After a long offseason, the 2024 college baseball season is upon us. Last year saw the LSU Tigers knock off the Florida Gators in the College World Series final, but the best game of the entire tournament was the one that locked up LSU’s bid to the title series. That contest, a pitcher’s duel between RHP Paul Skenes and RHP Rhett Lowder — a pair of early first-round draft picks — saw the starters pitch eight and seven scoreless innings, respectively, before future first-round pick Tommy White slammed a walk-off home run for the Tigers in the 11th. This year’s college baseball season promises similar excitement, so let’s dive into our 2024 college baseball season preview as we discuss the College World Series odds and make some futures bets.
2024 College Baseball Season Preview, College World Series Odds, Futures Bets & More
College Baseball World Series Odds & Season Preview for 2024
At the Plate | College Baseball Odds
Last year’s top three teams, Wake Forest (+750 at FanDuel), LSU (+750) and Florida (+1100) all sit atop the odds board heading into this season. It’s a familiar position for the Tigers, who were trading at +500 to win the title heading into last season. Florida wasn’t far behind at +1500, but Wake Forest was a much longer shot at +2500.
All three programs lost key pieces early in the 2023 MLB draft. LSU lost RHP Paul Skenes and OF Dylan Crews with the first two selections and two more players by the end of the second. Wake Forest lost RHP Rhett Lowder and INF Brock Wilken later in the first. Florida also lost OF Wyatt Langford and RHP Hurston Waldrep in the first.
But some key pieces stayed behind at each program, including INF Tommy White, who hit the walk-off home run for LSU last season. Florida kept star LHP/INF Jac Caglianone, who opens the year as the favorite to win the Golden Spikes Award, and Wake kept LHP Josh Hartle.
The transfer portal was kind to each of the favorites, but Wake arguably gained the most. The Demon Deacons plucked RHP Chase Burns from Tennessee and INF Seaver King from Wingate.
LSU made gains in the portal, too, getting RHP Luke Holman from Alabama, LHP Gage Jump from UCLA and OF Mac Bingham from Arizona. The Demon Deacons and Tigers rank first and second, respectively, by quality of transfer classes. Florida ranks 11th.
On Deck | College Baseball Odds
There are arguments for placing Arkansas (+1100), Tennessee (+1900) and Vanderbilt (+1500) in the tier above, but I limited that tier to teams with odds shorter than +1000 at one of the two books, and I’m limiting this tier to teams with college baseball odds between +1000 and +2000 at both books.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see any of these teams trading as the outright favorite by the tournament; after all, Wake Forest was +2500 in the preseason before entering the tournament as a +380 favorite.
Also worth noting is that two of these teams improved their preseason odds over last year, with Vanderbilt (+2000) and Arkansas (+1300) gaining ground but Tennessee (+800) losing steam.
Tennessee’s regression in oddsmakers’ eyes makes sense, as the program lost RHP Chase Burns, the heir apparent to ace RHP Chase Dollander, to Wake Forest. The Vols also lost star INF Maui Ahuna in the fourth round of the MLB draft. However, the Vols secured the third-best transfer class to replace them, reloading with INF Billy Amick from Clemson and C Cannon Peebles from NC State.
Arkansas had a productive offseason. The Razorbacks didn’t lose anyone early in the MLB Draft, and they scored the sixth-best transfer class, adding C Hudson White and LHP Mason Molina, both from Texas Tech, as well as INF Wehiwa Aloy from Sacramento State. The Hogs also scored the top-ranked freshman class.
Vanderbilt didn’t score a ranked transfer class, but head coach Tim Corbin’s squad brought in a bunch of young talent, scoring the sixth-best freshman class. Freshman LHPs Ethan McElvain and Miller Green, both from the Nashville area, could make a splash from the bullpen. Vanderbilt will need ace LHP Carter Holton to stay healthy this season. LHP Devin Futrell, an All-SEC second-team selection also returns to the rotation.
Next Teams Up | College Baseball Odds
Let’s wrap our odds analysis up with three contending teams I’d be remiss not to mention — Oregon State (+1500), TCU (+1800) and Texas A&M (+2000). Oregon State stands atop the Pac-12 this season after finishing runner-up to Stanford in both the regular season and conference tournament last year. The Beavers retained much of their core, including star INF Travis Bazzana, while scoring the 19th-ranked transfer class and eighth-ranked freshman class.
TCU, who got hot late and scored a surprise bid to the College World Series, enters this season trading at +1800, far better than the +5000 at which they entered last season. However, it’s hard to get that excited about this relatively inconsistent squad, especially with star INF Brayden Taylor taken in the first round of last year’s draft. The Horned Frogs have added several solid arms in the transfer portal, but they’ll sorely miss Taylor’s power this season.
