Guardians win MLB draft lottery, to pick No. 1 in franchise first

ByJesse Rogers ESPN logo
Wednesday, December 6, 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Cleveland Guardians will pick first in the 2024 MLB amateur draft next summer for the first time after winning the second-ever lottery Tuesday at baseball's winter meetings.

The Guardians had a 2% chance of earning the No. 1 pick and beat out eight other teams with better odds -- including the Oakland Athletics, Kansas City Royals and Colorado Rockies, each of which had an 18.3% chance of winning the first pick, tied for the best percentage among all teams.

The Cincinnati Reds willpick second in the July 14 draft at Arlington, Texas,followed by Colorado, Oakland, theChicago White Sox, Kansas City, St. Louis, the Los Angeles Angels, Pittsburghand Washington.

Cleveland actually won the lottery on the second try Tuesday: The first drawing of four pingpong balls at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center came up with 3-9-11-13 -- a winning combination for the Nationals among 1,001 combinations. ButWashington was ineligible to pick in the top six because the collective bargaining agreement states a team that pays in the revenue-sharing plan cannot have a lottery pick in back-to-back years and the Nationals chose outfielder Dylan Crews with the No. 2 selection this year.

The pingpong balls were redrawn, and 8-14-10-7 were selected, a Guardians combination. The results were presented about two hours later on MLB Network in the televised show from a ballroom at the winter meetings.

The Guardians will pick first for the first time in franchise history after finishing the 2023 season 76-86, tied for the 22nd-best record among the 30 teams. Based on lottery odds, Cleveland jumped up from the No. 9 slot, while Cincinnati moved from 13th to second.

Cleveland has selected second five times since the amateur draft started in 1965, most recently taking Paul Shuey in 1992.

West Virginia infielder JJ Wetherholt, Wake Forest first baseman Nick Kurtz and right-hander Chase Burns, Oregon State second baseman Travis Bazzana, and Florida first baseman and left-hander Jac Caglianone are among the early projections as possibilities for the top pick.

The draft lottery,whereby the 18 teams that do not reach the postseason vie for the first six selections, was introduced in MLB's new collective bargaining agreement that went into effect last year.

The Nos. 7 to 18 picks are slotted by reverse winning percentage, followed by how teams finished in the postseason.

The New York Mets,Yankeesand San Diegoare each likely to drop 10 slots in the draft because they will exceed the threshold for the second luxury tax surcharge and were not winners of a top-six pick in the lottery. The Mets are projected to pick 19th, the Padres 25th and the Yankees 26th.

The A's, who had the worst record in the big leagues at 50-112, dropped to fourth after falling to sixth last year when finishing with the second-worst mark. Oakland will be ineligible for a top-six selection in 2025 because it receives revenue-sharing money and already will have had two straight top-six picks.

The Pirates won the inaugural draft lottery last year and selectedpitcher Paul Skenes at No. 1.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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