The 2021 MLB Draft is scheduled to begin on July 11th, with the first round kicking off at 7 p.m. ET. This year, the draft format will be 20 rounds this season after the five-round draft last season as a result of Covid-19. Round 2-10 will be on Monday and Rounds 11-20 will be on Tuesday.
This year’s draft will be one of the more interesting in recent memory with its uncertainty near the top. There is a group of elite prep shortstops, including Marcelo Mayer and Jordan Lawlar, that could each make a case for a top-three selection. The same is true for the two standout Vanderbilt arms: Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker.
Here is the 2021 MLB Draft.
1. Pittsburgh Pirates: Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake (CA)
While there are two elite college pitchers on the board, in Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker, the Pittsburgh Pirates could select one of the most highly-touted prep bats in the last decade: Marcelo Mayer. The Chula Vista product had a .392 batting average, 14 home runs, and 31 walks to just eight strikeouts in his senior season. With an elite hit tool that has drawn parallels to Robinson Cano, an above-average and emerging power tool, and excellent tools in the field, Mayer is an elite shortstop prospect who most likely has the highest upside in the draft.
2. Texas Rangers: Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt
Although Cole Winn is an intriguing arm in the Rangers farm system, only one of their top six prospects are pitchers. They have a chance to change that with Jack Leiter. Leiter posted a 2.13 ERA with 179 strikeouts in just 110 innings in his sophomore season at Vanderbilt. Perhaps the most whopping stat is that Leiter surrendered just 3.9 hits per nine innings. He also had a dominant start against NC State in the College World Series where he struck out 15 in eight strong innings. With a mid 90s fastball and an excellent. slider, Leiter could have a choice of “plus” third pitches at the next level with his changeup and curveball.
3. Detroit Tigers: Jordan Lawlar, SS, Jesuit Prep (TX)
While the Detroit Tigers have a strong farm system, with Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene, and Matt Manning, it is relatively thin at the lower levels and lacks an elite middle infield prospect. With Jordan Lawler, the Tigers can check off this organizational need in a major way. Like Mayer, Lawlar offers a terrific hitting tool as he slashed .430/.547/.793 over his three years at Jesuit Prep. He could easily stick at shortstop at the pro level with his elite athleticism and a solid arm.
4. Boston Red Sox: Kumar Rocker, RHP, Vanderbilt
While Leiter may be the first pitcher taken in the draft, his teammate Kumar Rocker, may have the most compelling tools in the draft. Rocker has an upper 90s fastball that has late movement along with an elite slider that may be the best pitch in the draft.
Lol. Good luck.
1/1 '21 pic.twitter.com/wFYDx9nV3s
— Joe Doyle (@JoeDoyleMiLB) February 16, 2020
What will ultimately determine Rocker’s fate at the MLB level is his changeup, which has improved in recent years. The Red Sox would be very intrigued by these tools by Rocker as they lack an elite pitching prospect in their farm system that is headlined by Triston Casas and Jeter Downs. Although it is unlikely, Rocker could even contribute in the bullpen down the stretch, like Garrett Crochet last season, as Boston guns for the AL East title.
5. Baltimore Orioles: Kahlil Watson, SS, Wake Forest (NC)
After selecting college players with each of their last four first-round picks, the Orioles could take a shot at yet another prep shortstop in the 2021 draft. Kahlil Watson has one of the strongest hit tools in the draft with his incredible bat speed and deceptive power from his 5’-9’’ frame. He also has the athleticism to become a threat on the basepaths and stick at a middle infield position in the future. Although there are questions regarding his strikeouts and aggressiveness at the plate, Watson could be yet another elite prospect in the Orioles farm system, joining Adley Rutschman and Grayson Rodriguez.
6. Arizona Diamondbacks: Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall (OK)
The top high school arm in this year’s draft, Jackson Jobe, has a slider that could rival and even exceed the effectiveness of Kumar Rocker’s. Jobe has a mid 90s fastball along with a wipeout slider that reached over 3000 rpm. Using this fastball and slider combination, he posted ridiculous numbers in his senior season as he struck out 122 batters to just five walks and had a 0.13 ERA. After selecting pitchers in the first round the previous two drafts, the Diamondbacks could bolster a thin crop of pitching prospects.
