2021 MLB Draft Picks: Live Team-by-Team Grades and Analysis

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2021

2021 MLB Draft Picks: Live Team-by-Team Grades and Analysis

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    Marcelo Mayer
    Marcelo MayerBrian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The first 36 picks of the 2021 MLB draft are in the books.

    Louisville catcher Henry Davis went No. 1 overall to the Pittsburgh Pirates, immediately shaking up draft boards that viewed prep shortstops Marcelo Mayer and Jordan Lawlar as the front-runners to be the first pick in the draft.

    Vanderbilt right-hander Jack Leiter went next to the Texas Rangers, followed by prep right-hander Jackson Jobe at No. 3 to the Detroit Tigers before Mayer finally heard his name called by the Boston Red Sox at fourth overall.

    It was a busy night that ultimately played out far differently than most expected.

    Before we move on to Day 2 of the draft, it's time for a deep dive into all of Sunday night's action.

    Ahead, you'll find a full scouting report, draft grade and pick analysis for each of the 36 players who were selected on Day 1 of the 2021 draft.

           

    Note: The Houston Astros forfeited their first-round pick as part of their punishment from their sign-stealing scandal and do not have a Day 1 selection. Their first pick will be at No. 87 overall.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Jordan Lawlar
    Jordan LawlarMichael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    First Round (No. 6 Overall): Jordan Lawlar, SS, Jesuit Prep (TX)

    As a right-handed hitting Texas high school shortstop with five-tool potential and a long track record of success on the showcase circuit, Lawlar has inevitably drawn comparisons to Bobby Witt Jr., who went No. 2 overall in 2019. There is some swing-and-miss to his game and he needs to work on slowing things down on the defensive side of the ball, but it's not hard to envision a future star up the middle. The biggest question mark is how much power he'll develop, but his plus bat speed and strong 6'2" frame provide reasons for optimism.

    Grade: A

    The D-backs add another high-ceiling young player to an already loaded farm system. My only hesitation with this pick is that Kumar Rocker's timeline might line up better with the arrival of some of their other top prospects, but Lawlar has a chance to develop into the best player in this draft class, so that's definitely nit-picking.

Atlanta Braves

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    Ryan Cusick
    Ryan CusickWake Forest Athletics

    First Round (No. 24 Overall): Ryan Cusick, RHP, Wake Forest

    The 6’6”, 225-pound Cusick has one of the best fastballs in the draft. The pitch sits in the upper 90s and has touched 102 mph on the gun with a good downward plane, helping him rack up 108 strikeouts in 70 innings this spring. His secondary stuff is still a work in progress, and his command can be spotty at times, but you can’t teach elite velocity.

    Grade: C

    It's officially time to start wondering what's going on with Texas right-hander Ty Madden. Cusick has a big arm, but so does Madden and he's far more of a proven commodity with legitimate front-line potential. This feels like a reach relative to the arms that are still available. I like Nebraska two-way standout Spencer Schwellenbach better here as well.

Baltimore Orioles

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    Colton Cowser
    Colton CowserAaron M. Sprecher/Associated Press

    First Round (No. 5 Overall): Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston State

    Cowser is the best pure hitter in this year’s college class. He has a smooth left-handed stroke, elite bat-to-ball skills and an advanced approach in the batter’s box. Armed with those tools, he hit .374/.490/.680 with 16 home runs and 52 RBI in 55 games this spring, walking 10 more times than he struck out while stealing 17 bases in 20 attempts and playing a solid center field. A strong showing with Team USA in 2019 helps ease concerns about the lesser competition he faced in the Southland Conference.

    Grade: C

    The O's make a move that should save them some money later in the draft, reaching for a polished college hitter who probably fits better outside the top 10. There's value in that approach to drafting, but I don't love it in this situation. The O's have a bare cupboard at the shortstop position, assuming Gunnar Henderson ultimately winds up at third base, and they had Jordan Lawlar and Kahlil Watson delivered to them on a platter.

Boston Red Sox

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    Marcelo Mayer
    Marcelo MayerBrian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    First Round (No. 4 Overall): Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake High School (CA)

    Mayer hit .410 with 13 home runs this spring playing in the extremely competitive San Diego area, and he has been on the MLB draft radar since his freshman season. With a 6'3”, 185-pound frame and a smooth left-handed stroke, he has been compared to Corey Seager, and he could provide a similar package of skills if everything clicks. He's not as athletic as Jordan Lawlar, but he's a more polished all-around player with a higher floor and an equally enticing ceiling.

