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Draft  | Story  | 11/30/2023

MLB Draft: "Most Likely"

Tyler Kotila      Tyler Henninger      Isaiah Burrows     
Most Likely to get Selected 1-1 

Nick Kurtz, 1B/OF, Wake Forest | Latest Draft Board Rank: 1 

It’s too early to start really stamping down on who’s “the guy” for this draft class quite yet. The spring could change a lot of things, but Nick Kurtz was our top prospect in our last draft board update. Kurtz will be in the running to go 1:1 on draft day when all is said and done. The Wake Forest left-hander is extremely toolsed up with the stick, and can defend well with a great glove at first base. He’s got a 6-foot-6, 230-pound frame that will be enticing. He had a great 2023 season with Wake Forest, and a loud spring in 2024 could cement him as the player to be first off the draft board next summer. Kurtz seems like the guy who has the chance to make the most noise this Spring and really show why he’s “the guy” come draft day. - Tyler Kotila 

Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State

Bazzana not only has a chance to become the first Australian to get drafted in the first round, but he has a good shot to go first overall. The Oregon State middle infielder features an advanced hit tool that has consistently produced at every place he’s been at, including a .340/.463/.549 slashline during his first two years in Corvallis. A simple swing turns the barrel hard and features advanced bat to ball skills, resulting in hard contact to all fields. There’s some sneaky power present that can pound both gaps and drive balls over the wall. The bat is one of the best in all of college baseball and could carry Bazzana to the first overall selection with another dominant year. -Tyler Henninger

JJ Wetherholt, 2B, West Virginia 

Based off just how absurd Wetherholt is with the bat, he is my best bet to go first overall next month. There is potential 70-hit and plus power from the left side with the ability to not only stick but defend on the dirt long term. He hits balls as hard as anyone in the country. In a top-heavy college side, I'll take my chances on Wetherholt weathering the 1.01 storm come July.  -Isaiah Burrows

Most Likely to Fit the "Dark Horse" Mold (Arm)

Fran Oschell, RHP, Duke | Latest Draft Board Rank: 69 

Duke’s Fran Oschell may not be going in the top ten or be the premier arm akin to Chase Burns, Brody Brecht, or Hagen Smith, who are all in the Top 20 on our Top 200 Draft Board, but do not sleep on Oschell. The Blue Devils might have themselves a really intriguing arm in the eyes of scouts come Spring 2024. Oschell’s collegiate career has been spent as a reliever with Duke, but he’s reportedly moving to the rotation this spring. It’s a move that should benefit him and help bump the draft stock a bit. Oschell’s got a long-levered 6-foot-7, 230-pound frame and throws from a real high slot, a truly over-the-top delivery. The fastballs plays well and has been up to 98, mostly living in the mid-90s. The pitch carries and can be a challenging read for hitters. He’s got a 12-6 breaker that plays well off the heater as well. Getting Oschell some more chances and allowing him to start some games in 2024 could be a launchpad for him. - TK 

Schuyler Sandford, RHP, Bartam Trail HS (FL) 
College Commitment: Florida | Latest Draft Board Rank: 110 

One of the arms I saw plenty of in Florida was Schuyler Sandford. The right-handed pitcher has a 6-foot-6, 210-pound frame, with a real loose and whippy arm action. The fastball has been up to 96 mph, and he can work the low- to mid-90s for success. It’s a high-IVB pitch, being up around 20”, and he can command it well, including working the lower quadrants of the zone. The Florida commit pairs it with a real healthy sweeper in the mid-70s that allows him to miss bats. Sandford is on the outside of the Top 100 as of now, but he has a chance to vault himself further up the board next spring with loud performances. - TK 

Payton Tolle, 1B/LHP, TCU | Latest Draft Board Rank: 96 

Perhaps he’s not the biggest dark horse out there, but TCU-Transfer Payton Tolle has a chance to shoot up draft boards. It feels like his success in 2023 with the Wichita State Shockers went a little under the rug, and now, as a part of what may just be a real fun TCU team in 2024, Tolle might pop. Tolle is a two-way, so he applies for this category and the next, but there’s a chance he can put together an insane spring on both sides of the ball. Tolle threw 85.2 innings last year for Wichita State, where he went 9-3 with a 4.62 ERA and 97 punchouts along the way. Pair that with a .311 average and .361 OBP with 13 home runs and 50 RBI to his credit in 212 at-bats at the plate, and it's pretty crazy what he did in 2023. A physical 6-foot-6, 250-pound monster of a player has a chance to be a difference-maker for TCU on both sides of the ball. He was hitting balls well over 110 mph with ease, showing off silly juice in the swing. Tolle is more of a primary bat, but he can get up on the mound and deliver a good start, competing on the mound. In an age where two-way players are making more noise, Tolle has a chance for a real loud spring on both sides of the ball. - TK 

