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MLB Prospects Mock Draft - 2021 Amateur Draft Rankings

The 2021 MLB amateur draft is just around the corner. The first round will be held on Sunday evening with subsequent rounds to follow on Monday and Tuesday. Last year’s draft was just five rounds due to the pandemic, down from the usual 40 rounds. This year’s draft jumps up to 20 rounds. I expect the next increase will come when Major League Baseball combines the traditional amateur draft with the international free agent signing period to create a global draft -- which is something it's been wanting to do for years now.

I’ve been creating mock drafts for more than 10 years now and actually broke into online writing by covering the draft for the now-defunct "The Baseball Analysts" website.  You can view my last two MLB mock drafts HERE and HERE. I spend hours and hours pouring over video, watching games, and reading scouting reports in preparation for these mock drafts. The pandemic made this year's draft class very difficult to rank. Video was harder to come by and there were fewer games for prospects to establish themselves given the canceled events and shortened seasons over the past two years.

Despite the unique challenges caused by the pandemic, I've created a draft ranking that I'm quite happy with and I've broken it down as if I were the scouting director for each club. This allows you to see where the players would end up if each team listened to me, which I think is a fun little wrinkle. This is not a traditional mock draft where I am trying to predict what other teams will actually do.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:

 

Amateur Mock Draft - Top 10 Prospects

1. Pittsburgh Pirates: Jordan Lawlar, SS (prep): The more I debated Lawlar versus Marcelo Mayer, the more clear it became to me that the former was the superior option to the latter. He has an excellent chance to hit for average, power, and steal bases. Lawlar's athleticism should allow him to stick at shortstop and his physical frame requires less projection than Mayer.  He's is also mature and intelligent, and I always favor players with great makeup because it gives players a better shot at realizing their full potential in a very difficult and demanding environment. It really should be recognized across the industry as the sixth tool.

2. Texas Rangers: Jack Leiter, SP (college): The second pick was a little more challenging but Leiter won out in the end. He’s an incredibly advanced pitcher which shouldn’t be a shock when you consider that his father and uncle both pitched in the majors. The Vanderbilt hurler has a chance to develop four above-average offerings and he’s already showing above-average command and control for his age. His stuff isn't necessarily elite but it's above average and he has plus pitchability.

3. Detroit Tigers: Marcelo Mayer, SS (prep): I’m surprised people would push for Mayer to be chosen above Lawlar. Don’t get me wrong — he’s talented and obviously my third-ranked prospect but there is a lot of projection needed here — and he lacks the speed tool, which puts a lot more pressure on his power tool to develop (It’s currently below-average due to his lanky frame). Chances are good, though, that he’ll hit for average.

4. Boston Red Sox: Kumar Rocker, SP (college): Rocker has had a lot of ups-and-downs this year after entering 2021 with a shot at going first overall. It’s not uncommon for young players to put too much pressure on themselves in their draft year and take a step backward. Rocker's command was off a bit this year but he still overpowered college hitters with 179 strikeouts in 122 innings of work. He has a mid-to-upper 90s fastball, a plus-plus slider, and a couple of other offerings that have average-or-better potential. With a strong track record of success dating back to his prep days, I’m not letting Rocker slip further than fourth overall.

5. Baltimore Orioles: Henry Davis, C (college): Yeah, it’s not ideal to go with college catchers on back-to-back drafts (although I didn’t pick Adley Rutschman for Baltimore last year) but with baseball, you always take the best player available and figure things out later on. Davis is the top college hitter and should hit for average (He has excellent bat-to-ball skills) and above-average power but I worry about a couple of things that had me considering sliding him down the rankings a little further. He’s quite pull-happy, which could hurt him against more advanced pitching. He’s also physically mature, lacks projection, and is not the most athletic — he’s quite stiff with his actions.

6. Arizona Diamondbacks: Bubba Chandler, SS/SP (prep): This is the first big jump from the consensus for me here but I love Chandler as a hitter. He has a smooth, effortless swing that instantly reminded me of John Olerud — another former two-way player. Given everyday reps as a hitter without worrying about pitching, I believe Chandler will really take off. He also has a projectable frame and should hit for power as he matures. And if things don’t work out at the plate — I’m really not worried — he can always give pitching another try down the line. Some teams reportedly prefer him on the mound (although his mechanics are very rudimentary).

