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2024 - MLB Draft Thread


DirtySox
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Posted (edited)

Law really likes Condon. I actually had no idea he had been playing CF this year. Though it sounds like corner OF or 3B will be his home eventually.

https://theathletic.com/5382181/2024/04/01/charlie-condon-2024-mlb-draft-scouting/

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I had Charlie Condon as the No. 1 prospect for this year’s MLB Draft in my rankings last month. I’m starting to think that was too low.

Condon went off in the two games I caught at Tennessee this weekend, going 6-for-10 with two doubles, two homers, a walk, and a strikeout, while playing perfectly competent defense in center field. He did go 0-for-4 on Sunday in the rubber match, with two strikeouts, but that doesn’t count because I had already gone home. (I had eggs to hide.)

Condon may be the only college player in this draft who offers the combination of production and athleticism that teams selecting at the very top typically look for. In the last 20 drafts, 10 college players have gone first overall, and first baseman Spencer Torkelson is the only clear exception to that production/athleticism combo — that was the 2020 draft, which we can all agree now was cursed. The last three college hitters to go first overall were two catchers and a shortstop. Last year’s top pick, LSU pitcher Paul Skenes, was athletic enough to be a two-way player at Air Force before transferring.

This year’s draft may not see a college shortstop, catcher, or — depending on how you view Condon — center fielder taken in the top-10 picks. Two second basemen, Travis Bazzana and JJ Wetherholt (who has been “day to day” for a month now, an ontological impossibility), are it for up-the-middle players right now. While Condon is more likely to start his major-league career in a corner — either third base or right field — than in center, the fact that he’s even in center right now, and playing it capably, is another reason beyond his performance to consider him at 1-1.

Condon could do almost no wrong against the Volunteers, even launching a laser off the batter’s eye in his last at-bat in Saturday’s slugfest, bringing the Dawgs to within five at 16-11 in a game that was otherwise over. He’s changed his hand position from last summer, starting them a little bit higher, and it’s loosened him up entirely at the plate. Condon has explosive bat speed and the loft in his finish to hit hard line drives all over the field, like the one he hit in the ninth on Saturday, which was a more impressive homer than the hard-hit popup that went out earlier in the same game. (You don’t get extra points if your homers are impressive, but the first one was a little wind-aided, and a little Lindsey Field-aided.)

He’s also shown outstanding plate discipline across the board this year, with a low chase rate and strong contact rates on all pitch types. He’s whiffed on fastballs less than 10 percent of the time he’s swung this spring, and his overall whiff rate sat at 13 percent after Friday’s game, according to data from Synergy Sports. He homered off 95 and 98 mph on Saturday, and one of his doubles was off a slider from a lefty. Condon ran a tick above average out of the box, probably a solid 50 runner overall but able to post 55 times now and then, and he was fine in center.

He’s got power, he’s got feel to hit, he’s got plate discipline. He hits the ball plenty hard, with his two homers leaving the bat at 108 and 111 mph. He runs well enough to expect no worse than above-average defense in an outfield corner, and he should at least start his career at either center field or, depending on who you ask, maybe third base, which I didn’t get to see in person. None of this makes Condon a lock to go first overall, but I think he’s going to be at the top of a lot of teams’ boards.

 

Edited by DirtySox
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Posted (edited)

Via BA.

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37. Levi Sterling
RHP

Ht: 6'4" | Wt: 190 | B-T: R-R

School: Notre Dame HS, Sherman Oaks, Calif. Commit/Drafted: Texas

Age At Draft: 17.9

Previous Rank: 50

Sterling has starter traits and an array of projection indicators in his favor. He’s one of the youngest players in the class, on par with a 2025 prospect as he won’t turn 18 until September 2024 after the draft. At 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, he has a tall, lean frame with ample room to fill out and add to a fastball that has touched 94. There should be significantly more velocity to come. He pairs his fastball with an upper-70s curveball that he has impressive feel to spin with sharp bite and good depth to miss bats. It’s a potential plus pitch, and he has similar feel to spin his low-to-mid 80s slider. Sterling has also flashed a promising changeup in the low-80s with swing-and-miss properties. He’s one of the better strike-throwers in the class too, with athleticism that helps him repeat his sound, fluid mechanics. Sterling is committed to Texas.

