2024 MLB draft: Risers, fallers after one month of college baseball, including two-way player, strikeout king

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While it may feel like college baseball just returned from the winter, we’re somehow already a month into the regular season. That makes this as good of a time as any to check out which players have seen their stock climb and which have seen theirs dip.
Bear in mind, we usually run two versions of our draft rankings: the first alongside the NCAA’s Opening Day, and the other in July ahead of the actual event. We tend to believe in setting our board and then letting the year play out without overreacting to 50 plate appearances here or a bad start there. Despite our attempt at discipline, we must concede that some players look different now than they did before. That’s true even at the top of the class.
Consider our top preseason top three. West Virginia infielder JJ Wetherholt has been limited to four games because of a strained hamstring. Wake Forest first baseman Nick Kurtz has struggled out of the gate, and certainly wouldn’t be ranked so highly if we did it over again today. And then there’s Oregon State second baseman Travis Bazzana, the industry’s perceived leader to go No. 1. He’s done nothing to change that perception, hitting .450/.588/.900 with six home runs and nine more walks than K’s in 16 games.
Who are some other players who have impressed or depressed so far? Below, CBS Sports has highlighted three apparent risers and three apparent fallers. In this case, those descriptors simply mean the player would rank higher or lower if we redid the list today as compared to their preseason positioning.
Bear in mind that this is but a snapshot in time. A player classified as a riser now might end up lower than their preseason rank; the inverse is true, too, for the fallers. That’s the beauty and agony of dealing in small samples: just when you think you have the plot figured out, it wiggles away like a backyard hose.
Now, let’s get to it.
Risers
1. Charlie Condon, OF/1B/3B, Georgia
Preseason rank : No. 15
: No. 15 Season to date: .565/.659/1.290, 12 home runs in 17 games
Entering the spring, Condon was viewed as a solid bat-first prospect who had been vetted by SEC pitching and would go in the top half of the first round. The talent evaluators who spoke to CBS Sports cautioned that he had a limited ceiling because of his so-so athleticism and right-handedness.
Clearly, he took that evaluation personally. Condon has to date hit .565/.659/1.290 with 12 home runs and six more walks than strikeouts in 17 games. He’s already recorded three multi-homer games, and he’s done so while improving his underlying slugging and plate discipline metrics. The kicker is that the aforementioned drawbacks remain true — the Bulldogs have played him at each of the corner positions, but he’s probably going to end up either in left field or at first base — but they won’t matter if he remains the nation’s most productive hitter.
2. Chase Burns, RHP, Wake Forest
Preseason rank: No. 8
No. 8 Season to date: 2.31 ERA with 4.30 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 23 innings.
We wrote the following when we ranked Burns as the No. 8 prospect in the class: “[Can] Burns, plus Wake Forest’s genius pitching development crew (led by biomechanist Dr. Kristen Nicholson), equal this year’s Paul Skenes?”
Through four starts, the answer is “maybe.” Burns has struck out 48% of the batters he’s faced, most recently tallying 14 across six innings pitched against a Duke squad that entered with a 12-1 record. He’s continued to lean on an electric fastball-slider combination: the former has reliably sat in the upper 90s and touched triple digits, while the latter has served as his main out pitch. Burns has maintained his long, whip-like arm action, but he has made at least one perceivable tweak to his delivery: he’s now manipulating his spine more to achieve a higher arm slot. If there is a negative to report from his first month, it’s his wildness. He’s walked more than 11% of the batters he’s faced to date. Given the rest of Burns’ stat line to this point, it’s fair to write that he’s been his own worst enemy.
3. Jac Caglianone, 1B/LHP, Florida
Preseason rank: No. 9
No. 9 Season to date: .429/.520/.683 with five home runs in 15 games; 1.80 ERA with 3.38 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 15 innings.
Caglianone might be the most exciting player in college baseball, a two-way talent capable of homering 33 times and touching into the upper 90s from the left side.
Alas, he does have some skill set deficiencies (specifically his zone management on both sides) that caused scouts to wonder how his game would transfer to the pros. Caglianone is doing his best to ease those concerns. As a hitter, he’s already amassed about 65% of his walk total from last year in only 21% of the games. He’s also improved his walk rate on the mound. You can credit that to some mechanical tweaks — his operation appears more truncated, and he no longer pitches off a high front side — as well as the additional space put between him and his Tommy John surgery. Rival front offices speculated during the preseason that he could go as high as No. 3 in the draft. Based on how well he’s performed to date, he may end up making good on that prediction.
Fallers
1. Nick Kurtz, 1B, Wake Forest
Preseason rank : No. 2
: No. 2 Season to date: .220/.466/.380 with two home runs in 15 games
We were high on Kurtz entering the season. His combination of well-above-average strength, feel for the zone and contact, and sneaky athleticism made him look like a safe bet to come off the board early before commencing a sprint to the majors.
Unfortunately, Kurtz has not yet validated that enthusiasm. Of the eight Demon Deacon hitters with at least 50 trips to the plate, he ranks last in both batting average and slugging percentage. He’s been pitched around a fair bit, resulting in an extreme walk rate and an amusing stat line that contains nearly as many runs scored (17) as total bases (19). We can only assume Kurtz will heat up soon. He’ll need to — no team is going to use a top pick on a first baseman with a .380 slugging percentage.
2. Mike Sirota, OF, Northeastern
Preseason rank : No. 6
: No. 6 Season to date: .231/.333/.346 with one home run in 12 games
Sirota’s presence here shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. We compared his situation to that of Chase DeLauter’s from a few draft cycles ago for a reason: both are small-school outfielders with unorthodox swings and weak schedules.
Sure enough, a lot of weight was placed upon Sirota’s year-opening series against Arizona, the biggest program on the Huskies’ regular season docket. He went 3 for 12 with no extra-base hits, two walks, and three strikeouts. Not his finest work by any means, and so he’s experienced a stock tumble similar to when DeLauter went 3 for 14 with a double, no walks, and eight strikeouts versus Florida State. It hasn’t helped Sirota’s case that he hasn’t immediately course-corrected the way DeLauter did. While we’re not going to dismiss a cold-state batter over 12 games to begin the season, we have to concede that this is the risk that comes with the territory.
3. Tommy White, 3B/1B, LSU
Preseason rank : No. 10
: No. 10 Season to date: .318/.405/.444 with two home runs in 16 games
If you had told evaluators back in January that the biggest gainer of the first month would be a right-right future first baseman from the SEC … well, many of them would’ve guessed you meant White, not Condon.
“Tommy Tanks,” as he’s long since been christened, homered 51 times in his first two seasons, all the while producing more impressive underlying data than Condon. Yet, it’s Condon who is trending in the right direction and White in the wrong. Go figure. White has produced one of the lowest slugging percentages in the Tigers lineup, and while he has plenty of time to turn it around, this month has been a disappointing one for someone whose stock is based exclusively on making repeated hard contact.

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