Mason Russell, LHP, Casteel HS (AZ)

Russell doesn’t necessarily have overwhelming stuff, but the upside and projectability is off the charts. The lefthander features a buttery smooth delivery with advanced arm speed and body control down the mound. A quality pitch mix and ability to pound the zone gives Russell starter potential. He currently sits 90-93 mph and can spin the breaking ball over 2900 rpm. If he can manage a small velo jump soon, there should be plenty of teams looking to target Russell next summer. -TH

Boston Bateman, LHP, Adolfo Camarillo HS (CA) 

Bateman has all the pieces to become a dominant arm in the backend of a bullpen and it is very possible a team will want to jump on that profile next summer. The lefthander features an imposing 6-foot-8, 240-pound frame that moves with athleticism and intent on the mound. The fastball currently sits in the low-90’s with a steep downhill plane and could very well wind up in the mid-to-upper 90’s. An upper-70's curveball shows plenty of depth with spin rates over 2900 rpm. The pitch has the potential to be an out pitch at the next level. The imposing frame and stuff could make Bateman a target for teams despite probably being a pen arm long term. -TH

Daniel Avitia, RHP, Grand Canyon

Avitia garnered some draft attention out of high school, but should draw plenty more interest this spring after two strong campaigns for the Lopes. The righthander possesses an intriguing mix of present stuff and tons of projectability. The fastball currently sits in the low-90’s with a deceptive release point. A slender frame hints at plenty of untapped velocity down the line. Feel for a heaving fading changeup and sweeping slider round out an intriguing repertoire that has posted a 10.3 K/9 at GCU. Avitia has a chance to be the first non-power 5 collegiate arm selected next summer. -TH

Ryan Johnson, RHP, Dallas Baptist 

This is a name to get familiar with if you haven’t. Johnson is an elite physical athlete who pounds the zone with real armspeed. He can flirt triple digits this year and routinely sits mid-to-high-90s with two big time secondaries in the making. He has a plus slider with hard sweep and late bite with a good chase rate to go with it last year. The changeup flashed good shape and tunnel last year and has the makings of an average third offering. He checks a ton of boxes and has a chance to become a comfortable Top 100 pick if he misses more bats.  -IB

Matthew Ager, RHP, UC Santa Barbara 

Another name to have up and front for the 2024 season. Ager leads a highly touted UCSB stuff and has the makings of a projectable power arm. He’s 6-foot-5 with big stuff, can run it up to 96 mph with big carry out of hand. He mixes in a mid-80s sweeping slider and late depthy curveball, though both can mimic shape at points. Ager has great feel for both and lands to both sides. It’s three pitches with command and some power traits to go along in the frame.  -IB

Most likely to Fit the "Dark Horse" Mold (Bat)

Brodie Johnston, SS/3B, Boyd Buchanan (TN)  
College Commitment: Vanderbilt | Latest Draft Board Rank: 147 

On the prep circuit in Tennesee, Brodie Johnston has a chance to make a move up the draft board. He’s someone who’s made some noise already in his prep career but could have a really good spring that helps him jump up the draft board. Johnston is a 6-foot-2, 200-pound infielder with the stuff to stick on the left side moving forward. He’s athletic and strong with his frame and has plenty to like in the batters’ box. Johnston has plenty of pull-side juice and can do some real damage with the barrel. It’s a pretty balanced stroke with some quick hands to contact. Pair that with strength at impact, and it’s a recipe for hard-hit balls. Johnston is committed to Vanderbilt and has a chance to make some noise this Spring. - TK 

Brock Tibbitts, 1B/C, Indiana | Latest Draft Board Rank:172 

The Indiana Hoosiers have some real talent on their roster, and one of the players that could find himself getting some more attention in 2024 ahead of the draft is Brock Tibbitts. The Hoosiers first basemen showed some flashes of what might come in his freshman campaign before following it up with an actual breakout performance last year. Tibbitts is a 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame with a physical presence in the batters’ box and strength to match. There’s some sneaky athleticism as well; while he started all 63 games at first base in 2023, he was a backstop coming out of high school and has played some outfield as well. The athleticism to do so is there. Tibbitts has a slightly inward move in the box with a short and quick stroke through the zone. The bat-to-ball is intriguing, allowing him to get on the barrel and do some damage. He leverages well, leaving plenty to like at the plate. After hitting .357 with a 1.032 OPS in 2023 with 17 doubles, 4 triples, and 10 home runs, driving in 68 runs, Tibbitts has a chance to back up the breakout. - TK 