    Grade: A

    I have a hunch the Red Sox would have preferred Leiter over anyone else in this class, but they should have no qualms settling for the player many considered to be the top all-around talent in the class. You can never have too much middle infield talent, so don't think twice about the fact that Xander Bogaerts is manning shortstop for the foreseeable future.

Chicago Cubs

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    Jordan Wicks
    Jordan WicksColin E. Braley/Associated Press

    First Round (No. 21 Overall): Jordan Wicks, LHP, Kansas State

    An elite 70-grade changeup has pushed Wicks to the top of the college left-hander crop. The 6’3”, 220-pound southpaw is a no-doubt starter at the next level with smooth mechanics, plus command and three quality pitches. He posted a 3.70 ERA with 118 strikeouts in 92.1 innings this spring, and with his polish and pitchability, he should be one of the first arms from the 2021 class to reach the majors.

    Grade: A

    Wicks appeared to be a lock to be the first left-hander chosen before the Royals reached for Frank Mozzicato inside the top 10. The Cubs have had a tough time developing pitching talent in recent years, so landing a polished arm with a high ceiling and bankable starter traits is a nice get late in the first round.

Chicago White Sox

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    First Round (No. 22 Overall): Colson Montgomery, SS, Southridge High School (IN)

    The all-time leading scorer in basketball at Southridge High School, Montgomery has seen his stock trend steadily upward since a strong showing on the showcase circuit last summer. He has a smooth left-handed swing with the potential to hit for average and power, though he’s more power over hit at this point. He turned 19 in February, making him one of the older prep players in this class, but that hasn’t stopped him from climbing up draft boards this spring.

    Grade: A

    The White Sox get their guy. The South Siders were linked to Montgomery throughout the predraft process, and as long as you're willing to look past his age, he could easily become the most impactful prep power hitter in this class. They've been targeting him all spring for a reason.

Cincinnati Reds

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    Matt McLain
    Matt McLainKyusung Gong/Associated Press

    First Round (No. 17 Overall): Matt McLain, SS, UCLA

    The No. 25 overall pick in the 2018 draft, McLain rebuffed the D-backs to honor his commitment to UCLA, where he has developed into the consensus top collegiate middle infielder in the 2021 class. He hit .333/.434/.579 with 25 extra-base hits and nine steals in 47 games this spring, and he’ll begin his pro career as an extremely polished all-around player. A move to second base or center field, where he played as a freshman, could come eventually, but he’s instinctive enough to stick at shortstop even without top-tier athleticism.

    Grade: B

    The Reds were a candidate to cut a below-slot deal with their first pick since they have two more Day 1 selections, but that was before McLain slipped down the board. He could be one of the first hitters from this draft class to reach the majors, and shortstop remains a revolving door in Cincinnati. There were higher-ceiling players on the board, but their night is not over...

          

    Compensation Pick (No. 30 Overall): Jay Allen ll, OF, John Carroll High School (FL)

    Allen is one of the best all-around athletes in the 2021 draft class. He excelled in baseball, basketball and football in high school, and he has five average-or-better tools on the diamond. He should be able to pack significant muscle onto his athletic 6’3”, 190-pound frame, and while that could mean he outgrows center field and loses a step, his offensive ceiling is significant enough for him to still be an impact player.

    Grade: A

    Love this pick as a follow-up to selecting a high-floor college player in McLain in the first round. Allen fits a similar mold to Taylor Trammell, who developed into a top prospect in the Cincinnati system before he was traded to San Diego.

         

    Balance Round A (No. 35 Overall): Matheu Nelson, C, Florida State

    Nelson had a loud junior season at Florida State, tying for the NCAA lead with 23 home runs while hitting .330/.436/.773 in 53 games. His 24.4 percent strikeout rate raises some questions about his ability to make consistent contact against pro pitching, and he’s an average defender at best. That’s not a huge strike against him in a thin class for quality defensive backstops, though. An improved offensive profile boosted his stock considerably this spring.

    Grade: B

    A very nice end to a strong Day 1 for the Reds. They've done a better job than most teams developing catchers, so perhaps they can get the most out of Nelson defensively. His power bat will be his carrying tool, though, and he could do some serious damage in Great American Ball Park.

