The Cincinnati Reds defied the odds at the winter meetings and while they didn’t win the draft lottery, they didn’t exactly lose it, either. With a winning record the Reds still found themselves moving up the draft lottery as they wound up with the second overall pick in 2024’s Major League Baseball Draft.

The college baseball season is underway, and Friday night saw an absolutely dominant performance from Arkansas pitcher Hagen Smith. The left-handed starter struck out 17 batters in 6.0 shutout innings. And he wasn’t playing the little sisters of the poor, either, he was facing #4 ranked Oregon State. Smith topped out at 99 MPH and was sitting in the 95-97 MPH range while embarrassing the Beaver hitters with a slider that sent nearly all of them back to the dugout with their bat in hand. And he did it on just 78 pitches. So far it’s the performance of the year and while there’s a lot of baseball left to be played on college campuses, it’s probably going to still be the performance of the year in June when the season is over.

Smith entered the year as a projected 1st round pick. Baseball America’s most recent list had him as the 16th best draft eligible prospect. At least on Friday night his stuff was better than their preseason report suggested. ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel published his list on Friday morning and had Smith at #30. The crew at MLB Pipeline has Smith as their #15 draft eligible prospect.

Here’s a composite ranking of the Top 20 prospects using the Baseball America, ESPN, and MLB Pipeline rankings:

 Player Position School
1  JJ Wetherhold SS/2B West Virginia
2  Nick Kurtz 1B Wake Forest
3  Travis Bazzana 2B Oregon State
4  Jac Caglianone 1B Florida
5  Charlie Condon OF Georgia
6  Vance Honeycutt OF North Carolina
7  Seaver King OF Wake Forest
8  Mike Sirota OF Northeastern
9  Braden Montgomery OF Texas A&M
10  Tommy White 3B LSU
11  Konnor Griffin OF Jackson Prep HS (MS)
12  Chase Burns RHP Wake Forest
13  Malcolm Moore C Stanford
14  Cam Caminiti LHP Saguaro HS (AZ)
15  Josh Hartle LHP Wake Forest
16  PJ Morlando OF Summerville HS (SC)
17  Brody Brecht RHP Iowa
18  Hagen Smith LHP Arkansas
19  Caleb Lomavita C California
20  Drew Beam RHP Tennessee

Things can and will change between now and July’s draft, but as the baseball season gets started, this draft looks very top heavy on college players. There are only three high schoolers in the top 20 and none of them are in the top 10. What’s also noticeable is that the highest rated pitcher (at least who is expected to be a pro pitcher as their main job) comes in all the way down at #12.

High school baseball won’t start for a few weeks in most of the warmer states. It might not start for nearly two months in some of the cold weather states. When it does there may be some high school guys climb up the list a bit. For now, if you’re wanting to keep an eye on the guys who could go to Cincinnati at the #2 spot in this summer’s draft, tune in to college baseball.

About The Author

Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

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11 Responses

  1. AMDG

    Oregon State does have better hitters than Little Sisters of the Poor. But that’s only because so many of their religious sisters are now elderly.

    Had Oregon State faced them when Saint Jeanne Jugan was around, it would have been a much closer game ;)

    • MK

      One thing about the sisters is, they typically don’t load the lineup with switch hitters, not sure about OSU..

  2. AllTheHype

    Young pitching is perhaps the most valuable commodity in MLB today, as witnessed by the exorbitant trade prices that CWS, Miami and other teams place on them. If a pitcher such as Hagen Smith establishes top of draft value by June/July, I would certainly be OK with the Reds drafting pitching, pitching, and more pitching. in the first couple of rounds.

    • Laredo Slider

      Right Hype, let’s not overthink this…pitching is what’s needed.

  3. Keith Williams

    I live in Arkansas and a huge fan of the Razorbacks and the Cincinnati Reds. I would absolutely love to witness Hagen Smith ;come a Red

  4. Randy in Chatt

    Love this column Doug, can you keep doing this throughout the draft season to keep tabs on who the Reds might be looking at including stats of the top 5 maybe????

    Kurtz and Weatherholt are out to good but not blistering starts. But also looking forward to others at the top of the list too.

    Thanks for these (and any future) updates.

  5. BK

    Hagen Smith had 17Ks in six innings last night against a good Oregon State team, including striking out #3 Travis Bazzana three times.

    One of the challenges of interpreting results early on is that the competition level is uneven, which will continue until conference play starts.

    • AllTheHype

      College hitters don’t really get much of spring training like professional hitters do, to get their timing. So as you say, its tough to judge early results, particularly from one game. Games starting in mid March and on are a better gauge.

  6. RedsGettingBetter

    Chase Burns is climbing quickly with a really tentalizing stuff and good command.

  7. Redsvol

    Love the update doug! I’ll be looking at Arkansas more closely now.

    I think chase burns and Charlie Conson are going to sky rocket to top of rankings before it’s over.

    I just don’t feel it’s necessary to draft a 2nd baseman or first baseman with thr #2 pick. Take a high upside outfielder or college pitcher. Never take a. High school pitcher that high either.