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College Baseball – Weekend Top Performers To Watch In 2024

The first weekend of college baseball is in the books and we saw a ton of offense with multiple final scores looking like blowouts in football. Teams like North Carolina, Duke, LSU, and Coastal Carolina put up over 20 runs in a single game! In this article, I will highlight some of the top MLB draft-eligible college players each week that stood out over the weekend. This will give you a better idea of who you will be drafting when FYPD starts and will help you better navigate the draft with your depth of knowledge. Let’s dive in.

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Top College Performers from 2/16-2/18

Chase Burns, RHP Wake Forest

(6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K, 0.00 ERA)

Listen we went into the season knowing Chase Burns was one of the top pitchers to watch but wow he was dominant on Saturday. Burns dominated Illinois as the Demon Deacons eventually won 5-2. Before opening weekend, there were reports of Burns regularly hitting 100 mph in inter-squad games but he didn’t hold back against Illinois. In the first inning alone Burns had four swings and misses on his fastball and slider with seven of his 10 fastballs thrown touching triple-digits. The slider was also up coming in at 92 mph making it hard for Illinois to do anything with either offering.

Chase Burns finished the day with 10 strikeouts in six innings pitched with three hits, no runs allowed, one walk, and a 0.00 ERA to start his season. We can expect big things from Burns as the season moves on as he is expected to be one of if not the top pitching prospect selected in this year’s MLB draft.

Brody Brecht, RHP Iowa

(4.1 IP, 11 K, 1 H, 1 ER, 6 BB, 2.08 ERA)

On opening night Body Brecht impressed the nation by dominating Seton Hall across 4.1 innings pitched. Of Brecht’s offerings, the fastball and slider are far and away his best with the fastball touching 100 mph and resting in the upper 90s. The slider has big movement, coming in hot at 88 mph, and has topped out at 91 this paired with the fastball was close to unstoppable Friday night. In 4.1 innings pitched Brecht struck out 11 batters while only allowing one hit and one earned run, and finished with a 2.08 ERA. Now Brecht also had six walks on the evening; not great any way you cut it.

I will however say Brecht relies on swing and miss with a slider outside the zone which will tend to raise the walks per nine so I wouldn’t be so concerned this early on. Brecht put off big strikeout numbers back in 2023 as a starter for the Hawkeys with 109 in 77 innings pitch and led NCAA with a .143 average against all that to say expect big things as the season marches on from Brody Brecht.

Nick Kurtz, 1B Wake Forest

(3 GP, .333/.385/.583, 1 HR, 4 R, 3 RBI)

Wake Forest has not only an amazing rotation going into the 2024 season but an excellent lineup led by Junior first basemen Nick Kurtz. My first impression of Kurtz when I saw him live on Friday night was his size. There is a solid build here and it’s easy to see where he gets his potential plus power from. Over the opening weekend, Kurtz slashed .333/.385/.583 and hit his first home runs of the season against Illinois while scoring four runs, and driving in three in three games played. Defensively Kurtz made some fantastic plays at first base while fellow left-hander Josh Hartle pitched to contact against Fordham.

Nick Kurtz is one of the top names to watch this season as he is featured at number one in the nation not only in my rankings but many publications leading into the 2024 college season. There could easily be 30 home run power here coming from the left side of the plate with a solid average and OBP. I plan to get many live looks at the top prospects leading up to the MLB draft.

Travis Bazzana, 2B Oregon State

(3 GP, .539/.600/1.308, 3 HR, 4 R, 6 RBI, 2 SB)

Get ready for a huge season from Travis Bazzana who just went off on the opening weekend. Against New Mexico, Bazzana had two hits, one home run, one run scored, two RBIs, and one strikeout while being caught stealing once. Next up was Minnesota in which Bazzana went off for three hits, one run, one walk, and two stolen bases in four at-bats. Finally, the last match-up was against a severely outmatched CSU Bakersfield team that ended up losing 15-2. In four at-bats, Bazzana had two hits both of which were home runs, with two runs scored, four RBIs, one walk, and one strikeout.

Not necessarily the best competition to start the season but Travis Bazzana did what you expect him to do as one of the top-ranked prospects in college baseball today and that’s capitalized on weaker competition. There is an advanced bat here without a doubt with some speed and as we are seeing early on more pop than what we might have expected. This will make Bazzana an exciting prospect to watch in 2024 leading up to the draft.

Josh Hartle, LHP Wake Forest

(5.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K 1.59 ERA)

Wake Forest has one of the most impressive starting rotations in college baseball this year and starting the charge was Junior left-handed pitcher Josh Hartle. The first thing I noticed with Hartle was the velocity was up over last season. Where previously Hartle would sit in the upper 80s or around 90 mph he was regularly hitting 92 even deeper into the start. Hartle had the cutter working at 88 mph and was effective with right-handed batters. The slider was coming in around 81 mph but wasn’t having the same swing-and-miss effect we saw in 2023. The change-up was coming in at 84 mph and was peppered in the deeper he got into the game.

What stood out right away was how Hartle was attacking batters locating the fastball on the corners and trying to get swing and miss with the slider away. The temperature was 54 at the start of the game and quickly dropped to 51 by the fourth innings so the breaking pitches seemed a bit stiff all game from what I saw. Despite the lack of movement Hartle started pitching to contact mostly keeping the ball on the ground for the defense to work behind him. Despite a few defensive errors and missed opportunities, Hartle seemed to dance around batters all night.

For the night Josh Hartle finished with 5.2 innings pitched with three hits, four strikeouts, and no walks on 88 pitches. Hartle should be poised to start again on February 23rd as Wake Forest takes on Dayton in Winston-Salem.

Braden Montgomery, OF/RHP Texas A&M

(3 GP, .364/.500/.727, 1 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI, 1 SB)

Two-way player Braden Montgomery got the season started right with Texas A&M and should be on your radar as the season goes on. Texas A&M played a three-game set against McNeese in which Mongomery slashed .364/.500/.727 while getting his first home run of the season in the first game. Montgomery tallied two hits in the first two games while walking twice in three at-bats in the third game. There is above-average pop in Montgomery’s bat as we saw in back-to-back seasons at Stanford in which he hit 18 home runs in 62 games played in 2022 and 17 home runs in 64 games played in 2023.

Braden Montgomery has yet to make his first appearance on the mound for Texas A&M but features a solid fastball, slider, and change-up combination. In his two prior seasons, Montgomery only had five starts in 25 appearances so I would suspect he will continue to be used out of the bullpen in 2024.

For more of the great fantasy baseball rankings and analysis you’ve come to expect from FantraxHQ, check out our full 2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit! We’re here for you all the way up until Opening Day and then on into your championship run.

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