MLB mock draft: Who’s No. 1? Top prospects after CWS

With the college baseball season ending in thrilling fashion and Major League Baseball lurching toward the All-Star break, the game’s amateur draft, once a June staple, is coming into sight.

Yet the manner in which the first few picks will unfold remains plenty fuzzy.

Minus a generational pitching talent like Paul Skenes, there’s no sure thing or even a consensus 1-2 in any order, like Skenes formed last year with LSU teammate Dylan Crews.

But when commissioner Rob Manfred approaches the podium on July 14 to reveal the No. 1 pick in the draft, there’s no shortage of elite talent from which the Cleveland Guardians can choose.

From there, it’s a choose-your-own adventure through the first 30 picks. USA TODAY Sports aims to project how it will all unfold in the first round:

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1. Cleveland Guardians: Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State

See what we mean about no consensus No. 1? Well, there’s nearly a whole month to adjust your dart tosses as teams juggle slot money and bonus pools. But Bazzana, a 21-year-old Aussie who batted .407 with 28 home runs last year, can move quickly to Cleveland and bring a near plug-and-play dynamic to their current group.

2. Cincinnati Reds: Charlie Condon, OF/3B, Georgia

Sometimes a player fits snugly in a spot and that seems like Condon’s deal here, regardless of the chaos before and after this pick. Eight years after using the second overall pick on Nick Senzel, another versatile player with power from an SEC school, the Reds opt for Condon’s record-setting 37-home run pop.

3. Colorado Rockies: Chase Burns, RHP, Wake Forest

Perhaps spending top 10 draft capital on right-handed college pitchers named Chase is the cure for Coors Field pitching woes. Well, Chase Dollander has a 2.84 ERA and 13.3 strikeouts per nine at high-A Spokane. Enter Burns, who transferred from Dollander’s Tennessee to Wake Forest and struck out 191 in 100 innings, largely on the strength of a 96 mph fastball and wipeout slider.

4. Oakland Athletics: Jac Caglianone, 1B/RHP, Florida

If A’s owner John Fisher is excited about famous opposing players like Aaron Judge coming to play in their temporary Sacramento digs, Caglianone, a two-way player, might give Sacto-A’s fans a hometown guy to rally around. While Caglianone may very well be strictly a hitter in the pros, that’s more than enough: He slugged 68 homers the past two seasons and was second only to Condon with 35 this year.

5. Chicago White Sox: Hagen Smith, LHP, Arkansas

What to get the franchise that needs everything? The entire prep draft class and a handful of very enticing college position players are available here, but Chicago opts for the sure thing in Smith, who punched out a record-setting 17.3 batters per nine at Arkansas and could be starting on the South Side soon.

6. Kansas City Royals: Nick Kurtz, 1B, Wake Forest

While an early-season rotator cuff injury slowed some of his momentum, Kurtz still slugged 22 home runs and got on base at a .531 clip, drawing 78 walks to 42 strikeouts in 260 plate appearances. Probably the safest but not sexiest pick at this juncture.

7. St. Louis Cardinals: Braden Montgomery, OF, Texas A&M

Another two-way player who leans strongly toward hitting, Montgomery is a dynamic defensive right fielder who hit 26 home runs but needs to improve on strike-zone recognition. Ankle injury sidelined him for the College World Series.

8. Los Angeles Angels: J.J. Wetherholt, INF, West Virginia

Perhaps the most fluid prospect in the first 10 picks, Wetherholt could land anywhere in the top or bottom of that range; ultimately, he lands with a franchise that adds another quick-to-the-majors talent in the footsteps of Nolan Schanuel and Zach Neto. Wetherholt was dogged most of this season by a hamstring injury, but his power-speed combo profiles similarly to Bazzana’s.

9. Pittsburgh Pirates: Konnor Griffin, OF/INF, Jackson Prep (Miss.)

Finally, the run of college players ends with a talent who will play somewhere up the middle as a pro, with speed his most devastating tool. LSU commit and the Gatorade National Player of the Year.

10. Washington Nationals: Bryce Rainer, SS, Harvard-Westlake HS (Calif.)

We try not to force comps too much, but Rainer profiles similarly to Padres rookie Jackson Merrill with his 6-3, 195-pound frame, power and arm. The former pitcher is likely to stick at shortstop, though.

11. Detroit Tigers: Cam Caminiti, LHP, Saguaro HS (Ariz.)

The cousin of former NL MVP Ken Caminiti, Cam is a powerful lefty with a fastball that’s touched 96 mph. Struck out 119 in 52 2/3 innings and batted .493. Has committed to LSU.

12. Boston Red Sox: Christian Moore, INF, Tennessee

Broke the Vols’ career home run record by slugging 60 longballs, including 33 this season for the national champions, and became just the third player in SEC history to win the Triple Crown.

