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Draft  | Story  | 5/23/2024

MLB Draft: Who's Going 1:1?

Tyler Henninger      Isaiah Burrows      Tyler Kotila     
Photo: Charlie Condon (University of Georgia Athletics)
The PG Draft Team is about to get back in the lab, combing through the 2024 MLB Draft Board, moving the names around, and updating things as needed. With that, is going to come some lengthy conversations. One of the big questions to be answered is who will be 1:1 in this year’s draft class.

In December, we had Nick Kurtz as “the guy,” and then it was JJ Wetherholt in our January update. Most recently, the consensus amongst the PG Draft Team was that Jac Caglianone should lead the way. But is that still the case? Is Cags still “the guy” in this class? Which player are the Cleveland Guardians going to jump on with that first-overall pick? 

There’s a lot of questions around who will go first overall still and it’s not clear-cut. There’s a good crop of names who could wind up being the first overall pick and our Draft Team breaks down which players are likely in the mix to be the first overall pick in the 2024 draft class. 

1:1 Favorites

Charlie Condon, OF/3B, Georgia

It’s really easy to fall in love with Charlie Condon at first glance. He’s had a downright silly spring performance, absolutely mashing. The Georgia Bulldogs bat has put up video-game-like numbers. He came into the year as a first baseman but has taken some strides in terms of his positional versatility, being capable of playing the outfield or a corner infield position. Condon’s improved the stock there but has also been swinging it exceptionally well. There’s a good chance that Cleveland’s looking at Condon with the first overall pick. Condon’s slashing .418/.567/1.083 with 19 doubles, a triple, and a historic 35 home runs to his credit. He’s plated 75 runs, walking 50 times, and striking out 39 opposing hitters along the way. Condon’s upside at the dish has been a real standout. Sure, there’s been some rumblings and spotlight on his home/away splits, but his ability to make solid contact, lift the ball, and drive the ball beyond the outfield wall is undeniable. It’s similar to what Wyatt Langford showed last spring, with even more of a power stroke showing with Condon. Langford proved he could handle the outfield and had an amazing spring for Florida; Condon’s done the same this spring while making some serious noise with the bat — even more than Langford did in 2023. On draft day, Condon could very much so end up being the first name off the board. - Tyler Kotila

Jac Caglianone, 1B/OF, Florida

From an upside standpoint, there may not be a more immensely physically talented two-way prospect in Caglianone. It’s a rare profile with 80-grade left-handed raw power and 97-98 mph on the hill. Combined with a pro frame, athleticism and a cut on his overall strikeout rate and the adjustments give this enticing profile a lot to like for Cleveland at the No. 1 spot. The top-of-scale power, combined with the physical tools are immense and don’t come around this often on both sides. He is heavily in the discussion for the top spot and it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to hear his name called. -Isaiah Burrows

Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State

The best case for Bazzana going 1:1 is that he possesses the best hit tool in the class. The Australian native is a career .363 hitter with a near .500 OBP at Oregon State, including a ridiculous .423/.582/.949 slashline this spring. The swing is exactly what you look for in a pure hitter. He features plus bat speed from the left side, while staying balanced and creating plenty of torque to boot. The barrel feel stands out, as a clean path gets on plane early and stays in the zone a long time. Along with a beautiful swing, the approach is one of the best in the entire class. Bazzana has advanced strike zone awareness that allows him to work deep in counts and draw walks at a high rate. Bazzana has walked nearly 70 times this spring, over twice the amount of strikeouts he’s had. The power has really taken a step forward, making Bazzana an even stronger candidate to go 1:1. The Beaver second baseman launched a career best 26 homeruns and 46 extra-base hits this spring. The torque and bat speed allows him to punish balls despite a slightly undersized frame. He has shown the ability to do damage to the pullside relatively easily, as well as go deep to the backside gap. To round out an impressive offensive skill set, Bazzana also has shown to steal bags at a decent clip and can be aggressive on the bases thanks to above-average speed. It is an ideal leadoff profile that can do damage, as well. On the defensive side, Bazzana may not play shortstop but he can provide value at second base. He is plus athlete that can range in both directions and manipulate his arm angle when needed. The hands and feet are quick on the double play feed and he has more than enough arm strength to make plays deep up the middle. It is an above-average defensive profile that will make the routine plays consistently and a fair share of highlight-reel plays too. The incredibly impressive profile looks like it could allow Bazzana to quickly ascend through the minor leagues and has the least amount of risk among the top collegiate players in the class.  The tools alone have the potential of becoming an All-Star caliber player at second base and when you add in his 80-grade makeup, Bazzana very likely could be the first name off the board. -Tyler Henninger