7. Kansas City Royals: Henry Davis, C, Louisville
At pick seven, the Royals could have an opportunity to select the best college bat in the draft: Henry Davis. Davis possesses an excellent hit and power tool that could be an excellent complement to Bobby Witt Jr. In his junior season, he hit .370 with 15 home runs and ten stolen bases, which highlight his athleticism behind the plate.
Despite his 70 grade arm, which could bode well for a position switch to third base or a corner outfield spot, Davis has had receiving and blocking issues behind the plate in college. This could allow Davis to move to another position until Salvador Perez’s contract expires in 2025 and then potentially move back to his natural position. With an advanced eye at the plate, walking 31 times to 24 strikeouts in his junior season, Davis could be a fast-riser in the Royals farm system.
8. Colorado Rockies: Ty Madden, RHP, Texas
While Ty Madden may not possess the upside of Rocker or Leiter, he may have one of the highest floors in this year’s draft. Like Rocker and Jobe, Madden has an excellent slider along with a fastball that ranges from the mid to upper 90s. Madden also possesses solid fastball command, although he walked 44 batters to 137 strikeouts in 2021. However, there are concerns about “flatness” on his fastball as it recorded a spin rate of just 2075 rpm and limited movement. After 2018 first-round pick Ryan Rolison is in AAA, the Rockies could choose to replenish their pitching by taking a college power arm, Ty Madden.
9. Los Angeles Angels: Brady House, SS, Winder-Barrow (GA)
With the ninth pick, the Angels have an opportunity to select the best power-hitting prep bat in this year’s draft: Brady House. House has an above-average hit tool, 60, with an elite power tool as he blasted 17 home runs and 27 doubles in his high school career. Alongside his elite power, House also has excellent athleticism for his 6’3 frame, which could bode well for a transition to third base. The Angels have selected high school hitters in three of the last four first rounds, which could put House in play for Perry Minasian and Company.
10. New York Mets: Matt McLain, SS/2B, UCLA
After being selected 25th overall by the Diamondbacks in 2018, Matt McLain has the chance to be a top ten pick in 2021. The UCLA middle infielder has a superb all-around game that could make him a leadoff threat at the MLB level. He has excellent contact ability, batting .333 in 2021 with 34 walks and 34 strikeouts. In addition to his plus-hitting ability, McLain also offers surprising home run power, blasting nine last season. The Mets could bolster their organizational middle infield depth with McLain, who could easily become an everyday MLB player.
11. Washington Nationals: Sam Bachman, RHP, Miami (OH)
While the Washington Nationals farm system is very “pitching heavy,” given Mike Rizzo’s history, Washington could look to add yet another arm. Bachman has a high-octane fastball that has touched triple digits and an above-average slider that is another plus pitch. His changeup is currently lacking, but it could develop into an average offering. In 2021, Bachman was dominant, striking out 93 batters in 59 ⅔ innings, while issuing just 17 walks. Given these tools, the Nationals could hope that Bachman develops like 2020 first-round pick Cade Cavalli, who has already made the jump to AA.
If Washington decides not to select a pitcher, Benny Montgomery could be an interesting option for their first first-round high school bat selection since Carter Kieboom in 2016.
12. Seattle Mariners: Jordan Wicks, LHP, Kansas State
The Mariners have selected college pitchers in the first round in each of the past three drafts. This theme could continue with the selection of Jordan Wicks. Wicks most likely has the best changeup in the draft class and a solid fastball that sits in the low-to-mid 90s with excellent movement. While his curveball and slider are still developing, he should only need one more viable pitch given his devastating changeup. A key trait for Wicks is his command. Last season, Wicks struck out 118 batters to just 28 walks, which is good for a 4.21 strikeout to walk ratio.
While Jordan Wicks may lack the upside of other hard-throwing college arms, he is the epitome of a “high floor” player as he could be a staple in the middle of the Mariners rotation.
