2024 Draft Preview- Who Could the Halos Take?

I’m somewhat of a draft nerd, to say the least.  I love the lead up, the evaluations, and the different opinions and strategies that teams can employ.  While the NFL draft many times is based on team needs (for the most part), the MLB draft is so unique because you have to take into account many factors:

  1. Future value
  2. Organizational depth
  3. Signability mixed with potential savings for other picks

All in all, I’m a fan of taking the best available player, regardless of position.  If there are two or more players with the same grade, then you can take into account the other factors listed above.

This draft is not loaded with a lot of college arms.  College bats are the depth here, and quite a few high schools rank in the top 100.  My top picks for the Angels are based not only on what national evaluators think, but the eye test as well.  No, I am not an evaluator or claim to be better than MLB Pipeline, but sometimes you just have to watch a guy play the game without the stats.  With that being said, here are my top 5 targets at the #8 pick for the Halos.

5. Underslot options:  Trey Yesevage/Seaver King/Cameron Smith

The idea here is that the Halos take one of these guys to save a bit in their draft pool, and thus allowing them to go over slot for a guy or two that fall in the 2nd round and on.

Yesevage has been shooting up draft boards recently, and there is talk that if the Angels don’t get Burns or Smith, that they will consider him.  I don’t buy that report necessarily (at least the part about putting him straight into the big leagues), but he does have intriguing stuff.  He’s the ace of one of the top programs in the country, working with a mid 90’s fastball and good offspeed stuff.  I worry a little bit about his delivery (it’s quite a bit over the top) but the results are there.

Seaver King made the jump from division II by transferring to the powerhouse Wake Forrest, and has held his own.  He does not have a ton of power, but has a nice approach and smooth right handed swing that focuses on line drives.  As he gets into the minor leagues and works with hitting instructors, I can envision the power uptick a bit, perhaps in the 15-20 range per season.  He’s a good defender and has some versatility, but I think 2b will be his long term home.

Cameron Smith is another late riser, with a very smooth right handed stroke, opposite field power, and brings a bit of swagger. He would be the Rendon replacement in 2 years, and his hitting tools are much needed in the system.

4. Brayden Montgomery (Texas A&M, Outfielder)

Admittedly, I wasn’t a fan of Montgomery coming into the season.  I’m high on character, and his transfer to Texas A&M kind of rubbed me the wrong way (Stanford lost basically their entire team, it seemed like he just ditched them).  He has absolutely blossomed in College Station, putting up great numbers in the middle of a great lineup.  The switch hitter is better from the left side than the right, but has made strides from the right side.  He’s a plus defender with a plus-plus arm in right.

He would instantly become our top prospect and I would guess he would jump right to A+.  

https://x.com/11point7/status/1784328178061992182?s=46

3. Hagen Smith (Arkansas, LHP)

Perhaps one of the nastier pitchers in the country, in the best conference, on arguably the best team.  Smith is 5 years removed from TJ, and he racks up huge K totals.  His game earlier this year vs. Oregon State was legendary.  

He has a mid 90’s fastball, devastating slider, and a nasty splitter to go with it.  His delivery is a little bit herky jerky, but he hides the ball well and has good deception to go along with the great stuff.

He is often compared to Josh Hader, and I think that’s a fair comparison stuff wise, there is no doubt he is a starter at the next level.

2. Chase Burns (Wake Forrest, RHP)

Burns has been the radar for years, with his electric stuff while He was at Tennessee.  His transfer to Wake Forrest has been a good one, becoming their ace and absolutely blowing away the ACC.  He is primarily a fastball/slider guy which brings some reliever risk, but his stuff is just disgusting.  He’s racked up high K totals the entire season, and brings a bit of an edge to him.  Some people don’t like his antics after big strikeouts to end innings (some say he turns into a werewolf), but I have no problem with it. 

His command isn’t amazing, but he is generally around the zone.  He can get into trouble with walks at times, and primarily only gets hit when he leaves the fastball over the plate (shocker).  He has good ride on the fastball up in the zone, and his slider is devastating. 

He could be fast tracked to the big leagues, and although there is some reliever risk, he is most definitely a starter at the next level.

https://x.com/pitchingninja/status/1759203039519424772?s=46

1. JJ Wetherholt (West Virginia, 2b)

This guy is my draft crush by a long shot.  This time last year, he was projected to go 1:1.  A hamstring injury took him out of the lineup for a month, and his draft stock took a little bit of a hit.  He also has dropped, quite frankly, because guys like Condon and Bazzana have unbelievable seasons.

His hit tool is versatile.  He’s a hit over power guy, but he definitely does not lack in the power department.  He uses the entire field, does not get pull happy, and has good pitch recognition.  While he has played some SS in the past, 2b is going to be his spot, with a chance to be a plus defender.

The separator here for me is his success with wood bats.  He has performed really well on the collegiate national team, and had great summer league success.  His game reminds me of a better disciplined Corey Seager.  A Neto/Wetherholt middle infield for the next decade will feed families.

https://x.com/d1baseball/status/1790902533906427970?s=46

Photo credit: Rex Fregosi

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Eric_in_Portland
Legend
1 month ago

Great article, cookie! Now I want Wetherholt, too

RexFregosi
Super Member
1 month ago

Thanks!

Jeff Joiner
Editor
Legend
1 month ago

Great minds. For the most part we see a lot of the same targets.

Angelstan
Trusted Member
1 month ago

Nice report. Good analysis. Unfortunately, you are talented at pointing out the low points of each prospect as well as the high points. Given same, I’m unsure I want any of these guys but you provide good food for thought. Maybe the Arkansas guy?

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