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Major League Baseball's amateur draft is just days away. Come Sunday, July 14, the Cleveland Guardians will make the top selection for the first time in franchise history. We recently surveyed the Guardians' options at No. 1, noting that Oregon State second baseman Travis Bazzana remains the industry's best guess at who first-year scouting director Ethan Purser will take. If, instead, the Guardians were to go off our pre-draft rankings -- and trust that Purser is more intelligent than that -- they would pick Georgia third baseman/outfielder Charlie Condon.

No player helped themselves more this cycle than Condon did. As we noted in his rankings capsule, "Condon came into the season perceived as a second-tier collegiate who needed a big spring to cement his spot in the top 10." Mind you, scouts thought he would go somewhere in the top half of the first round; they just weren't convinced that he was a good enough hitter to overcome what at the time seemed to be a somewhat generic right-handed hitting corner outfielder profile coming off a forgettable stint in the Cape Cod League. (He posted a .648 OPS across 11 games.)

To Condon's credit, he put in the work and put on performances that have changed minds. So, just how did he go from a mid-first candidate to arguably the best player in the class? Here are three reasons that explain his ascent. 

1. Outstanding performance against top competition 

The draft is a difficult mechanism to excel at and an impossible one to master. 

Over the years, teams have crafted evaluative tricks they use to improve their processes all the same. One of those involves putting additional weight on performance against high-quality competition. It's nice when a player dominates weaker foes, but what teams really want to see is that player rising to the occasion against the best -- on an amateur level, those occasions provide clues about how the player will perform when they're surrounded by other professionals.

Condon, by virtue of playing at Georgia, had what amounts to a multiplier in the form of the SEC. Everyone knows that's the best baseball conference at the collegiate level. Therefore, a player who can excel at one of the SEC schools -- and particularly during conference play -- can send their stock soaring in a quick manner. (The inverse effect is also possible, albeit not applicable here.) 

Sure enough, Condon batted .433/.556/1.009 this season with 37 home runs and 21 additional extra-base hits. What's arguably more important is that he hit .412/.533/.983 with 19 of those home runs across 30 SEC games. He also walked five more times than he struck out and consistently posted blistering exit velocities. 

It's not a stretch to write that Condon was, by far, the most productive player in SEC play, either. His 1.517 OPS was 131 OPS points higher than second-place finisher Christian Moore, himself also a likely top-20 pick. Whenever a player dominates like that against SEC competition, you have to consider it a positive indication that they'll be able to make a successful transition to the pros.

2. Surprising defense

Condon didn't just impress on the offensive side of things. He also fared better than expected defensively -- that despite being tasked with taking up third base for the first time in college, as well as seeing action at each of the outfield spots, including 11 games in center. Indeed, he performed well enough at the hot corner that he may begin his professional career there, suggesting he has an outside shot at providing additional defensive value. 

That doesn't necessarily mean Condon will stick there all the way to the majors; it's commonplace for teams to audition recent draftees at positions they don't reasonably expect them to conquer. Besides, a club who wants to hasten Condon's arrival to their big-league lineup may skip the formality and move him to a different corner spot.

Condon does have the chance to make history if he can serve as a most-days third baseman in the majors. He would, at 6-foot-6, become the tallest regular third baseman to ever qualify for a batting title, according to Baseball Reference's database. Alec Bohm, at 6-foot-5, is the current clubhouse leader. Kris Bryant owned a share of that title prior to moving to the outfield. Otherwise, the last hot-corner giant was Troy Glaus. He too measured in at 6-foot-5. 

3. The Goldilocks option

This class has been estimated by various talent evaluators to have around a dozen quality prospects. 

Many of those 12 find themselves entangled in some philosophical debate or another. Bazzana, for example, is perceived to be maxed-out physically, an attribute that gives some scouting departments pause. Condon, in a weird sense, represents something of a Goldliocks option -- the player who provides the most balanced set of attributes. 

To wit, let's compare Condon to the class's other top hitters. He has more power than Bazzana or fellow middle infielder JJ Wetherholt; he has more plate discipline than sluggers Jac Caglianone and Braden Montgomery; he ought to offer more defensive versatility than Nick Kurtz; and his college background makes him "safer" than prepsters Bryce Rainer and Konnor Griffin. (The last part also holds true if you compare him to Chase Burns and Hagen Smith, the best pitchers in the class.)

Part of building a preference list is playing "better or worse" with various players. Take Condon's advantage in that exercise, combine it with the aforementioned developments this season, and it becomes easier to understand how and why he's become the top player in our rankings.