Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

2024 Draft Coverage: Early mock Drafts


Charlie Condon looks like the 1-1 pick … unless he isn’t. Photo via UGA baseball home page

Its never too early for a mock draft, and so of course the first 2024 mock draft links started popping up basically the day after the 2023 draft ended. I thought I’d throw out the first collection of Mock drafts now, ahead of the real draft scouting season, to show where things started and where they are now.

The Nats pick 10th this coming draft, thanks to the Nats falling into a very specific use case (non-revenue sharing teams cannot have a top-6 pick two years in a row), irrespective of where they finish or where they fall in the lottery, they will pick 10th. See Jim Callis‘s excellent explanation for why this is the case here. As we later found out … the nats actually won the lottery, then got picked again in the top 5, before settling into their 10th spot.

So, with that being said, we’ll try to capture the top 5 picks plus the 10th pick projection for all mocks for 2024 draft, if they go that deep.

Here’s a collection of the early mock drafts to get a sense of who is in the early running for the 1st round next year. We’ll follow this up with another mock collection as we get closer to the July 2024 draft.

  • ProspectsLive way too early 2024 mock 7/13/23: Konnor Griffin, Travis Bazzana, Chase Burns, JJ Wetherhold, Nick Kurtz. Nats at 10 get Florida’s two-way stud Jac Caglianone, which would be an absolute steal here, as we’re going to see later on.
  • Baseball America Dec 2023 post Draft Lottery Mock 12/8/23: Wetherhold, Kurtz, Bazzana, Caglianone, and Mike Sirota. Nats at 10 take Tommy White, slugging 3B from LSU. Would I be happy with White as a pick? I think he can hit … but i don’t think he can field. At all. He’s 1B/DH in the pros.
  • MLBPipeline 12/5/23: Callis and Mayo do a guess post-draft order: Wetherhold, Kurtz, Bazzana, Burns, Caglianone. Nats at 10 take White, as BA predicted.
  • Jim Callis 12/15/23 first mock: Kurtz, Wetherhold, Charlie Condon (who has blown up early D1 season 2024), Caglianone, Bazzana. Nats at #10 get White. I’m sensing a pattern here.
  • Joel Reuter/BleacherReport 12/22/23 Mock 1.0: Wetherhold, Kurtz, Condon, Caglianone, Bazzana. Nats at #10 take Tommy White, the fourth straight mock to take White.
  • Keith Law 3/7/24 top 50 Ranks (not mock): Condon, Caglianone, Bazzana, Wetherhold, Hagen Smith (pitcher from Arkansas who had 17ks in 6ip early spring). #10 is Tommy White, again.
  • Baseball America’s first 2024 mock 3/18/14: Condon, Caglianone, Bazzana, Burns, Smith. Nats at #10 taking Seaver King, SS/OF, Wake Forest. King is a new name we havn’t seen here yet; he played two years in Div-II before jumping to Wake and has made an impression. Tommy White is pushed down 9 picks in this mock due to his 2024 struggles.
  • Joel Reuter/BleacherReport 4/25/24 mock 2.0. Condon, Caglianone, Burns, Braden Montgomery (a switch hitting OF from TAMU who’s blown up in this spring), Bazzana. Nats at #10 take Trey Yesavage, East Carolina’s Friday night starter who’s described as a polished 4-pitch college starter who could zip through the minors and project as a mid-rotation starter. Someone like this would absolutely help the Nats pitching depth.
  • ProspectsLive 2.0 Mock 4/29/24: Condon, Caglianone, Kurtz, Bazzana, Konnor Griffen, a prep SS/OF who is high in ProspectsLive ranks but nobody else’s. Nats at #10 take Chase Burns in their mock, which i don’t really find credible at this point in Burns’ 2024 season.
  • Jonathan Mayo/MLBpipeline 5/3/24 mock: Condon, Bazzana, Caglianone, Montgomery, Kurtz. Nats at #10 take Burns over Yesevage. White falls to #20
  • Keith Law/the Athletic 5/15/24 Mid-May Mock: Bazzana, Condon, Smith, Kurtz, Caglianone. Law postulates that Cleveland at 1-1 could be looking to shave dollars off the slot value, and they’d thus take Bazzana and save a ton of money, or maybe even a mid-1st rounder to save $4M. At #3 He has Colorado taking best pitcher available. Nats at #10 take Konnor Griffen, the #1 prep player on the board, with a note that says the Nats have a new Scouting Group this year and may take the team in a different direction (aka, younger).
  • Jim Callis/MLBpipeline 5/17/24 Mock: Bazzana, Condon, Caglianone, Kurtz, Montgomery. Nats take at #10 Bryce Rainer, a prep SS from Harvard Westlake (same HS as Lucas Giolito). In Callis’ mock, the top two arms (Smith and Burns) go off just before the Nats pick, but they leave ECU starter Yesavage on the table to take a prep SS. I wouldn’t like this pick, but I give homage to Law’s comment about a change in the scouting department with the Nats.

