B/R's 2021 MLB Mock Draft 1.0 for Every 1st-Round Pick
Welcome to Bleacher Report's first MLB mock draft of the 2021 season!
The 2021 draft is still two months away, and a lot will likely change between now and then. There is still plenty of season remaining at both the high school and college levels, and scouts will also get a chance to evaluate talent in the newly founded six-team MLB Draft League which will essentially serve as a showcase circuit.
That doesn't mean we can't start setting the stage now for what the first round of the 2021 draft might look like, starting with a pair of Vanderbilt aces and a pair of tooled up high school shortstops at the top of this year's crop of talent.
The Pittsburgh Pirates will be on the clock with the first overall pick when the draft gets underway on July 11, with the event scheduled to span three days and 20 rounds this year.
There will be plenty of updates and changes made in the weeks and months to come, but for now here's version 1.0 of Bleacher Report's MLB mock draft.
Note: The Houston Astros will once again be without a first-round pick as part of their punishment for the sign-stealing scandal. Otherwise, they would have had the No. 16 overall pick this year.
1. Pittsburgh Pirates: SS Jordan Lawlar, Jesuit Prep (TX)
With a full toolbox similar to Kansas City Royals prospect Bobby Witt Jr. and even more raw power potential, Lawlar is an elite shortstop prospect and players like him don't come along every year. This draft class does not yet have a slam dunk No. 1 guy like we've seen in recent years, but Lawlar is starting to move in that direction.
2. Texas Rangers: RHP Jack Leiter, Vanderbilt
With an electric four-pitch mix that includes a lively fastball that touches 97 mph and a lethal curveball-slider pairing, Leiter appeared to be separating himself from the pack when he tossed a no-hitter against South Carolina on March 20. However, he has allowed 15 hits and 12 earned runs in 15.1 innings over his last three starts, and his performance will be monitored closely in the weeks to come.
3. Detroit Tigers: SS Marcelo Mayer, Eastlake High School (CA)
Mayer offers a polished hit tool and significant power potential in a projectable 6'3", 180-pound frame. With smooth actions, good instincts and a strong arm he'll be able to stick at shortstop even as he fills out physically. MLB.com pointed to a "Corey Seager-like offensive profile" if he develops as hoped, and that's why he has climbed into the top tier of 2021 draft prospects.
4. Boston Red Sox: RHP Kumar Rocker, Vanderbilt
The 2021 draft appears to have a consensus "Big Four" and the Red Sox are poised to sit back and scoop up whoever is left. Despite being overtaken by teammate Jack Leiter on most big boards, Rocker has turned in a dominant 2021 season, going 11-1 with a 2.31 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 110 strikeouts in 74 innings. His fastball-slider pairing is elite, but he hasn't been quite as overpowering as expected this spring.
5. Baltimore Orioles: SS Brady House, Winder-Barrow High School (GA)
House will likely shift to third base down the road as he continues to grow into a strong 6'3", 215-pound frame, and his 60-grade raw power and strong arm should make him the prototypical run-producing third baseman. He's had his ups and downs on the showcase circuit, but a strong spring has solidified his standing as a top-10 pick. The O's have reportedly been scouting him hard this spring.
6. Arizona Diamondbacks: C Henry Davis, Louisville
In a thin year for college bats, Davis is hitting .389/.511/.671 with 11 home runs and 43 RBI in 41 games with more walks (29) than strikeouts (18) for Louisville this spring. While his receiving skills remain a work in progress, his 70-grade arm is a major asset behind the plate, and he should be able to stay in the crouch long-term. That said, it's his hit/power combination that make him the top college position player in this draft class.
7. Kansas City Royals: OF Colton Cowser, Sam Houston State
After stocking up on pitching in the 2018 draft and snagging Asa Lacy with the No. 4 overall pick last year, the Royals seem poised to focus on the position-player side of things unless Kumar Rocker slips to them. It could come down to Cowser or Boston College outfielder Sal Frelick. With a bit more power potential, Cowser has the higher offensive ceiling, and he's hitting .347/.476/.667 with 13 home runs in 41 games this spring.
8. Colorado Rockies: RHP Ty Madden, Texas
Since stepping onto campus at the University of Texas after not signing as a 34th round pick in the 2018 draft, Madden has added 35 pounds to his 6'3" frame and his stuff has ticked up as a result. The right-hander is 6-2 with a 2.27 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 89 strikeouts in 75.1 innings this spring, and he has a strong case for being the third-best college arm in this class.