Cleveland

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    Gavin Williams
    Gavin WilliamsMark Humphrey/Associated Press

    First Round (No. 23 Overall): Gavin Williams, RHP, East Carolina

    One of the breakout pitchers of 2021, Williams thrived in the East Carolina rotation after spending most of his first three years on campus in the bullpen. He has always had premium velocity, dating back to being a high-regarded North Carolina prep, but he showed a much better feel for spin this spring. He had a 1.88 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 130 strikeouts in 81.1 innings, and his terrific start against Vanderbilt in super regionals (7.1 IP, 2 ER, 13 K) was an exclamation point.

    Grade: A

    Another power arm for the Cleveland system. Williams was a revelation this spring, and while he doesn't have a long track record of success, his performance against Vanderbilt went a long way in legitimizing his stellar 2021 numbers.

Colorado Rockies

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    Benny Montgomery
    Benny MontgomeryPhoto Credit: Nancy Zimmerman

    First Round (No. 8 Overall): Benny Montgomery, OF, Red Land High School (PA)

    In terms of raw tools, Montgomery stacks up to any player in the 2021 draft class. He has top-of-the-scale speed and tantalizing raw power in an athletic 6’4”, 200-pound frame that offers significant physical projection. However, his ability to make consistent contact against pro pitching remains a question mark. He was described as a “long-armed hitter with a hitch in his swing, with a lack of timing and balance” by Baseball America, and while he has made strides to clean things up, there’s still significant boom-or-bust potential.

    Grade: C

    I can't help but cringe every time the Rockies pass on selecting a pitcher with their first-round pick. That said, Montgomery fits the same mold as guys like David Dahl (No. 10 overall in 2012) and Zac Veen (No. 9 in 2020), so this pick is not surprising in the least. It's a high-risk, high-reward pick for a team searching for its next homegrown star.

Detroit Tigers

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    Jackson Jobe
    Jackson JobeChris Bridges/Heritage Hall Baseball

    First Round (No. 3 Overall): Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall High School (OK)

    Jobe is the consensus No. 1 high school pitcher in the 2021 class. The 6'2", 190-pound right-hander is armed with a mid-90s fastball, a quality changeup, and a high-spin slider that is the best breaking pitch in the entire draft. There is not much physical projection left in his frame, but his present stuff is so good it doesn't matter. He could easily end up being the best pitcher in the class, but there is a long history of risk involved with drafting a prep right-hander.

    Grade: C

    I'm shocked the Tigers didn't jump at the opportunity to grab Marcelo Mayer. They were reportedly enamored with him throughout the predraft process and he fell into their laps, but instead they went with a high-risk, high-reward high school right-hander.

          

    Balance Round A (No. 32 Overall): Ty Madden, RHP, Texas

    A lanky 6'3" right-hander when he arrived at Texas, Madden added 35 pounds during his three years on campus. With a fastball that now touches 99 mph and a plus slider, he posted a 2.45 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 137 strikeouts in 113.2 innings this spring. That effectively vaulted him to the top of the second-tier of college starters, behind only the Vanderbilt duo.

    Grade: A

    Wow! The Tigers somehow walk away with Jobe and Madden, two guys routinely viewed among the top five pitching prospects in this draft class. It will take an above-slot deal to sign Madden here, but they should be able to save some money with Jobe.

Kansas City Royals

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    Frank Mozzicato
    Frank MozzicatoEC Baseball Committee

    First Round (No. 7 Overall): Frank Mozzicato, LHP, East Catholic High School (CT)

    A late-riser this spring playing in cold-weather Connecticut, Mozzicato saw a healthy uptick in his fastball velocity while continuing to spin a good curveball. The 6’3”, 180-pound southpaw has also shown some feel for a changeup, and his overall pitchability is ahead of many of the other top high school arms in the class.

    Grade: C

    This is reminiscent of the Royals selection of Hunter Dozier at No. 8 overall in 2013 when he entered the draft as the No. 39 prospect in the class, according to Baseball America. They used the money they saved against slot that year to sign Sean Manaea. I'm guessing they have an above-slot deal lined up with someone for Day 2, so for now we'll pencil in a "C" grade and wait to see how things play out.

Los Angeles Angels

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    Sam Craft/Associated Press

    First Round (No. 9 Overall): Sam Bachman, RHP, Miami (Ohio)

    With a 70-grade fastball and 70-grade slider, Bachman could step into an MLB bullpen right now and make an immediate impact. He has some effort in his mechanics and he didn’t pitch deep into games very often this spring while throwing just 59.2 innings in 12 starts. That gives him obvious reliever risk. But after he logged a 93-to-17 strikeout-to-walk ratio this spring, it’s clear his stuff will play in some capacity at the next level.