James Tibbs III, OF/1B, Florida State | Latest Draft Board Rank: 91 

James Tibbs III took another step forward in his sophomore campaign for the Florida State Seminoles. He pieced together a solid freshman campaign and followed it up well in 2023, with a 1.153 OPS while managing 14 doubles, a triple, and 17 home runs while driving in 43 runs. Tibbs III has a 6-foot, 200-pound frame with strength in the compact frame. He’s quick to rotate and leverage well. There’s loft in the swing, which allows him to show off the juice and do damage in the air. The bat speed is also remarkable; Tibbs III hits balls extremely hard. Even if it's not a hard line drive in the gap or a home run that he turns on, he will work at-bats and do what he can with pitches to foster success. If it means staying back on one and hitting it hard the other way on the ground into left field — so be it. The left-hander has an exceptional feel for the barrel, and pairing that with his strength and bat speed it allows him to do damage at the plate. After two good seasons with the Florida State Seminoles, Tibbs III could make some more noise with a loud spring in 2024. - TK 

Caleb Lomavita, C, California

Lomavita features a powerful bat that has consistently performed in the middle of the Cal lineup across his first two years. The backstop posted a .612 slugging percentage last spring, hitting 16 homeruns and tallying 29 total extra-base hits. There is advanced barrel feel present and bat speed resulting in above-average power and a strong hit tool. Lomavita could become a highly desired name if he puts together another strong campaign. -TH

Drew Rogers, C, Hamilton HS (AZ)

Rogers made plenty of noise on the circuit this summer, but still seems to be overlooked by most. The backstop possesses a physical, compact frame that can generate advanced in-game power. This was obvious down in Jupiter and at the All-American Classic, where Rogers posted plenty of triple digit exit velocities. Rogers has the potential to become a run-producing bat with above-average power. That can be especially valuable if Rogers sticks behind the plate long term, where he has shown advanced actions as well. -TH

Nick McLain, OF, Arizona State

The younger brother to Matt and Sean, both of whom are currently playing professionally, Nick could be the next McLain to hear his name selected in the MLB Draft. The outfielder posted an impressive .298/.391/.649 slash line during an injury-shortened spring last season and followed it with a .283/.378/.424 showing in the Cape over the summer. Unlike his brothers, the younger McLain is a switch-hitter. He has shown barrel feel from both sides of the plate and a strong, compact frame has shown the ability to drive balls with authority and leave the yard pullside. Quick speed and athleticism round out an intriguing profile that should draw plenty of  interest if he can stay healthy next spring. -TH

Chase Fralick, C/3B, McIntosh HS (GA) 

If there’s a bat to be on the lookout for who may be off boards at present, Fralick is a name to know. He put on an absolute display this spring and carried it into the summer. There is a great blend of hit/power from the left side with great swing decisions and plate discipline. He has a strong prep hit tool with a keen knack for the barrel. It’s big impact and bat-to-ball skills that can quickly put him on the map.  -IB

Carson Luna, SS/3B, St. John’s HS (TX) 

Luna has big physical tools with budding power potential. It’s a lean, strong build with some thunder to the hands from a short path. There’s whip to the barrel, he can really turn to pull and it’s loud at impact. He’s a clean defender on the dirt and projects to stick on the left side with an above-average arm across. Luna’s feel to launch and overall athletic tools makes for an interesting profile. Keep tabs on him heading into the spring as he could be well on the rise.  -IB

Most Likely to Climb Up the Rankings this Spring  

Dylan Jordan, RHP, Viera HS (FL) 
College Commitment: Florida State | Latest Draft Board Rank: 142 

While it’s one performance, one of my favorites from the 2023 calendar year was Dylan Jordan’s outing for Viera at the FHSAA State Championships. He was electric there and had stuff that could easily see him climb way up the rankings with another loud performance this spring. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound right-hander has some length to the frame and a well-proportioned build. There’s some strength in his move down the mound, with easy and loose whip to the arm stroke. He’s been up to 94 mph and lives in the low-90s on his fastball. He can blow it by hitters at the prep level, missing bats. He’s also got a slider that has real healthy 10/4 shape with good sweep, as well as a changeup to round out the three-pitch mix. Jordan’s committed to Florida State as of now, and another loud performance this spring could really catch some eyes and see him climb up the draft board. It’s a full three-pitch mix with a low-90s fastball that could pop and really see him take another step forward. - TK 