13. San Francisco Giants: Vance Honeycutt, OF, North Carolina

A Giants draftee (20th round, 2021), Honeycutt instead became a Tar Heel walk-off king, lifting them to the College World Series while slugging 28 home runs and 65 in three years. The Giants will spend a much higher pick on him this time.

14. Chicago Cubs: Trey Yesavage, LHP, East Carolina

He’s the third-best pitching prospect behind Burns and Smith, but Yesavage is hardly a consolation prize, especially for a pitching-needy organization like the Cubs. A 6-4 lefty with a fastball that touches 98 mph and offers the promise of a quick move through the organization.

15. Seattle Mariners: James Tibbs III, OF, Florida State

The ACC player of the year, Tibbs slugged 28 homers in 66 games for the Seminoles. A solid bat but some defensive limitations that might confine him to left field or first base.

16. Miami Marlins: Cam Smith, 3B, Florida State

It’s back-to-back Seminoles as the Marlins snag Smith, who posted a .488 OBP and 16 homers and moves well with a 225-pound frame that suggests more power is in the offing.

17. Milwaukee Brewers: Carson Benge, OF, Oklahoma State

Another two-way talent who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2022 and now profiles as a outfielder with elite exit velocity. Brewers have had success with collegiate outfielders Garrett Mitchell (UCLA) and Sal Frelick (Boston College), and Benge gives them another solid and projectable option with loud skills.

18. Tampa Bay Rays: Tommy White, 3B, LSU

A star at both N.C. State and LSU, his elite power should transfer well to the bigs. Can play either corner spot and it’s easy to envision the Rays deploying him at both.

19. New York Mets: Jurrangelo Cijintje, RHP, Mississippi State

Will Steve Cohen pay the ambidextrous pitcher two paychecks if he makes the majors as a right-handed starter and lefty reliever? The possibilities are intriguing, but it’s from the right side where Cijintje touches 97 and sits 95 with the fastball, complemented by solid secondary offerings.

20. Toronto Blue Jays: Seaver King, SS, Wake Forest

Quite a ride from Wingate College to Winston-Salem to Ontario. King can play all over the infield and while he lacks Bazzana and Wetherholt’s elite speed-power combo, he offers plug-and-play lineup reliability for a franchise that may be taking some hits on the dirt.

21. Minnesota Twins: Billy Amick, INF, Tennessee

Not a ton of upside but also just tapping into it after transferring from Clemson to Knoxville, where he hit 23 homers for the national champs. Twins can work to reverse his plate discipline – he had 53 strikeouts to 29 walks this season.

22. Baltimore Orioles: Ryan Waldschmidt, OF, Kentucky

Can Mike Elias shake his obsession with college outfielders? We say not yet. Waldschmidt is rising quickly after a prep and collegiate career marred by injury, but his elite exit velocity, chase rate and potential to play center field will be too tough to pass up.

23. Los Angeles Dodgers: Kash Mayfield, LHP, Elk City HS (Okla.)

The 6-4 19-year-old has touched 97 mph with his fastball. The Dodgers and other late-round clubs may need to get creative with their bonus pool to lure the top prep lefty away from Oklahoma State.

24. Atlanta Braves: Brody Brecht, RHP, Iowa

Let’s make it five years in a row the Braves take a pitcher in the first round, four of them collegians. Atlanta will need to improve Brecht’s command but they have a 6-4, 235-pound frame to work with.

25. San Diego Padres: Dakota Jordan, OF, Mississippi State.

It’s been eight years since the Padres have taken a collegiate player with their first pick – but they also don’t typically draft 25th, this position partly a punishment for grossly exceeding the luxury tax. But Jordan is no low-upside safety pick. He has power to all fields, elite exit velocity and arm strength from right field.

26. New York Yankees: Kaelen Culpepper, SS, Kansas State

A consummate glue guy on the left side of the infield, Culpepper has both pop and speed, neither elite but also an excellent package for this end of the first round. With Anthony Volpe entrenched, the hot corner would be calling Culpepper.

27. Philadelphia Phillies: Caleb Lomavita, C, Cal

One of two Bay Area backstops who could go in the first round – along with Stanford’s Malcolm Moore – Lomavita brings a polished offensive profile but also questions about his receiving ability that may suggest a move to the infield.

28. Houston Astros: Walker Janek, C, Sam Houston State

They head north just a bit to pluck a collegian who could go higher in the first round thanks to solid receiving skills and 17-homer, 1.185 OPS production in the AAC.

29. Arizona Diamondbacks: Slade Caldwell, OF, Valley View HS (Ark,)

Caldwell stands just 5-9, and though the Diamondbacks wouldn’t be be getting a power hitter, his high-energy approach, speed and hit tool would play well in both their lineup and ballpark.  

30. Texas Rangers: Theo Gillen, INF, Westfield HS (Texas)

Injuries dimmed his star a bit, but Gillen may prove to have tools comparable to the prep bats taken in the top 10.

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