    Grade: B

    Angels fans will be closely monitoring the development of Bachman relative to Vanderbilt right-hander Kumar Rocker and Texas right-hander Ty Madden, who were both still on the board. I actually think Bachman has a higher floor than both of those guys, and for an Angels team that needs pitching in the worst way, that matters.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    First Round (No. 29 Overall): Maddux Bruns, LHP, UMS-Wright Prep (AL)

    With a 65-grade fastball that touches 98 mph and two quality breaking pitches, Bruns has tantalizing power stuff, particularly for a lefty. However, he has shown near bottom-of-the-scale command at times, and he is undoubtedly one of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects in this class. He'll be draft-eligible as a sophomore and might benefit greatly from honoring his commitment to Mississippi State.

    Grade: B

    I would have hated this pick for a lot of teams, but I actually love it for a Dodgers team that can afford to take some big swings. Lefties that throw in the upper-90s with quality breaking stuff don't grow on trees, and with just a small step forward in his command, he would be a useful bullpen arm.

Miami Marlins

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    Kahlil Watson
    Kahlil WatsonWake Forest High School

    First Round (No. 16 Overall): Kahlil Watson, SS, Wake Forest High School (NC)

    With a stellar run on the showcase circuit last summer and a terrific spring, Watson has played his way into the top tier of 2021 draft prospects. He's undersized relative to Jordan Lawlar and Marcelo Mayer at 5'9", 178 pounds, but some scouts believe he has the most upside in the entire draft class, according to Baseball America. He's the type of athlete who could stick at shortstop or shift to second base or center field without a problem, and he has an aggressive but polished offensive approach that should allow him to maximize his elite bat speed.

    Grade: A

    What's it going to take to sign Watson? There was a chance he could go as high as No. 2 overall and it didn't seem possible he would slip out of the top 10. The Marlins can do some finagling at No. 31 overall to try to make the money work, but he could also consider honoring his commitment to NC State for a shot to go first overall in 2024. This will be an interesting storyline to monitor.

          

    Balance Round A (No. 31 Overall): Joe Mack, C, Williamsville East High School (NY)

    Mack is one of the more advanced high school hitters in the class with a polished approach and untapped power potential in his 6'1", 210-pound frame. He has the strong arm, receiving skills and solid baseball IQ to be a leader behind the plate, and even if he maintains a hit-over-power approach offensively, he can make an impact on both sides of the ball. With a dearth of college catching talent, he's one of the safer prep backstops in the class.

    Grade: A

    I'm not sure how the Marlins are going to afford to sign Watson and Mack, who both ended up slipping quite a bit relative to expectations. If they find a way to get it done, they might be the biggest winners in this draft cycle.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Sal Frelick
    Sal FrelickStew Milne/Associated Press

    First Round (No. 15 Overall): Sal Frelick, OF, Boston College

    With a 60-grade hit tool, 70-grade speed and the plate discipline to tally more walks (60) than strikeouts (50) during his time on campus, Frelick profiles as a dynamic top-of-the-order threat. He hit .359/.443/.559 with 17 doubles, two triples, six home runs and 13 steals this spring, and he shifted from right field to center field with ease to win ACC Defensive Player of the Year.  There is also some sneaky pop packed into his 5’9”, 175-pound frame.

    Grade: A

    With his collection of tools and stellar performance this spring, Frelick looks like the best bargain of the top half of the first round. I didn't think he'd get past the Seattle Mariners at No. 12 overall, and he could team with 2020 first-round pick Garrett Mitchell to give Milwaukee a standout defensive outfield in the not-too-distant future.

         

    Balance Round A (No. 33 Overall): Tyler Black, 2B, Wright State

    Black laid waste to Horizon League pitching this spring, hitting .383/.496/.683 with 14 doubles, 13 home runs and 59 RBI in 48 games. Though his exposure to quality pitching was limited, he did double off Vanderbilt ace Kumar Rocker in the first game of the season. He has a hit-over-power profile, but his hit tool is a good one, and he’s a steady defender at second base who has also seen action at the hot corner.

