B/R's 2021 MLB Mock Draft 3.0 for Every 1st-Round Pick
Welcome to Bleacher Report's 2021 MLB mock draft 3.0!
The event is still a few weeks away, and a lot will likely change before then. While the high school and college seasons are winding to a close, scouts are still getting a chance to evaluate talent in the newly founded six-team MLB Draft League, which essentially serves as a showcase circuit.
We published our first mock draft of the year May 12 and provided our first update June 11. Plenty has changed since, with players rising and falling based on the latest industry speculation and on-field results.
The Pittsburgh Pirates will be on the clock with the first pick when the draft gets underway July 11, with the event scheduled to span three days and 20 rounds.
We'll update this once more before the big day, but for now here's version 3.0 of Bleacher Report's 2021 MLB mock draft.
1. Pittsburgh Pirates: SS Jordan Lawlar, Jesuit Prep (TX)
The Pirates still seem to be focusing on hitters with the No. 1 pick. Prep shortstops Marcelo Mayer and Kahlil Watson, and Louisville catcher Henry Davis are all in the mix, but for now we'll stick with Lawlar. It could come down to perceived asking price between the three high school shortstops, and with Mayer getting the buzz of late, Lawlar could circle back into the picture as the better bargain.
2. Texas Rangers: SS Marcelo Mayer, Eastlake High School (CA)
Even with the Rangers' spotty history of developing pitching, Vanderbilt right-hander Jack Leiter is very much in play with the No. 2 pick. That said, Mayer checks all of the boxes to be an impact shortstop on both sides of the ball. If the Pirates go with Mayer at No. 1, Watson is probably the pick over Lawlar.
3. Detroit Tigers: RHP Jack Leiter, Vanderbilt
Leiter allowed just four hits and one run while striking out 15 in eight strong innings against NC State in the College World Series on Monday, though he was the tough-luck loser in a 1-0 game. He has six straight quality starts since running into some home run issues at midseason and is once again overpowering hitters. The question here might be whether the Tigers are willing to roll the dice on prep right-hander Jackson Jobe.
4. Boston Red Sox: C Henry Davis, Louisville
The Red Sox would likely love to have Leiter fall into their laps at No. 4 overall, but Davis is a nice fallback plan if the Vanderbilt ace is off the board. The Louisville catcher hit .370/.482/.663 with 15 home runs, 48 RBI and more walks (31) than strikeouts (24) in 50 games. His defensive tools are still developing, but most expect him to stick behind the plate, and it's his power bat that makes him an elite prospect.
5. Baltimore Orioles: SS Matt McLain, UCLA
Jim Callis of MLB.com recently wrote: "A lot of teams believe the Orioles will cut a discount, probably with a college position player, to save bonus pool cash for subsequent picks."
The draft's top college shortstop often has some late helium, and UCLA standout McLain is that guy this year. He hit .333/.434/.579 with 25 extra-base hits this spring while showing the defensive acumen to be an everyday shortstop, and the O's might be able to trim $1 million off slot value ($6.18 million) in taking him at No. 5 overall.
6. Arizona Diamondbacks: SS Kahlil Watson, Wake Forest High School (NC)
This looks like the ceiling for Vanderbilt right-hander Kumar Rocker, but Watson has also played his way comfortably into the top tier of this draft class with a strong spring. The D-backs love a tooled-up prep hitter, with guys like Corbin Carroll and Alek Thomas among their recent early picks. Watson fits the bill with a 55-hit, 55-power, 65-speed offensive profile and the athleticism to play all over the diamond defensively. If he goes No. 2 to the Rangers, Davis could slip to the D-backs.
7. Kansas City Royals: RHP Kumar Rocker, Vanderbilt
It was surprising that Texas A&M left-hander Asa Lacy slipped to the Royals at No. 4 overall in last year's draft, and they again take an opportunistic approach here by keeping Rocker from sliding any further. The big 6'5", 245-pound right-hander was inconsistent enough this spring for his stock to slip a bit, and he'll take some developmental patience, but the tools are still there for him to be a future MLB ace.
8. Colorado Rockies: OF Colton Cowser, Sam Houston State
One of the best pure hitters in the 2021 class, Cowser batted .374/.490/.680 with 16 home runs, 52 RBI and 17 steals in 55 games this spring. His smooth left-handed swing and 60-hit, 60-speed combination gives him a high floor as a multifaceted outfielder with the potential to stick in center, and his ability to barrel up the ball gives him 20-homer upside despite average raw power. Texas right-hander Ty Madden could be the pick if the front office finally wakes up and focuses on pitching.
9. Los Angeles Angels: RHP Jackson Jobe, Heritage Hall High School (OK)
The Angels will have to seriously consider Georgia prep slugger Brady House if he's still on the board. However, this organization needs pitching in the worst way, and Jobe has the highest ceiling of any arm in the class. The 6'2", 190-pound right-hander touches 96 mph with his fastball and backs it with a nasty 70-grade wipeout slider that might be the best breaking ball in this class. High school righties have a long history of risk, but the upside here is a homegrown ace.
