B/R's Final 2021 MLB Mock Draft 4.0 for Every 1st-Round Pick
Welcome to Bleacher Report's final 2021 MLB mock draft 4.0!
We published our first mock draft of the year May 12 while the high school and college seasons were still in full swing. That was followed by updates June 11 and June 25 as the draft prospect landscape took shape and rumors trickled out on who teams might be targeting.
Now it's time for one last prediction on how this year's first round will unfold.
The three-day, 20-round event kicks off Sunday, July 11 at 7 p.m. ET on MLB Network. Day 1 of the draft will encompass the first 36 picks spanning the first round, compensatory round and competitive balance round A.
We've mapped out our best guess for the 29 picks that make up the first round based on talent rankings, team draft trends, rumors and speculation.
Let's get to it!
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 selection.
1. Pittsburgh Pirates: SS Marcelo Mayer, Eastlake High School (CA)
The development of Marcelo Mayer vs. Jordan Lawlar could be the story of this draft five years from now, and the two prep shortstops remain the leading candidates to go No. 1 overall in a class that does not have a slam-dunk top pick. It's possible the Pirates could cut a big enough deal with someone like Henry Davis to pivot, but that would be a surprise.
2. Texas Rangers: SS Jordan Lawlar, Jesuit Prep (TX)
Vanderbilt right-hander Jack Leiter is in play, but a spotty track record of developing pitching and the fact that Lawlar is playing in the Rangers' backyard makes the prep shortstop the more likely pick. The Rangers have long targeted toolsy athletes, and Lawlar could be a rare five-tool talent at shortstop.
3. Detroit Tigers: RHP Jackson Jobe, Heritage Hall High School (OK)
This is as low as Mayer will fall. Assuming he is off the board, prep slugger Brady House and prep right-hander Jackson Jobe are the two names most frequently linked to the Tigers. The last time a high school right-hander was taken in the top three was Hunter Greene in 2017, but Jobe has the stuff to be worth the reach with a mid-90s fastball and a lethal slider that stands as the best breaking pitch in the class.
4. Boston Red Sox: RHP Jack Leiter, Vanderbilt
This is the dream scenario for both the Red Sox and Leiter, who has expressed a desire to play in Boston, according to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. The 6'1" right-hander tied for the NCAA lead with 179 strikeouts in 110 innings, including a 15-strikeout performance against NC State in the College World Series. He was more homer-prone than you'd like to see from a top-tier college pitcher, but he has the best combination of floor and ceiling of any arm in this class.
5. Baltimore Orioles: OF Colton Cowser, Sam Houston State
The O's have been identified as the team most likely to cut a below-slot deal, which would have a dramatic trickle-down effect for the teams below them. Cowser might be the best pure hitter in a draft thin on college bats, and he hit .374/.490/.680 with 16 home runs and 17 steals this spring while showing the tools to handle center field. Athletic prep catcher Harry Ford is another name who could be in play as a below-slot target.
6. Arizona Diamondbacks: C Henry Davis, Louisville
The D-backs are in a nice position in a draft that has a clear top six in talent. In this scenario, Louisville catcher Henry Davis and prep shortstop Kahlil Watson are both available from that top-tier group. Davis fits better with the arrival timeline of their current top prospects. He established himself as the best college position player in the class when he hit .370/.482/.663 with 15 home runs and more walks (31) than strikeouts (24) while showing the defensive acumen to stick behind the plate.
7. Kansas City Royals: SS Kahlil Watson, Wake Forest High School (NC)
The Royals are poised to pick from what's left of the top high school shortstops—in this case, Kahlil Watson and Brady House—and Vanderbilt right-hander Kumar Rocker. Watson could go as high as No. 2 overall after a terrific spring gave his high stock a further boost, and he's the type of dynamic athlete who could fit at a variety of positions down the line.
8. Colorado Rockies: SS Brady House, Winder-Barrow High School (GA)
With a strong 6'4", 215-pound frame, loud raw power and a likely long-term home at one of the corner infield spots, House fits the profile the Rockies have targeted in recent years. He should get an opportunity to begin his pro career at shortstop, and sticking there would increase his future value considerably. Regardless, his 70-grade power will drive his ascent through the system.
9. Los Angeles Angels: RHP Kumar Rocker, Vanderbilt
The Angels could be the high point for athletic prep stars Will Taylor and Bubba Chandler, but if Rocker does slip this far, they'll have a difficult time saying no. The 6'5", 245-pound right-hander has prototypical power stuff with a fastball that scrapes the upper 90s and a wipeout slider that has befuddled hitters throughout his time at Vanderbilt. He is less of a finished product than some of the other top college arms, and he needs to learn to pitch without his best stuff, but his ceiling stacks up to any arm in the draft.
