Updating the 2024 Draft Rankings

Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman/USA TODAY NETWORK

Today is the start of the 2024 NCAA Division I baseball season, and to celebrate, I’ve updated my rankings for this draft class. Thirty fresh scouting reports, along with tool grades and assessments of the players’ physical attributes, are available on The Board. As they do every year, these rankings will grow and change between now and the draft. Let’s review the draft order before I talk a little bit about the class:

2024 MLB Draft Order
First Round
Pick Team
1 Cleveland Guardians
2 Cincinnati Reds
3 Colorado Rockies
4 Oakland Athletics
5 Chicago White Sox
6 Kansas City Royals
7 St. Louis Cardinals
8 Los Angeles Angels
9 Pittsburgh Pirates
10 Washington Nationals
11 Detroit Tigers
12 Boston Red Sox
13 San Francisco Giants
14 Chicago Cubs
15 Seattle Mariners
16 Miami Marlins
17 Milwaukee Brewers
18 Tampa Bay Rays
19 New York Mets
20 Toronto Blue Jays
21 Minnesota Twins
22 Baltimore Orioles
23 Los Angeles Dodgers
24 Atlanta Braves
25 San Diego Padres
26 New York Yankees
27 Philadelphia Phillies
28 Houston Astros
29 Arizona Diamondbacks
30 Texas Rangers
Prospect Promotion Incentive Picks*
31 Arizona Diamondbacks (Received for Corbin Carroll winning ROY)
32 Baltimore Orioles (Received for Gunnar Henderson winning ROY)
Compensation Picks+
33 Minnesota Twins (Compensation for Sonny Gray signing with St. Louis)
Competitive Balance Round A^
34 Milwaukee Brewers (Acquired from the Orioles in Corbin Burnes trade)
35 Arizona Diamondbacks
36 Cleveland Guardians
37 Pittsburgh Pirates
38 Colorado Rockies
39 Kansas City Royals
*If a player who was rated as a preseason Top 100 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Baseball America, and/or ESPN (at least two of the three) and was on his team’s Opening Day roster goes on to win Rookie of the Year, the club is awarded a PPI pick after the first round.
+If a team that loses a qualifying free agent is a revenue-sharing recipient and the free agent signs for at least $50 million, the team is awarded a pick between the first round and Competitive Balance Round A.
^Teams that have either one of the 10 smallest markets or 10 smallest revenue pools receive an additional pick at the end of the first or second round. The groups of teams alternate between the two rounds each year.

This year’s draft class isn’t great. The high school class is especially thin and relatively devoid of high-end position player talent. There will undoubtedly be players who ascend this spring and put themselves in the mix for an early first round pick, just as there will be players who flop or get hurt and fall away from the pinnacle of teams’ draft boards. There is one uber-talented freak near the top of the draft board: two-way Florida Gator Jac Caglianone. He is the player in this draft most likely to be a household name by selection day. There are also several stable, well-rounded hitters currently near the top of the class, but few of them have a great chance of developing meaningfully more power in pro ball. Most of them are physically maxed-out and are more likely to be solid, quick-moving big leaguers than superstars.

How Cleveland approaches their pick at 1.1 will be fascinating. This is a team that rarely sends scouts to college games, instead overwhelmingly utilizing data and video to evaluate that demographic of player. Without an awesome high schooler near the top of the draft, will the Guardians alter their M.O. and take a targeted, in-person approach to gauging their options? They haven’t picked at the very drop of the draft since selecting Clint Frazier fifth overall in 2013.

The Arizona Diamondbacks, the reigning NL pennant winners, will be the first team to pick for a second time and possess three of the top 35 picks (No. 29, 31, and 35; Colorado has three of the top 42 (pick No. 3, 38, and 42). The Guardians pick a second time in Competitive Balance Round A (pick No. 36) and, especially if they cut a deal at No. 1, the money they have to play with from winning the first overall selection and its accompanying slot value might threaten the plans of teams picking in that area that can’t compete with Cleveland’s bonus pool. The relative dearth of high school talent should push readers to consider following college baseball more closely this season since a greater portion of the highly drafted players are going to come from that demographic.

Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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2 months ago

This is definitely the first time I’ve seen someone say that Caglianone is more likely to stick at pitcher than as a hitter. I imagine that unless he takes a meaningful step back this year that he’ll be very attractive to all of the Reds, Rockies, A’s, and White Sox (and the Guardians, but ownership doesn’t meddle there as much I think). These are teams that could really use an attendance boost and some excitement. Although the A’s could probably put a 20 year old Willie Mays in center field and people still wouldn’t come see the A’s play in Oakland.

2 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Eric does say teams would be silly not to keep trying him as a two-way guy, but I’m realllly curious how his plate discipline shows out this year. I think the power is just too electric to ignore, and wonder if the chase was a product of him succeeding so much on contact and whether that actually might be possible for him to tone down when he’s challenged a bit more in pro ball. I’m more down on him as a pitcher because the command seems pretty bad, but Eric’s notes about his athleticism are encouraging.

2 months ago
Reply to  Klubot3000

He was considered to be a more interesting as a pitcher coming out of high school, but as bad as his walk to strikeout numbers are he has the kind of “power you don’t give up on.” And his command is terrible, probably even worse than his plate discipline. It’s hard for me to imagine him starting unless he basically cuts his walk rate in half next year…he was walking almost 7 guys every 9 innings.

He feels a little bit like a guy who could put up some absurd power numbers at first base like Ryan Howard and the come in the ninth inning and close the game like Tanner Scott. Could he have MLB’s first ever 30 HR, 30 save season? That’s the kind of thing that you can dream on, even if it doesn’t seem likely.

2 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

I would and I did, several times, but Willie’s 1954 season is a strong contender for the greatest of all time. The Giants went from 70-84 to 97-57 so am I saying that Willie was worth 27 wins, not quite, but when I look at BR and see only a 10.4 bWAR it only adds to my questioning of what computers put out.