MLB Draft 2024: Keith Law’s top 30 prospects rankings to start the season


The 2024 draft class isn’t close to as good as last year’s was, lacking the up-the-middle bats and the depth in high school talent overall. Right now, the first round looks like it’s going to be extremely college-heavy, with at least the first seven to eight picks coming from the college rankings and perhaps as many as the first 10, with only a couple of high school pitchers showing well in the early going to get towards the first round or comparable bonuses.

This is my ranking of the top 30 players in the draft right now, enough players for the actual first round, with brief scouting reports on each and a list of some other names who at least were considerations for the ranking but didn’t make the cut. I’ll expand this list to 50 in April and 100 probably in early May. All stats are updated through games of Sunday, March 3.

(Note: Scouting grades are on a traditional 20-80 scale.)

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Scouting Report

Bats: R, Throws: R

Condon made a small adjustment to his hand position from last summer and has exploded this spring, hitting .568/.636/1.273 through the third weekend of the season. He’s also playing at least a capable enough third base to separate himself from the first base-only types in the class, although he’s most likely to end up a plus defender in right or left. He had three homers in four swings against Michigan State last week, going dead center off the batter’s eye, then left, then opposite field to right. He’s got extremely strong hands, bat speed, and good feel for the zone. If he keeps this up against SEC pitching, including better velocity, he’ll end up the top guy in this jumbled class.

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Position Player

4-Year College

3B

OF

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Scouting Report

Bats: L, Throws: L

Caglianone is a two-way player, but his pro future is with the stick, as it’s 80 raw power in a good enough athlete to at least become a solid defender at first. He’s been more power than hit in his college career, with more than three times as many strikeouts as walks last year, although that is likely to improve somewhat when he’s only focusing on one thing rather than trying to hit and pitch. As a pitcher, he throws hard, sitting 94-95 mph this year, mostly going fastballs with the occasional hard slider, but he comes across his body and already had Tommy John surgery once in high school. He also missed the first weekend due to an undisclosed injury, and while he was healthy last year, he walked 55 in 74 2/3 innings. Just stick a bat in his hands and let him go.

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Position Player

Pitcher

4-Year College

1B

LHP

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Scouting Report

Bats: L, Throws: R

Bazzana was born in and grew up in Australia, debuted in the Australian Baseball League at age 15, and led the collegiate summer league West Coast League in average and slugging as an 18-year-old. He’s now hitting .432/.583/1.023 in the early going for the Oregon State Beavers — and that includes the Hagen Smith Game. He’s very strong, probably from his time wrestling crocodiles, so even though his swing is pretty short, he hits the ball very hard and can show 55-60 power. I don’t think there’s projection here and he’s second base-only, but the hit/power tools are enough to make him an above-average regular.

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Position Player

4-Year College

2B

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Scouting Report

Bats: L, Throws: R

Wetherholt has performed exceptionally for the Mountaineers for the last two seasons as a high-contact, low-walk hitter who hits the ball fairly hard and offers a higher floor than almost anyone else in the draft. He’s a potential everyday player at second base who hits for average with some power. He missed time last summer with a hamstring injury and now he’s down again with another, missing two weekend series already and potentially missing the next few. It’s raised questions about his durability that he already faced as an undersized infielder, listed at 5-foot-10 and perhaps shorter than that.

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Position Player

4-Year College

2B

3B

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Scouting Report

Bats: L, Throws: L

Smith’s game against Oregon State in Week 2, when he had 17 strikeouts in six innings, had scouts saying it was the most dominant pitching performance they’d ever seen from an amateur pitcher. He’s picked up velocity in each of the last two years, now sitting 95-97 mph and touching 100, with a wipeout slider at 85-88 that has a ton of horizontal break. I don’t love the mechanics and he already had Tommy John surgery as a 16-year-old, but this is some peak David Price stuff going on here. He made Oregon State’s lineup look like Pencil State.

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Scouting Report

Bats: L, Throws: L

Kurtz walks a ton, 63 times in 56 games last year and 14 times in 11 games so far this spring, with some power, although 29 of his career 41 homers have come at Wake’s homer-friendly ballpark. The horror here is that he’s limited to first base, so he has to either show more raw power or prove that the on-base skills aren’t just a function of waiting out mediocre college pitching.