7. Kansas City Royals: Gunnar Hoglund, SP (college): I’ve been watching Hoglund since his prep days and he’s gotten even better after spending three years in college. The downside to this talented, young arm is that he’s currently on the mend from Tommy John surgery. Still, after the big two college pitchers, no other hurler jumps out at me like Hoglund does when he’s healthy. With a solid success rate on the surgery, I wouldn’t hesitate to take him here. He has a chance for four average-or-better offerings with an excellent pitcher’s frame — and a long track record of success.

8. Colorado Rockies: Khalil Watson, SS (prep): Watson was receiving a lot of hype leading up to the draft but I have my hesitations here. He’s an athletic, toolsy player with a chance to hit for average and steal some bases but he’s also just 5-foot-9. It remains to be seen how much power he’ll produce although he has excellent bat speed (and is clearly strong for his size) so, with some launch angle adjustments, he could hit for more power than you might expect. My biggest concern with Watson, though, is his maturity/attitude. I’ve seen quite a few examples of him being overly demonstrative on the field and at the plate while showing up the umpires.

9. Los Angeles Angels: Jackson Jobe, SP (prep): Jobe is a talented prep pitcher with a good fastball, excellent slider (with elite spin), and projects to have four average-or-better pitches. He has a good frame with projection left, is athletic, and should throw strikes. Jobe is without a doubt the best prep arm available but he comes with the same risks as any other prep arm.

10. New York Mets: Peyton Stovall, SS/2B (prep): Stovall is another player that takes a big jump in my rankings compared to the general consensus. I love his quick, short swing and believe he has an excellent chance to hit for average. His bat speed and mature approach should also allow him to eventually hit for average-or-better power. Stovall will quite likely move from shortstop to second base.

 

Prospects 11-20

11. Washington Nationals: Will Taylor, OF (prep): Taylor is a multi-sport athlete but picking him here should ensure that he forgoes playing college football. He’s an extremely athletic player who is more advanced at the plate than a lot of multi-sport prep prospects. Taylor has a good feel for hitting, isn’t afraid to use the whole field, and has blazing speed. It remains to be seen how much power he’ll produce but I think he’ll eventually get to at least 15-20 homers as he physically matures.

12. Seattle Mariners: Lonnie White Jr., OF (prep): Another multi-sport high school player, White Jr. might be a tougher player to sign away from his college commitment but I think it would be worth it. He has explosive bat speed and the ball absolutely explodes off his bat. White Jr. has a tantalizing power/speed combination and he could become an average-or-better hitter as focuses solely on baseball.

13. Philadelphia Phillies: Brady House, SS (prep): House ranks lower for me than the consensus. He already shows above-average power for his age but I’m perfectly happy to let players grow into their power as it’s often the last tool to develop for premium players. House is a little stiff on the baseball diamond with noticeable swing-and-miss to his game so I’m not convinced he’ll hit for a high average. I get why people are a fan, but I’ve never been a huge fan of the Joey Gallo and Nolan Gorman types.

14. San Francisco Giants: Gavin Williams, SP (college): Williams gets the nod for being the next best college arm available. He has the ability to hit triple digits with his heater and he backs it up with three other offerings — including an above-average curveball. His command and control can slip at times but I think he’ll be just fine in the long run.

15. Milwaukee Brewers: Matt McLain, SS (college): McLain was a first-round pick of the Diamondbacks out of high school. He’s had an impressive run in college and looks like a player that can hit for a solid average, produce power, and steal some bases. I like his instincts and he can impact the game in a number of different ways.

16. Miami Marlins: Andrew Painter, SP (prep): Painter has an excellent pitcher’s frame and stands 6-for-6. He has a solid fastball, good changeup, and two developing break balls with average-or-better potential. He also has above-average command for his age.

17. Cincinnati Reds: Colton Cowser, OF (college): Cowser is one of the better college hitters around although I don’t love him. He makes good contact and has solid speed but his ability to hit for power remains in question and I’ve seen him appear to lack focus at times.

18. St. Louis Cardinals: Sal Frelick, OF (college): Frelick is a good college hitter with blazing speed. His lack of future power potential knocks him down the list for me. He has a chance to be a plus defender in the outfield.

19. Toronto Blue Jays: Will Bednar, SP (college): No player saw their draft stock spike more than Bednar in the final days leading up to the draft thanks to his performance in the College World Series — although his ceiling is more of a mid-rotation arm. The right-hander is physically mature with a thick lower half but he has a chance for two above-average offerings and a third solid pitch. He's also shown the ability to up his game in high-pressure situations.

