The 2024 MLB Draft

How The 2024 MLB Draft Could Change Baseball: MLB Lottery Takeaways

How The 2024 MLB Draft Could Change Baseball: MLB Lottery Takeaways

Statistically speaking, the 2024 MLB Draft Order shouldn't have happened. And here's why that's a good thing for baseball and this year's draft.

Jan 10, 2024 by Joe Harrington
How The 2024 MLB Draft Could Change Baseball: MLB Lottery Takeaways

For years Major League Baseball brainstormed ways to improve how teams built and managed their 40-man roster to avoid non-competitive seasons. 

Sure, doing what the Houston Astros and the Chicago Cubs did at the start of the 2010s eventually led to World Series championships. And the Baltimore Orioles, who arguably took the Astros and Cubs’ approach to even greater extremes, are now clearly in a championship window. 

But somewhat knowingly fielding a team that's top goal is not to win is ugly for baseball. And undoubtedly drove some fans away. 

Yes, what Baltimore did in 2023 was amazing and what the Orioles could do in the next few years should probably eclipse 2023. But at what cost?

The Orioles went 47-115 in 2018. Only the 38-118 Detroit Tigers in 2003 have been worse since the start of the century. 

Baltimore went 54-108 in 2019. 

In 2021, Baltimore was 52-110. 

Then they started winning. 

Baltimore drafted No.1 twice over that time. One of those picks is probably the best player at his position in baseball, 2019 No. 1 pick Adley Rutschman, a catcher. The other, Jackson Holliday, is a phenom who could become one of the youngest players in the league this season. He's baseball's No.1 prospect. The 2019 draft for Baltimore also saw the Orioles take Gunnar Henderson at the top of the second round. 

Baltimore wasn’t the first team in professional sports to tank and “trust the process” and they probably are far from the last. 

But will the Orioles be the last in the MLB to do it? It's a valid question after the 2024 MLB Draft Lottery. 

The 2024 MLB Draft will be one of the most interesting drafts baseball has ever had because the first round order statistically shouldn’t have happened. 

The Cleveland Guardians and the Cincinnati Reds winning the top two picks of the draft had 5,000 to 1 odds of happening. That is less than 1%, .02% to be exact. 

The team that tanked, the Las Vegas bound Oakland A’s, won just 50 games and will be drafting fourth overall. 

It makes one wonder if the A’s, which just finished arguably the most depressingly bad season in baseball history, should have just tried to win 80 or more games. 

This is all to say: Yes, the MLB Draft Lottery is working. 

And the incentives added to the draft during the last CBA deal are working. 

Teams are now rewarded for not manipulating service time, another giant black eye in MLB roster building over the last 20 years. Instead of waiting till after about a month into the season to call-up top prospects– so teams can stave off free agency by an extra year– clubs can be rewarded for carrying a top 100 prospect on their Opening Day roster if said player wins his league’s Rookie of The Year Award. 

Benefiting from that this year is, hey, the Baltimore Orioles! The O’s will have the No. 32 pick because of Gunnar Henderson’s American League Rookie of the Year win. 

Here are six things that make the 2024 MLB Draft interesting. 

1.The Cleveland Guardians have The No.1 Pick In The 2024 MLB Draft

Teams that usually draft at the top are often not in competitive windows. 

Teams that have the top pick used to have the worst records in baseball, so it’s not like these prospects were joining clubs who were going to be aggressive when it comes to promotions or even winning. 

That’s not the case this year. 

The Guardians won 92 games in 2022 and if not for a string of injuries to key pitchers Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie, which led to a sooner than expected youth moment in the rotation, the Guardians might have won the American League Central again. 

They weren’t really out of the AL Central race until the final weeks of September and finished 76-86. 

While Cleveland has reportedly engaged in trade talks involving the former Cy Young winner Bieber (along with standout closer Emmanuel Clase), the Guardians will certainly be a popular pick to unseat the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central in 2024. 

Cleveland has a young core already with budding star 24-year-old Andrés Giménez signed until 2029. Not to mention they have one of the best players in all of baseball, Jose Ramirez, signed until 2028. Pitchers Tanner Bibee, Gavin Williams and Logan Allen were all 24 or younger in 2023 and 2022’s breakout McKenzie was just 25. 

