Prep Baseball Report

2024 MLB Draft: Cross Checking the Top College Middle Infielders

David Seifert
Director of College Scouting

Over the past five years, Division I college baseball has produced 20 middle infielders, including a record six in 2023 who were drafted in the first round (top 30 picks).

2023: Jacob Wilson, Grand Canyon, 6th overall. Tommy Troy, Stanford, 12th. Matt Shaw, Maryland, 13th. Jacob Gonzalez, Ole Miss, 15th. Brayden Taylor, TCU, 19th. Brice Mathews, Nebraska, 25th

2022: Brooks Lee, Cal Poly, 8th. Jace Jung, Texas Tech, 12th. Zach Neto, Campbell, 13th. Eric Brown, Coastal Carolina, 27th

2021: Matt McLain, UCLA, 17th overall. Trey Sweeney, Eastern Illinois, 20th

2020: Austin Martin, Vanderbilt, 5th. Nick Gonzales, New Mexico State, 7th. Justin Foscue, Mississippi State, 14th. Jordan Westburg, Mississippi State, 30th

2019: Bryson Stott, UNLV, 14th. Will Wilson, NC State, 14th. Braden Shewmake, Texas A&M, 21st. Greg Jones, UNC Wilmington, 22nd. Logan Davidson, Clemson, 29th

Other than Stott, the 2019 class looks short as Wilson, Jones and Davidson have yet to reach the Major Leagues. Shewmake has appeared in The Show with both Atlanta and the White Sox, but hasn't produced much at all at the plate.

It gets better in 2020 as all four picks have reached the Major Leagues with Westburg achieving the most to date (3.7 WAR).

McLain was one of just two college middle infielder top 30 overall picks in 2021. His rise to the Major Leagues has been quick and successful -- he's matched Westburg with a 3.7 WAR. And the 2022 class also looks strong as Neto has already put together a career WAR of 2.3 for the Angels, while Jung has quickly found success in Triple-A for Detroit.

The 2024 college draft class has four likely first-rounders and one other who is likely to be chosen within the top 30 picks.

The locks are Travis Bazzana, J.J. Wetherholt and Seaver King. Additionally, Christian Moore has likely hit his way into the top 30 overall picks and Kaelen Culpepper is also on the rise after an outstanding regional. I was personally impressed with Kyle DeBarge at the recent Sun Belt Conference Tournament, although at this point the industry has him 10-12 picks outside of the top 30.

2024 Top Ten:

1- JJ Wetherholt, SS, West Virginia- After an early season hamstring injury, Wetherholt returned to the diamond on April 5. Now fully healthy, he showed a 70-grade arm and plus range at shortstop this past Sunday night in the Tucson Regional.

Play of the Day

This one play alone opens the door to a strong possibility of an everyday role at shortstop in the Major Leagues and not a return to second base, his position during his sophomore season in Morgantown. His arm strength (70-grade), run speed (70), range, instincts and defense all profile to the middle of the diamond and when combined with his hit ability (60) and raw power (60), Wetherholt is a perennial all-star type of pro prospect. Heading into the Chapel Hill Super Regional, the left handed hitter has produced a .345/.487/.621 slash line with eight home runs and 30 BB vs 15 SO.

2- Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State- As consistent as it gets in the batter’s box, Bazzana has produced since day one as a freshman in Corvallis. His current line of .419/.580/.951 with 28 HR needs no further explanation and his combination of a low strikeout rate (11.8%), high walk rate (25.8%) and ISO (.522) is elite … even better than Charlie Condon.

3- Christian Moore, 2B, Tennessee- By a razor thin margin Moore beats out Seaver King. King has better tools, but when it's close, I side with the better bat. Despite all of the accomplishments and likely Golden Spikes Award to heavy hitter Condon, Moore actually led the SEC in conference only games in both batting average (.429) and HR (20).

4- Seaver King, S-UTL, Wake Forest- As mentioned above, King is the better athlete with more tools, but his bat has further to go in the development process than Moore. There’s a chance King makes shortstop his permanent long term home, but more likely he turns into a super utility type who can play anywhere, except pitcher or catcher.

5- Kaelen Culpepper, SS, Kansas State- With a late season swing path adjustment at the plate the Wildcats’ shortstop excelled during regional play with a 7-for-12 effort to bring his season slash to .325/.420/.570 with 11 HR and 17 stolen bases. Defensively, Culpepper played third base the last two years but has exceeded expectations this spring at shortstop, showing more range and consistency than anticipated. His plus to double-plus arm strength has never been in question. The end of the first round is a likely landing spot.

6- Kyle DeBarge, SS, Louisiana- After watching DeBarge in-person at the Sun Belt Tourney and grabbing more looks on livestream during regionals, I’m convinced he’s a first round talent who will likely be selected in the second round. DeBarge comes with Major League ready tools, the ability to use them and a gamer/grinder mentality. He also finished the season with 21 HR and a final slash line of .352/.415/.688.

7- Griff O'Ferrall, SS, Virginia- A near certain Major Leaguer based on his defensive value alone, he reminds me of 2022 fourth rounder Ryan Ritter (Kentucky). Ritter was undervalued and underdrafted, but O’Ferrall will not be. A likely second rounder with an elite glove and developing hit and power tools, O’Ferrall ranks 10th in Defensive Runs Saved with 13.37 and is currently batting .332 with 19 doubles this season.

8- Jalin Flores, SS, Texas- Draft-eligible sophomore who possesses a higher ceiling, but more risk than O’Ferrall, Flores’ strikeout rate (20.1%) may suppress his value a bit, but the upside in his power potential and impacting a Major League lineup far exceeds the Virginia shortstop. Flores finished the season with 18 HR and 22 doubles to go along with a .340 batting average.

9- Colby Shelton, SS, Florida- Despite his numbers in the batter’s box declining from last season, Shelton has proved he can play shortstop. So much so that he’s very likely to remain there in pro ball. Offensively, he’s able to get to his plus raw power with 25 HR as a freshman (at Alabama) and 20 more round–trippers this season. However, a strikeout rate of 24.5% for his career and during the 2024 season is cause for pause. Similar to Flores, Shelton is also a draft-eligible sophomore. With a shortage of 2025 draft class college shortstop prospects not named Gavin Kilen or Mason White, a return to Gainesville in 2025 would be a bet on himself that could pay off as a first round pick.

10- Josh Kuroda-Grauer, SS, Rutgers- Close call here with K-G and the duo listed below for High Honors, but his .428 batting average with just a 7% strikeout rate and 24 stolen bases locks up a spot in this top ten.

High Honors:

Randall Diaz (Indiana State), Woody Hadeen (UC Irvine), Anthony Silva (TCU), Cody Schrier (UCLA), Payton Stovall, (Arkansas), Jonathan Vastine (Vanderbilt)

Honorable Mention:

Blake Barthol (Coastal Carolina), Ali Camarillo (Texas A&M), Tyler Cerny (Indiana), Cam Clayton (Washington), Harold Coll (Houston), Brady Day (Kansas State), Kyle Edwards (ODU), Duce Gourson (UCLA), Payton Green (Georgia Tech), Luke Heefner (DBU), Christian Martin (Virginia Tech), Emilien Pitre (Kentucky), Kody Shojinaga (Kansas)