A Bryce Harper-like swing? The next Dylan Cease? MLB comps for this year's top draft prospects

The 2024 MLB draft starts Sunday, and that means your team could be selecting its next superstar. Since baseball draft prospects often are not household names when picked, we asked around the league to find major league comparisons for players expected to come off the board early in the first round.

It is important to keep in mind that the evaluators who helped us find our comps stressed that the major league players were the type of player each prospect reminded them of, and not based on projected major league ability.

From two 2024 sluggers with similar games to big-time power hitters to a couple of flamethrowers who had our panel bringing up current MLB aces, here’s a look at how five coveted draft picks mirror big league stars, past and present.

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Charlie Condon, 3B, Georgia

Top comp: Richie Sexson

Also mentioned: Kris Bryant, Jayson Werth, Jorge Soler

If you can’t tell by the comps, Condon is tall and lanky with massive power. Some evaluators provided mixed reviews on his athleticism, but the consensus is that it is decent for a prospect of his size (6-foot-6, 216 pounds). Condon also showed he could handle multiple positions defensively while playing third base, first base and in the outfield for Georgia.

Like Kris Bryant, Condon won the Golden Spikes Award, hitting 37 home runs this year — the most in a Division I baseball season since the BBCOR (bat-ball coefficient restitution) took effect in 2011.

“I’m not sold on what position he plays at the next level,” one evaluator said. “Big body, advanced bat. Power. He’s also a very good athlete. You have to be to go from corner OF to third base.”

Jac Caglianone, 1B, Florida

Top comp: Bryce Harper

Also mentioned: Matt Olson, Joey Gallo, Carlos Gonzalez

Remember this is about who each prospect reminds evaluators of — not necessarily the talent level. Harper was a generational one when he went No. 1 overall in 2010, and Caglianone is not in that class — though one scout summed up the similarities by saying the Florida star’s swing is “as violent as Bryce’s.” Caglianone has produced big-time power with that swing, hitting 35 home runs for Florida this year after belting 33 in 2023.

He also shined on the mound with the Gators, striking out 83 in 73 innings this season. Could he be baseball’s next two-way sensation?

“I could see some teams giving him that chance now that Shohei [Ohtani] has opened that door, but really we’re looking at him purely as a hitter,” one evaluator said. “It’s [the swing] that’s so aesthetically pleasing. It’s swift, violent and jumps off the bat. It’s loud. And he’s a big dude.”

Caglianone’s ability with the bat in the hand is what makes him a surefire top-10 pick in this draft. He helped solidify his stock this year with a dramatic flip in his strikeout-to-walk ratio. After walking 17 times with 58 strikeouts in 2023, he whiffed just 26 times while taking 58 free passes this season. He’s also more athletically gifted than one might think for a pitcher/first baseman.

“He made a play in the SEC tournament,” another evaluator said. “It came on a Bermuda Triangle fly ball. He got on his horse and ran it down. We were all shocked in the athleticism and speed.”

Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State

Top comp: Chase Utley

Also mentioned: Jake Cronenworth, Joe Panik

Bazzana hit .407 for Oregon State this year and has put himself in position to possibly become the first Australian-born player to go No. 1 overall in the MLB draft. But it’s his approach to the game that reminded some of our evaluators of a former Philadelphia Phillies great.

“The mannerisms and how aggressive he is, reminds me of Chase Utley,” one executive said. “He’s not the caliber of defender that Chase was, but Bazzana has gotten a lot better at second base even from the start of this season.”

Another evaluator didn’t agree with the Utley comp as much, indicating that Bazzana has more speed. He stole 36 bases for Oregon State last season but only 16 this year — but maybe that’s because he was jogging around them a lot more. His home run total jumped from 11 last year to a school single-season record 28 this season.

“I love the makeup, too,” one scout said. “He’s a grinder.”

Chase Burns, RHP, Wake Forest

Top comp: Dylan Cease

Also mentioned: Hunter Greene, Corbin Burnes, Tyler Glasnow, Walker Buehler, Bobby Miller

Evaluators were all over the place with comps for Burns, but the theme was consistent: Hard-throwing potential MLB ace.

Burns has many of the things evaluators look for in a major league starter, from his 6-3, 210-pound frame to his high-octane fastball/slider combination. One scout summed it up: “He has the size of Hunter Greene with the pitch arsenal of Dylan Cease and Bobby Miller.”

Burns transferred from Tennessee to Wake Forest for his junior season and took his game to another level with the Demon Deacons, striking out 191 batters in 100 innings and had a 16-strikeout performance against a 37-10 Clemson team in May that had the industry buzzing.

“A power arm with big upside,” one evaluator said.

Hagen Smith, LHP, Arkansas

Top comp: Carlos Rodon

Also mentioned: Chris Sale, Josh Hader, Robbie Ray, Blake Snell

Smith gave up just 41 hits while racking up an incredible 161 strikeouts in 84 innings for Arkansas this year. That’s nearly two strikeouts per inning while allowing only one hit every other frame. Never was Smith better than during a 17-strikeout performance against Oregon State — an outing that included three strikeouts of potential No. 1 overall pick Travis Bazzana. It’s no wonder why the left-hander is high on many draft boards.

“The delivery is unique,” one evaluator said. “Some people make parallels to Chris Sale, but I don’t see that connection because Sale’s slider has more movement on it. He’s more of a hybrid between Sale and Carlos Rodon.”

Another evaluator likened Smith’s slider to Rodon’s when the New York Yankees starter was drafted No. 3 overall out of North Carolina State in 2014. But that offering isn’t the only pitch that has scouts buzzing.

“It’s also an electric fastball,” one scout said.

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