9. Los Angeles Angels: RHP Jackson Jobe, Heritage Hall High School (OK)
Jobe is the consensus top high school pitcher in the 2021 class, armed with a mid-90s fastball, a lethal 65-grade slider, a quality changeup and a passable curveball. In the past, he had been viewed more as a shortstop, and he would likely play both ways if he made it to Ole Miss. The fact that he'll be draft-eligible as a sophomore and the opportunity to play both ways in college could make him a tough sign, but the upside is worth the risk for an Angels team in desperate need of pitching.
10. New York Mets: SS Kahlil Watson, Wake Forest High School (SC)
The Mets have gone the high school hitter route at the top of each of the last three drafts with Jarred Kelenic (2018), Brett Baty (2019) and Pete Crow-Armstrong (2020), and they are well-positioned to make it four years in a row. Watson is a quick-twitch athlete with some of the best bat speed in the class, good wheels and a strong arm. He'd fit well at a number of positions, so the Lindor contract won't stand in the way of drafting him.
11. Washington Nationals: RHP Gunnar Hoglund, Ole Miss
With a durable 6'4", 220-pound frame, four average-or-better pitches and good command, Hoglund has an extremely high floor, but it was announced on Tuesday that he is headed for Tommy John surgery. The Nationals have never shied away from an injury risk, and they have a chance to grab a consensus top 10 talent and arguably the third-best college arm on the board here at No. 11.
12. Seattle Mariners: OF Sal Frelick, Boston College
Frelick hit .361/.438/.594 with 22 steals as a freshman in 2019, but his season was cut short by a knee injury and he hit just .241 in 15 games last year. The undersized 5'9" outfielder has returned to dynamic form this spring, hitting .359/.439/.560 with 23 extra-base hits and 11 steals, and he has cemented his place as one of the top college bats in the class. The Mariners have a long history of drafting from the college ranks, and he's the best college player on the board at this spot.
13. Philadelphia Phillies: OF Benny Montgomery, Red Land High School (PA)
A 6'4" outfielder with 55-grade raw power and 70-grade speed, Montgomery has one of the most exciting collections of tools among the 2021 prep class. He doesn't have the smoothest swing, and that makes him one of the more polarizing prospects in this glass, but some team is going to fall in love with his power-speed potential. The Phillies are among the teams that could be willing to target boom-or-bust upside.
14. San Francisco Giants: RHP/SS Bubba Chandler, North Oconee High School (GA)
A 3-star quarterback recruit who is committed to Clemson, Chandler is a legitimate Day 1 prospect as both a right-handed pitcher and a shortstop. That said, most agree his ceiling is higher on the mound where he already touches 97 mph with his fastball and uses his elite athleticism well to repeat his smooth mechanics. The Giants have reportedly been scouting him "pretty heavily" and Baseball America made the interesting connection to San Francisco's scouting director Michael Holmes being part of the group that drafted Kyler Murray in Oakland.
15. Milwaukee Brewers: SS Matt McLain, UCLA
McLain opted to honor his commitment to UCLA after the Diamondbacks made him the No. 25 overall pick in the 2018 draft, and after struggling his freshman season, he has developed into the top college middle infielder in the 2021 class. After a slow start to the season, he's now hitting .325/.432/.578 with 19 extra-base hits and nine steals. With a 60-grade hit tool, speed tool and arm, he has impact potential up the middle.
16. Miami Marlins: OF Jud Fabian, Florida
The classic 45-hit/60-power slugger who will need to prove he can make enough consistent contact to tap into his potentially elite power, Fabian has been heating up as the SEC schedule has progressed. His 18 home runs are tied for second in the nation, but he's also hitting just .273 with a 27.7 percent strikeout rate on the year. The Marlins need impact bats and they rolled the dice on a similar prospect when they took Kameron Misner in 2019.
17. Cincinnati Reds: RHP Andrew Painter, Calvary Christian High School (FL)
While Jackson Jobe has a higher ceiling, Painter is the most polished prep pitcher in the 2021 class. The 6'6" right-hander has an advanced four-pitch mix, plus command and some physical projection still remaining in his tall frame. The Reds system is bereft of impact pitching talent beyond Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene, so this looks like a great fit if he makes it this far.
18. St. Louis Cardinals: LHP Jordan Wicks, Kansas State
Wicks has the best changeup in the 2021 class, and a solid fastball-slider pairing to complement it. That repertoire, coupled with his 6'3", 220-pound frame and clean mechanics, gives the left-hander one of the highest floors in the draft and a great chance to be at least a middle-of-the-rotation starter. The Cardinals took a similar pitcher in Marco Gonzales with the No. 18 overall pick in 2013.
