Georgia’s Charlie Condon is the best player in the 2024 MLB draft, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be the No. 1 pick

Winner of the Golden Spikes Award, Charlie Condon was the best player in college baseball last season, but the latest reports say that he won't be the top selection. Here's why:
Georgia's Charlie Condon (24)
Georgia's Charlie Condon (24) / Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK

After joining the Bulldogs as a walk-on, Charlie Condon developed into a star in 2023 as the national freshman of the year and eventually became a Georgia baseball legend with his historic 2024 season. The 6-foot-6 third baseman and outfielder led the nation in batting average (.433), slugging (1.009), OPS (1.565), and home runs (37) and emerged as the top draft prospect in all of baseball. He will almost certainly be selected higher in the MLB draft than any other player in program history, but was it enough to be the No. 1 overall pick? 

Despite Condon winning the Golden Spikes Award as the best player in college baseball, Oregon State’s Travis Bazzana has emerged as the favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick to the Cleveland Guardians.’s Jonathan Mayo surveyed 20 MLB scouting directors and 15 said that they expected Bazzana to be the No. 1 pick, with four voting for West Virginia’s JJ Wetherholt and just one saying the pick would be Condon, the best player in college baseball. 

If MLB teams ultimately expect Condon to settle at first base or a corner outfield spot, which they should, then his bat provides significantly less surplus value for the position. Especially when compared to middle infielders like Bazzana and Wetherholt. 

Spencer Torkelson was the last first baseman drafted a No. 1 overall back in 2020 and even then the Tigers selected him with a third base distinction, hoping he could play across the diamond. There is just so much more value to a player at a premium defensive position who projects as a 30+ homer guy in the league than a first baseman or right fielder. In fact, only two first basemen, Torkelson and Andrew Vaugn in 2019, have been top five selections in the last 10 MLB drafts. 

At Arizona State, Torkelson had back-to-back 20+ home run seasons as a freshman and sophomore and when the 2020 season was cut short he had already racked up six long balls and had a 1.378 OPS. Vaughn’s best season at Cal came in 2019 as a 21-year-old, the same age Condon is now. Vaughn hit .374 with 15 home runs and a 1.243 OPS. Condon’s 2024 campaign dwarfs those seasons.

However, there is another reason that Cleveland doesn’t seem interested in Condon, and it has to do with the mechanics of the MLB draft. Condon has stated that he won’t take a discount if he’s selected No. 1 and Cleveland is looking to spread its league-high $18.3 million bonus pool across multiple rounds of the draft by taking a player like Bazzana who will likely sign for under the full slot value of the pick. 

By potentially convincing high school players to play minor-league baseball instead of heading to college with an exorbitant signing bonus, Cleveland can maximize its entire draft class. Then, a team like Cincinnati at No. 2 or Colorado at No. 3 will be more likely to spend the full slot value on the best player in the draft with Condon falling into their laps. 

It’s almost impossible to argue that anybody but Condon is the best hitter in this draft class. That will make him a top-five selection come July 14, but it doesn’t sound like Condon will be off the board first.