Lastly, Texas A&M enters this season with both the fourth-best transfer and freshman classes, scooping slugger RHP/OF Braden Montgomery from Stanford and INF Ali Camarillo from Cal State Northridge. RHP Tanner Jones, a transfer from Jacksonville State, was reportedly hitting 95 to 96 mph with his fastball last fall.
College Baseball Season Preview 2024: Top Futures Bets
Wake Forest Demon Deacons | College Baseball 2024 Futures Bets
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons are favored for a reason. They have a deep pitching rotation that features three prospects who could all go in the first round of the 2024 MLB Draft: LHP Josh Hartle (2.81 ERA), RHP Chase Burns (4.25 ERA) and RHP Michael Massey (2.59 ERA). Things look bright on offense, too, with stud INF Nick Kurtz (1.311 OPS) and summer breakout transfer Seaver King (1.021 OPS — Cape Cod League; 1.155 OPS — NCAA D2) both projected as top-10 selections.
Wake has plenty of production to replace this season, but the club’s excellent transfer class and deep rotation should assure this group of a trip to Omaha. I’m buying Wake Forest both to win the national title (+750 at FanDuel) and score a trip to the College World Series (+125 at FanDuel) this season. Anything less would be a disappointment. They’re the team I trust the most, so they’re the only favorite I recommend getting action on in our 2024 college baseball season preview.
Texas A&M Aggies | College Baseball 2024 Futures Bets
The Texas A&M Aggies probably deserve shorter odds than the ones they’re trading at now. Sure, the Aggies had a bit of a down year last season, falling in the NCAA Regionals, but this roster just has too much talent not to put together a better run this year. The Aggies may have only one top-100 prospect for this year’s draft, RHP/OF Braden Montgomery (.900 OPS — Cape Cod League; 1.072 OPS — NCAA D1), but the Stanford transfer will form an elite duo with OF Jace LaVoilette (.929 OPS — Cape Code League; 1.047 — NCAA D1) at the plate.
The Aggies’ problem last year was poor pitching, so head coach Jim Schossnagle replaced pitching coach Nate Yeskie with 29-year-old Max Weiner, who worked with the Seattle Mariners to help develop Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, Bryan Woo and Bryce Miller. Weiner will get to work with Jacksonville State transfer RHP Tanner Jones (4.67 ERA), Tarleton State transfer Zane Badmaev (2.81 ERA), LHP Ryan Prager (5.16 ERA in 2022), who is returning from Tommy John surgery, and LHP Justin Lamkin (5.92 ERA). If there are reliable weekend starters on A&M’s roster, Weiner is the guy to find them.
Despite playing in a stacked SEC, Texas A&M should get to the tournament again this year. This program made it to the College World Series as recently as 2022, and, at odds of +300 at DraftKings to make it to Omaha, I’ve got to get some exposure to the Aggies. They could even win the whole thing if everything falls the right way, and their odds of +2100 to do so on FanDuel are good enough for me to pounce.
West Virginia Mountaineers | College Baseball 2024 Futures Bets
What a difference a series can make in college baseball. Heading into the final week of last year’s regular season, the West Virginia Mountaineers were perched atop the Big 12 standings. But then the Texas Longhorns came to town and swept them, relegating them to co-regular-season champions. WVU’s cold spell continued in the Big 12 tournament, as they were bounced after two games; their struggles continued in the Lexington Regional, where they dropped games to Indiana and Kentucky.
The Mountaineers enter this season at +13000 on DraftKings to win the College World Series and at +2100 on FanDuel just to make it to Omaha (they’re +750 on DraftKings to do so). Those lines are far too long. West Virginia boasts the top prospect for the 2024 MLB Draft, INF J.J. Wetherholt (.978 OPS — Cape Code League; 1.304 OPS — NCAA D1), who led college baseball with a .449 batting average last season.
West Virginia lost some talent in the offseason, especially on the mound, but they added a handful of underrated weapons to make up for it. LHP Derek Clark (1.80 ERA — Cape Cod League; 2.78 ERA — NCAA D2) boasts some absurd efficiency stats given his massive volume of 40 innings in Cape Cod and 103.2 innings in D2 last year. Another transfer, Gardner-Webb’s LHP Tyler Sitalski (5.60 ERA), should crack the weekend rotation and pitch plenty of innings. The depth is a bit of a concern, but head coach Randy Mazey may finally break through to get the Mountaineers to Omaha for the first time. I’m backing them at odds of +2100 to get there.