10. New York Mets: OF Sal Frelick, Boston College
The Mets have not had a legitimate center fielder since Carlos Beltran left town. A year after taking defensive standout Pete Crow-Armstrong in the first round, they could add to the outfield talent pool again with quick-twitch speedster Sal Frelick. With a 60-grade hit tool, 70-grade speed and the defensive skills to win ACC Defensive Player of the Year in center field, he has an extremely high floor as an up-the-middle player.
11. Washington Nationals: RHP Ty Madden, Texas
The Nationals have been linked to college pitchers Ty Madden and Sam Bachman throughout the predraft process. This might also be the high point for prep right-hander Andrew Painter and Mississippi State standout Will Bednar. With a fastball that touches 99 mph, a terrific slider and a quality changeup, the 6'3", 215-pound Madden is the best of the bunch with all the ingredients to develop into a top-of-the-rotation arm. This is the floor for Kumar Rocker.
12. Seattle Mariners: SS Matt McLain, UCLA
It would be a shock if the Mariners did not draft a college player. They have gone the collegiate route with eight of their last nine first-round picks. The exception was Alex Jackson, who failed to deliver on lofty expectations. Outfielders Colton Cowser and Sal Frelick fit in this range, but if they are no longer available, UCLA shortstop Matt McLain could move to the top of the board after establishing himself as the country's best college shortstop this spring.
13. Philadelphia Phillies: OF Benny Montgomery, Red Land High School (PA)
Arguably the best all-around athlete in the 2021 class, Montgomery has been climbing mock draft boards throughout the spring, and he has an outside chance to go inside the top 10. Prospects with 80-grade speed and plus raw power are few and far between, even with questions about his hit tool. He might not make it this far, and if he's gone, another tooled-up prep outfielder in Will Taylor could be the pick.
14. San Francisco Giants: RHP Will Bednar, Mississippi State
Will Bednar looked like a late first-round pick before a brilliant College World Series run that included outdueling Ty Madden with a 15-strikeout performance in the opener and six no-hit innings against Vanderbilt on three days' rest in the title game. Keith Law of The Athletic indicated the Giants are likely to go with a college player, and Bednar may have pitched himself ahead of Kansas State left-hander Jordan Wicks and some of the others who are still available here.
15. Milwaukee Brewers: C/IF Harry Ford, North Cobb High School (GA)
The Brewers' interest in Ford is one of the worst-kept secrets of this draft cycle. They scouted him heavily all spring and continue to be linked to him ahead of draft day. A rare athlete for the catcher position with a 50-hit/55-power/60-speed offensive profile, he has the tools to be a solid defensive catcher but could also fit at a variety of other positions. If Ford is gone, Wicks fits in this range, and Kiley McDaniel of ESPN made an apt comparison between him and Milwaukee's 2019 first-round pick, Ethan Small.
16. Miami Marlins: RHP/SS Bubba Chandler, North Oconee High School (GA)
The Marlins have been linked to "high-ceiling guys," according to Keith Law of The Athletic. Two-way standout and dual-sport star Bubba Chandler fits the bill. Assuming he can be signed away from a commitment to play football and baseball at Clemson, he would be a big swing for a franchise on the rise. The 6'3", 200-pound right-hander has a bright future on the mound with a fastball that touches 97 mph and a plus curveball, and he has just scratched the surface of his potential.
17. Cincinnati Reds: LHP Matt Mikulski, Fordham
The Reds pick again at No. 30 (compensation for losing Trevor Bauer) and No. 35 (competitive balance), making them a prime candidate to go below slot with their first pick to save money for an above-slot deal later. Fordham left-hander Matt Mikulski returned for his senior season after going undrafted, and he went 9-0 with a 1.45 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 68.1 innings after reworking his mechanics. Other potential money-saving reaches could include college infielders Connor Norby and Tyler Black.
18. St. Louis Cardinals: LHP Jordan Wicks, Kansas State
The Cardinals have gone the polished college left-hander route before with Marco Gonzales (No. 19 overall in 2013) and Zack Thompson (No. 19 overall in 2019), and they often choose floor over upside with their early picks. Then again, they went high-risk, high-reward with Jordan Walker last year. It's hard to imagine Wicks slips further than this, and the changeup specialist fits well in an organization that does a good job of developing the pitch.
19. Toronto Blue Jays: OF Jay Allen, John Carroll High School (FL)
The Blue Jays were out in force to see Allen at the Florida state all-star tournament this spring, and they are likely to swing for the fences in the first round since they don't have a second-round pick following the George Springer signing. Allen is an explosive athlete with five-tool potential, and the Blue Jays have taken plenty of those guys in the early rounds.
20. New York Yankees: RHP Gunnar Hoglund, Ole Miss
The Yankees were not afraid to roll the dice on Clarke Schmidt with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2017 draft even though he underwent Tommy John surgery two months previous. That has made them a popular projected landing spot for Ole Miss ace Gunnar Hoglund, who was a likely top-10 pick before his season ended because of a Tommy John procedure. Hard-throwing Sam Bachman would also be of interest if he's still on the board.