    Grade: A

    Not a bad day's work for the Brewers, who walk away with two of the most productive college hitters in the country this year. I'm always a proponent of pairing a safe college player like Frelick with a high-upside pick when selecting in the balance round, but the Brewers system could use an influx of polished, high-floor talent more than most.

Minnesota Twins

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    Chase Petty
    Chase PettyDavid Zalubowski/Associated Press

    First Round (No. 26 Overall): Chase Petty, RHP, Mainland Regional High School (NJ)

    Baseball America called Petty “one of the hardest-throwing high school pitchers ever” with a fastball that has touched 102 mph on the radar gun. He backs it with a hard-biting slider and shows some feel for a changeup, giving him arguably the best raw stuff in the class. There is also considerable risk in his profile, with effort in his mechanics and spotty command from an undersized 6’0” frame. The reliever risk is real, but so is the power stuff.

    Grade: B

    The Twins have often targeted players with one loud tool, and Petty has that in his electric fastball. If they wanted to go with a high-upside prep pitcher, I like Anthony Solometo as the best available. He also has a risky profile, but he's far more likely to stick as a starter.

          

    Balance Round A (No. 36 Overall): Noah Miller, SS, Ozaukee High School (WI)

    Miller has the baseball IQ and instincts to stick at shortstop, and that's a chip in his favor in a draft where many of the second-tier high school players at the position are poised to outgrow it. He doesn't have loud offensive tools, but he has an advanced approach at the plate with good bat-to-ball skills and decent wheels. His glove will carry him, but there's enough meat on the bone offensively for him to be more than a utility guy.

    Grade: C

    With a similar, more proven player in Boston College shortstop Cody Morissette still on the board, this pick is a bit of a head-scratcher at surface level. However, there's a good chance they'll be able to go below slot here, which will be important since there's a good chance Petty is going to require an above-slot deal.

New York Mets

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    Kumar Rocker
    Kumar RockerRebecca S. Gratz/Associated Press

    First Round (No. 10 Overall): Kumar Rocker, RHP, New York Mets

    Rocker tied teammate Jack Leiter for the NCAA lead with 179 strikeouts in 122 innings this spring. He is the quintessential power pitcher with a 6'5", 245-pound frame and an overpowering pitch mix that includes a fastball that touches 99 mph and a wipeout slider. However, he is far from a finished product, and he needs to learn how to pitch without his best stuff. The pieces are there for him to be a top-of-the-rotation starter, but the puzzle is still being built.

    Grade: A

    This is a slam dunk for the Mets, both from a player and PR standpoint. Rocker is the closest thing to a household name in this draft class, and the attention he has received during his time at Vanderbilt should be good preparation for the scrutiny that comes with playing in New York. I did like Boston College outfielder Sal Frelick for a team that could use a polished center field prospect, but passing on Rocker this low would have been a mistake.

New York Yankees

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    Trey Sweeney
    Trey SweeneyColin E. Braley/Associated Press

    First Round (No. 20 Overall): Trey Sweeney, SS, Eastern Illinois

    Sweeney hit .382/.522/.712 with 10 doubles, 14 home runs and 58 RBI in 48 games to win Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year honors this spring. The 6’4”, 200-pound infielder is a bat-first player with an advanced hit tool and significant power potential, but he has rarely been exposed to quality pitching. He has developed into a reliable shortstop with a strong arm, providing some hope that he can stick there despite average athleticism. It’s his bat that will carry him to the big leagues, regardless of where he lines up in the field.

    Grade: B

    This is a high-floor pick for a franchise loaded with high-risk, high-ceiling talent in the minors, so it makes sense from a balance standpoint. I'm a bit higher on East Carolina infielder Connor Norby if they wanted a standout collegiate performer, but this was a perfectly reasonable range for Sweeney as well.

Oakland Athletics

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    First Round (No. 25 Overall): Maxwell Muncy, SS, Thousand Oaks High School (CA)

    No relation to the Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman, Muncy is a toolsy shortstop from California who consistently impressed throughout his high school career against high-level competition. He hit .452 with nine home runs this spring while tinkering with his swing, and he has the strength and bat speed to hit for average and power as he continues to grow into his 6’1”, 180-pound frame. Even if he outgrows shortstop, there’s enough offensive upside for him to slide to third base.

