2021 MLB Mock Draft: 1st-Round Predictions for Most Coveted Baseball Prospects

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2021

Vanderbilt pitcher Jack Leiter throws during the first inning against Mississippi State in Game 1 of the NCAA College World Series baseball finals, Monday, June 28, 2021, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz)
Rebecca S. Gratz/Associated Press

The future stars of Major League Baseball will learn their fate Sunday night when the first round of the 2021 MLB draft commences.

This year's draft will be held in Denver in conjunction with the MLB All-Star festivities, making it an even bigger event than usual.

While the 20-round draft will run through Tuesday, most of the top prospects will come off the board Sunday night as part of the 29-pick first round.

Here is a full rundown of predictions for each of the 29 first-round picks, along with a closer look at some of the prospects who figure to hear their names called quite early in the night by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.


MLB 2021 First-Round Mock Draft

  1. Pittsburgh Pirates: Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake HS (California)
  2. Texas Rangers: Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt
  3. Detroit Tigers: Jordan Lawlar, SS, Jesuit Prep (Texas)
  4. Boston Red Sox: Kumar Rocker, RHP, Vanderbilt
  5. Baltimore Orioles: Kahlil Watson, SS, Wake Forest HS (North Carolina)
  6. Arizona Diamondbacks: Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall HS (Oklahoma)
  7. Kansas City Royals: Henry Davis, C, Louisville
  8. Colorado Rockies: Brady House, SS, Winder-Barrow HS (Georgia)
  9. Los Angeles Angels: Sal Frelick, OF, Boston College
  10. New York Mets: Ty Madden, RHP, Texas
  11. Washington Nationals: Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston State
  12. Seattle Mariners: Matt McLain, SS, UCLA
  13. Philadelphia Phillies: Benny Montgomery, OF, Red Land HS (Pennsylvania)
  14. San Francisco Giants: Jordan Wicks, LHP, Kansas State
  15. Milwaukee Brewers: Sam Bachman, RHP, Miami Ohio
  16. Miami Marlins: Harry Ford, C, North Cobb HS (Georgia)
  17. Cincinnati Reds: Andrew Painter, RHP, Calvary Christian Academy (Florida)
  18. St. Louis Cardinals: Bubba Chandler, RHP/SS, North Oconee HS (Georgia)
  19. Toronto Blue Jays: Anthony Solometo, LHPBishop Eustace Prep (New Jersey)
  20. New York Yankees: Joe Mack, C, Williamsville East HS (New York)
  21. Chicago Cubs: Will Bednar, RHP, Mississippi State
  22. Chicago White Sox: Jud Fabian, OF, Florida
  23. Cleveland: Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, Ole Miss
  24. Atlanta Braves: Colson Montgomery, 3B, Southridge HS (Indiana)
  25. Oakland Athletics: Michael McGreevy, RHP, UC Santa Barbara
  26. Minnesota Twins: Will Taylor, OF, Dutch Fork HS (South Carolina)
  27. San Diego Padres: Gavin Williams, RHP, East Carolina
  28. Tampa Bay Rays: Chase Petty, RHP, Mainland HS (New Jersey)
  29. Los Angeles Dodgers: Ryan Cusick, RHP, Wake Forest


Breaking Down Top Projected Picks

Marcelo Mayer

The Pittsburgh Pirates have the look of a team that is years away from contention, and as such, they can afford to take a chance on perhaps the highest-upside player in the entire draft at No. 1 overall.

Shortstop Marcelo Mayer is just 18 years of age, but the California high schooler has everything teams tend to look for in a cornerstone player.

In addition to being a solid defender, Mayer has a big bat and plenty of raw power that could result in him becoming a home run hitter at the big league level.

