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Christmas comes early in Cleveland: Guardians win #1 pick in 2024 MLB Draft

Despite having just a two percent chance to secure the first overall selection, the Cleveland Guardians on Tuesday won the MLB Draft Lottery and now own the #1 pick in next July's draft.

Cleveland was far from MLB's worst team in 2023 and had only the ninth-best odds to jump up to #1 -- leaping over all four of baseball's 100-loss teams to do so. The Cincinnati Reds, already rich with young talent, won the second overall pick after narrowly missing the postseason last year.

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Guardians to pick #1 for first time ever

The first MLB draft took place in 1965 -- and at no point have the Guardians held the first overall selection. Cleveland has picked second a handful of times, but 2024 will mark its first top-two selection in over 30 years.

For a small-market franchise like the Guardians, selecting first overall is a momentous, game-changing opportunity. Cleveland's player payroll annually ranks among baseball's lowest, which makes the Guardians' five postseason appearances in the past eight years all the more impressive.

But the Guardians had a down year in 2023 and failed to defend their AL Central division title, posting their worst record (76-86) in more than a decade. This led to manager Terry Francona's retirement -- and the chance for Cleveland to add a blue-chip prospect to its minor-league system, with years of team control ahead.

Who are the top prospects in the 2024 MLB Draft?

There's still a ways to go before we find out who Cleveland will select at the top of the 2024 draft, but next year's class appears flush with promising hitters.

Florida's two-way player Jac Caglianone has a powerful bat at first base and can throw in the upper-90s on the mound, making him an enticing option with one of the first picks. West Virginia middle infielder JJ Wetherholt has contact skills, burgeoning power, and speed to burn on the basepaths. Wake Forest's Nick Kurtz could have the best bat and a more-than-passable glove at first base.

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