    Grade: A

    I like the decision to go with the upside of Muncy over a safer pick like Connor Norby, Tyler Black or even Peyton Stovall in this spot. This could also be a enough of a reach to save some money relative to slot value, which could set them up for a steal later on.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    First Round (No. 13 Overall): Andrew Painter, RHP, Calvary Christian High School (FL)

    A towering 6’6” right-hander with four potential plus pitches and good command, Painter provides a tantalizing combination of present polish and future projection. He does a good job repeating his mechanics and keeping everything in sync for a pitcher his size. He’ll need to find more consistency with his breaking stuff, but he has already shown a good feel for a changeup, and he has proven himself against top-level competition on the showcase circuit.

    Grade: B

    Painter shares a lot of similarities with Philadelphia's 2020 first-round pick Mick Abel. They are both tall, projectable right-handers with good pitchability and strong track records of success in high school. It's certainly not the worst demographic of player to load up on, even if there is plenty of risk.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Nati Harnik/Associated Press

    First Round (No. 1 Overall): Henry Davis, C, Louisville

    An offensive-minded catcher who solidified his standing as one of the top college hitters in the nation this spring, Davis hit .370/.482/.663 with 15 home runs and 48 RBI in 50 games while tallying more walks (31) than strikeouts (24). He has a 70-grade arm behind the plate, but he’s lacking in athleticism and will likely never be more than an average defender. He has the offensive ceiling to be a perennial All-Star and a middle-of-the-order run producer.

    Grade: B

    Davis is a safer pick than the prep shortstops, and Pittsburgh hasn't had anything resembling a long-term answer behind the plate since Jason Kendall. Still, I like the ceiling of Marcelo Mayer and Jordan Lawlar enough to wonder if they're going to ultimately regret this decision.

San Diego Padres

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    First Round (No. 27 Overall): Jackson Merrill, SS, Severna Park High School (MD)

    Merrill had some serious helium this spring once scouts made the trip to cold-weather Maryland. With a 6'3", 195-pound frame, a good feel for hitting and some late-developing power following a growth spurt, he offers some intriguing offensive upside. He has work to do defensively to stick at shortstop, but he's a good athlete with a strong arm, so the tools are there.

    Grade: C

    This is the first real reach of the first round, at least in terms of drafting someone most viewed as a Day 2 pick. The late buzz was real, and the Padres have never been afraid to swing for the fences and bet on tools. They must not have thought he'd be available with their next pick at No. 62 overall.

San Francisco Giants

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    Will Bednar
    Will BednarRebecca S. Gratz/Associated Press

    First Round (No. 14 Overall): Will Bednar, RHP, Mississippi State

    Bednar won Most Outstanding Player at the College World Series. The 6'2", 229-pound right-hander tossed six no-hit innings against Vanderbilt in the title game pitching on three days rest, putting the finishing touches on a junior season that saw him go 9-1 with a 3.12 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and a 139-to-26 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 92.1 innings. With three quality pitches and good command, he should move quickly toward a middle-of-the-rotation ceiling.

    Grade: A

    Hey-o, got one right in my mock draft! Taking one of the college arms here made a ton of sense for a Giants team that is loaded with high-ceiling position-player talent down on the farm. Bednar pitched his way ahead of Jordan Wicks, Ty Madden and a few others with his stellar finish to the season.

Seattle Mariners

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    Harry Ford
    Harry FordPhoto Credit: Shema Kamau

    First Round (No. 12 Overall): Harry Ford, C, North Cobb High School (GA)

    Ford has drawn comparisons to Craig Biggio for his ability to potentially play catcher, second base or center field in the pros. With a 50-hit/50-power offensive profile and plus speed, he’s a rare athlete for the catcher position, but he has the defensive tools to stick behind the plate if that’s where he’s positioned long-term. His strong 5’10”, 200-pound frame offers plenty of power potential.

    Grade: B

    I'm shocked the Mariners didn't go with Boston College outfielder Sal Frelick or UCLA shortstop Matt McLain given their lengthy history of targeting college players in the first round. That said, there's a lot to like about Ford, who has the offensive ability and defensive versatility to impact the game in a lot of ways. The Mariners are in a position with their rising young core that they can gamble on upside.

St. Louis Cardinals

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    John McCoy/Associated Press

    First Round (No. 18 Overall): Michael McGreevy, RHP, UC Santa Barbara

    McGreevy pitched as a reliever during his freshman season before moving into the rotation in 2020 where he was 2-0 with a 0.99 ERA in four starts. He picked up right where he left off this spring, continuing to pound the strike zone with a mid-90s fastball and three quality breaking pitches. The 6’4”, 215-pound righty had a 2.92 ERA and a brilliant 115-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 101.2 innings to cement his spot among the second tier of college arms.

