We’re just a few days past the signing deadline of the 2023 MLB Draft, but prospect lists and rankings are in full force for the 2024 MLB Draft. Of course, those rankings and lists are all over the place and have fluctuated wildly over the last year. They’ll continue to do just that over the next 12 months, but it’s worth taking stock in them because... well, it’s summer and we need sports.
Earlier this month, Gino Groover became the eighth NC State baseball player selected in the top five rounds of the last five MLB Drafts. That number is sure to grow next year as Wolfpack catcher Jacob Cozart is starting to get a ton of love around the prospect community.
ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel is one of the best in the business, and his “Way-too-early 2024 MLB draft rankings” place Cozart as not just the best catcher in the draft, but the number five overall player, placing him in the 45+ future value tier. While he didn’t go into great detail, here’s what he had to say about the Pack backstop:
Cozart is next in the line of standout ACC catchers (Kyle Teel, Patrick Bailey, Joey Bart) with above-average defensive skills and raw power.
D1 Baseball included Cozart among their “Dozen Day-One dudes to know”. Here’s what they had to say, agreeing with McDaniel’s assessment of Cozart as the top catcher in next year’s draft.
Six-foot-3, 210-pound lefthanded-hitting catcher with a plus arm and a power bat. That pretty much sums up Cozart’s game and his draft value, as those types tend to go tall each and every year. At this point he is the top catcher in the 2024 college draft class, which has a chance to be historically good.
D1 Baseball also mentioned Cozart in their review of the 2023 USA Collegiate National Team roster, noting his snub from making the team’s final roster:
The CNT isn’t a team solely for the highest potential draft picks, but Cozart’s omission from the final roster came as a big surprise. Who doesn’t like a left handed hitting catcher with power potential and a plus arm!? There is a little length to his swing, but he impacts the baseball with strength at contact and good extension through the ball. He homered three times in the first four games of the trials, finishing with seven RBI and batting .308. Also a solid receiver behind the dish with POP times all around 2.0 and one laser in the mid 1.8s. He throws downhill to his target with plus accuracy.
Future Star Series isn’t quite as high on Cozart as the more notable outlets, but still ranks him as the 57th overall prospect for next year, noting:
A decorated defender with an above average arm, Cozart handles a pitching staff well and curbs the running game. The bat has a ways to go, but he’s shown flashes of gap-to-gap power and a mature approach. Cozart can get overwhelmed by spin at times, but his approach is unflappable.
After a freshman year where he immediately took the reigns behind the plate and went on to post a .240/.337/.377 line with a 10.0 BB% and 14.7 K% over 170 plate appearances, Cozart upped his game in his sophomore campaign by putting up a .301/.392/.546 line with a 10.5 BB% and 16.7 K% over 228 plate appearances. Hailing from the same high school (Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point) as former Wolfpack catcher and current San Francisco Giants backstop Patrick Bailey - who, by the way, is getting all sorts of amazing praise - Cozart is well on his way to joining Bailey as the next highly drafted NC State catcher.