Analysis at this point:

There hasn’t been a ton of change in the top prospects from July 2023 to May 2024, with the exception of one guy; Condon. For months we’ve talked about Bazzana, Wetherhold, Caglianone, and Kurtz. They’re most of the names mentioned in these top 5s. Condon’s 2024 explosion, combined with the fact that he’s not already mired to 2B (like Wetherhold and Bazzana) gives him a leg up. Caglianone is a 2-way guy, but almost everyone views him as a pro bat. Most of the pundits are saying this is a 9-man draft (awesome, since we draft 10th).

For months, the industry all pretty much assumed at first that the Nats would get LSU’s Tommy White. Boy, I bet White wishes he was in last year’s draft, b/c he would have gone top 10. Now his struggles and his defensive issues have him dropping like a stone. As of this writing 5/4/24 his statline for 2024 doesn’t come anywhere near his 2023 line (.332/.409/.642 this year versus .374/.432/.725 last year). I’m really hoping the Nats go pitching this year, and later mocks have two college arms in Burns and Yesavage falling right into the range where the Nats might take them. Both are Friday starters from big-time teams and have had top 5 projections here and there, and would be great at #10. However, there seems to be a shift in the strategy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up with a prep player.

Written by Todd Boss

May 17th, 2024 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Draft

15 Responses to '2024 Draft Coverage: Early mock Drafts'

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  1. Thanks Todd. Good stuff.

    Mark L.

    17 May 24 at 4:15 pm

  2. Fun fact. I accidentally published this post in July of 2023, when i first started writing it. So i’ve been editing it and adding to it for months but nobody would see it. I had to manually force it to publish today for it to show up.

    I’ll keep collecting mocks as we get closer and re-publish ahead of the draft with my prediction.

    Todd Boss

    17 May 24 at 4:27 pm

  3. Sorry I’ve been out of the conversation for a while. I’ve been traveling and then catching up from traveling.

    The Nats get screwed by the new rules two years in a row. They would have had the #1 pick in 2023 without the lottery, and now they would have had the #1 pick in 2024 with the lottery if they were allowed to have a top-10 pick. Oh well.

    People have been saying since before the 2023 draft that 2024 would be a thin year. And as of now, per Callis, there’s basically a “consensus top nine.” So at #10, we pray I guess.

    The Nats DESPERATELY pitching. I really don’t think there’s enough pitching in the organizational pipeline to sustain a rebuild. It sure would help if Parker and Irvin truly can establish themselves as MLB starters, though.

    The Nats’ first hope has to be that Burns falls to them at 10. That would be manna. Failing that, at 6-4, 225, Yesavage sure looks like what Rizzo dreams about at night.

    As for the mocks that have the Nats attached to a high schooler: please don’t. The Nats need more immediate help. They also can’t afford another failed high school pick, or one who takes years to find himself. (Put Green in either of those categories you wish. And he’s still teammates with Denaburg.)

    Rizzo does like to grab falling stars in the draft, so Wetherholt certainly would become a possibility if he’s still on the board. Would you take him even though the Nats increasingly are looking set in the middle infield with Abrams and Garcia? I guess it would depend on whether they see him as a surer thing than the college arms still available. They probably would take Burns over Wetherholt, but perhaps Wetherholt over Yesavage.


    20 May 24 at 9:25 am

  4. I’ve also read that its a 9-person draft and we’re at #10. that means odds are, some team above us does a reach and one of the consensus top 9 drops to us. I also believe the team needs to draft pitching and i’m hoping Burns or Yesevage falls to us. But, you never know.

    It’s also possible they go to their first love Tommy White, grab him in an underslot deal at 10, then use the savings to get a player that’s fallen in the 2nd round? But, those kinds of falling players are usually prep players, and that’s not going to address the elephant int he room (the fact that we need mature/college arms right now.