13. Philadelphia Phillies: Benny Montgomery, OF, Red Land (PA)
Five of the Phillies’ past six first-round picks have been bats and they could continue this trend with local product Benny Montgomery. Montgomery is a toolsy outfielder who possesses an excellent arm and speed on the basepaths with a 97 mile per hour outfield throw and 14 stolen bases in his senior year of high school. In addition to his defense and speed, Montgomery also has emerging hitting and power tools. He won the Perfect Game Home Run Derby, which displays his unique power and speed skillset.
With his newly refined swing, Montgomery could develop into a true five-tool center fielder for the Phillies and be a top-of-the-lineup caliber hitter.
14. San Francisco Giants: Sam Frelick, OF, Boston College
While Sam Frelick isn’t the most physically imposing player, at 5’9, he presents an intriguing skillset in the top half of the first round: hitting and speed. Frelick batted .359 with a 1.002 OPS in his senior season at Boston College and walked 27 times to just 28 strikeouts. In addition to his mature approach at the plate, he is also lethal on the basepaths. He was successful stealing 82.6% of the time in college, swiping 38 bags in 46 tries.
Selecting position players with each of their last five first-round picks, the Giants could bolster their already solid organizational outfield depth by selecting Sam Frelick.
15. Milwaukee Brewers: Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston State
After selecting Garrett Mitchell last year, the Brewers have an opportunity to add another first-round talent to their outfield: Colton Cowser. The Sam Houston State product is another well-rounded player, as he batted .374 last season with 16 home runs and 17 stolen bases. Cowser’s most impressive trait is his eye at the plate. He walked 42 times last season compared to just 32 strikeouts.
While some may be concerned with his power projections or ability to play against higher competition, Cowser has an excellent hit tool and ability to play all three outfield spots that should translate to professional baseball.
16. Miami Marlins: Joe Mack, C. Williamsville East (NY)
In a deep catchers’ class, the Marlins could look to bolster a position that has just one player in their top 30 prospects, according to MLB.com. Mack is very refined for a high school catcher as he has an excellent approach at the plate, walking 30 times in 21 games, leading to a ridiculous .678 on-base percentage. Mack also has an exceptional arm behind the plate with a pop time of 1.84 seconds, which is considered elite.
While he currently possesses gap-to-gap power, he could develop into a 20 home run player with experience in the minor leagues and become one of the league’s premier catchers.
17. Cincinnati Reds: Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, Ole Miss
Gunnar Hogland is one of the more intriguing players in this draft given his top ten talent, but recent Tommy John surgery. On the field, Hoglund is one of the most complete pitchers in the draft with a low-to-mid 90s fastball with late life and a power slider. He also has an average changeup as his third pitch. However, Hoglund’s special trait is his command. He had a 5.31 strikeout to walk ratio in his three years at Ole Miss, including a 5.65 mark in 2021 where he struck out 96 batters to just 17 walks.
While Hoglund is recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Reds could take a risk on Hoglund to take the reins from Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene once they graduate the minor league ranks.
18. St. Louis Cardinals: Chase Petty, RHP, Mainland (NJ)
The St. Louis Cardinals could look to upside with the 18th overall pick and there aren’t many prospects with better upside than Chase Petty. The New Jersey native can reach triple digits with his fastball with a plus mid 80s slider. The primary issue with Petty is his violent delivery and lack of a third pitch. The violent delivery could lead to more injury issues as he has already had Tommy John surgery in his career. In addition to the injury risk, Petty could be limited to a reliever role if his emerging changeup does not come to fruition or fastball command wavers in professional ball.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) June 24, 2020
However, even with these risks, Chase Petty could be one of the best pitchers in the draft with his electrifying stuff and endless potential.
19. Toronto Blue Jays: Harry Ford, C, North Cobb (GA)
Harry Ford offers one of the most MLB-ready bats out of any high school player in the draft. From North Cobb High School, Ford had an exit velocity of 97 miles per hour, according to Perfect Game, which highlights his elite bat speed. This bat speed also translates to the field as he has plus contact ability. In addition to his hitting ability, Ford is also an incredible athlete for a catcher, with a 6.50 60-yard dash and a 1.81 second pop time, which is even faster than Joe Mack’s.