Andre Modugno, 3B, IMG Academy (FL) 
College Commitment: Duke | Latest Draft Board Rank: 97 

Andre Modugno has a big year on the PG circuit and has a chance to double down on that and move further up the draft board. He’s a 6-foot-5, 200-pound right-handed hitter with tons of power. He’s got a spread stance in the box with higher hands. It’s a really simple move through contact, creating tension and then absolutely exploding through the ball. It’s a balanced stroke, and he can create lift out front and drive the ball in the air. Modugno hit .351 on the circuit this year with 6 home runs and 23 RBI over 77 at-bats. The tools in the batters’ box show, and the results speak for themselves. The Blue Devils commit uses the whole field and hits for power to all fields. He’s a 6.44 60-yard dash runner with speed and athleticism, still showing immense strength off the barrel. The exit velocity is going to be above 100 mph, and he’s going to do real damage. Not to mention, Modugno has been up to 97 mph on the mound on his fastball, with a tight breaking ball that has a sharp downhill bite to it. Modugno has a chance to make some serious noise this spring. - TK 

Yoel Tejeda Jr., RHP, Florida State | Latest Draft Board Rank: 134 

Yoel Tejeda Jr. had a huge summer on the Cape this year, and it could bode very well for his draft stock come springtime. He’s got an uber projectable 6-foot-8, 215-pound frame with tons of length to the levers. He threw just 22.2 innings for the Florida Gators in 2023 before transferring to Florida State to join the Seminoles' pitching staff. After a summer on the Cape where he pitched to a 2.79 ERA over 19.1 innings pitched, there’s reason to believe that Tejeda Jr. may be able to take a bigger role in 2024 with the Seminoles staff. The fastball has been into the mid-90s and pairs with a slider that has a good shape to it in the low-80s. He also has a splitter that he’s shown in the mid-80s that has depth to it, helping him round out the three-pitch mix. Tejeda Jr. has a chance to move himself up draft boards if he comes out in the Spring and can take some strides with the Seminoles pitching staff. - TK 

Austin Overn, OF, Southern California 

Overn is a draft eligible sophomore that could skyrocket up boards with another dominant season. The outfielder posted impressive numbers during his freshman campaign, including a .314/.402/.530 slashline and setting the school record with 14 triples. The offensive skill set profiles well near the top of the order, where advanced speed and twitchy athleticism can put pressure on defenses. Overn will need to continue to show an improved approach at the plate, including less chasing and a lower strikeout rate, but if he can there is no reason he shouldn’t wind up at Top-50 selection. -TH

Rodney Green Jr, OF, California

Green is another intriguing Pac-12 bat that could make some noise next spring. The outfielder possesses a dynamic skill set that could result in him being a first round selection if it all clicks. A projectable 6-foot-3, 195-pound frame with an intriguing mix of power and speed makes for one of the more impactful offensive profiles on the west coast. Green hit 14 homers and stole 29 bases in 31 attempts last year, showing legit offensive upside. Along with the enticing bat, Green is a plus defender in center fielder and should stick there long term. The well-rounded skill set could become a name watch this spring. -TH

Smith Bailey, RHP, Mountain Ridge HS (AZ)

Bailey could easily be one of the bigger risers this spring. The present stuff is impressive and should only continue to develop further as Bailey features an uber-projectable frame at 6-foot-6, 205-pounds. The fastball has been up to 94 mph. There is feel for a quality slider and the ability to create fade on a mid-80’s changeup. The stuff has shown the ability to miss bats often and Bailey has the potential to start long term. It is an enticing profile that has a chance to skyrocket this spring. -TH

Sawyer Strosnider, OF/LHP, Brock HS (TX) 

A 6.5 runner with budding plus raw juice from the left side is an enticing tool package alone, and Strosnider checks those boxes. He’s a high end athlete with loads of wiry strength in a 6-foot-3 frame with loud exit velocity across the board. The frame may push him to a corner long term but the offensive upside can warrant it. He put on a good showing with the stick this summer and has even more projection on the hill where he can get up to low-90s from an easy arm action. The tools can really pop this spring.  -IB

Michael Ryan, SS, Archbishop Rummel HS (LA) 

Ryan is one of the better prep defenders up the middle in a weaker class. He’s got plus twitch and actions with a more average arm to stick at short. But there's a real feel for the leather with soft hands. At the plate, Ryan has some refinement to make this spring but has real bat speed in a tight window. He can generate some torque and the strength plays to both gaps if he gets the barrel out front. If he continues to show progress at the plate, Ryan can rise given the defensive skill set.  -IB