10. New York Mets: SS Brady House, Winder-Barrow High School (GA)
With some of the best raw power in the class, House could go as high as No. 5 if the Orioles decide against cutting an under-slot deal. With a strong 6'3", 210-pound frame, he will likely shift to third base as a pro, and his 60-grade power and overall offensive upside would be hard for the Mets to pass on. Boston College outfielder Sal Frelick is also a popular name here.
11. Washington Nationals: RHP Ty Madden, Texas
The Big 12 Pitcher of the Year and consensus best college pitcher in the 2021 class who is not a member of the Vanderbilt rotation, Madden has a 2.42 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 129 strikeouts in 107.2 innings this spring. The 6'3", 215-pound right-hander has the prototypical power-pitcher stuff in a polished four-pitch repertoire. He allowed four hits and two earned runs with 10 strikeouts in seven innings against Mississippi State at the College World Series on Sunday. Hard-throwing Sam Bachman could be in play here if Madden is gone.
12. Seattle Mariners: OF Sal Frelick, Boston College
The Mariners have gone to the college ranks for eight of their last nine first-round picks, and an abundance of young outfield talent won't stop them from taking Boston College star Frelick. With a 60-hit, 70-speed profile and standout athleticism, he fits the prototypical top-of-the-order center fielder mold, and he hit .359/.443/.559 with 25 extra-base hits and 13 steals this spring to solidify his first-round standing. This seems like the ceiling for Ole Miss right-hander Gunnar Hoglund, who was a consensus top-10 pick before it was determined he needed Tommy John surgery in May.
13. Philadelphia Phillies: OF Benny Montgomery, Red Land High School (PA)
It's easy to get excited about a prospect who has a 70-grade speed tool and the raw power to win the Perfect Game All-American Classic Home Run Derby, which Montgomery did last summer. The 6'4", 200-pound outfielder does not have the smoothest swing, and the development of Montgomery's hit tool will determine his ceiling, but there are few players in this class with a more impressive collection of tools.
14. San Francisco Giants: LHP Jordan Wicks, Kansas State
The Giants system is loaded with high-ceiling position-player talent, but it remains comparatively thin on the pitching side. Kansas State ace Wicks is the consensus top left-hander in this year's draft class, and he fits near the top of the second tier of college arms. The 6'3", 220-pound southpaw had a 3.70 ERA with 118 strikeouts in 92.1 innings this spring, and he has one of the better offspeed pitches in the class with a 65-grade changeup. He's a high-floor pick with middle-of-the-rotation upside.
15. Milwaukee Brewers: C/IF Harry Ford, North Cobb High School (GA)
A rare catcher whose best tool is his speed, Ford has the athleticism to play all over the diamond, but he'll have no problem sticking behind the plate if that's where a team decides to deploy him. With plus bat speed and a strong 5'10", 200-pound frame, he could hit for average and power, further adding to his rare all-around value. The Brewers would likely pounce if Cowser, Frelick or Wicks were still on the board.
16. Miami Marlins: RHP Sam Bachman, Miami (Ohio)
After selecting Max Meyer with the No. 3 pick in 2020, the Marlins have a chance to grab the draft's best fastball once again. With a lively 70-grade heater that touches 101 mph and a filthy wipeout slider, Bachman could pitch in an MLB bullpen right now. The 6'1" right-hander does have some reliever risk, but an improved changeup and the ability to maintain his stuff deep into games provides reason to believe he can stick as a starter. He had a 93-to-17 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 59.2 innings this spring.
17. Cincinnati Reds: RHP Andrew Painter, Calvary Christian High School (FL)
With a projectable 6'7", 215-pound frame, advanced pitchability and the potential for four plus pitches, including a fastball that touches 96 mph and a hammer curve, Painter has everything scouts look for in a prep right-hander. He repeats his delivery well for a pitcher his size, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him go anywhere in the teens. If one of the second-tier college guys is still available, the Reds could go that route instead.
18. St. Louis Cardinals: RHP Gunnar Hoglund, Ole Miss
Ole Miss right-hander Hoglund was climbing up draft boards earlier this spring with a 2.87 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 96 strikeouts in 62.2 innings through his first 11 starts before Tommy John surgery brought his junior season to a halt. Clarke Schmidt was in a similar position when the New York Yankees selected him No. 16 overall in 2017, and Hoglund should go somewhere in that same range. If the Cardinals feel he's the best college arm still available, they likely won't hesitate to take the risk.
19. Toronto Blue Jays: LHP Anthony Solometo, Bishop Eustace High School (NJ)
A pop-up prospect once the New Jersey high school season got rolling, Solometo has been frequently tied to the Blue Jays throughout the mock draft process. The 6'5" left-hander has a quality fastball-slider combination and a deceptive arm slot that has drawn comparisons to Madison Bumgarner, per MLB.com. It's possible he goes higher, though.
