Baseball enters exciting new waters with Sunday night's 2021 MLB draft.
For the first time since its inception in 1965, the MLB draft will happen outside the month of June and holds a prominent position during All-Star Weekend.
Sunday's opening night, starting at 7 p.m. ET on MLB Network and ESPN, boasts 36 picks over Round 1, compensation picks and a Competitive Balance Round A. The draft will then resume with Round 2 starting at 1 p.m. ET on Monday.
As for the high-profile start to the draft Sunday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates will hit the podium at No. 1 and kick off a first round loaded with talent at key positions like shortstop.
Below, we'll update as the draft unfolds and in the interim take a glance at the top storylines.
2021 MLB Draft Day 1 Results
1. Pittsburgh Pirates: Henry Davis, C, Louisville
2. Texas Rangers: Jack Leiter, P, Vanderbilt
3. Detroit Tigers: Jackson Jobe, P, Heritage Hall School (OK)
4. Boston Red Sox: Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake HS (CA)
5. Baltimore Orioles: Colton, Cowser, OF, Sam Houston State
6. Arizona Diamondbacks: Jordan Lawlar, SS, Jesuit College Prep (TX)
7. Kansas City Royals: Frank Mozzicato, P, East Catholic HS (CT)
8. Colorado Rockies: Benny Montgomery, OF, Red Land HS (PA)
9. Los Angeles Angels: Sam Bachman, Pitcher, Miami University (OH)
10. New York Mets: Kumar Rocker, P, Vanderbilt
11. Washington Nationals: Brady House, SS, Winder Barrow HS (GA)
12. Seattle Mariners: Harry Ford, C, North Cobb HS (GA)
13. Philadelphia Phillies: Andrew Painter, P, Calvary Christian Academy (FL)
14. San Francisco Giants: Will Bednar, P, Mississippi State
15. Milwaukee Brewers: Sal Frelick, SS, Boston College
16. Miami Marlins: Kahlil Watson, SS, Wake Forest HS (NC)
17. Cincinnati Reds: Matt McLain, SS, UCLA
18. St. Louis Cardinals: Michael McGreevy, P, UC Santa Barbara
19. Toronto Blue Jays: Gunnar Hoglund, P, Ole Miss
20. New York Yankees: Trey Sweeney, SS, Eastern Illinois
21. Chicago Cubs: Jordan Wicks, P, Kansas State
22. Chicago White Sox: Colson Montgomery, SS, Southridge HS (IN)
23. Cleveland Indians: Gavin Williams, P, East Carolina
24. Atlanta Braves: Ryan Cusick, P, Wake Forest
25. Oakland Athletics: Max Muncy, SS, Thousand Oaks HS (CA)
26. Minnesota Twins: Chase Petty, P, Mainland Regional HS (NJ)
27. San Diego Padres: Jackson Merrill, SS, Severna Park HS (MD)
28. Tampa Bay Rays: Carson Williams, SS, Torrey Pines HS (CA)
29. Los Angeles Dodgers: Maddux Bruns, P, UMS Wright Prep School (AL)
30. Cincinnati Reds: Jay Allen, OF, John Carroll HS (FL)
Competitive Balance Round A
31. Miami Marlins: Joe Mack, C, Williamsville East HS (NY)
32. Detroit Tigers: Ty Madden, P, Texas
33. Milwaukee Brewers: Tyler Black, 2B, Wright State University
34. Tampa Bay Rays: Cooper Kinney, 2B, The Baylor Schools (TN)
35. Cincinnati Reds: Matheu Nelson, C, Florida State
36. Minnesota Twins: Noah Miller, SS, Ozaukee HS (WI)
Full draft order, compensation explanations and pick monetary values available at MLB.com.
The Heavyweight Names
Good luck getting far without hearing the names Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter on Sunday night.
Rocker and Leiter, Vanderbilt pitchers seemingly assured spots in the top 10, are some of the most popular draft entrants in a long, long time.
Rocker has big-name recognition. Besides being a pitcher with the last name Rocker, he's the son of a former NFL defensive lineman and made big headlines last year by leading the nation in strikeouts (179) and wins (14), making him the second to do so since 1988.
Impressive as Rocker has been and projects to be as a pro, it's Leiter who has been speculated as a possible No. 1 pick. No wonder—Leiter drummed up an 11-4 record last year with a 2.13 ERA and 179 strikeouts. He's matched expectations after getting first-round interest from teams out of high school in 2019. And like Rocker, it doesn't hurt that he's the son of World Series champion Al Leiter.
Even if Rocker and Leiter didn't have big-name recognition going into Sunday night, their performances and pro upside would have them positioned for household-name status soon enough.
No Surprises at No. 1?
Great as Rocker and Leiter are—and as important as pitcher is—it seems the 2021 draft belongs to Marcelo Mayer, the shortstop from Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, California.
No wonder—the video above has an analyst mentioning him in the same breath as Chipper Jones.
That's getting a bit ahead of things, of course. But Meyer has an offer from USC and that sort of hype for good reason. He's a five-tool player with a big bat that hints at major pro productivity at the plate.
And while the upside at the plate is easy to see, the scouting report from MLB.com about his long-term future at a key position says it all: "While not a burner—some scouts have a tick above-average run grades, some have fringy ones—no one doubts Mayer will be able to stay at shortstop for a long time. He has easy actions, plus hands and footwork and an arm that plays plus."
Mayer isn't alone at shortstop in the top 10 this year thanks to names such as Khalil Watson (Wake Forest). But the all-around skill set he's flashed and what a few years in the minors before getting called up could do for him almost seems guaranteed to have his name called first.
The Catcher Wrinkle
The predraft process has featured a ton of understandable chatter about pitchers and shortstops given the strengths of the class.
But don't forget catcher.
Henry Davis out of Louisville is one of the only prospects actually attending the draft. Not only is Davis a top-five contender, he's been speculated across mock drafts to be a sleeper for No. 1 overall.
It's not too hard to see why. He was superb at the plate last year with a .370/.482/.663 line, boasting 15 home runs and 10 steals to boot.
R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports painted the picture well while ranking Davis fourth overall:
"'Don't sleep on Davis as a dark horse to go in the top five,' is how his preseason capsule began. Five months later, he's a legitimate candidate to go first overall, depending on his financial ask. Davis made the leap by hitting .370/.482/.663 this season with 15 home runs and seven more walks than strikeouts. The demand for two-way backstops always outpaces the supply, which is why Davis' upside is intriguing. He combines a low whiff rate with a high average exit velocity at the plate, and he's at least an adequate defender (with a strong arm) behind it."
With an uncanny upside at the plate for a catcher and a solid all-around game that hints at a long-term stay in the pros, it should be interesting to see if Davis seriously contends for a top-five slot.