ESPN's Kiley McDaniel 2021 MLB Mock Draft: Lawlar to Pirates, Leiter to Rangers

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMay 11, 2021

Vanderbilt pitcher Jack Leiter throws against Mississippi State in an NCAA college baseball game Saturday, April 24, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Two months from the start of the 2021 Major League Baseball draft, the top of this year's class is starting to take shape.  

In his first mock draft of the season, ESPN's Kiley McDaniel is projecting Jesuit High School shortstop Jordan Lawlar to be the No. 1 overall pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Vanderbilt ace Jack Leiter lands with the Texas Rangers at No. 2.

Other notable picks in the top 10 include Kumar Rocker, Leiter's teammate at Vanderbilt, going No. 4 to the Boston Red Sox and Louisville catcher Henry Davis landing with the Baltimore Orioles at five. 

Leiter has been the most-talked about prospect in this year's class because of his dominant performance for one of the best teams in the country. 

In 11 starts so far this season, Leiter has a 2.10 ERA with 106 strikeouts and 28 hits allowed over 64.1 innings. He had a streak of 20 consecutive innings without allowing a hit. 

Lawlar hasn't drawn as much national attention by virtue of being a high school player, but McDaniel said the 18-year-old is the favorite to be selected by Pittsburgh because the organization is focused on high-upside talent. 

"He's a 6'2" shortstop who is a plus runner with above-average hit and power tools," wrote McDaniel. "There are only a handful of prospects like that in the minors right now."

The Pirates are in rebuild mode that is likely going to take years before it produces results at the MLB level. Taking a potential franchise shortstop with the top pick would boost their pipeline of talent. 

Davis is the best college position player in the 2021 class. He's a rare catching prospect who can hit and is good enough behind the plate to stay there in professional baseball. The 21-year-old is hitting .389 with 11 homers, 43 RBI, 29 walks and 18 strikeouts in 41 games this season. 

McDaniel did note the presence of catching prospect Adley Rutschman, the No. 1 pick by the Orioles in 2019, likely won't prevent them from selecting Davis because of how flexible they could be with either player at multiple positions or possibly rotating them at designated hitter. 

Rocker had a stretch earlier this season when his fastball velocity was below its normal average between 93-96 mph. He's still pitched well with a 2.31 ERA and 110 strikeouts through 74 innings in 12 starts. 

The 2021 MLB draft will be held from July 11-13.