

While Moore has been well-known in scouting circles since his high school days, the same cannot be said about Janek. Like Colton Cowser not too long ago, Janek didn’t stand out in the expansive landscape of Texas high school baseball. Perfect Game tabbed Cowser as the 234th best player in the Lone Star State in the 2018 class and Janek as the 213th in 2021. But just as Cowser launched himself out of obscurity during his three years as a Bearkat to become the fifth overall draft pick in 2021, Janek has charted a similar trajectory. He won’t go quite as high as Cowser, but he has gotten better with the bat every year — .888 OPS as a freshman, .926 as a sophomore, 1.193 as a junior — and has strong defensive chops headlined by a fantastic arm. Janek’s impact on both sides of the ball helped earn him the Buster Posey Award for best catcher in college baseball in 2024, and it should be the reason he hears his name called in the first round.

Only Christian Moore (.429) and Condon (.412) had a higher batting average in SEC play than Waldschmidt (.405), who was on absolute fire in the second half for the Wildcats and worked his way into the first-round mix despite a slow start to the season in which he was strictly DH-ing following ACL surgery last summer. Waldschmidt consistently hits the ball hard and often in the air, and he might be athletic enough to play center field now that he’s healthy. It’s a strong profile.

Benge starred as a two-way player in his two years in Stillwater, mostly excelling in a relief role when he wasn’t busy raking as the Cowboys’ right fielder. His future in pro ball is surely at the plate, as he possesses one of the more advanced left-handed bats in the class, exemplified by a sterling statistical résumé (1.062 OPS with more walks than strikeouts in 553 collegiate plate appearances).

With multiple potential plus pitches from an athletic, left-handed delivery and as one of the youngest pitchers in the class — he doesn’t turn 18 until next month — Caminiti is widely regarded as the top high school arm in this draft. Schmidt has somewhat closed the gap this spring, though, and appears primed to be the second prep arm off the board next week. His ultra-high-spin curveball is one of the best pitches in the class, and he was the ace for one of the most dominant high school teams in the country.

Were Caldwell a few inches taller than his listed height of 5-foot-9, it’s possible we’d be talking about him alongside Griffin and Rainer atop the prep class. But while his size might limit his ultimate power potential, Caldwell brings a ton else to the table as a dynamic leadoff type with plus bat speed and OBP skills from the left side and excellent range and defensive instincts in center field.

Gillen is more of a prototypical shortstop prospect along the lines of Rainer, with one of the more advanced hit tools among the prep class and burgeoning raw power as he grows into his frame. Although he comes with concerns about his future defensively due to middling arm strength, the expectation is that Gillen’s bat will carry his profile even if he has to move to second base or the outfield.

Brecht’s triple-digit fastball and low-90s slider belong a lot closer to the top of the first round than the back half, but his long-standing struggles with command leave some teams wary about whether he’ll throw enough strikes to be a starter. He seemed to turn a corner in his final few starts for the Hawkeyes, and the hope is that he can carry that momentum into pro ball, where, with the right developmental environment, his elite raw stuff can be curated into a more efficient and effective arsenal.

Yes, the “B” in “BHP” stands for “both,” as Cijntje has proven a capable pitcher from both sides dating to his prep days. The leap his stuff took from the right side is what now has him squarely in the first-round mix. He held mid-90s velocity deep into outings against strong SEC competition and relies on a sharp slider as his go-to out pitch. While we’d all love to see him pitch both ways in pro ball, his right-handed stuff will likely get him to the big leagues the quickest.

Primarily an outfielder in high school, Santucci’s transition to the mound full-time over his three seasons in Durham has been a largely successful one.

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He has a spotty track record of staying healthy, which could scare off some teams. When he gets going, it’s plus velo from the left side and a wicked slider that rivals any in the class.

The concern here is simple: Striking out more than 25% of the time in college does not usually portend a smooth transition to pro ball, where the pitching is going to get only better. This reality is what Honeycutt (26.2% strikeout rate) and Jordan (27.4%) will need to overcome, first as draft prospects hoping to hear their names called in the first round and then as actual prospects on their journey to the big leagues.

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But if you can stomach the hit-tool risk, the star potential with these two is obvious. Honeycutt is a potential Gold Glove center fielder with plus power and plus speed, manifesting in a legendary three years as a Tar Heel (65 HR, 76 SB). As a draft-eligible sophomore, Jordan has only two years of college performance to his name, but he boasts similarly loud physical tools. His wheels have yet to produce gaudy stolen base totals, but he’s an easy plus runner with a chance to stick in center field, and he brings some of the more ridiculous raw power of any hitter in this draft. None of these secondary skills will matter much if they can’t make enough contact, but the upside with these two is enticing.

Sloan and Mayfield each look the part of a frontline arm, with both slinging mid-to-high 90s heaters from imposing, 6-foot-4 frames and both featuring advanced changeups, a rare trait among prep arms. Doughty is a more modest 6-foot-1 but is a smooth operator on the mound and has a better feel for locating his fastball and two distinct breaking balls (curveball and slider). There’s a great chance at least one of these three young arms ends up being picked much earlier than where I have them ranked, but I don’t feel too bad about rounding down on the ever-terrifying high school pitching demographic.

Although he spent all season at shortstop, most talent evaluators peg Culpepper as more likely to be an impact defender at third base due to his plus arm and merely average range. He has the edge over Amick when it comes to pure bat-to-ball skills, but Amick has more potent pop and a more natural feel to elevate the ball. Both have struggled to handle non-fastballs at times, which could limit their overall offensive input against better pitching. I prefer Culpepper’s profile between the two, as Amick is just OK with the glove, heightening the need for his offensive ability to translate to pro ball.