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Position Player

4-Year College

1B

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Scouting Report

Bats: R, Throws: R

Burns transferred from Tennessee to Wake Forest this year after the Vols put him in the bullpen in 2023. The transfer was the right move for him as he’s the top right-handed pitcher in the class. He’s been better than ever this year, sitting 97-99 mph, touching 101, with a wipeout slider, getting some good carry on the fastball up in the zone but also showing he can drive it down by staying on top through his delivery. He doesn’t have much of a pitch to attack lefties, but they’re also not hitting him yet, so that may be something for his future employers to figure out.

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Scouting Report

Bats: B, Throws: R

Montgomery transferred from Stanford to College Station this year and is off to a big start for the Aggies, showing off his bat speed and plus raw power along with one of the best outfield arms in the class. He’s been a two-way player before but he’s nowhere near the same kind of prospect on the mound, where he has arm strength but neither command nor feel. He hit very well in the Cape Cod League but has shown some propensity to swing and miss, with a real vulnerability to changeups. He’s riskier than the hitters above him but has more upside than the bats after Condon and Caglianone.

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Position Player

Pitcher

4-Year College

OF

RHP

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Scouting Report

Bats: R, Throws: R

Brecht is up to 100 mph with a plus slider, and he’s built like a big wide receiver, which is funny because he was, until this year, also a big wide receiver — he gave up football a year ago to focus on baseball. He’s very athletic and he doesn’t have huge effort in his delivery despite the velocity. He’s also far less advanced as a pitcher than the guys ahead of him, both in terms of the arsenal and in his feel for pitching, so it’s like taking a high school arm in a college pitcher’s body.

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Scouting Report

Bats: R, Throws: R

Tommy Tanks burst onto the scene as a freshman at North Carolina State in 2022, setting the NCAA record for homers by a freshman with 27, and then transferred to LSU for his sophomore year, where he hit just about as well in a tougher conference. He’s got power, naturally, and has posted strong batted-ball data since high school, but he’s an undisciplined hitter who swings at way more pitches than he should, with high chase rates and low walk rates throughout his college career. He’s an adequate defender at third who may end up at first. It’s a bet on power and on a player development staff to get him to swing at strikes.

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Position Player

4-Year College

3B

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Scouting Report

Bats: R, Throws: R

Bonemer could be the first Michigan high schooler to go in the first round since Nick Plummer in 2015 and just the second in the last 25 years. He’s very strong and projects to plus power, more likely at third base than shortstop, with enough arm for the hot corner. Bonemer has changed his setup and swing numerous times, sometimes working with a deep load and a dead-hand start, sometimes setting up extremely wide with no stride or weight transfer, and sometimes showing a quieter approach that lets him rotate his hips more and drive the ball out to left center. He has the bat speed and strength to get to power without trying too hard to get a certain launch angle or just pull everything, giving him some upside potential for a team that can get him to a consistent setup and swing.

Position Player

High School

SS

3B

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Scouting Report

Bats: L, Throws: L

Caldwell has a compact, explosive swing that’s short to the ball but produces a ton of line drives, and he’s an easy plus runner who plays a good center field and has a chance to end up a 55-60 defender there. Why isn’t Caldwell in the top 10, you ask? Because he’s 5-foot-5 1/2, and it’s going to take a GM or scouting director with a lot of job security to take a player this short with their first pick. The industry bias against short position players is still in place, even with such players starring in the big leagues (Jose Altuve, Corbin Carroll, Alex Bregman) and all over prospect lists. Caldwell particularly impressed when facing junior college competition in January’s Future Stars event, which is the best pitching he’s likely to face all spring.

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Position Player

High School

OF

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Scouting Report

Bats: R, Throws: R

Yesavage works with a no-windup delivery and sits 94-95 with an above-average cutter and average change, with his stuff playing up because he drives the ball down in the zone, getting some of the highest induced vertical break on his fastball of anyone in the draft. He’s been dominant this year through three starts, striking out 44 percent of hitters he’s faced. He doesn’t use the changeup much to his glove side, though, and better left-handed hitters might give him trouble or force him to rely more on the cutter.

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Scouting Report

Bats: L, Throws: R

Morlando shows plus power with very strong hands and excellent bat speed, getting to it even though he starts with an absurdly wide stance that doesn’t let him rotate his hips much at all to use his legs for more juice. He’s limited to left field by a below-average arm, although he should be an average defender there as he’s a 45 runner. He’ll be dinged by some draft models because he’ll be 19 by draft day. Some player development staff is going to give him a narrower setup so he can use his lower half and maybe turn that plus power grade into a 70.

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Position Player

High School

OF

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Scouting Report

Bats: R, Throws: R

Culpepper moved from third to short this year for the Wildcats, and while he’s probably going to go back to third or move to second in pro ball, he’s definitely an infielder and his high-contact approach gives him a solid floor. He has a great, simple swing with a short path to the ball and plenty of strength for hard contact, and he’s an excellent fastball hitter, even against decent velocity.