    Todd Boss

    20 May 24 at 11:55 am

  5. The scary thing about White now is that he may fall all the way to a contender. How unfair would it be for a team like the Braves to add another bat like that?

    I do think that teams are way too infatuated with the whole thing of everyone having to be a SS or CF. Maybe the window to success with big power but not a lot of defensive prowess is narrower, but it sure seems like the guys getting the big bucks are the big-power guys, whether they are decent in the field or not (1-800-Juan-Soto).

    White is another IMG Academy product, where they apparently follow the “Chicks Dig the Long Ball” school of hitting. Swing hard in case you happen to hit it. James Wood is finally taming that tendency, Elijah Green not so much. The curious thing about White is that he’s docked for swinging at pitches outside the zone, yet he rarely misses them. His K% this season is 13%. He may be a gamble, but he’s a safer gamble than someone like Green.

    I’m not lobbying for White for the Nats, but I also wouldn’t hate it if it happens. In this thin draft year, I can see a good case to be made in a draft room that he’s one of the very few in this draft class with true plus-plus value as a hitter if he makes it.

    The curious thing in looking at White’s 2024 numbers is that the main missing piece is doubles. His homers and walks are ahead of last year, and his Ks are about the same. I don’t know how you account for the missing doubles, other than that perhaps teams are positioning the outfielders better and cutting off the liners before they get in the gaps.


    20 May 24 at 2:54 pm

  6. White’s 2024 versus 2023:

    BA is down 30 points, OBP is down 20 points, slugging down aobut 30 points. Really, most of the rest of the stats the same. Honestly, if he had a few more XBHs he’d be right where he was last year.

    Todd Boss

    20 May 24 at 3:48 pm

  7. @KW

    I’ve been wondering lately whether the team still needs pitching quite so desperately.

    I mean, of course every team would benefit from adding a frontline starter, and every team has trouble fielding decent SP6s and SP7s to fill in for the inevitable injuries. So on a very basic level, yes the Nats still very much need pitching.

    But we’ve been looking at a top-heavy and bat-heavy prospect pipeline for a long time now, and I think we’ve maybe gotten kind of stuck in that assessment.

    Parker, Irvin, Gray and Cavalli all have bust risks, but they also probably each have SP4-SP5 median outcomes and plausible upside from there. If you assume the plan is to bring in an ace FA and push Gore to SP2, that’s a pretty solid 3-6 (in whatever order the team ranks them) for the next 2-3 seasons.

    And then we have Rutledge as SP7, until his options are up. Herz, Lara, Alvarez and possibly Saenz as potential but unlikely breakouts already the upper levels. Plus plenty of potential that’s farther away. Any one of those guys is very likely to bust, but the best of the lot has a decent chance of being pretty good.

    That looks like a robust pipeline to me. Not as overflowing with superfluous talent as our OF pipeline (where Hassell or Young is OF4 and 3 of our top 10ish prospects don’t even have clear lines to roster spots), and obviously pitchers break and bust more often than position players, but I don’t see a glaring weakness anymore either. I admit I am assuming an FA signing, but there are so few prospects that project confidently to become aces that I can’t really fault the system for not having any.

    If I’m the Nats and I’m picking between a 3+ WAR SP or a 3+ WAR bat, I’d take the pitcher, though I think that would be true for almost any team. But at 1.5 WAR, I think I take the bat, assuming he plays DH or on the infield. The real answer is that teams don’t draft by need, of course, but I’m just not sure our needs are as skewed as they were even a year ago. Irvin and Parker being at least playable goes a long way.


    20 May 24 at 5:32 pm

  8. SMS, I don’t dispute your argument. And frankly with the Nats, it’s really hard to know if they’ve got “enough” pitching to make the next step over the next few seasons. But I don’t think anyone would confuse the current crop with the Stras/Gio/JZim core on which the Nats started the last rebuild, though.

    Also don’t forget Bennett, who the team is really high on, and Sykora, who potentially could progress quickly (but still would be a couple of years away). I’ve mostly given up hope that Rutledge will ever be more than depth. Really wish they would give him a look in the bullpen sooner or later.

    The problem, of course is that EVERY team needs pitching. Todd used to do reviews of every rotation in the majors, but that likely would be impossible today, with every team scrambling to fill rotation holes. One wonders if pitchers in the MLB drafts will become like QBs in the NFL draft, where teams reach desperately every year and pick QBs well above where they’re rated on draft boards.