While there are questions on whether Ford could stick at catcher, his potential versatility could make him a blue-chip prospect in the Blue Jays farm system.
20. New York Yankees: Bubba Chandler, RHP/SS, North Oconee (GA)
Without a doubt, Bubba Chandler has the most interesting storylines in this draft. The multi-sport athlete is committed to Clemson to play quarterback and is a two-way player heading into the MLB draft. A stronger pitcher than hitter, Chandler has a legitimate four-pitch mix with a low-to-mid 90s fastball, a plus curveball, and an average changeup and slider. This could make him a legitimate middle-of-the-rotation option at the major league level. His bat is more of a work in progress than his pitching, but Chandler did bat .419 last season with two home runs.
Chandler is one of the biggest wild cards in the draft and the New York Yankees could be an intriguing destination that would be difficult to refuse.
21. Chicago Cubs: Michael McGreevy, RHP, UC Santa Barbara
Michael McGreevy is another talented college arm in this year’s draft. From UC Santa Barbara, McGreevy flashes a sinker that ranges from 92-95, a plus slider, and an average curveball and slider. While his stuff may not be as electrifying as his counterparts, he has unbelievable control for his age. Last season, he walked just 11 batters in 101 2/3 and struck out 115 for a whopping 10.45 strikeout to walk ratio.
The Cubs could use another quality pitching prospect behind Brailyn Marquez and McGreevy would offer good value at pick 21.
22. Chicago White Sox: Adrian Del Castillo, C, Miami
Adrian Del Castillo is yet another interesting catching prospect in the first round. He has exceptional hitting tools, including bat-to-ball skills and maturity at the plate. At Miami, Del Castillo hit .311 and 17 home runs in his three seasons. More impressively, he drew 70 walks to 60 strikeouts, highlighting his solid approach at the plate that bodes well for his professional prospects. However, there are concerns as to whether his line drive ability will translate the power at the next level. He batted just .275 with three home runs in 2021, which just exasperated these concerns. On the defensive side, Del Castillo does have a strong arm, but he is still a work in progress on the blocking and receiving aspects. This could lead to a potential positional switch down the road.
In a pitching-heavy farm system, led by Jared Kelley, the White Sox could select the best hitter available, which happens to be a catcher: Adrian Del Castillo.
23. Cleveland Indians: Andrew Painter, RHP, Calvary Christian (FL)
In the past decade, the Cleveland Indians have selected a pitcher in the first round four times. Each of those four pitchers were high school prospects, which could make Andrew Painter in play at pick 23. Painter is a lengthy right-hander, at 6’7, who has three relatively developed pitches for a prep arm. His fastball has inherent sinking action due to his frame and sits comfortably at 93-94. Painter’s best-offspeed pitch is a changeup that is in the low 80s and he also has a solid slider. While prep arms are usually “lottery tickets,” Painter is unusually polished for his age, which could make him a relatively fast-riser in the Indians’ farm system.
24. Atlanta Braves: Ryan Cusick, RHP, Wake Forest
The Atlanta Braves could go to Wake Forest University for their first-round pick after selecting Jared Shuster last season. Cusick is a big-time arm, whose fastball is consistently from 94-97 and can touch triple digits. However, the results haven’t been there for Cusick in college. Last season, he had a 4.24 ERA with a 1.39 WHIP. This can be attributed to two areas: lack of command and lack of secondary pitches. He has walked 79 batters in 158 innings in college, but these numbers have drastically improved throughout his tenure. Last season, Cusick walked 32 batters in 70 innings. His offspeed pitches are also developing, including a curveball which has become his best-offspeed delivery.
While there is a risk of Cusick being confined to a relief role, he has the stuff to become a frontline starter for the Braves.
