2024 MLB Draft: The Top 200 College Prospects led by Kurtz

October 26, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following rankings and evaluations by FSS PLUS are based on subjective analysis and industry sources, and do not influence, are not influenced by, or are affiliated with the opinions and reports of Future Stars Series scouting and development staff.

1. Nick Kurtz, 1B — Wake Forest

Kurtz burst onto the scene as a true freshman posting some of the most impressive batted-ball and swing-decision metrics of anyone during the 2022 college baseball season. Those metrics carried over to the 2023 season as Kurtz proved himself one of the most feared hitters in the sport.

Some evaluators believe Kurtz may be the best power hitter in the 2024 class, and that’s saying a lot considering some of the names he’s mentioned alongside. It’s absolutely mammoth bat speed and buggy hips from the left side. It’s every bit that of double-plus juice. Kurtz possesses above average bat-to-ball skills with an elite eye at the plate, hardly every expanding the zone. He’s the prototype middle-of-the-order slugger.

Kurtz is an average runner underway with solid baseball instincts and the ability to impact the game on the base paths if you don’t pay attention to him. He’s a solid average glove at first base and can get by as something close to a fringy left fielder, though scouts prefer he stay on the dirt for durability’s sake. Kurtz has a chance to anchor a big league lineup for a long, long time. He reminds some of Matt Olson.

WATCH Nick’s MLB Draft Spotlight Interview

2. Travis Bazzana, 2B — Oregon State

You’d be hard-pressed to find a prospect with a better combination of pure hit tool, approach, and peak exit velocities than Travis Bazzana. An import out of Australia, Bazzana possesses plus bat-to-ball skills to go alongside his elite eye. He refuses to expand the zone and has shown a willingness to all fields. He’s also about as good as they come in terms of pummeling balls left in the strike zone. He’s one of the more decorated hitters in college baseball in terms of fighting off pitches just off the black. A brutally difficult at-bat for opposing pitchers. Bazzana has flashed plus raw power, and he’s getting to a lot of it in games.

An import out of Sydney, Bazzana was a star in the Pac-12 immediately as a true freshman. The Aussie has twitch and bounce on the dirt with an average arm and enough athleticism to make the plays to his right and left. Some scouts want to see what it looks like over an extended period at shortstop as well. He projects a potential plus hitter with above-average or better power at the next level, all while playing a steady, if not exceptional second base.

Perhaps Bazzana’s greatest strength however is tireless pursuit of perfection and improvement in his game. He’s an analytic mind who welcomes developing his game through tangible numbers and data evaluation. His approach toward the game is already well-suited for the next level, and many believe his game should translate quickly to professional ball.

3. JJ Wetherholt, 2B/3B — West Virginia

Wetherholt, a thick, strong-bodied infielder, has positional versatility, though most consider him a third baseman in the long-term. He doesn’t necessarily have a throwing arm that is an asset, but he’s sure-handed and can handle the routine expectations of the hot corner.

The bat is exceedingly impressive here. Wetherholt can really hit with double-plus bat-to-ball skills and a willingness to go gap-to-gap and stay away from the pull-heavy approach that gets so many lefty bats in trouble. The power and bat speed here are real, comfortably plus with barrel awareness few of his peers can match. Wetherholt consistently hits the ball hard more than just about anyone in the country.

WATCH JJ’s MLB Draft Spotlight Interview

4. Vance Honeycutt, OF — North Carolina

Honeycutt has a chance to become a rare five-tool player at the next level. He’s long and projectable with serious upwards trajectory in his game. Honeycutt possesses plus raw power and a swing path built to capitalize on all of it. The hit tool has taken major strides from his freshman year as he’s really cut down the swing and miss, subsequently shrinking his strikeout rates too. Honeycutt was pitched to much more conservatively in 2023 and saw his chase rate absolutely plummet. He now resembles a more polished, patient hitter who damages mistakes over the plate. For now, it’s above average bat-to-ball skills with plus raw power and burgeoning use of it in-game.

Honeycutt is a plus, potentially double-plus runner who plays plus defense in centerfield. As long as he doesn’t outgrow the middle of the field, he projects to stay at the “8”. This is a guy with 20-20 upside and a walking highlight reel at the wall.

WATCH Vance’s MLB Draft Spotlight Interview

5. Charlie Condon, OF — Georgia

Condon’s emergence for the Bulldogs in 2023 came as a bit of a surprise to the college baseball world after the long, lanky outfielder redshirted in 2022 to add weight and work on his swing. Condon broke through as the regular left fielder for the Bulldogs and immediately provided impact with the bat. He’s got big raw power and a hit tool that is more advanced for his age than previously thought coming out of high school. Condon has the makings of a right-right power-hitting outfielder or first baseman. He’s proven to be one of the more advanced, mature hitters in the SEC over the last calendar year and scouts think it all translates well to the next level.