    21 May 24 at 11:03 am

  9. And yes, the Nats’ internal pipeline is much better stocked in the OF than INF and catcher. They’ve got very little reserve behind Abrams and Garcia in particular, although Lipscomb looks like a viable utility/reserve-starter-in-case-of-injury guy. Their eggs for the corner INF slots are all in the House and Morales baskets right now. Someone like Wetherholt or White would cover them in case not everyone “makes it” (and rarely does everyone “make it”).

    Just please don’t take one of the high school infielders like Griffin or Rainer. The Nats need guys who can progress faster, not ones we might see four years down the road.

    I would guess that the Nats are hoping for Burns or Yesavage. I’m not sure what they would do if those guys are gone (as Law projects). They certainly don’t need another outfielder. So unless Wetherholt drops to them, then you’re into the second tier of college infielders like Seaver King, Kaelen Culpepper, and Cam Smith. Or would they be tempted by the higher-reward possibility of White over these guys? Rizzo certainly has made a number of high risk/high reward picks of guys who have fallen in the draft for one reason or another.


    21 May 24 at 11:24 am

  10. That all makes sense, KW. And I don’t really follow amateur baseball, so I don’t have any independent takes on who the team should or will draft. From what I’ve read, the most popular take seems to be if a pick falls in our lap, great, if not, Yesavage. But underslot for White in order to grab a couple of HS arms in the 2nd and 3rd? Fine with me. Even Griffin or Rainer. We’re going to want some gems in the pipeline 3 or 4 years down the line. If the scouts think they’re the best option, I’m fine with any of it.

    One other thing I’ll say about the team’s pitching depth, though, is that getting clarity on how to value Parker, Irvin, Gray and Cavalli is extremely important to the team’s future. And even though Corbin has pitched fine of late, I definitely bump him to the bullpen (or DFA him) when the first of Cavalli and Gray are ready. And I hope the timing works that we can trade Williams to make room for the other one. Failing that, we should probably go to a 6-man temporarily, as annoying as that is.

    I don’t want the team to be using spring training to sort the rotation for next year. Let’s get them all as many real reps as possible.


    21 May 24 at 12:34 pm

  11. Jumping into the conversation quite late.

    I wouldn’t place much value on mocks from before the 2024 college season began. Remember how Tyler Dyson was touted as a top 10 prospect a year before he was drafted? Remember how he fell to the 4th round, and then threw a total of 74 innings in the minors before getting released? Early mocks were calling Josh Hartle the consensus best college pitcher. Well… check out his 2024 stats now. Hartle’s strikeout rate has dropped by 25% and his ERA exploded to 5.58 on a dominant Wake Forest team, and Hartle is now featuring as a 3rd/4th round pick… For that reason, I also wouldn’t worry about Tommy White. He’s also entirely the wrong kind of hitter for the Nats, with giant holes in his swing and swing-and-miss tendencies that the Nats have proven unable to fix time and time again.

    As KLaw noted, “I’ve said a few times that this MLB draft class is one of the weakest I’ve ever seen”. Law is always a bit of reactionary, but this isn’t the worst draft to get “screwed” on. There seems to be growing consensus on Condon and Bazzana as the top 2, then a mess of relatively comparable players from 3-10: Kurtz, Caglianone, Wetherholt and Montgomery (college bats), Smith and Burns (college arms), Griffin and Rainer (prep bats).

    There’s a few other guys around the fringes: Yesavage, King, Caminiti, etc. but seem to be distinctly lower rated than the above 10.

    So… coming with the #10 pick isn’t such a bad deal. The first 9 picks should largely dictate who we pick. My dream scenario would be to snag either of the two college arms if they fell to us, but with both having exceptionally good seasons, that seems increasingly unlikely. I’d also jump at any of the college bats. Wetherholt, Caglianone and Kurtz’s infield positioning is especially tempting.

    One of the two prep bats seem most likely to fall to 10, but they kind of scare me, given the Nats’ long history of inability to develop HS bats (though House may prove to be an exception), and neither Griffin nor Rainer appear remotely as good or polished of a prospect House was at the time of his drafting. If that was the case, I’d consider feeling out Yesavage for a possible slight underslot bonus, to free up some money for the 2nd or 3rd rounds. But that’s just me.


    24 May 24 at 7:23 am

  12. @Will: completely agree on pre-2024 college season mocks being useless … but I do find it interesting seeing players who were highly touted who crash/players who come out of nowhere.

    I’m with you though: i’m desperately hoping Burns or Smith falls to us, but wouldn’t be mad at Yesevage. I do want a college arm this time.

