Joe Mack is an intriguing catching prospect who has some family members who are MLB Draft picks. Joe’s brother, Charlie Mack, was drafted in the sixth round by the Minnesota Twins in 2018. The younger Mack could very well join his brother as the next family member to be drafted. However, he will have a difficult decision to make as he has committed to Clemson. Despite the college commitment, Mack is projected to be a mid-to-late first-round pick. According to MLB.com, he’s the 19th overall prospect in the 2021 MLB Draft. Mack would be the first Western New Yorker prospect to be selected in the first round of the MLB draft in 43 years.
Joe Mack 2021 MLB Draft Overview
Weight: 210 pounds
School: Williamsville East (NY)
The 6’-1″ 210-pound catcher has a few elite traits that scouts rave about: his power and arm. While his high school season began in May, he is showing off his athleticism. In ten games, he’s batting .333 thus far. In addition to his offensive power, Mack has an elite arm for his age. According to Perfect Game, Mack had a 1.84-second pop-time, which is 0.19 seconds faster than average, and an 85 mph catcher’s throw. Given his potential behind the plate and good power and hit tools, Mack could sneak into the top 15 if a team is enamored with his mature eye at the plate or 20 home run potential from the catcher’s position.
There are many reasons to believe that Mack can be a successful major league player. First, Mack has a hitting tool that is exceptionally advanced for a prospect of his age group. Given their physical tools, many high school prospects are often overly aggressive at the plate. However, Mack has been a very selective hitter, which could bode well for him in the majors. He has drawn 21 walks in just 12 games in his senior season and struck out just six times. Furthermore, Mack has above-average barrel speed at 71.62 miles per hour, which puts him in the 83.8 percentile. Mack should handle higher velocities with this bat speed at the professional level and lay off the glut of breaking pitches he will see with his advanced bat discipline.
Mack’s athleticism comes with an excellent frame that could make him a power threat at any level. He has a maximum exit velocity of 92 mph, which is also promising from a power standpoint. Currently, Mack has more gap-to-gap power. But, this could grow into 20 to 25 home run power as he develops in the minor leagues.
Finally, Mack’s arm strength is considered exceptional for his age. Perfect Game recorded his fastball velocity at 88 mph. Combining this arm strength with Mack’s agility and quick pop time behind the plate, it is reasonable for the New Yorker to become one of the better catchers at throwing out runners.
‘21 Joe Mack (@WEast_Baseball)
Athletic backstop w/ high catch & throw ceiling. RKD thrower w/ easy, fluid arm. Plus pocket awareness/soft, yet firm on receive. Varied 1 knee set ups based off feel of the game. @ClemsonBaseball Commit. @PBRNewYork @ShooterHunt @RonnieBernick pic.twitter.com/hUd7eTkCTJ
— Max Schrantz (@max_schrantz) May 17, 2021
One of the most prevalent questions for all highly-touted catchers, including Mack, is their receiving ability behind the plate. It is challenging to scout the receiving skills and mental aspects for a high school catcher, so teams will most likely take a “wait and see” approach with Mack. However, given Mack’s hitting ability, it is plausible that his bat could play at another position, such as first base if he doesn’t develop defensively.
While Mack is an above-average athlete for a catcher, with a 7.06-second 60-yard dash, he isn’t an incredibly athletic player, like J.T. Realmuto or Jorge Alfaro. For reference, Tyler Soderstrom, an above-average athlete, had a 6.86-second 60-yard dash. The lack of speed could narrow down possible positions for Mack if catching doesn’t work out in the minor leagues.
Despite his lack of elite athleticism, Mack has the size to possess a powerful yet disciplined hitting tool and a strong arm that draws some parallels to Realmuto of Philadelphia Phillies. Both players have one of the strongest arms at their positions and hitting abilities that can transcend anywhere. Realmuto has thrown out 36% of runners in his career, including an NL-leading 46.7% caught stealing rate in 2019. He also had two seasons of 20 or more home runs, which could be a realistic ceiling for Mack.
Mack has the barrel speed, frame, and arm strength that could translate to the major league level. Some say that drafting a catcher is considered a risk in the first round. Mack could defy those odds and be a legitimate threat both at the plate and behind it.
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