20. New York Yankees: Trey Sweeney, SS (college): Sweeney isn’t a consensus first-round pick but he’s there for me given his sky-high potential. He has excellent bat speed and hits the ball hard. His swing needs some work at the pro level but I think he’ll be at least an average hitter.

 

Prospects 21-29

21. Chicago Cubs: Jordan Wicks, SP (college): A solid-but-unspectacular college arm, Wicks has an average fastball and plus changeup. The lefty has shown an improved breaking ball this year, has good control, and mixes his pitches well.

22. Chicago White Sox: Ty Madden, SP (college): Madden is a solid college arm who has seen more velocity on his heater this year but there is some reliever risk. His fastball still gets hit harder than it should based on its velocity and he lacks a third reliable pitch. Out of all the picks in the first round, Madden was the most difficult player for me to rank.

23. Cleveland Indians: Harry Ford, C (prep): An athletic prep catcher, I don’t love Ford’s swing but he nonetheless shows solid bat-to-ball skills. He also has good athleticism and above-average speed for a catcher. Personally, I would move him off the catcher position and try him in center field or at second base,

24. Atlanta Braves: Maxwell Muncy, SS (prep): Who would have ever thought we’d see two players named “Max Muncy” in pro ball. I’m a big fan of the prep hitter. He has a quick bat, above-average power potential and should develop into an above-average hitter in time if he can limit the swing and miss. He also has good speed. I’m tempted to rank him even higher.

25. Oakland Athletics: Benny Montgomery, OF (prep): Montgomery has a high ceiling due to his quick, short swing and projectable frame. He has good power potential if he continues to fill out his frame thanks to his above-average bat speed. On the downside, he may not hit for a high average given his funky mechanics and weird toe-tap that could cause timing/contact issues. He also has plus-plus speed.

26. Minnesota Twins: Jackson Merrill, SS (prep): I’m probably the only one listing Merrill as a first-round talent — He’s getting some buzz as a second-rounder — but I’m a fan of his overall game. He uses the whole field and looks like he’s going to have average-or-better power. He also has a chance to stick at shortstop although he could end up at third base.

27. San Diego Padres: Malakhi Knight, OF (prep): Like Merrill above, Knight is not a consensus first-round talent. However, I see a raw player with an intriguing power/speed mix. He is extremely athletic with a very quick bat. He’s a bit of a project but I like the risk at the end of the first round.

28. Tampa Bay Rays: Anthony Solometo, SP (prep): This prep lefty has solid stuff that plays up due to the deception in his delivery. He also has a good pitcher’s frame and room to add muscle/weight. My biggest worry is that he’ll never have more than average control/command due to his funky delivery.

29. Los Angeles Dodgers: Connor Norby, 2B (college): I get serious Aaron Hill vibes from Norby. He has a chance to be an excellent hitter with average-or-better power. He’s one of those players that does a little bit of everything well.

 

Supplemental First Round

30. Cincinnati Reds: Wes Kath, 2B (prep): Kath is developing quickly and has a chance to hit for both power and average down the road.

31. Miami Marlins: Ethan Wilson, OF (college): Wilson shows a short path to the ball and has impressive raw power. His numbers were down this year after battling an injury in the first half of the season. He needs to improve against off-speed stuff.

32. Detroit Tigers: Ryan Cusick, RHP (college): Cusick stands 6-foot-6 and can hit triple digits. He shows the makings of a promising breaking ball but iffy command and modest depth to his repertoire suggest significant reliever risk.

33. Milwaukee Brewers:  Matt Mikulski, SP (college): A college senior that was hurt by the shortened draft in 2020, this southpaw has looked excellent in 2021 with an improved delivery and a better slider. He’s also maintaining mid-90s velocity and hitting as high as 97-98 mph.

34. Tampa Bay Rays: Tyler Black, 2B (college): Black has a chance to be an above-average hitter that produces excellent on-base numbers. There is debate around how much power he’ll end up producing.

35. Cincinnati Reds: Izaac Pacheco, SS (prep): He’s an intriguing player due to his power potential but the swing-and-miss tendencies worry me.

36. Minnesota Twins: Andrew Abbott, SP (college): With a solid fastball-curveball combination, Abbott moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation this year in college. The southpaw can hit the mid-90s and has a competitive nature.

Some bigger draft names that I’m not a huge fan of that I might consider as second-round picks:

Colson Montgomery (prep 3B) - long swing; Jud Fabian (college OF) - major contact issues; Sam Bachman (college RHP) - pure reliever, poor control/lacks size/delivery; Michael McGreevy (college RHP) - effort in delivery/reliever risk/inconsistent command



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