    Grade: A

    The Cardinals do a great job squeezing the most out of pitchers, and McGreevy has one of the highest floors in this draft class thanks to his plus command. This looks like a perfect fit.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    First Round (No. 28 Overall): Carson Williams, SS, Torrey Pines High School (CA)

    With a fastball in the mid-90s and a good slider, many evaluators preferred Williams as a pitcher heading into the spring. However, after tacking additional muscle onto his 6’2” frame, he started showing some loud in-game power that has made him one of the draft’s biggest pop-up prospects. However, his track record as a hitter is limited, and he comes with significant boom-or-bust potential, albeit with the intriguing fallback of shifting to the mound.

    Grade: B

    I'm surprised the Rays opted for more of a risk/reward pick rather than playing it safe with Connor Norby or Tyler Black. If they wanted to swing for the fences, why not slugging prep catcher Joe Mack? That said, Williams has serious offensive upside, and this was not a reach by any means.

          

    Balance Round A (No. 34 Overall): Cooper Kinney, 2B, The Baylor Schools (TN)

    One of the most polished prep hitters in the 2021 draft, Kinney has a 55-hit/55-power profile that helped him win Gatorade Player of the Year in Tennessee this spring. He has good bat speed and has considerable power packed into his 6'3", 200-pound frame. However, with bottom-of-the-scale speed, below-average arm strength and limited athleticism, he'll go as far as his bat carries him. That could be all the way to a starting job in the big leagues, but it's a risky profile.

    Grade: C

    If this is the type of player the Rays were targeting, why not Peyton Stovall? He has some of the same defensive limitations, but with an even better hit tool and at least enough glove to handle second base. The Rays scout and develop as well as anyone, but this feels like a reach.

Texas Rangers

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    Rebecca S. Gratz/Associated Press

    First Round (No. 2 Overall): Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt

    Aside from a midseason hiccup where he allowed eight home runs in 16.1 innings, Leiter was every bit as dominant as expected. The 6’1”, 205-pound right-hander has an electric four-pitch arsenal, headlined by a lively fastball that touches the upper 90s and a terrific 12-to-6 curveball. He piled up 179 strikeouts in 110 innings, and he finished on a high note with strong starts against NC State (8.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 15 K) and Mississippi State (6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 8 K) in the College World Series. He has the best combination of ceiling and floor of any pitcher in this class.

    Grade: A

    Can the Rangers develop a top-of-the-rotation starter? That's the big question here with the decision to take Leiter over Marcelo Mayer or Jordan Lawlar. The organization has a spotty track record at best when it comes to developing arms, but Leiter is as good a bet as anyone to help them buck that trend.

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Gunnar Hoglund
    Gunnar HoglundButch Dill/Associated Press

    First Round (No. 19 Overall): Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, Ole Miss

    Hoglund would likely have been a top-10 pick had his season not been abruptly halted by Tommy John surgery. The 6'4", 220-pound right-hander was a first-round pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2018, but he honored his commitment to Ole Miss where he saw his stuff tick up last year. He now works in the mid-90s with a plus slider and improving changeup, and he had a 2.87 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 62.2 innings before the injury.

    Grade: A

    The Blue Jays' window of contention is opening, and pitching remains the biggest question mark long-term. It's going to take Hoglund some time to recover, but he could move quickly once he returns to action. Walker Buehler was in the majors two years after he slid down draft boards due to arm issues. Just saying.

Washington Nationals

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    Brady House
    Brady HousePhoto Credit: Doug Doc Bower

    First Round (No. 11 Overall): Brady House, SS, Winder-Barrow High School (GA)

    House has two loud tools in a 70-grade throwing arm that has been up to the mid-90s off the mound and a 70-grade raw power that he should be able to fully tap into thanks to an advanced approach and good pitch recognition skills. He showed more swing-and-miss than expected on the showcase circuit last summer, and he'll likely slide down the defensive spectrum to third base as a pro, but he has the highest offensive ceiling of any of this year's prep prospects.

    Grade: A

    House should immediately give 2020 first-round pick Cade Cavalli a serious run for the No. 1 prospect spot in a thin Nationals farm system. He has some of the loudest raw power in this draft, and the Washington system is sorely lacking in impact position-player talent. Great value here. He could be an All-Star if the hit tool develops as hoped.

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