Categories crunchfx

Charlie Condon is poised to be the MLB’s top pick. Can UGA baseball keep it up?

play

Georgia baseball will be in the spotlight Sunday night as Charlie Condon is announced as the first overall pick in the MLB draft.

The superstar third baseman/outfielder’s name may be called first or second.

Bulldogs baseball coach Wes Johnson wants his players to be annual participants on the first day of the draft.

This year, there will be 74 elections with additional rounds.

“I don’t look at the first round, I look more at Day One of the draft, the first two rounds,” Johnson said. “The draft is an imperfect science. It’s not like football or basketball. Teams can make deals and throw money around that can move players up and down the boards. That’s what makes our draft so unique. Hopefully, we’ll have a Day One player every year.”

The 20-round draft will begin at 7:00 p.m. ET on MLB Network and ESPN+ and continue on Monday and Tuesday.

Condon is expected to miss the event at Cowtown Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas, and remain at his home in Marietta with his family.

Oregon State second baseman Travis Bazzanna is MLB.com’s No. 1 prospect, just ahead of Condon and Florida first baseman/pitcher Jac Caglianone.

The top three picks belong to Cleveland, Cincinnati and Colorado.

Johnson will help develop Georgia’s highest-drafted player in his first season.

“He clearly deserves 99 percent of the credit that players get, but I think we’ve impressed him,” Johnson said. “When you look at different draft projections in February or late fall, Charlie was somewhere between 8 and 15 on those draft boards. … It shows that we’re developing players. We’ve given him some additional tools that will help him move up draft boards.”

That includes showcasing Condon in various ways at third base, first base and three outfield positions.

Johnson said he will bring “roster flexibility to the team that drafts him because he can play left, right, third or first.”

The 6-foot-11, 205-pound Condon hit 37 home runs as a sophomore this year (the most by a player since 1997) en route to winning the Dick Howser Trophy and Golden Spike Award, while also leading the nation in batting (.433), batting percentage (1.009) and OPS (1.565).

“He looks like Henry Aaron, that’s what he looks like,” N.C. State coach Elliott Avent said during the NCAA Super Regional series where Condon hit a home run in his final collegiate at-bat. “What a great player, what a great season he’s had. A season for the books.”

Condon, who stopped giving pre-draft interviews at the urging of his agent.

is preparing to turn his success on the field into cash.

The slot value of the No. 1 pick is $10.6 million. If he falls to No. 3, that’s more than $9 million.

Georgia has had only one first-round draft pick since pitcher Robert Tyler was selected 38th overall in 2016. That was pitcher Emerson Hancock in 2016.

Infielder Tre Phelps, pitcher Kolten Smith and second baseman Ryan Black could be first-day selections in the future.

Johnson, a former MLB pitching coach with the Minnesota Twins, coached Paul Skenes, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft, at LSU last year.

The two remain close. Skenes was in Athens this fall and watched some of Georgia’s practice games.

“We talk a lot,” Johnson said. “He knows his body and that I know him very well. We talk about little different things like his lifting routine, how much he needs to throw between outings and life on the road. Daily games after the flight. That kind of stuff. I tell him what I’ve done with some of the guys and how they’ve been successful, and then I give him some things that we’ve tried that haven’t worked so he doesn’t go down that same path.”

Skenes went from college national champion to MLB All-Star this season as a rookie with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Johnson doesn’t foresee such a rapid rise for Condon, but said: “You could see Charlie take off at some point next year. It wouldn’t surprise me.”