19. Toronto Blue Jays: RHP Sam Bachman, Miami (Ohio)
Armed with a lively 70-grade fastball that touches 101 mph and a lethal wipeout slider that is equally effective against lefties and righties, Bachman could pitch high-leverage innings in an MLB bullpen right now. With improving command and a playable changeup, he'll likely continue as a starter to begin his pro career, but a move to the bullpen would put him on the fast track.
20. New York Yankees: RHP Ryan Cusick, Wake Forest
Another 70-grade fastball still on the board here late in the first round, Cusick has piled up 94 strikeouts in 58.2 innings this spring. He's also walked batters at a 3.8 BB/9 clip and posted a less-than-dominant 4.14 ERA, but a fastball that touches 102 mph can't be taught. The Yankees system is loaded with high-octane arms, so he fits the type of player they tend to target.
21. Chicago Cubs: OF James Wood, IMG Academy (FL)
An inconsistent spring has made Wood one of the players most likely to slide on the draft day, but a strong summer on the showcase circuit and loud raw tools could make him one of the steals of the 2021 draft if he falls this far. With a strong 6'6", 230-pound frame, above-average speed and a strong arm, it's easy to envision him as a 30-homer right fielder if everything clicks. The Cubs will likely be targeting upside above all else as they enter a transition period.
22. Chicago White Sox: C Adrian Del Castillo, Miami
The best college bat on the board could be too good for the White Sox to pass up with the No. 22 overall pick, even if his future defensive home is still in question. His smooth left-handed swing and advanced approach is geared more for hit than power at this point, but he did slug 12 home runs in 61 games as a freshman and show more over-the-fence production down the line. The White Sox selected Del Castillo in the 36th round of the 2018 draft out of high school.
23. Cleveland: C Joe Mack, Williamsville East High School (NY)
There are two intriguing prep catchers and a handful of college and prep outfielders who could be in play with this pick, and the Cleveland organization tends to value upside above all else. Mack is a 55-hit/50-power catcher who also profiles as an above-average defender with a strong arm. The high school catcher is a risky profile, but his upside is significant at a premium position.
24. Atlanta Braves: OF Joshua Baez, Dexter Southfield School (MA)
The Braves have been regularly linked to Baez early in the pre-draft process, and with arguably the most raw power of any player in the 2021 class, it's not hard to see why they're interested. The 6'4", 220-pound slugger has some swing-and-miss to his game that stems from a max-effort swing, but that can be toned down to help him make more contact without sacrificing power. He's also been clocked at 97 mph on the mound and has an absolute cannon in the outfield.
25. Oakland Athletics: C Harry Ford, North Cobb High School (GA)
A unique catching prospect in that he has the defensive chops to stick behind the plate, but that might not wind up being his long-term home, Ford has drawn some comparisons to Craig Biggio. He has a 50-hit/50-power offensive profile and 60-grade speed is his best current tool, and he's the type of prospect you plug and play and figure out his defensive home later. Sounds pretty similar to Oakland's top 2020 pick Tyler Soderstrom.
26. Minnesota Twins: OF Ethan Wilson, South Alabama
The left-handed-hitting Wilson slugged 17 home runs as a freshman in 2019, and he has gone deep 26 times in 114 games during his three seasons at South Alabama. He's an average runner who will likely wind up in left field defensively, which puts additional pressure on his bat. In a class short on college hitters, he stands out as one of the more advanced options, and the Twins have gone to that well time and again over the years.
27. San Diego Padres: OF Will Taylor, Dutch Fork High School (SC)
A 3-star football recruit who is committed to play both baseball and football at Clemson, Taylor has also won a pair of state championships in wrestling and he stands out as one of the best all-around athletes in the 2021 class. He already has a good feel for hitting and is the type of prospect who could take off once he turns his full attention to baseball. The Padres' last six first-round picks have all been high school players.
28. Tampa Bay Rays: RHP Michael McGreevy, UC Santa Barbara
One of the biggest pop-up prospects of the spring, McGreevy could wind up pitching his way into the top half of the first round. The 6'4" right-hander served as UC Santa Barbara's closer as a freshman before making a smooth transition to the rotation last year. He's gone 6-1 with a 2.96 ERA and 1.08 WHIP while showing some of the best command in the class with an excellent 88-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 76 innings. The Rays love arms.
29. Los Angeles Dodgers: RHP Chase Petty, Mainland High School (NJ)
If Petty were 6'3" with clean mechanics he might be a top-10 pick. Instead, he's an undersized 6'0" right-hander with effort in his delivery and inconsistent command, but there's no ignoring his 70-grade fastball that shows good late life and has touched triple-digits on the radar gun. The Dodgers have been scouting the cold weather prospect recently, and if he's still on the board here he could be the pick.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and accurate through Monday's games.