WATCH Charlie’s MLB Draft Spotlight Interview

6. Chase Burns, RHP — Wake Forest

Burns has long been on the radar of scouts going back to his days as a bluechip prep in 2021. Primarily a two-pitch guy to this point, Burns offers a mid-to-upper 90s fastball that’s touched 101 and figures to continue tickling triple digits as he matures. Burns’ slider is thrown hard and firm, up to 90, sitting 85-87 with two-plane tilt; more depth than sweep. Burns’ spin rates are high, and he’s got a track record of commanding the baseball and overpowering the opposition. There’s a seldom-used changeup in his arsenal, though it’s inconsistent and Burns struggles to command it on a start-by-start basis. There’s also a bigger curveball in there, and he’s begun to deploy it a bit more of late. It’s got teeth, but is often uncompetitive. As he starts working in feel for his curveball and changeup, the arsenal should begin to overwhelm hitters at an even greater clip.

Burns spent the first two years in college at Tennessee before transferring to Wake Forest for 2024. The Wake Forest pitching lab should give him a leg up in understanding pitch design and how the art of the sport translates to the next level. Burns simply looks like a big league arm and with added consistency could be the first arm off the board.

7. Hagen Smith, LHP — Arkansas

Smith famously threw six no-hitters his senior year of high school, completely dominating the competition. That’s continued at Arkansas over his collegiate career, slicing and dicing up the competition with flashes of brilliance.

The book on Smith is deception and loud stuff. His delivery makes it extremely difficult to pick up his pitches out of the hand. It’s a herky-jerky, full-limbed delivery with moving parts, but that’s not to say it’s full of effort or that it isn’t repeatable. It is. It’s just unconventional with uncomfortable angles for the opposition.

Smith throws the kitchen sink. A four-seam fastball, a sinker, a slider, a split-finger and a very nascent curve. He’s primarily a fastball-slider-split guy, though there’s pitchability here and a willingness to mix it up when the opportunity calls for it. His fastball has brushed 100 mph in side sessions, however he more comfortably lives in the 93-95 range and will grab the upper-90s in games on occasion. The real weapon is the splitter, a massive fading parachute that’s tormented hitters for the better part of three years. It flashes plus and is consistently an above average weapon. Smith doesn’t spin the ball particularly well, so improving that may be a developmental goal, but he does know how to shape a slider and that pitch too will sit above average and flash plus consistently in starts. Smith projects a potential mid-rotation lefty if he can get his control and command of the ball up to more consistent levels. There’s a lot of Josh Hader in the overall profile here, and whoever drafts him may elect to throw him out of the bullpen quickly in his career and get him to the big leagues sooner rather than later. Should that be the case, Smith could live 96-98 with two real weapons capable of getting both lefties and righties out.

8. Seaver King, 2B/OF — Wake Forest

King was a metric monster in 2023 posting gaudy exit velocity numbers on his way to a .411/.457/.699 slash with eleven homers. While there is slight concern inside the scouting community on high chase rates King posted during the wood-bat summer with Team USA and on the Cape, he did make up for his eager approach by making a ton of contact, and it was to all fields and extremely loud. He can get away with swinging at pitches outside the zone at times, and fights to get back to a point where he can kill a cookie mistake.

King has enough twitch and athleticism to handle shortstop, though most believe his throwing arm will push him to second base or centerfield at the next level. He’s a plus runner who should be an asset on the base paths.

So long as King’s approach doesn’t derail what he’s physically capable of doing on the field, his assortment of above-average to plus tools should show out in a big way at the next level.

9. Jac Caglianone, 1B/LHP — Florida

Caglianone is possibly the most decorated and talented two-way player college baseball has seen in a very long time. Offensively he possesses immense hand and bat speed allowing the 6-foot-5-inch lefty to get into double-plus raw power. Most scouts see average bat-to-ball skills here, but Caglianone can get anxious at the plate and expand the zone at an unhealthy clip at times. That’ll need to iron itself out if he hopes to reach his middle-of-the-order upside offensively. Caglianone is an average runner and is likely destined for first base as a pro, but this is an impact bat with 40-homerun upside if it matures.

On the mound, he’s been up to 101 in side sessions and 99 in games and will flash an above average slider that’s really come on of late. There’s also a changeup, though it lags a bit behind his primary two-pitch mix. Caglianone is a legitimate pitching prospect with no. 3 upside, though there is a bit of reliever risk due to command concerns and his ability to repeat his operation deep into starts. He worked hard over the past 12 months to shorten his arm action and tighten up his elbow spiral, and that seems to have paid dividends in his ability to control the ball. He’s still very young and has plenty of time to shore up the polish and consistency of those mechanical necessities.

There are a multitude of avenues Caglianone can take to become a valuable and productive big leaguer. Which route he’ll choose, and which route scouts prefer for that matter, is yet to be determined.

10. Mike Sirota, OF — Northeastern

Sirota is a super-impressive all-around athlete with the ability to impact the game in a number of areas. The approach at the plate is second-to-none, producing elite-level chase rates in 2023. Sirota was also one of the only players in the country to not swing through a single fastball north of 91 mph. That speaks to big league hand-eye. Sirota is a patient hitter who has flashed above average raw power too.

It’s the athletic traits that really push Sirota up boards. He is a plus centerfield defender with plus run times and impressive route running ability; all signs pointing toward a future big league centerfield profile. Sirota has twitchy hips and a ton of bounce to his game with scouts eager to see what’s to come. There’s a little bit of AJ Pollock in this profile. Nothing terribly flashy or “plus”, but a some-of-his-parts really, really solid producer and impact player.

MORE 2024 COVERAGE: Mock Draft 1.0

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