    Todd Boss

    24 May 24 at 9:50 am

  13. Tyler Dyson dominated LSU in the clinching game of the CWS when he was a freshman. He was legit. Yes, there was 1/1 talk about him. What happened? Part of it was that he got overused in college. That’s a potential issue with every college pitcher, even Skenes, who got pushed really hard in the LSU title drive last spring. Dollander faded in his draft spring and was nothing like he was in 2022.

    The list of Nat college arm draftees with arm issues is seemingly endless and not worth rehashing. So there’s a huge caveat with taking any pitcher. That said, yes, I’m on board with Smith (not making it to #10), Burns (unlikely making it to #10), or Yesavage (climbing a hair in most mocks). But it’s a weak draft, so the ceiling for these guys is probably the Irvin/Parker level. That’s useful, but it isn’t going to change the franchise trajectory. They’ll still likely need a free agent starter or two.

    I’m not in the tank at all for Tommy “Tanks” White, and it seems like the consensus is dropping him well past #10. But let’s play devil’s advocate. This draft crop sucks. We all know it sucks, all the more after the top 9. If you’ve got to roll the dice on anyone you pick, why not do it on someone with legit 60+ grade power? Yes, he’s a bad-ball hitter, but he’s not missing on the balls out of the zone.

    I’m also intrigued by the chances of Wetherholt dropping to the Nats. He seems surer to hit than White, or anyone else for that matter. His story sounds similar to Rendon’s — phenomenal college gap-power hitter who has struggled with injury in his draft spring and doesn’t have a sure defensive home. Let other teams gamble on high school shortstops and leave this guy to us.


    24 May 24 at 10:14 pm

  14. The problem with a guy like White is that his one elite tool (power) is the one most dependent on another tool (hit), and scouting reports suggest that he won’t be very good against higher quality pitching, and if that’s the case, the power won’t matter so much.

    He looks to me like a carbon copy of Will Frizzell, just on a better college team (which actually doesn’t do White any favors in this comparison), and look at how Frizzell turned out once he got out of Low A ball, and starting facing higher quality arms… Or look at one tool phenom, Joey Gallo, and how that’s working out.

    Lastly, on the pitchers, Smith and Burns appear to be quite some margin better than Irvin/Parker level, even though the prospect watchers definitely undervalued them, Parker, in particular. ESPN rated Smith as a 55FV and Burns as a 50FV, neither Parker nor Irvin were ever rated above 40FV, and there’s a massive gulf in talent between 40 and 50/55. A 50 FV prospect is a low end top 100 prospect (i.e. present day Cavalli), and a 55 is top 30 prospect (peak prospect hype Cavalli). But I do agree that TINSTAAPP still holds value today, more than ever, and expect both arms to be off the board by #10 either way.


    27 May 24 at 9:51 am

  15. White is only striking out 12% of the time this season, so the pitchers in the best college conference in the land sure haven’t found the alleged holes in his swing. We’re not talking about the second coming of Elijah Green here.

    I seriously doubt that the Nats will take White, but I do think he would would an interesting option for them, all the more if he could come in underslot.

    I would love to have Smith, would like to have Burns, but would be shocked if either makes it to #10. Irvin currently has a 3.58 FIP, 1.07 WHIP, and Parker’s numbers are 3.44 FIP, 1.16 WHIP. FV that however you wish, but I’ll take it. FV hasn’t meant a damn for most Nat pitching “prospects” over the last decade. Rutledge and Adon are getting lit up at AAA.

    I was meh on Yesavage, but the more I look, the more I like. Admittedly, he’s dominating in a much lower-tier conference, so it’s sort of hard to judge. He’s currently 11-1 with a 2.09 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 14.5 K9, 2.9 BB9, 5.0 H9. I really like guys who don’t give up a lot of hits, as it indicates that his stuff plays. But he’s also striking out a lot of guys who couldn’t get SEC or ACC offers. Yesavage doesn’t turn 21 until the end of July and was a reliever as a frosh, so he doesn’t have as much mileage on his arm in college as others do.

    My fingers-crossed-that-someone-falls board for the Nats would probably be Burns, Wetherholt, Yesavage, in that order. I honestly don’t know which direction they’d look if all of those are gone (which is a decent likelihood), but please don’t take a high schooler. The next college bat on the board seems to be Seaver King. His INF positional flexibility could be a plus.


    27 May 24 at 2:19 pm

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