MLB Draft 2021: Selection Order and Predictions for 1st-Round Baseball Prospects

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured 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

Teams across baseball will look for future stars and impact players in the first round of the 2021 MLB draft.

This year's draft will take place alongside the MLB All-Star festivities in Denver, with the first round set for July 11. It should provide an opportunity for some struggling teams to find talent to turn things around, including the Pittsburgh Pirates and Texas Rangers.

With a draft full of exciting college pitchers and high school position players, many teams should come away pleased with their haul of prospects.


1st-Round Draft Order

1. Pittsburgh Pirates

2. Texas Rangers

3. Detroit Tigers

4. Boston Red Sox

5. Baltimore Orioles

6. Arizona Diamondbacks

7. Kansas City Royals

8. Colorado Rockies

9. Los Angeles Angels

10. New York Mets

11. Washington Nationals

12. Seattle Mariners

13. Philadelphia Phillies

14. San Francisco Giants

15. Milwaukee Brewers

16. Miami Marlins

17. Cincinnati Reds

18. St. Louis Cardinals

19. Toronto Blue Jays

20. New York Yankees

21. Chicago Cubs

22. Chicago White Sox

23. Cleveland

24. Atlanta Braves

25. Oakland Athletics

26. Minnesota Twins

27. San Diego Padres

28. Tampa Bay Rays

29. Los Angeles Dodgers

Full draft order available at MLB.com.



Marcelo Mayer Goes No. 1 Overall

There has already been debate over the draft strategy of the Pittsburgh Pirates, projecting that they could target someone to sign under slot in order to build more depth in the farm system.

"It's also very clear we need to get the most possible talent we can out of the entire draft this year," general manager Ben Cherington told 93.7 The Fan (h/t Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune). "Our job is to get the most possible talent we can with the pool amount we have."

Benz projected this means skipping the more prominent Jack Leiter and instead targeting either high school shortstop Marcelo Mayer or Louisville catcher Henry Davis.

The good news for Pirates fans is Mayer might be the top prospect in the class anyway.

The California native is rated as the No. 1 player in the class by MLB.com and Baseball America.

Mayer has the defensive talent to remain at shortstop and a quality approach at the plate, which could make him a two-way star up the middle in a few years.


2 Vanderbilt Pitchers Taken in Top 5

Rebecca S. Gratz/Associated Press

Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker are arguably the two top pitching prospects in the class, and it would be a surprise if they lasted long in the first round.

Some might have been turned off by Rocker's showing in the final game of the year. The 6'5" starter allowed five runs (four earned) in an eventual 9-0 loss to Mississippi State in the decisive Game 3 of the College World Series. 

Of course, this is still not enough to cancel out the rest of the season for Rocker, which included a 2.73 ERA with 179 strikeouts in 122 innings. His production should translate to the next level and is a relatively safe pick early in the draft.

Leiter, meanwhile, was even better this year with a 2.13 ERA and just a .129 batting average against.

While the right-hander will almost certainly be taken with the first few picks, the Boston Red Sox definitely won't let him get past four if he reaches that point.


Jud Fabian Becomes Draft's Biggest Sleeper

The MLB draft is full of risk, but the key is finding players who can be difference-makers at the next level. Jud Fabian could fit that description, even if he isn't picked until the end of the first round or later.

The question marks are clear as the Florida product hit just .249 over his NCAA career. Without great speed and four errors in the outfield this season, there is a lot of pressure on the player to succeed at the plate.

On the other hand, Fabian has as much power as anyone in the class after hitting 20 home runs this season for the Gators. 

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He has a good approach at the plate, walking 40 times in 59 games this season, and he has the talent to continue hitting at a high level professionally.

Perhaps most importantly, Fabian is still just 20 years old, making him one of the youngest players in the class with college experience. With proven production and high upside going forward, there could be a lot of value in taking the outfielder early.