20. New York Yankees: OF Will Taylor, Dutch Fork High School (SC)
Is Taylor signable? That's a bigger question than whether he deserves first-round consideration, as he's committed to play slot receiver for Clemson as a 247Sports 3-star football recruit. He is a more advanced hitter than most multi-sport players are at this point in their careers, and that feel for the game could allow him to take off once he turns his full attention to baseball. It's unclear if that will happen, though. This could be the ceiling for East Carolina right-hander Gavin Williams, who is rising up draft boards.
21. Chicago Cubs: SS Trey Sweeney, Eastern Illinois
In an extremely thin class for collegiate middle infielders, Sweeney is starting to generate some first-round buzz after hitting .382/.522/.712 with 10 doubles, 14 home runs and 58 RBI in 48 games this spring. At 6'4", 200 pounds he doesn't have the quickness to remain at shortstop, but there's enough potential in his 60-hit, 50-power offensive profile to handle a shift to third base. The Cubs kept Ed Howard in state last year, and they could do the same with Sweeney in 2021.
22. Chicago White Sox: 3B Colson Montgomery, Southridge High School (IN)
The White Sox have been a popular landing spot for Montgomery in recent waves of mock drafts, and he fits what the organization often looks for in a prep prospect. He's a good enough athlete to be the all-time leading scorer in basketball at Southridge High School, and he gets good leverage at the plate with a 6'4", 190-pound frame that offers further physical projection. He's almost certain to outgrow shortstop, but it's his offensive ceiling that makes him a first-round talent.
23. Cleveland: RHP Chase Petty, Mainland High School (NJ)
An undersized right-hander with some reliever risk, the 6'2", 190-pound Petty has some of the best pure stuff in the draft, with a 70-grade fastball that touches triple digits and a hard slider. It's a profile similar to that of Daniel Espino, who the team took with the No. 24 pick in 2019. It might take an above-slot deal to get him signed outside the top 20 given his standing as one of the top high school arms in the class, but he could be well worth the investment.
24. Atlanta Braves: RHP/SS Bubba Chandler, North Oconee High School (GA)
A high-level quarterback recruit who could play football and baseball at Clemson, Chandler is unlikely to make it onto campus. He has the most pro potential on the baseball diamond, where he is one of the better two-way players in this class. He has potential as a power-hitting shortstop, but most scouts prefer him on the mound where he has touched 97 mph with his fastball and shown a plus curveball. The Braves have never been shy about selecting guys from their own backyard in Georgia.
25. Oakland Athletics: OF Tyler Whitaker, Bishop Gorman High School (NV)
A dearth of power-hitting high school bats has caused a handful of prospects to climb up draft boards this spring, including Izaac Pacheco, who we mocked to Oakland last time around, Wes Kath, Joshua Baez and Max Muncy. Whitaker, an outfielder from Las Vegas powerhouse Bishop Gorman, has seemingly joined that group on the strength of a projectable 6'4", 190-pound frame and 55-grade power that does come with some swing-and-miss.
26. Minnesota Twins: RHP Michael McGreevy, UC Santa Barbara
UC Santa Barbara has churned out plenty of pitching talent over the years, including Cleveland ace Shane Bieber and 2002 Cy Young winner Barry Zito. McGreevy, a right-hander, is their latest pro prospect, and he has pitched his way into first-round consideration with a terrific 115-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 101.2 innings. He's been a strike-thrower throughout his college career, but his fastball ticked up to 96 mph this spring, and his draft stock took off in the process.
27. San Diego Padres: OF Joshua Baez, Dexter Southfield School (MA)
There are a lot of similarities to draw between Baez and San Diego's 2019 second-round pick Joshua Mears. Both are physical sluggers with some of the best raw power in their draft class, and both have enough swing-and-miss to their game to come with some boom-or-bust potential. With a loaded system and a stacked MLB roster, the Padres can afford to swing for the fences. Prep hitters seem to be the focus in San Diego.
28. Tampa Bay Rays: RHP Gavin Williams, East Carolina
In his final start of the season, Williams squared off against Kumar Rocker and Vanderbilt in the Super Regionals. The Pirates lost the game, but he turned heads by piling up 13 strikeouts while allowing just two earned runs in 7.1 innings. The Rays selected him in the 30th round of the 2017 draft out of high school, and after starting his collegiate career in the bullpen, he has come into his own as a starter this spring. With his 6'6", 238-pound frame, a 70-grade fastball and improving secondary stuff, his arrow is pointing straight up.
29. Los Angeles Dodgers: RHP Ryan Cusick, Wake Forest
It was a less-than-dominant spring for Cusick, who posted a 4.24 ERA and 1.39 WHIP for Wake Forest, but he did rack up 108 strikeouts in 70 innings. The 6'6" right-hander has touched 102 mph with his fastball and the Dodgers have often prioritized elite velocity in college pitchers. Prep infielder Peyton Stovall is also a popular name here.