Top Draft Storylines After 2 Weeks of College Baseball

College players to watch this season!

We are officially through 2 weekends of the college baseball season. There have been a lot of fun matchups and good early-season non-conference series. The intensity that comes from in-state rivals like UNC and ECU is unmatched, and something you only get in college athletics. As we get closer to conference play, there are going to be more great series with electric environments. The on-campus venues and the crowds are what make college baseball so unique. For anyone interested in more college baseball content, check out my podcast, the Backside Groundballs Podcast, where we cover all things college baseball!

From a draft perspective, it has been an impressive first 2 weeks for prospects from the 2024, 2025, and 2026 draft class. We have seen some fast risers up the board for 2024, and players establishing themselves at the top of the 25 and 26 drafts. Today we will dive into seven of the top storylines from a draft perspective after two weekends of College Baseball. Let’s get into it!

Be sure to head over to the Pitcher List dynasty page as well to stay up to date on the latest dynasty content.


Top Draft Storylines


Travis Bazzana’s Power Display


There have never been questions about Travis Bazzana’s ability to hit. He has always done that. During the 2023 season between Oregon State and the Cape, he hit .375 facing high-level competition on his way to an All-American college season and the Cape Cod MVP. But so far in 2024, Bazzana has been different. So far this season he is hitting .438/.526/1.031 with 5 homers through 8 games. The production is most definitely a small sample size, but diving deeper into the results it seems this level of production is no fluke.

When writing about the top draft prospects before the season, I mentioned how Bazzana spent the offseason working on his bat speed at Driveline. I did not imagine those skills would translate immediately into games. But the work seems to be paying off so far.

In terms of power, those names are the company you want to keep. Bazzana already had elite bat-to-ball skills, and the ability to combine those skills with increased bat speed led to some impressive production. Coming into the 2024 season, he had 16 homers in 124 games. I think it is safe to say he is going to at least double that total this year. Assuming this power production holds, it is going to be hard to imagine the Guardians do not take him with the 1st overall pick. Bazzana is a profile that historically the Guardians prefer with his hit over power abilities.


2025 Race for 1-1


The name most think of at the top of the 2025 draft is Ethan Holliday, yes another Holliday is coming. As of today, Ethan is the favorite to be taken 1st overall, but a couple college bats are making a major push for that spot. Cam Cannarella from Clemson and Jace LaViolette from Texas A&M have had impressive starts to their sophomore campaigns, making for an intriguing lead-up to the 2025 draft.

Cannarella is following up his ACC Freshman of the Year season in 23 with a crazy start to the 24 season. He is currently hitting .517/.576/.759 through seven games. Cannarella is more of a scouting director’s dream, than a fantasy owner’s, with his most impressive tools being his athleticism and defense, but the tools are still impressive.

As a hitter, his calling card is his bat-to-ball skills. He has an absurd ability to make contact and manipulate the baseball to all fields. There is projectability to his frame, and after only hitting seven home runs in 2023, his two homers through seven games seem to be a step forward with increased strength from the offseason. Cannarella also has plus speed with 24 steals in 2023. As I already mentioned MLB organizations are going to fall in love with Cannarella’s skills that don’t show up as much on the box score, which will put him in prime position for 1-1.

Jace LaViolette is the opposite of Cannarella. His bat, and specifically his power, is going to carry him. He shows impressive power to all fields and has started this season with six home runs through eight games. Carrying a massive frame, listed at 6 foot 6 inches, LaViolette actually bucks the trend of bigger hitters and shows an above-average feel for the barrel. He does a good job making contact on pitches in the zone and does not sell out for power. The power comes from natural strength and simple moves in the box. The combination of plus barrel awareness and plus power makes him one of the more impressive power hitters coming out of college in recent memory.


Dominant Lefty Aces


Hagen Smith’s season did not start as planned. On a cold 35-degree Arkansas day, Smith struggled with command ultimately going one inning with three earned runs consisting of two walks, one hit by pitch, and one home run against JMU. That seemed to be more of the same Smith we have seen in the past. High-level stuff, but you never know which version is going to show up. Well last Friday against Oregon State, we got really good Hagen Smith. He dominated one of the best offenses in the nation to the tune of six innings scattering three hits with 17 strikeouts and one walk. No 17 is not a typo. Yes, there are 18 outs in 6 innings.

Smith’s outing was the thing of legends. Most baseball fans can still remember Kumar Rocker’s 19-strikeout no-hitter against Duke in 2019. I feel like we will remember this outing in the same light. He struck out 15 batters through five innings. That is pure filth. Smith is basically Josh Hader but as a starting pitcher against college competition. The fastball was up to 99 mph from a low arm slot on Friday. He works his plus slider off that pitch which is highly effective to both righties and lefties. His first two starts of 2024 are the epitome of Hagen Smith’s roller coaster of a career, but if he reigns it in, he has as good of a chance as anyone to dominate the sport.

Duke LHP Jonathan Santucci has had a hot start to the ’24 season as well. After showing flashes in 2023 with 50 strikeouts in 29.1 innings to start the season, he was shut down with an injury. Santucci entered 2024 with a lot of fanfare and has delivered. So far this season through two starts, he has yet to give up a run and has 17 strikeouts in 11 innings. There have been command concerns with five walks so far, but when he is in the zone the stuff is as good as any.