 

Edited by DirtySox
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Posted (edited)

Stock watch article on BA today. Pulling out some relevant guys.

https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/mlb-draft-stock-watch-checking-in-on-30-top-prospects/

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1. Charlie Condon, OF, Georgia

Hitting line: .505/.619/.1.184, 19 HR, 1 3B, 11 2B, 10.8 K%, 18.7 BB%

Condon has been better across the board so far compared to his already impressive 2023 season. He leads all D-I hitters with 19 homers and is still hitting above .500 after 28 games in the season. His average quality of competition probably isn’t yet to the level it will get after a full SEC slate—the average FB he’s seen is 89.7 mph compared to a 90.6 mph average in 2023—but his contact rate is up from 78% to 87%, his chase rate is down from 28% to 22% and his fly ball rate is up from 44.3% to 56.7%. Oh and he’s been running around center field recently as well.

2. Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State

Hitting line: .449/.595/.1.063, 15 HR, 3 3B, 6 2B, 8.7 K%, 22.2 BB%

Bazzana is third in average, third in homers and third in OPS among Division I hitters and has maintained the sort of elite contact rates he’s become known for (15% miss, 10% in-zone miss) while adding more in-game power. He’s already set a single-season high with 15 homers in just 25 games—less than half of the 61 games he needed to hit 11 homers in 2023—and his isolated slugging has leaped from .248 to .594 while he has also managed to lower his strikeout rate and improve his walk rate. There’s simply not much opposing pitchers can do to slow Bazzana down right now. 

3. Jac Caglianone, 1B/LHP, Florida

Hitting line: .389/.473/.752, 13 HR, 0 3B, 2 2B, 9.9 K%, 12.2 BB%

Pitching line: 2.18 ERA, 6 GS, 33 IP, 32.8 K%, 16.4 BB%, .138 AVG

Caglianone has made significant improvements with his plate discipline early in the season despite more modest improvements in his under-the-hood chase and miss rates. His walk rate is up from 5.3% in 2023 to 12.2% this season, while he has cut his strikeout rate basically in half: from 18.2% in 2023 to 9.9% in 2024. In nine conference games in the SEC he has walked five times and struck out five times, and he’s been significantly better in two-strike counts than his first two seasons. He’s hitting .308/.386/.564 with an 18% miss rate and 41% chase rate in two-strike counts in 2024. That’s compared to a .172/.234/.331 line with a 29% miss rate and 61% chase rate in two-strike counts in 2022/2023.

5. Chase Burns, RHP, Wake Forest

Pitching line: 2.89 ERA, 7 GS, 43.2 IP, 49.4 K%, 7.2 BB%, .183 AVG

Burns has been dominant this spring and leads the country or is near the top of the leaderboard in the most meaningful pitching categories. He’s tops among D-I arms with 82 strikeouts and is second behind Hagen Smith with a 49.4 K% and 42.2 K-BB%. Burns has started each week and gone at least 5.1 innings in each outing, and his stuff looks different as well. His average fastball velocity is up nearly two full ticks, from 96.2 mph in 2023 to 98.1 mph in 2024, and he has decreased his slider usage from 41% to 35% in an effort to use his curveball and changeup more frequently. Burns has a 39% miss rate or better with each of his four pitches and is neck-and-neck with Smith for SP1 of the class and a legitimate top-of-the-draft candidate. His most recent outing was his lone true hurdle, as he allowed nine hits and six earned runs—including four homers—against UNC. If he doesn’t let that snowball he should be fine. 

6. Hagen Smith, LHP, Arkansas

Pitching line: 1.54 ERA, 7 GS, 35 IP, 54.5 K%, 7.6 BB%, .136 AVG

Smith has been lights out this spring and looks like he has improved his body and his delivery in significant ways. He’s fourth in the country with 73 strikeouts but leads all D-I arms with a 54.5 K% and a 47 K-BB%. Smith has not pitched beyond the sixth inning in any of his starts and he’s also not thrown more than 100 pitches in any outing so far this season. Smith’s average fastball velocity is up two and a half ticks from 93 mph to 95.6 and he is throwing all of his pitches in the zone a bit more frequently which has helped lead to a lower walk rate—7.6% in 2024 compared to a career rate in the 13.2-13.5% range. 

7. Braden Montgomery, OF/RHP, Texas A&M

Hitting line: .381/.515/.933, 16 HR, 1 3B, 8 2B, 13.4 K%, 19.4 BB%

The transition from the Pac-12 to the SEC has been a complete non-issue for Montgomery, who continues to make progress as a hitter and recently jumped to No. 2 on the home run leaderboard. He has cut his strikeout rate significantly year-over-year and inversely improved his walk rate and now has more walks (19.4 BB%) than strikeouts (13.4 K%) for the first time in his career. He’s two homers shy of matching his single-season best of 18 in 49% of the plate appearances. He’s still chasing changeups and curveballs a bit too often but has significantly improved his contact against fastballs and sliders. Against 92+ mph velocity he is hitting .400/.571/1.267 with an 87% contact rate.