21. Chicago Cubs: RHP Sam Bachman, Miami (Ohio)
With a power arsenal that includes a 70-grade fastball that touches triple digits and a lethal 70-grade slider, Bachman could fit at the back of an MLB bullpen right now. However, with a strong 6'1", 235-pound frame and a decent changeup to keep hitters off-balance, he will get every opportunity to start. He could go as high as No. 11 to the Washington Nationals, and the pitching-thin Cubs would likely be thrilled to see him fall this far.
22. Chicago White Sox: 3B Colson Montgomery, Southridge High School (IN)
Outside of Harry Ford to the Brewers, this rumor has been the most frequent in the mock draft process. Montgomery is a 6'3", 195-pound prep slugger with a 50-hit/60-power profile and plenty of room to add strength to his frame. This class is thin on power-hitting high schoolers, and Montgomery has been rising as a result. He might not drop this far, at which point the White Sox could pivot to one of two players.
"I think they're hoping for Colson Montgomery and are probably his floor, but I think this pick will come down to [Maxwell] Muncy and Joe Mack," wrote Kiley McDaniel of ESPN.
23. Cleveland: RHP Michael McGreevy, UC Santa Barbara
Cleveland selected Shane Bieber out of UC Santa Barbara in the fourth round of the 2016 draft, and the following year it took his teammate Kyle Nelson in the 15th round. Why not go back to that well? A reliever as a freshman, McGreevy looked sharp in four starts before the 2020 season was halted, and he picked up where he left off this spring with a 2.92 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and a terrific 115-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 101.2 innings. He has one of the highest floors in the class, and Cleveland knows how to develop pitching talent.
24. Atlanta Braves: RHP/SS Spencer Schwellenbach, Nebraska
The Braves have been circling Nebraska two-way standout Spencer Schwellenbach all spring, though it's unclear if they prefer him as a pitcher or a shortstop. He hit .284/.403/.459 with 19 extra-base hits this spring while logging a 0.57 ERA with 10 saves and 34 strikeouts in 31.2 innings as the Cornhuskers' closer. With a strong 6'1" frame and three plus pitches, he could be a starter, and his untapped potential is extremely intriguing.
25. Oakland Athletics: OF Will Taylor, Dutch Fork High School (SC)
Will Taylor might be long gone by the time Oakland is on the clock. He also might line up at slot receiver for the Clemson Tigers in the fall if he is not signed away from his two-sport commitment to the ACC powerhouse. However, if he does slip behind Benny Montgomery and Jay Allen on the prep outfielder hierarchy, he's the sort of athlete the Athletics have targeted when they roll the dice on a high school player.
26. Minnesota Twins: C Joe Mack, Williamsville East High School (NY)
The Twins signed prep outfielder Charles Mack to an above-slot bonus as a sixth-round pick in 2018, and his younger brother has been moving up draft boards thanks to a strong finish to his senior season. The high school catcher profile is always a risky one, but his 50-hit, 60-power profile fits the type of loud offensive tools the Twins often target. With a strong arm and refined receiving skills, he should stick behind the plate.
27. San Diego Padres: LHP Anthony Solometo, Bishop Eustace (NJ)
With a stacked MLB roster and a loaded farm system, the Padres can afford to gamble on upside late in the first round. Once his senior season finally started in cold-weather New Jersey, Solometo was one of the biggest risers of the spring. The 6'5" southpaw has terrific stuff that plays up thanks to a "[MacKenzie] Gore-like high kick and a [Madison] Bumgarner-esque three-quarter delivery," according to MLB.com. Prep sluggers Joshua Baez and James Wood are potential targets on the position-player side.
28. Tampa Bay Rays: 2B Connor Norby, East Carolina
A handful of collegiate middle infielders shined against lesser competition this spring, including Connor Norby (East Carolina), Trey Sweeney (Eastern Illinois) and Tyler Black (Wright State). The Rays are great at developing pitching and finding late-round value, so they could opt for a more proven performer with their first pick. Norby hit .415/.484/.659 with 15 doubles, 15 home runs and 18 steals this spring, and he had two of East Carolina's five hits against Vanderbilt in their two super regional games.
29. Los Angeles Dodgers: RHP Gavin Williams, East Carolina
The Dodgers could take a chance on Andrew Painter or Chase Petty—two of the top high school arms likely to command an above-slot bonus if they slip this far. However, Gavin Williams has similar upside with college results to boot. The 6'6", 255-pound right-hander went 10-1 with a 1.88 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 130 strikeouts in 81.1 innings this spring in his first year as a full-time starter. He threw a gem against Vanderbilt (7.1 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 13 K) in the super regionals to send his stock soaring.