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Position Player

4-Year College

SS

3B

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Scouting Report

Bats: R, Throws: R

Honeycutt is a plus-plus defender in center whose profile as a hitter is a wide-open question. As a freshman, he hit 25 homers for the Tar Heels, but struck out 90 times in 64 games (29.7 percent of his PA), while as a sophomore he cut the strikeout rate to 20.4 percent but hit just 12 homers. There’s still a lot of swing and miss here, as his swing can get very uphill, and he’ll chase breaking stuff down and away while also struggling with fastballs up in the zone. He’s a plus runner and does have the kind of power to hit 20+ homers in the majors if he hits enough to get to it. Everybody compares him to Drew Stubbs, who was a top-10 pick in 2006 and posted 8 WAR in his major-league career. You have to hope he’s better than that if you’re taking him in the top 20.

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Position Player

4-Year College

OF

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Scouting Report

Bats: R, Throws: R

King transferred to Wake from Division II Wingate this year after raking last summer between the Cape Cod League (.424/.479/.542 in 16 games) and Team USA. Since transferring, he’s moved from the dirt to center field for the Deacons. He’s something of a free swinger, rarely walking or striking out at every stop, with a long swing that at least so far hasn’t caused him any trouble against better pitching.

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Position Player

4-Year College

2B

OF

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Scouting Report

Bats: R, Throws: R

Hess has a big-league fastball already, 93-98 mph with ride and plus vertical movement. He pairs it with a power curveball that has sharp, late downward break, and that he throws for strikes, along with at least a 55 cutter/slider. He used a straight changeup last year but has shelved it this year in favor of both breaking pitches, with no platoon split so far through three starts, at least. He needs to show he can hold up for a full season, he missed half of last spring and the whole summer with a forearm strain after throwing 44 2/3 innings total in 2022.

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Scouting Report

Bats: R, Throws: R

Griffin would have been an easy top-10 pick a generation ago, when teams were chasing raw tools above everything else. He’s a big-bodied athlete who’s a plus runner with plus raw power and has a plus arm to handle any position in the outfield. His swing gets long thanks to a first move back further behind his body, although once he gets the bat going it’s a traditional swing that should produce a lot of line drives. The history of Mississippi high school hitters will work against him — Austin Riley is now the career WAR leader for any player drafted and signed out of a high school there — but he probably offers the most upside of the first-round high school bats.

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Position Player

High School

OF

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Scouting Report

Bats: L, Throws: R

Rainer could be a top-15 pick if a team thinks he’s going to hit, as he’s shown enough on defense to project to stay at short and potentially end up a plus defender there and he has raw power. He has bat speed but he’s frequently off-balance through contact, leading to more swing and miss in showcases than other potential first-rounders as well as inconsistent contact quality. There’s some comparison to Brice Turang, another left-handed-hitting shortstop from a California high school, with Turang going 21st overall in 2018.

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Position Player

High School

SS

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Scouting Report

Bats: R, Throws: R

Beam throws a ton of strikes despite a stiff, robotic delivery, working 92-95 mph with a changeup that flashes plus and a fringy curveball. The fastball’s secondary characteristics aren’t great and results are above the pure stuff, in part because he’s in the zone so much, walking just one batter through three starts this year after posting a 6.6 percent walk rate in his first two years in Knoxville.

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Scouting Report

Bats: R, Throws: R

Lomavita’s a high-contact hitter and a catcher who projects to stay behind the plate. He has a simple, no-stride approach that puts the ball in play a lot but doesn’t let him rotate his hips or use his legs for power. He swings at everything, averaging just 3.3 pitches per PA this year with a chase rate of 33 percent, with 3.4 P/PA and a 40 percent chase rate on the Cape last summer, but even with that overly aggressive plan he has still hit for average and kept his strikeout rate to just 13 percent since the start of his 2023 spring.

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Position Player

4-Year College

C

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Scouting Report

Bats: R, Throws: R

Green transferred from North Carolina State this year to be the Ramblin Wreck’s everyday shortstop, and he started the year with a bang, hitting .353/.500/.765 with more walks than strikeouts. His defense was erratic enough at short last spring that the Wolfpack moved him to second, but through the first few weeks he’s looked better at shortstop, both fielding and throwing. He’s a very good athlete who’ll have to show he can hit better pitching in ACC play.