9. Konnor Griffin, OF/SS, Jackson Prep, Flowood, Miss.

Hitting line: .574/.724/.983, 5 HR, 1 3B, 8 2B, 5.1 K%, 32.6 BB%

Pitching line: 0.42 ERA, 33 IP, 50.8 K%, 8.2 BB%, 

Griffin is the sole prep player in this draft class who gets significant buzz in the top-10 range. He’s done nothing to add any questions to a profile that was already exciting and among the most toolsy in the class, though some scouts have liked him enough on the mound that they might even prefer him as a pitcher. The majority of teams are likely more enamored with his huge upside as a hitter where he has plus raw power and double-plus speed. High school stats are far from meaningful, but Griffin has performed and he’s also stolen 57 bags in 25 games—among the most in the country per Maxpreps. 

18. Cam Smith, 3B, Florida State

Hitting line: .438/.500/.714, 8 HR, 0 3B, 7 2B, 16.7 K%, 7.1 BB%

Smith looks like an entirely different hitter this season compared to his 2023 freshman year with FSU. There was plenty made about an improved approach he showed in the Cape Cod League last summer and he has carried that over to the spring. He has cut his strikeout rate significantly from the 28.7 K% he had as a freshman, and that has come with much better swing decisions (26% chase rate in 2024 and 37% chase rate in 2023) and more contact (18% miss rate in 2024 and 29% miss rate in 2023) while also just swinging less frequently (41% swing rate in 2024 and 48% swing rate in 2023). Smith’s approach is entirely different and he is also employing a different posture at the plate with a more crouched stance and lower handset. He’s hitting the ball on the ground more often but his slugging percentage and isolated slugging are still up year-over-year and he’s already at eight homers through 26 games after homering 12 times in 51 games in 2023.  

20. Bryce Rainer, SS/RHP, Harvard-Westlake HS, Studio City, Calif.

Rainer has had plenty of positive feedback this spring. He has loud tools with power, arm strength and physical projection remaining on his 6-foot-3 frame and a real chance to stick on the left side of the infield. Some scouts think his foot speed will move him to third base while others believe he will pick it well enough to stick at shortstop. While his preference seems to be hitting full time, the fact that he has a tremendously easy arm action and a pair of plus pitches on the mound creates a nice fallback option.

 

Edited by DirtySox
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10 hours ago, fathom said:

Please let someone get enamored with Burns and Smith in the top 4

I disagree with this. I’m hoping the Sox take one of them. Need home grown top of the rotation types that the owner will never pay for. 

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Top 6 seem to be Condon, Bazzana, Caglianone, Burns, Smith, Montgomery, and probably Wetherholt if he stays healthy the rest of the way. Sox are going to get a good player. I wonder how they feel about the power guys. Personally I am Montgomery >Caglianone because you know he plays a quality rf.  I am okay kinda with whoever falls to them.

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18 minutes ago, Timmy U said:

Top 6 seem to be Condon, Bazzana, Caglianone, Burns, Smith, Montgomery, and probably Wetherholt if he stays healthy the rest of the way. Sox are going to get a good player. I wonder how they feel about the power guys. Personally I am Montgomery >Caglianone because you know he plays a quality rf.  I am okay kinda with whoever falls to them.

I don't think they'd pass on either pitcher and I'd be pretty surprised if they took Weatherholt or Bazzana from what I've heard. 

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26 minutes ago, Timmy U said:

Top 6 seem to be Condon, Bazzana, Caglianone, Burns, Smith, Montgomery, and probably Wetherholt if he stays healthy the rest of the way. Sox are going to get a good player. I wonder how they feel about the power guys. Personally I am Montgomery >Caglianone because you know he plays a quality rf.  I am okay kinda with whoever falls to them.

Griffin and Rainer are in the mix too.  I just want them to take the player they think has the highest ceiling.  

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1 hour ago, Y2Jimmy0 said:

I disagree with this. I’m hoping the Sox take one of them. Need home grown top of the rotation types that the owner will never pay for. 

And I’m fine with this, as Burns has unreal stuff and Smith reminds me of Rodon 2.0

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Im pretty stoked about how the top of this class has shaken out. I think I would only be disappointed with a Wetherholt or Kurtz selection. Everyone else in the mix at 5 is just gravy.

I've been talking myself into Rainer a lot lately. I imagine he would be at a noteworthy discount. Could be pretty creative with the draft pool.

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