Baseball America provided a look at Mayer's sweet swing and the easy power he possesses to all fields:

Baseball America @BaseballAmerica

Marcelo Mayer is headed to the Pirates No. 1 overall in our latest mock. If that happens? That'd make @EHSBALL the first high school EVER with two No. 1 picks (Adrian Gonzalez, 2000). Mock: https://t.co/WW30io8ozD https://t.co/bfHZoDYo0h

Meanwhile, MLB Network analyst Harold Reynolds compared Mayer and his offensive abilities to Atlanta Braves legend Chipper Jones:

MLB Network @MLBNetwork

Harold sees shades of Hall of Famer @RealCJ10 in #1 @MLBDraft prospect Marcelo Mayer! https://t.co/FrkfDb0dSu

Jones is a Hall of Fame third baseman who was an eight-time All-Star, one-time National League MVP and one-time World Series champion.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest switch-hitters in MLB history, Jones hit .303 with 468 home runs and 1,623 RBI for his career.

Mayer is a lefty-hitting shortstop rather than a switch-hitting third baseman, but the size and power are undoubtedly there, and he has a chance to be the superstar player the Pirates desperately need if they take him first overall.


Jack Leiter

The Texas Rangers have lost some talented and accomplished starting pitchers via free agency and trade over the past couple of seasons, including Lance Lynn, Mike Minor and Corey Kluber.

Nobody selected in the 2021 MLB draft will be able to step in and help immediately at the big league level, but Vanderbilt ace Jack Leiter may be the most MLB-ready pitcher in the entire class.

Leiter, who is the 21-year-old son of three-time World Series-winning and two-time MLB All-Star pitcher Al Leiter, is entering the draft on the heels of a remarkable season at Vandy.

In 18 starts this season, Leiter went 11-4 with a 2.13 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. He also compiled an impressive 179 strikeouts in just 110 innings.

The 6'1" righty possesses electric stuff, especially when it comes to his breaking pitches, as seen in these videos courtesy of the Rob Friedman, the Pitching Ninja:

Rob Friedman @PitchingNinja

Jack Leiter, Disgusting 81mph Breaking Ball. 🤮 https://t.co/0KWfsgYP27

Rob Friedman @PitchingNinja

Jack Leiter, Nasty 77mph Curveball. 😨 https://t.co/IpIScAvpSd

It seems likely that the top of the draft will largely be populated by high school players because of their upside, but passing up a talent like Leiter would likely be tough for Texas to do.

An ace pitcher could go a long way toward getting the Rangers back in the playoff conversation in the coming years, and Leiter undoubtedly has the potential to be precisely that.

Given what he accomplished at Vanderbilt and his pedigree as the son of a successful MLB pitcher, Leiter checks all the boxes to be one of the top selections in the 2021 draft.


Jordan Lawlar

Like Mayer, Jordan Lawlar is a toolsy high school shortstop who likely won't have to wait long before learning his landing spot Sunday.

The 6'2" Lawlar is a speedster with plus fielding skills and the ability to hit for a high average, as evidenced by his production at Jesuit Dallas in 2021.

During his senior season, Lawlar hit .412 with six home runs and 32 stolen bases on 32 attempts. He also showed great patience, walking 27 times despite having just 97 at-bats.

The one area in which Lawlar is lagging behind Mayer is clearly in the power department, but Baseball America still ranked him as the top player in the 2021 draft despite his power deficiency:

Baseball America @BaseballAmerica

If Jordan Lawlar's power catches up? He has the potential to be a regular all-star. Lawlar is the top-ranked prospect in the BA 500. Full scouting report: https://t.co/18ugc09Hdj https://t.co/9Qso1D9U7E

Baseball America noted that the sky is the limit for Lawlar if he is able to develop more power as time goes one, and there is reason to believe he can given his frame and measurables.

The Detroit Tigers own the No. 3 overall pick in the MLB draft, and they have a massive need for quality, high-ceiling hitters in their pipeline.

Much like the Pirates, it is going to take some time before the Tigers are in the playoff mix, and Lawlar is the type of player who could help lead the charge in the same vein as Mayer.

It may tempt the Tigers to take a soon-to-be-MLB-ready arm like Vanderbilt's Kumar Rocker, but given some of the young pitching talent they already have, going for the home run pick of Lawlar makes the most sense.