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Position Player

4-Year College

SS

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Scouting Report

Bats: R, Throws: R

Silva is a draft-eligible sophomore, turning 21 the week of the draft, with a high floor due to his probability to stay at shortstop and enough bat speed to put the ball in play at high rates even against better stuff. He has soft hands and a 55 arm, projecting to stay at short and maybe end up a 55 defender there, while at the plate he’s got a simple swing but puts the ball on the ground too often. It’s a utility infielder floor, with perhaps some ceiling beyond a regular if he can get the ball in the air more often.

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Position Player

4-Year College

SS

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Scouting Report

Bats: L, Throws: R

Moore’s on the young side for the college class, turning 21 two weeks after the draft, and he’s shown more than enough power to profile as a top-20 pick if you think he can stick behind the plate. He starts his setup in the back of the box like he’s standing around waiting for the bus, tapping his front foot nervously before striding very late, which may be why he struggles with pitch recognition. He crushes fastballs but has had trouble with anything with a wrinkle, and he’ll chase velocity above the zone. There’s real upside in a catcher with left-handed power, while he needs work with his glove and will probably never be more than average at controlling the running game.

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Position Player

4-Year College

C

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Scouting Report

Bats: R, Throws: R

Schmidt is a tall, projectable prep pitcher who’s been up to 96 mph with ride and run on the pitch and has a plus curveball now, an 11/5 hammer with spin rates around 3,000 rpm. He takes a huge stride towards the plate, about as long as is humanly possible, helping generate that arm speed from his lower half. He has a changeup he barely uses but it’s good enough to be a starting point for pro ball. He’s committed to LSU and likely will command a high bonus, but this is also what you’re looking for in a high school pitcher to overpay.

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Scouting Report

Bats: L, Throws: L

Hartle’s a command lefty who comes at hitters with five pitches, working away from his 90-92 mph fastball to lean more on his offspeed stuff, ramping up his use of a cutter this year compared to last spring. He starts all the way on the first-base side of the rubber and cuts himself off a little in his landing, so he comes across his body and has trouble locating to his glove side. He throws a ton of strikes, though, with just a 5.5 percent walk rate since the start of his sophomore year.

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Scouting Report

Bats: L, Throws: L

Santucci fractured his elbow on a pitch last spring, ending his year after just 29 innings, but he is back this spring and has been very effective, throwing about 60 percent sliders and 40 percent fastballs so far as a starter for the Blue Devils. The fastball is 93-96 mph with above-average vertical break and run, while the slider is a traditional one with good tilt. Hitters just don’t hit the slider at all; data from Synergy Sports show a whiff rate of 51 percent on the pitch last spring and 66 percent so far this year. He has a changeup but hasn’t used it this year, going slider/fastball even to right-handers. His medicals may determine his draft position more than his stuff or results.

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Scouting Report

Bats: R, Throws: R

Sirota had 18 homers and 19 steals last spring for Northeastern and then raked in the Cape Cod League, but more swing and miss in the first three weeks this spring has some national scouts delaying going to see him in the hopes that he’ll get back to his 2023 level of production. It’s an ugly swing salvaged by superlative hand speed, and he does have plenty of loft in the finish to consistently hit the ball in the air. He won’t face much quality pitching in the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA), however, so he has to mash to stay in the top half of the round.

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Position Player

4-Year College

OF

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Scouting Report

Bats: L, Throws: R

Benge is listed at 6-1, 184, but he’s a slap hitter who lunges over his front side and puts the ball in play at high rates without power. Given his size and frame, though, I think a lot of teams will see upside here if they can get him to stay back and try to drive the ball, as he controls the zone and seems to recognize pitch types. He’s a right fielder with an easy plus arm, 92-94 mph off the mound as an occasional reliever.

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Position Player

Pitcher

4-Year College

OF

RHP

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Others of note

Dakota Jordan, OF, Mississippi State
Thatcher Hurd, RHP, LSU
Gage Jump, LHP, LSU
Ryan Forcucci, RHP, UC San Diego
Christian Moore, SS, Tennessee
Blake Burke, 1B, Tennessee
Michael Massey, RHP, Wake Forest
Carson DeMartini, 3B, Virginia Tech
Connor Gatwood, RHP, Baker (Mobile, AL) HS
Tegan Kuhns, RHP, Chambersburg Area (PA) HS


Additional 2024 MLB Draft coverage

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(Top photo art by Dan Goldfarb / The Athletic; Photos from left to right: Jac Caglianone / Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press; Charlie Condon / Stew Milne / Associated Press; Travis Bazzana / John Korduner / Icon Sportswire / Getty Images)





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