If Bieber and or Clase are indeed traded for a massive prospect haul, the No.1 pick could be part of a next wave. Or it could help the Guardians improve the club at the deadline by being traded or allowing the Guardians to trade other high-level prospects at the deadline. 

2. The Cincinnati Reds Get The No.2 Pick In The 2024 MLB Draft

No team in baseball was more fun to watch in 2023 than the young Cincinnati Reds. 

The club called up the then-No.1 prospect Elly De La Cruz in June and within his first month of being a Red he hit for the cycle. But he was just one of several rookies that turned heads. 

There was 2021 First Round Pick Matt McClain, who may be the best player on the 40-man roster. Noelvi Marte, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 2021 second round pick Andrew Abbott and Brandon Williamson all had successful debuts for the Reds in 2023. 

And that doesn’t include second-year players such as former No.2 overall pick Hunter Greene, former No.7 overall pick Nick Lodolo and All-Star closer Alexis Diaz, who are also key members of the 40-man roster. 

The Reds already had one of the deepest farm systems and after being the biggest 2023 MLB Draft Lottery loser, moving from No. 4 to No. 7, had one of the better drafts in baseball in 2023. The Reds added College World Series star pitchers Rhett Lowder and Ty Floyd in the first round. 

All that and the Reds are coming off a surprising 82-80 season. They have followed by spending more than $100 million in free agency, adding to the pitching staff and offense. 

Getting the No.2 pick in a word for the Red is: Flexibility. 

It’s unlikely that the No.1 or No. 2 pick will debut in 2024. But the draft happens a few weeks before the MLB Trade Deadline on July 30. Winning the No.2 pick undoubtedly gives the Reds another trade chip to add pieces more likely to impact the team’s 2024 and 2025 playoff chances. 

Either indirectly or directly. 

For example, perhaps the Reds feel more comfortable moving a current prospect knowing that they have three selections in the top 75 picks. 

3. Is Florida Baseball Star Jac Caglianone The Next Shohei Ohtani? 

OK, that’s some pressure. 

But he was college baseball’s version of Shohei Ohtani in 2023. Well sort of.  

The Florida Baseball star hit 33 home runs while playing first base when he wasn’t pitching on the weekends. He slashed .323/.389/.738 across 282 at bats. He throws in the upper 90s. He’s 6-foot-6-inches tall. 

There are flaws when you look at him as just a hitter or just as a pitcher. His ERA was 4.34 across 74.1 innings and he walked a lot of batters, 55. At the plate, he struck out 58 times. 

But the raw skills make him intriguing. The question is: Would the Guardians and Reds consider him at No.1 or No.2?

Caglianone isn’t being picked at No.1 or No.2 in any notable mock drafts, but neither was Paul Skenes. A lot can change between now and July and there simply isn’t a more fun or intriguing college baseball prospect than Caglianone. 

4. Nick Kurtz or JJ Wetherholt at No.1?

Last year the Paul Skenes or Dylan Crews debate leading up to the draft made what had been a pretty mundane draft process in previous years more interesting. Mainly because both players were seen as guys who could move through the systems quickly and be impact players within a year of being drafted. 

So far the story on the 2024 MLB Draft is that it’s not as loaded as the 2023. But there is a general consensus entering the 2024 college baseball season that Wake Forest first baseman Nick Kurtz and West Virginia infielder JJ Wetherholt are the top picks. 

Mock drafts seem to be split. 

Kurtz, 6-foot-5, gets knocked because he’s a first baseman who may or may not be able to transition to the outfield, which would make him a more desirable top pick. 

Kurtz has massive power. He hit 22 home runs while batting .349 and slugging .758. And what is interesting is he could be seen as a player on a fast track, meaning he could debut in 2025. Throw in the fact that the Guardians have been dreaming of getting another Jim Thome-like slugging first baseman, they could go that route. 

But Wetherholt is viewed as the best all around hitter in the draft. The Big 12 Conference Player of the Year slashed .449/.517/.787 with 16 home runs and 36 steals. The 5-foot-11-inch lefty is's top 2024 draft prospect. 

Cleveland traded pitcher Aaron Civale for prospect Kyle Manzardo, and Josh Naylor has become something of a folk hero for Cleveland. Both could be the Cleveland first baseman of the future, so Wetherholt may have the positional advantage. 

