Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Georgia slugger Charlie Condon celebrates after scoring a run against Vanderbilt at Foley Field, Friday, May 3, 2024, in Athens. (Jason Getz /AJC)
Georgia slugger Charlie Condon celebrates after scoring a run against Vanderbilt at Foley Field, Friday, May 3, 2024, in Athens. (Jason Getz /AJC)

Condon or Bazzana? Predicting who the Cleveland Guardians will take with the top MLB Draft pick

Two months away from draft day, making a case for two of the best college bats in the draft

July’s MLB Draft features the Cleveland Guardians holding the No. 1 overall pick for the first time in franchise history, and with it, the opportunity and high likelihood of taking one of the two best college bats in the draft in University of Georgia OF Charlie Condon and Oregon State 2B Travis Bazzana.

Both players have strong cases for being drafted No. 1 overall, and in this article, I'll make a case for both while projecting the outcome from Cleveland’s No. 1 overall selection.

Charlie Condon

Condon, a 21-year-old redshirt sophomore, is having a season for the record books at Georgia. He is hitting .458 with a .569 on-base percentage, 34 HRs, 72 RBIs, and a 44-36 walk-to-strikeout ratio. His 34 home runs broke the NCAA home run record of the BBCOR (batted-ball coefficient of restitution) era, which began in 2011 and made him the first Division 1 baseball player of the 21st century to hit at least 34 HRs in a single season.

The right-handed slugger has drawn comparisons to Kris Bryant and J.D Martinez with his ability to crush fastballs and hit pitches at the top of the strike zone. Condon has also gotten some reps at 3B at Georgia, but there are questions about his footwork at the position, and he profiles better long-term in right field. He’s an average runner at his top speed but possesses fringy speed overall. Condon is widely viewed as the draft’s top prospect, and is ranked No. 1 overall by, ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel, Baseball America’s Carlos Collazo, and The Athletic’s Keith Law.

Travis Bazzana 

Like Condon, Bazzana has had a record-breaking season at Oregon State, breaking OSU’s program records in hits, home runs, walks, and stolen bases. On the season, Bazzana is hitting .428 with a .591 on-base percentage, 26 HRs, 59 RBIs, 12 SBs, and a 61-25 BB-to-K ratio. His 61 walks lead Division 1 players, and his .428 AVG is third behind only Condon and Wake Forest 1B Nick Kurtz, another top draft prospect, while his 26 HRs are tied for fourth. 

Oregon State Beavers second baseman Travis Bazzana hit three homers on Sunday, May 5, 2024, in a win over Washington State. (Sean Meagher/Tribune Content Agency)

Bazzana has five-tool potential with his speed, arm strength and fielding ability backing up his skills at the plate. There is some question about where he’ll end up long-term defensively, with his plus arm and glove a potential fit at SS in addition to 2B, with a spot in the corner outfield also possible. He’s drawn comparisons to Arizona Diamondbacks OF Corbin Carroll, with both being smaller left-handed hitters with solid power and plus/plus speed. He is also well positioned to become the highest-drafted Australian-born player in MLB Draft history, with third-round picks Josh Spence (2009) and Clayton Tanner (2006) being the highest-drafted Australian-born players.

Analysis and prediction

Both Bazzana and Condon have strong cases for going No. 1 overall, with Condon possessing elite power and contact, and Bazzana a potential five-tool talent. Still, one thing worth noting when it comes to Bazzana is the number of left-handed hitters Cleveland already have, both in the minors with Top 10 organizational prospects Chase Delauter, Ralphy Velasquez and George Valera. The Guardians have no right-handed bats among their Top 10 prospects, as well as at the major league level where their lineup features five left-handed regulars in Andres Gimenez, Josh Naylor, Kyle Manzardo, Bo Naylor and Will Brennan. While their already lefty-heavy lineup is a factor that could be overlooked in the case of the talent and upside Bazzana possesses, it is worth noting nonetheless. 

For me, Bazzana, albeit maybe not the consensus favorite, is my prediction to go No. 1 overall, and he possesses a higher floor and a more balanced offensive profile. While he may not have the better stats on paper, his underlying data shows a player with better pitch recognition and ability to hit the ball to all parts of the field, as seen with his chase rate (17% to Condon’s 26%), exit velocities (top 10% to all parts of the field to Condon’s 15%), and outside of the strike zone contact percentage (74% to Condon’s 58%). 

Also somewhat concerning with Condon are his home/road splits. On the road, he is notably worse in key areas such as strikeout percentage (13.9% at home/20% on the road), groundball percentage (20.8% at home/35% on the road), line drive % (22.9% at home/10% on the road) and batting average on balls in play (BABIP) in which Condon is .520 at home compared to just .258 on the Road. Bazzana, in contrast, has much better splits.

There’s no denying Condon’s game-changing power. Still, in my eyes, it’s hard to see Cleveland passing on Bazzana, who has a much more complete offensive profile and, in my opinion, much higher upside and lower risk. The MLB draft will be held from July 14-16 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 Hoosier Network