The fastball has been up to 96 this season with riding life up in the zone. It is a legit swing-and-miss pitch on its own. The slider has ticked up this year becoming a legit swing-and-miss offering. As seen below, he used it for most of his strikeouts against Northwestern. He also features a changeup that needs work but has flashed as well. The stuff is not the question for Santucci. If he can stay on the mound, he is going to continue his hot start, which will move him up several draft boards.


Early Top Prospect for 2026


When I sat down to write this on Tuesday, February 27th, I wanted to highlight Drew Burress because he had five home runs through seven games as a freshman. As I currently write, Drew Burress has nine homers through eight games. Yes, for those keeping track, Drew Burress hit four home runs in his eighth career college game against Georgia State. Those four home runs are a Georgia Tech record. The same Georgia Tech has had players like Matt Wieters, Mark Teixeira, Jason Varitek, and Nomar Garciaparra amongst several other MLB contributors. Drew Burress is a special talent.

Burress had a lot of draft hype as one of the top high school players in the nation in 2023 but instead decided to head to campus. He is not the biggest hitter listed at 5 foot 9 inches, but there is a ton of bat speed and natural loft to his swing. The power is the calling card for Burress even from his small stature. So far this season, not only does he lead the nation with nine homers, but he also has five doubles. That means out of his 15 hits on the season, 14 of them have gone for extra bases. In the game against Georgia State alone, he showed the ability to hit both breaking balls and fastballs for power, as well as using the whole field.

This is one of the most impressive talents to make it to college baseball, and it will be enjoyable to watch what he can accomplish over the next 3 years. I legit feel like the last two paragraphs I wrote were straight out of MVP Baseball, but they weren’t. Drew Burress is real, not a create-a-player.


Charlie Condon’s Hot Start


Charlie Condon burst onto the scene during the 2023 season, ultimately ending in being named the consensus National Freshman of the Year across several publications. Entering his redshirt sophomore season this year, there were some questions about Condon’s hit tool. Listed at 6 foot 6 inches, he has long levers, which leaves him susceptible to some swing and miss. He is a power-over-hit profile, which will continue to be the case in pro ball, but the results in 2024 have been impressive. He is currently hitting .639/.696/1.417 with seven home runs and five doubles through nine games.

The competition has not been against the top of the SEC, but that level of production is impressive nonetheless. If he continues to showcase an above-average hit tool to pair with his already-plus power, there is no reason he won’t be in the conversation at the top of the draft. As we get closer to SEC play, it will be fascinating to see how he handles high-level pitching. Also, Drew Burress and Charlie Condon will be on the same field this weekend, so will be a great chance for some fireworks.


Another Leiter Emerging 


Baseball fans of all ages know the Leiter name. For the older generation, many remember Al and Mark Leiter Jr. who combined for 30 seasons in the MLB. In more recent memory, Al’s son Jack was an All-American and 2nd overall pick out of Vanderbilt, while Mark Jr. pitched at NJIT on the way to pitching professionally with several MLB clubs. Cam Leiter seems to be following in his family’s footsteps. After an impressive freshman season at UCF where he pitched to a 4.92 ERA with 80 strikeouts in 56.2 innings, he entered the transfer portal and ended up at Florida State. So far this season, Leiter has been electric.

Through two starts this Spring, Leiter is pitching to a 0.90 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 10 innings. His fastball is up to 97 mph with riding life up in the zone as a legit swing-and-miss pitch. He also flashes a plus slider that generates a ton of whiffs and a sharp curveball. The changeup needs some work but is viable. He has a projectable frame with athleticism, and there is the potential to continue to add strength. Cam Leiter has a ton of helium this spring for good reason, and it will be fascinating to see how he handles a full season of ACC play.


A 2024 Riser


Trey Yesavage came into this season with the potential to be a first round pick. Many people had him as a Day 1 pick, with the potential to move into the top 30 with a good spring. Yesavage has answered that, and then some, through two starts. He has been impressive through 10 innings with 19 strikeouts and only giving up two earned runs. He has only walked three hitters, and is showcasing four legit pitches. This is an impressive development from an arm that has risen each year since arriving on campus in Greenville. As a freshman working mostly in relief, he showcased power stuff but lacked command leading to 19 walks in 26 innings. 2023 was an improvement showcasing that same power stuff, but throwing it for a lot more strikes with 23 walks in 76 innings.

This season, Yesavage has been attacking in the strikezone. His outing against UNC last Friday was one of the more impressive outings I have seen in person. The most impressive part of Yesavage’s game is his ability to work in all four directions. His fastball has above-average ride up in the zone at 97 mph. Working off that, he throws an impressive 12/6 curveball that tunnels really well with the fastball. Then he throws a slider and split changeup that work east and west off each other. Hitters from Carolina described the splitter as a lefty slider. Obviously, the split is one of the hardest pitches to throw for strikes, but it generated a ton of swing-and-miss and kept hitters off balance. Having four legit pitches to attack hitters in any direction will make Yesavage one of the most intriguing arms in the draft.

Photos courtesy of Georgia Tech Athletics and Oregon State Athletics | Adapted by Aaron Polcare (@bearydoesgfx on X)

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