In a perfect world for the Reds, there is a pitcher drawing a lot of buzz at the top of the draft. But that's not the case, yet. 

Cincinnati has struggled to improve its pitching through free agency and has relied heavily on home grown pitchers. But having the No.2 pick and sizeable bonus pool money will allow the Reds to make an easy decision if Kurtz and Wetherholt are the clear top choices: They’ll just take the best available player regardless of circumstance, which is something the club has done in recent drafts. 

5. The Baltimore Orioles And Arizona Diamondbacks Will Improve Their Farm Systems

The Orioles won 101 games in 2023. The Diamondbacks went to the World Series. 

Both clubs have the top two picks from 2022 currently in their system – a pair of high school selections in No.1 Jackson Holliday of Baltimore and No.2 pick Druw Jones for Arizona (the No.33-ranked overall prospect by MLB). 

The two teams are now drafting on the opposite this year, but they each have four picks in the top 70 selections of the 2024 draft. Three are in the top 35 a piece. Baltimore will pick at No. 22, No. 32, No. 34 and No. 62. 

Arizona will select players at 29, 31, 35 and 66. 

Baltimore already had Baseball America’s No.1 farm system at midseason in 2023 and Arizona had room to grow at No. 15. 

6. Who Will Be Paul Skenes In 2024?

In Baseball America’s first 2023 Mock Draft, Paul Skenes was listed the eighth best player in his class but was the No.3 pick in the first mock draft. Chase Dollander was considered the top pitcher in the class at the start of the season. 

By the time March came, Skenes was already making his move to the top of the draft. By the summer he finally overcame the two players who started the season as the consensus top picks, Dyland Crews and Wyatt Langford. 

This year the top two players in the draft are also hitters, but not outfielders. 

The first pitcher on Baseball America’s draft prospect list, not counting two-way player Caglianone, is at No. 7, Chase Burns, who transferred to Wake Forest from Tennessee this offseason. Burns, 6-foot-4, throws heat, being clocked at 102 and he has a terrific slider.

Burns’ teammate Josh Hartle, a lefty, was No. 7 in’s latest mock draft and was the No. 13-ranked player in the class. Burns was mocked at No. 13 and ranked No. 16.

The waffling on pitching prospects perhaps makes Caglianone even more intriguing at the top of the draft. 

When Is The 2024 MLB Draft?

The Major League Baseball Draft 2024 is part of MLB All-Star week and will be in Arlington, Texas, where the World Series champion Texas Rangers are hosting the All-Star Game. 

The All-Star Game is July 16. The official date of the draft has yet to be announced, but the 2023 MLB Draft began the Sunday before the Tuesday All-Star Game.  

MLB Draft 2024 Order

The New York Mets, New York Yankees and the San Diego Padres’ first picks dropped 10 spots because the clubs exceeded the second surcharge threshold of the competitive balance tax by more than $40 million. 

Here’s the order: 

  1. Cleveland Guardians
  2. Cincinnati Reds
  3. Colorado Rockies
  4. Oakland A’s
  5. Chicago White Sox
  6. Kansas City Royals
  7. St. Louis Cardinals 
  8. Los Angeles Angels 
  9. Pittsburgh Pirates
  10. Washington Nationals 
  11. Detroit Tigers
  12. Boston Red Sox
  13. San Francisco Giants
  14. Chicago Cubs
  15. Seattle Mariners
  16. Miami Marlins 
  17. Milwaukee Brewers
  18. Tampa Bay Rays
  19. New York Mets
  20. Toronto Blue Jays
  21. Minnesota Twins
  22. Baltimore Orioles 
  23. Los Angeles Dodgers 
  24. Atlanta Braves 
  25. San Diego Padres 
  26. New York Yankees
  27. Philadelphia Phillies 
  28. Houston Astros 
  29. Arizona Diamondbacks 
  30. Texas Rangers
  31. Arizona Diamondbacks
  32. Baltimore Orioles 
  33. Minnesota Twins
  34. Baltimore Orioles
  35. Arizona Diamondbacks
  36. Cleveland Guardians
  37. Pittsburgh Pirates
  38. Colorado Rockies
  39. Kansas City Royals

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