Johnson is so unusual that he belongs in his own tier. Everything about his operation — from the old-timey, over-the-head start to his delivery to the violent yet abrupt, nearly sidearm release — screams reliever in a way that runs entirely counter to the overwhelming statistical evidence that he could be a no-doubt starting pitcher. It’s mostly fastball/slider — another sign of a future in the bullpen — but Johnson exhibits exquisite command of both pitches and sustains his mid-90s velocity deep into outings. If you look only at his stats, you could reasonably argue him ahead of the trio of Tier 3 college arms: His 2.29 ERA in 106 IP ranked fifth among Div. I starting pitchers, while his 32.5% K-BB% ranked third behind only Burns and Smith and one spot ahead of Yesavage.

I don’t know what role Johnson will settle into in pro ball, but I do know this: He is going to get outs in the big leagues. He is too good at too many things on the mound to not make it someday, in some form.

I should like both of these guys a lot more than I do, but I’m hesitant to go all-in on either as a slam-dunk, first-round catcher around which to build my hypothetical draft. Lomavita is an awfully fun hitter to watch when he’s rolling, but his ultra-aggressive approach could be exposed in a hurry in pro ball. While he hasn’t struck out a ton, a 5% walk rate the past two seasons against middling Pac-12 pitching is concerning to say the least, and the actual power production (16 HR last year, 15 HR this year) has been merely good, not elite.

Cozart, meanwhile, improved in each of his three seasons in Raleigh and posted a stellar .307/.437/.601 line with more walks than strikeouts as a junior this spring, but he doesn’t pass the eye test as an impact hitter the way Lomavita does, even though Cozart’s statline is far more assuring. Cozart projects as a likely big leaguer, but likely as a quality backup or in a part-time role rather than as a no-doubt franchise catcher. He’s a safer bet than Lomavita, but Lomavita has more star potential.

As one of the fastest players in this class, Lindsey leads off this tier as one of the biggest risers this spring after injuries last summer cost him the opportunity to break out on the showcase circuit. His offensive ceiling remains cloudy, but he seems the likeliest in this group to go in the first 30 picks.

The rest of this quartet of shortstops bring their fair share of pros and cons: Johnson has the most advanced hit tool but might not stick at shortstop. Lewis is the most explosive athlete of the bunch but has been inconsistent at the plate. Sanford’s slick glove makes him the safest bet to stick at shortstop, but his power potential appears limited. Different teams will stack this group in different orders.

Morlando, who a year ago was considered a strong candidate to be one of the first prep bats selected, had an inconsistent spring that likely dropped him out of first-round consideration. He slots in at the bottom of this tier as the player with the least projected defensive value, but he has arguably the highest offensive upside if he can dial in his approach and get to his plus raw power more consistently.

As if two potential first-round bats in Moore and Amick weren’t impressive enough, the national champs had three more draft-eligible hitters who could hear their names called on Day 1. All three are left-handed bats with reasons to get excited and reasons to be skeptical. Burke has been famous the longest, dating to his high school days in California. Known for his prodigious raw power, he became a much more complete hitter this spring, leading all Div. I hitters with 30 doubles to go with his 20 home runs, and a strikeout rate that soared above 30% as a freshman was below 15% as a junior. Burke is 1B-only, so there’s a lot of pressure on the bat to keep producing at a high level. I’m a big believer that it will, hence his placement atop this tier.

Tears and Dreiling each excelled in part-time roles in 2023 before breaking out as starting outfielders in 2024. Tears has more physical tools and a shot to play center field, but he also brings more swing-and-miss concerns at the plate. Dreiling has a bit of an unorthodox swing and is likely left-field-only, but the draft-eligible sophomore was wildly productive all season, culminating in an epic individual run in Omaha that featured a walk-off winner in Tennessee’s opening game vs. Florida State and home runs in all three games of the CWS finals vs. Texas A&M. Either would be a strong selection in Round 2.

Although there might not be an obvious ace-type phenom at the very top, a sneaky strength of this year’s class is the wealth of high school pitchers who could command bonuses in the $1-2.5 million range. Sorting through the dozen-or-so prep arms expecting to hear their names called in the latter half of Day 1 or early on Day 2 is a challenging exercise and ultimately a matter of preference; Oakie and Hill are my favorites among this demographic.

Oakie is an athletic, hard-throwing right-hander with a wicked slider that ranks among the best breaking balls of any pitcher in this class, while Hill is a lanky lefty who oozes projectability and saw his stuff tick up significantly this spring against quality competition deep in the heart of Texas.

We’ll wrap this list with a trio of starting pitchers who had strong and fairly consistent junior seasons for three of the premier programs in college baseball. A swingman during his first two seasons in Nashville, Cunningham seized a rotation spot in Year 3 and was solid throughout SEC play, showcasing increased velocity deep into his outings and an excellent changeup as his primary secondary weapon. He’ll need to find a consistent breaker in pro ball, but he has all the other ingredients of a mid-rotation workhorse.

Holman, who transferred to LSU after a breakout sophomore season at Alabama, is more polished than Cunningham and was more effective in SEC play, but his arsenal is more average from a pure stuff perspective.

This is a bit of an aggressive ranking for Tolle, but I think the big southpaw’s best days are ahead of him. A two-way star at Wichita State before transferring to TCU, Tolle was hitting for the first month of this season before he ditched the bat in early March. He took off on the mound after that and finished with 127 punchouts in 81 1/3 IP, thanks in large part to a fantastic fastball he delivers from a lower slot with huge extension down the mound, making his average velocity play up significantly. I’m banking on the huge strides he made once he stopped hitting to continue as he begins his pro career.

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