25. Oakland Athletics: Jud Fabian, OF, Florida
After an excellent start to his sophomore season, Jud Fabian came a bit down to Earth in his junior season. In 2020, the Ocala, Florida native batted .294 with five home runs in 17 games before the season was suspended. Then, in 2021, Fabian slugged .560 and smashed 20 home runs for the Gators. However, a few concerns were highlighted in his junior year. Fabian struck out 79 times in 269 plate appearances, which is a 29.3% clip. This could be a worrisome trait at the big-league level. But, Fabian has immense home run potential and is an above-average baserunner and defender.
The Athletics are lacking an elite outfield prospect and Fabian could fulfill that need with his power and well-rounded game.
26. Minnesota Twins: Will Taylor, OF, Dutch Fork (SC)
Will Taylor could be the second Clemson football player taken in the first round of the draft. Taylor, who is committed to Clemson as a receiver, is one of the fastest players in the draft. His speed is not only visible on the basepaths, but in the outfield. With his speed and quickness, he could become an elite defensive center fielder with the ability to wreak havoc on the basepaths. In addition to his speed, Taylor has a solid contact swing that should project well into professional ball. However, currently, Taylor doesn’t have the power element that could make him a top 15 pick.
27. San Diego Padres: Joshua Baez, OF, Dexter Southfield (MA)
After selecting prep bats in the first round the previous two years, the Padres could triple down and select one of the biggest home run threats in the college ranks: Joshua Baez. The Vanderbilt commit recorded an exit velocity of 102 miles per hour, according to Perfect Game, which is in the 99.74 percentile. Baez also has an exceptionally strong arm as he hit 97 miles per hour on his throw. However, with his power and 6’4 frame, Baez is susceptible to strikeouts with drag down his hit tool.
The Padres could build upon the selection of Robert Hassell and add Baez, who is in the same mold as Aaron Judge, to their organizational outfield depth.
28. Tampa Bay Rays: Anthony Solometo, LHP, Bishop Eustace (NJ)
Anthony Solometo is another high school pitching prospect who possesses excellent command early in his career. He has a three-pitch mix with a low 90s fastball, a slider, and a changeup. His slider is his best-offspeed pitch and it has some “12-6” action with vertical break. What makes Solometo especially hard to hit is his deceptive delivery. It can cause his low 90s fastball to play up, especially with his high spin rate.
Anthony Solometo, LHP, Bishop Eustace HS evokes Madison Bumgarner comparisons due to the arm action. He will pop off a plus FB and plus SL. He needs more development on other pitches.
— Ivy Futures (@IvyFutures) July 6, 2021
There aren’t many teams who develop pitching like the Rays and Solometo can be another addition to the pipeline.
29. Los Angeles Dodgers: Christian Franklin, OF, Arkansas
With the final pick in the first round, the Dodgers could select a college bat with true five-tool potential: Christian Franklin. The former Razorback batted .274 as a junior with 13 home runs and 11 stolen bases. Franklin also plays exceptional defense in center field on top of his offensive output.
Christian Franklin goes yard in a three-hit showing for @RazorbackBSB, also flashes that 60-grade glove.
— MLB Draft (@MLBDraft) June 5, 2021
One area of concern for Franklin is his strikeouts. He struck out 78 times in 2021 (to 44 walks), which amounted to a 28.5% clip. If he can increase his contact ability, Franklin could find himself as a contributor to the Dodgers, who have a farm system that is relatively thin on outfielders.
Players Mentioned: Jack Leiter, Kumar Rocker, Robinson Cano, Cole Winn, Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene, Matt Manning, Triston Casas, Jeter Downs, Garrett Crochet, Adley Rutschman, Grayson Rodriguez, Henry Davis, Bobby Witt Jr., Salvador Perez, Ty Madden, Ryan Rolison, Matt McLain, Sam Bachman, Cade Cavalli, Carter Kieboom, Jordan Wicks, Colton Cowser, Garrett Mitchell, Joe Mack,, Gunnar Hoglund, Nick Lodolo, Hunter Greene, Michael McGreevy, Brailyn Marquez, Adrian Del Castillo, Jared Kelley, Andrew Painter, Ryan Cusick, Jared Shuster, Jud Fabian, Robert Hassell, Aaron Judge, Christian Franklin
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images