What I’m Hearing as Guardians Approach MLB Draft – Terry Pluto

CLEVELAND, Ohio – What I’m hearing about the 2024 college draft:

1. I’ll start with I don’t know… as in, I don’t know what the Guardians are going to do with the first pick. Cleveland has done a great job of keeping the lid on it, there’s been a lot of guesswork about their intentions with the first pick of the draft.

2. Cleveland has never had the No. 1 pick … ever. In this century, they’ve had just four picks in the top 10. The highest was No. 5. Those were Clint Frazier (2013) and Drew Pomeranz (2010). Frazier was used in a deal with the Yankees to bring Andrew Miller to Cleveland in 2016. Pomeranz was in a deal with Colorado to add Ubaldo Jimenez to the rotation in 2011.

3. The other top 10 picks were Francisco Lindor (#8 in 2011) and Jeremy Sowers (#6 in 2004). It’s hard to find clues. Guardians president Chris Antonetti was involved in the 2013 (Frazier) and 2011 (Lindor) drafts.

Some scouts believe Oregon State’s Travis Bazzana is the best choice for Cleveland.

4. What about this year? Some predict the Guardians will take Travis Bazzana, a second baseman from Oregon State. That’s the baseball factory that produced Cleveland’s Steven Kwan and many other MLB players. If Bazzana is the top pick, he’ll be the first second baseman ever to be selected No. 1 in the draft. But some scouts predict he’ll be moved to the outfield. It’s possible that’s in the plans if he goes to Cleveland.

5. Bazzana hit .407 (1.479 OPS) with a school record 28 HR. He grew up in Australia. He is absolutely obsessed with being great and loves analytics and video. The man studies everything. I heard he was wary when I looked at some of the stats from this college season. Some scouts believe the balls have been hyped up because so many players are setting home run records.

Clint Frazier was Cleveland’s fifth overall pick in 2013, the highest pick this century until they secured the first overall pick in 2024.

6. The reason I’m intrigued by Bazzana is his performance in the summer wood-bat Cape Cod League. He batted .375 (1.037 OPS) and was the league’s MVP. That league has many of the best college players. I heard one scout say he has “the best bat-to-ball skills I’ve ever seen.” He consistently walks twice as many as he strikes out. I keep thinking he’s Cleveland’s guy, but I have no news reporting reason to believe that’s true.

7. My favorite player since I heard Cleveland had the top pick is Georgia’s Charlie Condon. I dream of the Guardians putting a right-handed power hitter in the middle of the lineup. He can play the outfield, first base, and third base.

8. Condon played in the nation’s top college baseball conference, hitting .433 (1.009 OPS) with 37 HR and 78 RBI in 60 games. In 304 plate appearances, he struck out just 41 times and walked 57. He’s 6-foot-6, 216 pounds. Often guys that tall strike out a lot. He may have more potential than Bazzana. Condon was a walk-on at Georgia in only his second full season.

9. A warning sign? In the same Cape Cod League where Bazzana impressed, Condon hit .261 (.648 OPS). He was 12 for 46 with one home run. He struck out just four times, walked three. He didn’t show much power. Was it the wooden bats or just a small sample size? He also could have improved since the summer of 2023.

Florida’s Jac Caglianone is a promising player as a hitter and pitcher.

10. Some scouts believe JJ Wetherholt could be a “surprise pick” for the Guardians. A middle infielder at West Virginia, Wetherholt is seen as a bit like Bazzana, a guy with “excellent bat-to-ball skills.” He batted .331 (1.068 OPS) with 8 HR in 164 plate appearances. He struggled with hamstring issues for most of the season.

11. Wetherholt is a 5-foot-10, 190-pound left-handed hitter. Healthy in 2023, he had a monster season, hitting .449 (1.304 OPS) with 16 HR in 268 plate appearances. He also hit .321 (.978 OPS) in the Cape Cod League, which scouts like a lot.

12. Some fans love Jac Caglianone, who is supposed to be the Shohei Ohtani of this draft. That’s because Caglianone hits hard and throws hard, too. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound lefty went 5-2 with a 4.76 ERA. In 73 innings, he struck out 83 batters and walked 50. When it comes to pitching, he’s more of a middle-of-the-road prospect than a top prospect. But if a team drafts him, they can always try him as a pitcher in case he doesn’t hit.

13. While Condon impressed with 38 HR in the SEC, Caglianone was right behind him with 35 HR. He had more homers (35) than strikeouts (24). He batted .419 (1.415 OPS). He is primarily a first baseman. Some scouts I have heard believe he could be strikeout-prone as a pro. He has drastically reduced his strikeouts in 2024.

14. The sheer stats these top picks are racking up are staggering. There’s a good chance that Spencer Torkelson, the top pick in the 2020 draft by Detroit, will be among them. Torkelson broke Barry Bond’s freshman home run record at Arizona State. He seemed like a sure thing at the top of the draft. He’s stuck in Class AAA Toledo after struggling in several trials in the majors.

15. One of those could be Bryce Harper, Washington’s top pick in the 2010 draft. He was a high school player and is one of the best power hitters in the majors. There are a lot of misses with the top pick. I won’t list them, but it’s scary for any team hoping to make a franchise-changing pick. Some pitchers like Hagen Smith (Arkansas) and Chase Burns (Wake Forest) are projected as top 10 picks. I don’t see Cleveland going for a pitcher.

Leave a Comment