2021 MLB Mock Draft: Predictions for This Year's Elite ProspectsJuly 10, 2021
2021 MLB Mock Draft: Predictions for This Year's Elite Prospects
Kumar Rocker was one of the most dominant college baseball pitchers of the last decade, but when the 2021 MLB draft starts on Sunday, he will not be at the top of the draft board.
In fact, Rocker might not even be the first Vanderbilt pitcher chosen, with teams in the top five eyeing Jack Leiter.
Although Rocker will be a top-10 pick, he can still be viewed as the potential steal of the first round since he will likely fall out of the top five.
The Pittsburgh Pirates seem likely to take a high school hitter with the No. 1 overall pick, and a few other teams could follow that strategy inside the top 10.
Marcelo Mayer appears to be the favorite to be the first player chosen on Sunday. If that happens, he could be the first of three high school shortstops to land in the top 10 along with Kahlil Watson and Jordan Lawlar.
1st-Round 2021 MLB Mock Draft
1. Pittsburgh: Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake HS (Chula Vista, Calif.)
2. Texas: Jordan Lawlar, SS, Jesuit Prep (Dallas, TX)
3. Detroit: Brady House, SS, Winder-Barrow HS (Winder, Ga.)
4. Boston: Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt
5. Baltimore: Henry Davis, C, Louisville
6. Arizona: Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall HS (Oklahoma City, OK)
7. Kansas City: Kumar Rocker, RHP, Vanderbilt
8. Colorado: Kahlil Watson, SS, Wake Forest (N.C.) HS
9. Los Angeles Angels: Ty Madden, RHP, Texas
10. New York Mets: Sal Frelick, OF, Boston College
11. Washington: Will Bednar, RHP, Mississippi State
12. Seattle: Colton Howser, OF, Sam Houston State
13. Philadelphia: Benny Montgomery, OF, Red Land HS (Lewisberry, Pa.)
14. San Francisco: Matt McLain, SS, UCLA
15. Milwaukee: Jordan Wicks, LHP, Kansas State
16. Miami: Sam Bachman, RHP, Miami (Ohio)
17. Cincinnati: Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, Ole Miss
18. St. Louis: Bubba Chandler, RHP/SS, North Oconee HS (Bogart, Ga.)
19. Toronto: Anthony Solometo, LHP, Bishop Eustace Prep (Pennsauken, NJ)
20. New York Yankees: Andrew Painter, RHP, Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
21. Chicago Cubs: Jud Fabian, OF, Florida
22. Chicago White Sox: Colson Montgomery, 3B, Southridge HS (Huntingburg, Ind.)
23. Cleveland: Joe Mack, C, Williamsville East HS (East Amherst, NY)
24. Atlanta: Gavin Williams, RHP, East Carolina
25. Oakland: Matheu Nelson, C, Florida State
26. Minnesota: Harry Ford, C, North Cobb HS (Kennesaw, Ga.)
27. San Diego: Wes Kath, 3B, Desert Mountain HS (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
28. Tampa Bay: Ky Bush, LHP, St. Mary's
29. Los Angeles Dodgers: Michael McGreevy, RHP, UC Santa Barbara
Rocker is one of a few players who could make the case to be the No. 1 overall pick on Sunday.
The Vanderbilt right-hander went 28-10 over three seasons at Vanderbilt, and he struck out 321 batters in that span.
Rocker is an ideal prospect for teams to pick if they want majors-ready talent in the first round, but that is not the approach all franchises take.
ESPN's Kiley McDaniel and CBS Sports' Mike Axisa both have Rocker landing with the Kansas City Royals at No. 7.
The drop to seventh is because of the preferences of the six teams above the Royals. For example, the Pirates are more likely to land one of the three top high school shortstops, and Detroit is mostly looking at prep players.
McDaniel noted that Rocker to Kansas City "is now looking like one of the more likely picks in the mock."
Rocker would be a terrific addition to the Royals farm system that is headlined by 2019 No. 2 pick Bobby Witt Jr., who is at Double-A.
The progression of Rocker and Witt throughout Kansas City's system could mirror each other if the Vanderbilt hurler is chosen seventh.
The Double-A level would be a good starting point for Rocker, who would be ahead in his development compared to pitchers at the lower levels.
If that is the case, Rocker could make a run at the major-league roster in 2022.
Lawlar appears to have the biggest gap between ceiling and floor inside the top 10.
McDaniel mocked Lawlar to the Colorado Rockies at No. 8, while Axisa projected he would be the No. 2 pick to the Texas Rangers.
Texas could take a shot on a local kid from the Dallas area in Lawlar, but it does not have many top pitching prospects, which may lead it to Leiter, Rocker or high schooler Jackson Jobe.
McDaniel outlined why a potential drop to the Rockies would happen for a player that he listed as the top prospect in the draft class.
"There's some consensus building that the top prospect on my board will end up going eighth. It would likely be for over slot money because Lawlar would have a real shot at going 1-1 in two years since his age would make him sophomore-eligible," McDaniel wrote.
If teams are drafting solely on talent, Lawlar should be one of the first three picks alongside Marcelo Mayer and Leiter.
If Lawlar falls past the Rangers, the Tigers could make a run at him if they prefer high school prospects that will take a longer time to develop.
Any of the teams slotted beneath Pittsburgh would love to pick Mayer, but Lawlar would be a great consolation prize.