Strong contenders to go 1:1

Braden Montgomery, OF, Texas A&M

If there’s someone whose spring performance has spoken volumes, it's Braden Montgomery. The Texas A&M Aggies star came in from the transfer portal this year, and there was some speculation about how good he could be this year. However, Montgomery has hit the field with stride and has been able to really start carving out a spot near the top of the draft order, and he could potentially wind up being the first overall pick. With this profile, it’s really hard to overlook. He came into the season as a two-way, pitching last season in the mid- to upper-90s for Stanford, but he has since committed to the bat, and that decision has been a great one. We’re talking about a plus-athlete with a ton of raw power and upside at the plate, with the ability to hit for power, that projects for the next level. The mix of upside with the body and tools at the plate is going to provide teams at the top of the draft class with a chance to add a really promising player to their respective organization. Cleveland might just take a chance on Montgomery with the first-overall pick. He’s slashed .325/.463/.769 with 14 doubles, a triple, and 26 home runs, plating 80 runs on the season. He’s got 51 walks to 54 strikeouts on the year. Montgomery has proven himself this spring and shown he can be a middle-of-the-order threat with top-of-the-class tools. There’s every bit of a reason to believe he could be taken with the first overall pick. -TK

1:1 Darkhorse

JJ Wetherholt, SS/2B, West Virginia

Our initial No. 1 prospect before the year, Wetherholt took a slight dip after succumbing to a hamstring injury that limited his playing time. But he’s back in full force and tearing the cover off the ball to close the year. He boasts a gaudy 27:13 walk to strikeout ratio with a potential 70-grade hit tool at the highest end. It’s innate all fields contact, left-handed power and a chance to stick on the left side of the dirt given the athlete. A full season of Wetherholt and he would firmly be in the discussion to begin with. Now that he’s finished off the year at a high note, don’t be surprised to hear more 1:1 chatter come July. -IB

Nick Kurtz, 1B, Wake Forest

Kurtz entered the year as one of the stronger 1:1 candidates in the class, but after a slower start and an injury early on he slipped down boards a bit. A torrid stretch to end the season has at least reentered Kurtz as a possibility in the first slot. The Wake Forest first baseman possesses one of the more impressive power/hit combinations at the top of the board. Kurtz utilizes his strong 6-foot-5, 240-pound frame and plus bat speed to generate easy power that shows up consistently in-game. He creates torque and fire his hips with intent, allowing him to produce easy juice. Even with the slower start and missing time, the slugger posted 21 long balls and .781 slugging percentage. The power may be the best in the entire class. It will profile well in the middle of the order at the next level, bringing a thunderous left-handed bat that can leave the yard at any moment to whichever lineup he is in. The 70-grade raw power is eye turning, but Kurtz's hit tool is just as impressive. He has been among the best hitters in college baseball three straight years and has looked just as good when healthy this year. Outstanding strike zone awareness and bat to ball skills results in absurd K:BB rations. Kurtz posted 72 walks to just 38 strikeouts this spring. The rare combination of hit and power will make Kurtz a likely Top-5 pick and could allow him to rise all the way to the top selection. -TH

Arms who could go 1:1

Chase Burns, RHP, Wake Forest

While all of the signs point to one of the college bats being taken, who is to say that the Cleveland Guardians may not take a chance on an arm? They could go off-script and shock many by selecting an arm. The choice to draft an arm may shock many, but the decision to draft Chase Burns is likely not going to surprise many with the premium upside he’s shown on the mound. Bruns transferred into Wake Forest’s pitching staff after 2 seasons with the Vols’ in Knoxville. Burns has been downright filthy on the mound with simply dominant performances. Burns took home ACC Pitcher of the Year honors with an 8-1 record over his 11 starts, totaling 89.0 innings pitched. He managed a 2.63 ERA with 164 punch outs, walking just 24 opposing hitters. Burns has outlier stuff while getting up to 101 mph on the fastball this spring. With a premium operation, intriguing spin, and downright silly stuff, its easy to see why he’s going to be at the top of the draft board for many teams. The question is who will bite first, and it might just be the Guardians. Don’t count out Burns at 1:1 if the Guardians decide to ditch the college bats for an arm. -TK 

Hagen Smith, LHP, Arkansas 

Smith has turned in one of the more dominant year’s we have seen from an arm in college baseball. When nobody thought the year Paul Skenes put up last year would ever be matched, Smith has been almost just as good. The left-hander has posted a minuscule 1.48 ERA to go along with a ridiculous 17.5 K/9. Smith features a loud mix of overpowering stuff and deception. The ball jumps out of a lower 3/4 slot and a crossfire landing can make it a tough angle on opposing hitters. The fastball can blow away hitters, reaching the upper-90’s and brushing 100 mph at times. A sweeping slider flashes the potential to be a plus pitch. The lower slot at release and quality depth/movement  on the pitch make it an absolute weapon against left-handed hitters. Both offerings have generated whiffs at an extremely high rate all year long. Smith also has shown flashes of a quality splitter when located, giving him three potential quality pitches. There are some injury concerns dating back to high school, but the lefthander has been a workhorse all three years at Arkansas. If he can reach his ceiling, there is the potential to be a frontline starter that can post high strikeout rates regularly. Smith has done everything in his power to raise high draft stock and has made the strongest case to be the first arm off the board. -TH